I pulled up to the cantina next to the seven-eleven somewhere between La Jolla and Pacific Beach. It was one in the morning; prime time for my type of business. Cement stairs at the corner of a red, eight foot retaining wall led up to the place. I was there in my cab studying the entrance and surrounding area for my fare. I saw a group of guys move toward the door with two in particular leading the way. The two came down the stairs toward me. The one behind directed the way, urging on, perhaps holding the front man’s arm when necessary. Up to my passenger window; I rolled it down with the button on the driver side door.
“Hey, can you take him to the coffee shop down the street? There’s a starbucks just down the road,” He said as he handed me a bill.
The speaker was dressed conservatively for this time of night, wearing tan khakis, a tucked-in plaid shirt with a belt and nicely combed hair. The whole time, the guy being escorted was talking to him, shaking his hand, thankful, gracious, and obviously very drunk. He was in the kind of drunk where all events take on grand importance. Every sentence spoken conveys vast sentiment. He had blond, tussled hair and wore a white t-shirt, jeans and some cheap rubber flip-flops.
“Here’s twenty dollars. Just keep the change for yourself”, said the prep.
I was thinking, ‘yeah, I think I know where that starbuck’s is… maybe, but they’re everywhere, so how could I go wrong?’
I unlocked the back door with another button and the drunk guy slipped onto the seat on the passenger side. I looked at him, said “hi” and decided he looked harmless enough. His "friend" had wanted just to get rid of him. This guy was really hammered. I could tell he was probably being a nuiciance. As we drove southing looking for the Starbucks, he started telling me about his past. I figured him to be in his early 30's, but he told of a time years ago when he was a pro surfer. His mother's house had a room full of surfing trophy's. He had surfed the best breaks around, including Hawaii. Now that was all over. He was an alcoholic and lived somewhere near Birdrock. This was a nice surf spot in South La Jolla. From what I could understand from his ramblings, he was homeless and lived in a cave or some hidden spot at the beach. His mother had thrown away all of his trophys years ago.
Pulling up to the coffee shop, I realized it was closed.
"well, where do you want to go? The place is closed."
The radio was on and we were listening to "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John.
"Oh, man, I don't have anywhere to go and that's my favorite song. Could we please just drive around awhile and listen to it?", He asked me.
We had only racked up about $7 on the meter out of the $20 I had been given and I felt a little sorry for this guy so I said O.K. So around some corners and up and down we drove. Then the Beatles came on and he said,
"Oh, this is my favorite song, can we please drive around a little more." It started to sprinkle outside.
He kept telling me, "I love you man!", and, "It's you and me all night, man! we're just gonna cruise all night!
"Well, I guess for a little bit", I said. (meter at $12)
"Hey, why don't we drive around and pick up some guys."
"What?", I said incredulously, feeling somewhat creeped out.
"Oh, no, I meant let's drive around and pick up guys to help us find some girls, that's what I meant."
"Hey, I don't think so buddy. I gotta get back to work, man. So where do you want to go?"
"Please, I'm sorry, can we just listen to the radio for a little while longer?"
"O.k., just till this song is over. Then you gotta tell me where you want to go."
The song finally ended and he cracked a beer open in the back seat and I wondered where he had gotten it.
"So where are you going, man. I'm dropping you somewhere right now, so let me know".
"Alright, just take me to the West End." That's a neighborhood bar near where we were. So I pulled up to the bar and turned to look at the guy. Before he got out he put his hand up as if to shake my hand, so I took his hand to shake it.
"Thanks for the ride brotha, I love you man," he said and he pulled my hand up to his face and gave the back of my hand a big wet kiss and hopped out, and was gone.
I pulled my hand back in horror and frantically wiped it off on my pants.
"Gross man, freaking gross!!," I yelled, and kept muttering as I drove off.
- ▼ 2007 (12)