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Samarov
1352 Rider
 Posted 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Another excerpt from Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab (University of Chicago Press)

  A raised hand generates an irresistible magnetic pull on a taxi driver. After some years the mind is trained to seek it out to the point of forming light-poles, reflections in parked cars, weaving tree branches, and on a slow night, just about any shape into that desired sign, the symbol of time not spent in vain. Depending on the time of day or night, what follows that hopeful hand will vary from absolute silence to aggressive and usually unwanted camaraderie, but in every case it always begins with some sort of greeting...

 On afternoons in the Loop terse one or two word directives abound. Words like Ogilvie, O'Hare, Wrigley, Lakeview, Bucktown, Midway, Michigan and Randolph, Ontario, and Chicago. Like pushing the elevator button, they name their wish with no need for further communication. Beyond an occasional thank you and the addition of a pre-calculated tip worked out from countless identical trips; expecting much more than the fare displayed on the meter would be pushing it. This is almost a non-verbal contract made to acknowledge that these transactions are basic and unremarkable, unworthy of excess comment or thought...

 With the approach of twilight there are often tentative signals that work-mode is being shed and the first thirst for social contact can be detected. Between calls and texts, they might ask about how the day's going, usually without expectation or need of any substantive response; like exercise done at the gyms so many attend, this verbal calisthenics is virtually meaningless aside from keeping limber in preparation for the heavier...

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Another excerpt from Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab (University of Chicago Press)

  A raised hand generates an irresistible magnetic pull on a taxi driver. After some years the mind is trained to seek it out to the point of forming light-poles, reflections in parked cars, weaving tree branches, and on a slow night, just about any shape into that desired sign, the symbol of time not spent in vain. Depending on the time of day or night, what follows that hopeful hand will vary from absolute silence to aggressive and usually unwanted camaraderie, but in every case it always begins with some sort of greeting...

 On afternoons in the Loop terse one or two word directives abound. Words like Ogilvie, O'Hare, Wrigley, Lakeview, Bucktown, Midway, Michigan and Randolph, Ontario, and Chicago. Like pushing the elevator button, they name their wish with no need for further communication. Beyond an occasional thank you and the addition of a pre-calculated tip worked out from countless identical trips; expecting much more than the fare displayed on the meter would be pushing it. This is almost a non-verbal contract made to acknowledge that these transactions are basic and unremarkable, unworthy of excess comment or thought...

 With the approach of twilight there are often tentative signals that work-mode is being shed and the first thirst for social contact can be detected. Between calls and texts, they might ask about how the day's going, usually without expectation or need of any substantive response; like exercise done at the gyms so many attend, this verbal calisthenics is virtually meaningless aside from keeping limber in preparation for the heavier lifting that may lie ahead...

 In early evening couples wait at the curb, peering furtively at every passing taxi, sometimes raising their hands after they've passed, prompting slammed breaks from more aggressive or desperate drivers. He wears his button-down untucked over the nice jeans, his get-up completed more often than not with flip-flops; she's dressed to the nines from the 'do to the make-up to the little black dress to the heels that make her teeter long before her first cocktail. They'll exchange pleasantries in gratitude for the lift. He'll talk to the driver to show her he's got that common touch; she'll talk if she's bored with him or out of nervous politeness. Once in a great while there will be a conversation that reflects their good spirits, one that will serve to start off their date in a benevolent spirit towards all and sundry...

 Packs of men pile in through the night. They'll start with: Boss, Chief, Buddy, Dude, Man, Bro, Hey, and when they think they're being funny, Sir...They've had a few or more by now so they break the ice instinctively and without prompting. They'll ask how things have been, as if with a long-lost friend, and will even feign interest at the response. They ask where the ladies are, then go back to recapping the 'talent' encountered up to that moment. There's the possibility of inclusion in their club should one want in. A story or two about those crazy bitches could well qualify one for lifetime membership...

 As taverns empty it can run the gamut from drunken mirth to stone silence. Tipsy chicks continue flirting in the cab as if still sipping appletinis. They laugh too loud, say too much, and create more intimacy than should be shared with a complete stranger...Some recount their evening, if there's no one to dial up at this late hour, needing a confidant to vent to. They'll ask for advice or empathy with no qualms as to their listener's qualifications or character. The need to ease burdens trumps the caution they might've displayed before the sun set...Last are the ones that were over-served  and know it; with luck their address can be extracted without too much hassle and they can be left to drift off into that end-of-the-night fugue state. Upon arrival, the lights have to be raised and the drowser must be addressed in a raised voice, "HEY BUDDY PAL CHIEF, TIME TO WAKE UP, YOU'RE HOME. GOODNIGHT..."

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    pualgetty3
    62
     8 months ago

    Can you tell the type of person you will be giving a ride to based solely on how they hail the taxi? That would be such an interesting study.

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      Samarov
      1352 Rider
       8 months ago

      You definitely get a sixth sense about people after a time. You have to make snap judgments at every turn in this line of work.

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    dreamcatcher
    92 Rider
     8 months ago

    You are such a talented writer! I could visualize every one of these situations as I was reading. Your depiction of the couple is SPOT ON. Keep writing.

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      Samarov
      1352 Rider
       8 months ago

      Thank you very much.