(image source here)
I’m still shaking, as I write this. Here’s the story: I went back to the old apartment to pick up my canvases (I paint a lot), and bring them to the new place. I hailed a cab, the bulky stack leaning precariously on my side. The cab driver helped me put the canvases in the trunk. He drove me to the new place. He said, “Cash?”
I said, “No, card.”
And he lost his mind.
I can’t quote him here. I don’t use that kind of language on this blog. He was screaming at me, and, through the flood of violent words, he seemed to be accusing me of manipulating him.
“I don’t know what you’re so angry about,” I said. “Can you please calm down?”
“Don’t you open your mouth to me!” He roared. “You watch yourself!”
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. It’s the third. The third time a cab driver has berated me for offering a credit card. And I don’t even take cabs very often! I don’t carry very much cash. I mentioned this. He screamed at me.
This time was different, because I couldn’t get out of the car right away. My paintings were in the back, and it sounded like he might just drive away with them. Or kill me. I couldn’t think what to do. His name must’ve been right in front of me, but I didn’t remember to commit it to memory. I was trying to get my wallet open, and my fingers were shaking uncontrollably. The card didn’t work. Oh god, I thought. What do I do? I had another one. That one worked. So much time was passing. I wanted to scream back, but I didn’t know what he might do. I hated that I was paying him, as he was calling me things no one should ever be called, but I kept thinking of my paintings.
I got out, and I left the door open, so he couldn’t drive away. He was still going as I hauled the canvases out of the trunk and shoved them up against a trash bin on the corner. I shut the trunk and repeated the license plate number to myself three times. 52AC. I think. When I tried to type it into my blackberry, I couldn’t quite remember it, and my hands were still shaking, and my new neighbor was coming out of the building and saying, “Oh, hi! Great to see you again! How are you?” And I was a mess.
I went upstairs and pushed my way into my apartment and dumped the paintings against a couch and cried. And then I called 311 and filed a complaint against the cab driver whose name I hadn’t taken down. And the man on the phone flirted with me a little.
I was angry at myself for being so upset. I should’ve been calmer. I should’ve gotten his name. I need to be able to trust myself in situations like these.
But one of the things that makes me the most angry was summarized perfectly by the cable guy, who rang the doorbell as I was finishing up with the 311 guy, and then heard me on the phone with my mother, telling the story. He came into the living room to have me sign something and he said, shaking his head, “Sorry about that cab driver. He had no right to treat you like that. There’s no way he would’ve done that to me. Or any guy.”
Which seems to be the consensus. When I told people about the last two times this happened to me, the guys couldn’t imagine that happening to them. It just didn’t seem possible.
I never want to take another cab. But more than that, I want to live in a world where people don’t scream at strangers, just because they can.
* * * *
Un-roast: Today I love my paintings. I’m getting slightly better at abstracts in blue. Slightly. I think I may have a good eye for color. And there is paint all over my right leg. It looks like I was in a gruesome accident. Or, at least, my right leg was.