One night I pulled up to the now-closed 7-11 convenience store near 35th Ave and Thomas. The taxi computer said the passenger's name was Blanca, and did not provide a phone number. A ~20 year old Hispanic woman, whose name was NOT `Blanca', was sitting on the curb. She concluded the sale of her Nintendo Wii to her new friend, who also prepaid me for her taxi fare. The woman got into the cab and we departed towards her destination. After I said a few words, my passenger remembered me and said, "I've had you before." Hmm? "You put your hands on my head."
What? I never do that... Sometimes, when passengers were stressed, I would tell them how to put their own hands on their own heads in a specific manner to help normalize blood flow, thereby helping them process stress better. I briefly looked at my passenger. I remember places not faces, not even faces with distinctive tattoos, and drew a total blank.
"Where did I pick you up?"
"At the Dream C___."
"On Grand Avenue."
I still drew a blank. After a bit more of the exchange, the night I'd almost taken this woman somewhere came back to me in a flash. "Oh yeah. How ya doing?"
She was much better - She was proud of having quit meth, and said she just had to kick the blunts and she'd be good.
It'd been about two months since I'd met this woman. Previously she'd been in the middle of an emotional crisis.
"Weed's not a real drug, it's just a plant, and relatively safe at that." I personally have never used any form of cannabis, but I know people who appreciate the use of this specific herbal medicine.
She told me that she had an opportunity to go to Alaska, fly on a plane (!), and stay with her brother.
"That sounds like an adventure, and a good opportunity to start over..."
Then she asked me a question. She also had an opportunity to move in with a guy, and ... what did I think?
I remembered that she already knew all about boys. "There are penises everywhere. Go to Alaska." I guess that settled it for her.
Flashback: The Girl With The Triangle Tattoos
Like all the other company-supplied fares, I pulled up to the address and called the number to announce my arrival. After a minute a young woman came out and said the cab was for her friend, and she needed to cancel. Then the woman who'd called for the cab came out. She still wanted to go. The prospective passenger's other friends were right behind her.
"You can't leave..."
"I have to leave the program..."
"You'll never get your baby back if you leave..."
"I need to get out of here..."
This group of 4-5 friends went back and forth. In the taxi driver's world, time is money, and the money doesn't flow until the passenger sits their butt on your seat and you start the meter.
But I've always been more interested in people than money, so I pretended to be interested in my phone while I listened to the group's efforts to convince their distraught friend to stay at what I later learned was a sober living facility.
After about 10 minutes I'd listened enough. The friends were getting nowhere in their efforts to convince this woman to stay in the program, so I interrupted. "I've been listening for a while... how old is your baby?"
The woman responded with a soft, halting voice, "2... weeks..."
"Who has it?"
Child protective services had taken her baby at birth, on account of the open case with her 1 year old daughter. OH. I understood.
"Where was I going to take you?"
"To ... my ... boyfriend's..." (not the newborn's father, iirc)
"And where does he live?"
The address was about 75th Ave & Broadway, iirc, which I estimated to be about a $20 fare.
"I think your friends are right, that you should stay here... Can I get out?"
I got out of my cab, started talking about what happens when our emotions get out of balance, and what we can do to calm ourselves down. After a moment my prospective passenger, who was barely holding herself together, broke down and started sobbing. Her friend went to give her a hug.
I changed my strategy: this woman needed to get out of her stress response. I showed her friend how to hold her head, to help restore blood flow to the frontal cortex. They weren't doing it right, so I asked the woman if I could hold the points for her. She nodded as the tears rolled down her face.
After a few minutes of the hold, I asked the friend with the cellphone that'd been used to call the taxi company to call back and cancel the trip, so I wouldn't be assessed the fee for that address. When the cancellation came through I put my not-passenger's hands on her own head, and directed her friends to take her inside and continue holding the points for a few more minutes. My notes say her friends thought highly of me.
I went back to work.
two months later...
Her offspring must've still been in CPS, but I didn't ask specifically.
I stopped the cab near her friend's apartment. She asked if I'd be available later, so I wrote my number down. After a few hours I got a call, and met her at the gas station near where I'd dropped her off. Eventually she appeared... We headed south, to someone's house, I think it was her aunt's... But the house was locked, no one answered the front door, and there was no other way in. She didn't have anywhere else to go, so I parked, and we chatted...
Her new friend, whom she'd visited earlier that evening, had a problem that it'd only been a few weeks since her last boyfriend. She didn't get what his problem was.
Relationships: the difference between Boys & Girls
I told my passenger that she is a woman who likes sex, and that's okay. People get horny. It's normal. But there are differences between how boys and girls go about relationships.
Then I created a hypothetical situation for her. "If you put a horny woman in a room with 100 men, that woman would consider each of these 100 men, and audition them all to see if any were acceptable to satisfy her needs. If she found one she liked they'd certainly go off to consummate their passions. But a woman could also reject all 100 potential suitors, and go off alone to satisfy herself." My passenger confirmed that she could get horny and reject all the men in the area.
I told my passenger that some women find lots of relationship candidates to be acceptable. Other women are very selective. It's okay to be either way.
To help her understand her new boy-friend's consternation, I had her consider the situation for the other gender. "If you put a horny man in a room with 100 women, he'd spend a few moments figuring out who his first choice would be. Then, if she rejected him, he'd do her, then her, then her... And so on, until he had all 100 women in order of preference, and even then, all 100 women might reject him. Some men are Casanovas who have no problem with rejection, while others get rejected all the time. Maybe your new friend is a little jealous."
This description of the genders' situations is not universal, but true enough to be general. My passenger seemed to understand.
At some point during the night, someone at the gas station we were parked at needed a ride. This fellow hopped in the back of the cab, I introduced him to my other passenger in the front, took him where he needed to go, then returned to the gas station. Around 5am my passenger realized that she could go to her mother's house. She gave the address, and we headed west on the freeway.
A week or three later my phone rang with a random caller id. It was "Blanca" - she needed a ride to the airport. I quoted a price, and asked what time her flight was, to estimate when I'd need to be there.
I pulled up to her mom's house at the appointed time. She wasn't ready to go, but came out eventually. My passenger said her brother told her she was on an Alaska Airlines flight. Because she'd never flown before, we parked at the garage and I went to check her in. Alaska Airlines did not have her on their passenger list. After a few minutes I realized that she must've been on a code-shared flight, and determined that her Phoenix flight was certainly on a Delta plane. We got back in my car, drove to the next terminal, parked, and went inside. Delta did have her on their list. She checked her bag, and probably had to pay a bag fee. I decided that she needed what was left of her money more than me, so I just went on my way.
I haven't heard from her since... I wonder if "Blanca" is still in Alaska.
[context for this diary entry: I'd commented in someone's kuro5hin.org diary about my strategy for dealing with grumpy passengers, and how sometimes I was able to completely turn someone's day around. A k5 user responded to essentially say, "sometimes people have real problems, and aren't fixed with a taxi ride." While this woman never actually got in my cab, she didn't need much to go from 'train wreck' to 'functional'.]