Tuesday, October 18, 2005

If You Would Smile

I had a meeting. I had to go somewhere I’d never been before. I find that stressful. I didn’t know how to get there. The cab driver didn’t either. Apparently he was even less comfortable with the idea than I was.

“Building 37 MIT, please,” I said.

“Do you have an address? I won’t go without an address,” he said without moving the car.

“I’m sure I do,” I said. “Give me a minute. In the meantime, it wouldn’t bother me at all if you chose to smile.”

He didn’t. In fact, I got the distinct feeling that he didn’t believe that I had the address. He didn’t move the taxi forward either—despite the taxi pulled up behind us waiting.

Now I felt even more stressed. Why was I feeling responsible for this guy’s misbehavior? My nature I guess. I reached in my bag and pulled out the e-mail that carried the address of Building 37.

“Okay, here it is—77 Mass Ave.” He didn’t believe me. I had to show him.

Was I giving off some sort of “push me around” vibe? Had my younger, older brother been here before me, whistling and telling stories? What was going on? Strangers usually reacted positively to me.

I showed him the address in print.

“Okay I’ll take you.” he said.

I wasn’t sure what my response was supposed to be. Okay, he’ll take me? My understanding of capitalism was that I pay. He takes me. Was I confused? Was he?

He drove to the address. Part way there he asked if I wanted a receipt. Was he trying to make up with me? I cheerfully said, “Yes, thank you. That would be good.” He handed one to me.

It was an $8.00 ride. Upon reaching our destination, I got to see the nicer side of the man behind the wheel. A cynic might say he had started to think about the tip. I gave him the fare and a tip. I lived for tips once. It was for me and for him.

He said, “Have a good day.”

My first thought was, “Too late.” Then I looked at the beautiful blue sky and thought again. I said instead, “You know I plan on it! You too. Have a lovely day. By the way, I just know you’re even better looking when you smile.”

As he said goodbye, he did.
—me strauss Letting me be


mojo shivers said...

That's why I never take cabs if I can avoid it. You never know what kind of driver you're going to get.

Plus, the whole idea of being in a car without MY music playing is pretty much sacrilege.

ME Strauss said...

Hey Mojo,
Hard to take your own car when it's half a continent away. I'm sure you'd agree. I'm with you, though, on the driver and on the music.

It felt good that I got him to smile in the end. Power struggle of good versus evil.


Cheryl said...

I don't know what made him so cynical and uncooperative, but I know who put a smile back on his face!

Congrats on using your trip to become an honorary fairy godmother - lets hope the day just got nicer and nicer - for him and his subsequent passengers.

Lee Carlon said...

it is amazing how people like that can make you feel like you're the one in the wrong.

Sounds like you handled him, and maybe he'll be a bit happier next time.

Ned said...

"I wasn’t sure what my response was supposed to be. Okay, he’ll take me? My understanding of capitalism was that I pay. He takes me. Was I confused? Was he?"

Sounding dangerously like me there Liz. But, you were there. Think about it. How easily a smile would come to you if you had to drive all day in Boston traffic?

It's really a game you have to play with New Englanders, they really don't want to be pleasant and friendly, you have to make them. I only talk to people in elevators whose steady gaze at the ceiling indicates their resistance to friendly chatter. I make them be friendly. It's a game.

Sounds like you learned how to play "find the human being inside the New Englander".

Jennifer said...

Taking a cab in Boston :) There's a reason I NEVER drive in Boston--it's IMPOSSIBLE. I seriously have no idea how people find their way around (the T and walking are the way to get around :)

ME Strauss said...

Hey Cheryl,
Thank you for the compliment. I think he just became a quest to me and I wasn't going to let him ruin my mood.

The day got on fine for me.


ME Strauss said...

Hi Lee,
Great to see you!
Yeah, I wasn't going to let some cab driver get the best of me. :)

I got him to smile and that counts for something.


ME Strauss said...

You got it, Ned.
That's exactly what was going on. He was probably ticked off that the fare was so short rather than a ride to the state or so.

I love what you named the game.


ME Strauss said...

Hey Jennifer,
Good morning!

I didn't have much of a choice based on the timing of things and what I was carrying. I'm with you, though, I hated driving in Boston when I lived in that neighborhood. The one way streets never went the right way. :)


Indeterminacy said...

Once I had a cab driver who kept jerking his head and making little these barking noises. I think he had the DTs or something or thought he was talking to himself. He drove me from the Binghamton bus station to my apartment in Endicott, NY in the middle of the night. I was afraid to speak to him for fear of interrupting his concentration. Then again, maybe he was doing that because he was afraid of me?!

ME Strauss said...

Hi indie,

You don't impress me as someone who would inspire fear. Am I missing something? :)

Maybe the guy was raised by dogs. :) You should get a picture of a dog in a car amd write a story about him.


ME Strauss said...

Thank you Garnet.
We hug you back.

melly said...


I don't agree with you 100% on this one.

Just because people service other people doesn't mean they always have to be in a good mood. As long as they do their jobs (which he did), I don't care if they frown, smile or stick their tongue out. We all have bad days.

What you can take from this is that you actually helped him feel good by the end of the ride and that was a nice thing to do as one human being to another :)

ME Strauss said...

Okay Melly,
I'll buy what you're saying. But his job as a driver is to drive and to help me get where I'm going. To sit there and refuse to move wasn't very helpful.

In the end, we both ended up in a good place. You're right. I don't mind a bad mood now and then. I don't like to made to feel like I'm the cause of it, though,


Janus said...

a cab driver that doesn't take a fare because he needs an address?

I thought they just drove you for hours in circles before asking that way they can retire off your ride

ME Strauss said...

Great comment Janue.
I made the laughing sound when I read it. I'm still giggling now.

Thank you for that.


fineartist said...

You've got the knowing, sister. You handled that situation like a true visionary. xxxLori

ME Strauss said...

Thanks Lori,
I just didn't want a frown to ruin my day.