Monday, September 22, 2008

The most off the wall ride

It was a chilly October night following a Big Ten football home game, mid 50's, with light misting rain that made the pavement slick. I was sent to pick up 2 people just off Fish Hatchery, going to Granada Way. When I pulled up to the address, there were 2 guys standing on the front stoop of a condo, one had a brand new winter coat on with the hood up, the other had a winter coat and wore no hat. They were outside, waiting for the cab, right were they were supposed to be. So far so good. I pulled up, and they got in the back seat.

"Where you going?", I asked.

The guy on the passenger side gave me the street name, and I started driving. Every now and then some passenger gives you the creeps during a ride, but it's almost always nothing, and they usually even tip, so you get a little immune to it. If you start treating people like creeps, you will get yourself in a bunch of trouble. The street name he gave was only a couple of blocks long, and since there were 2 of them, it was entirely possible that they'd get off in front of some building that was equal distance from the actual buildings they did live in. It was the right time of day for them to be getting off work if they worked in a bar, or something.

As we drove, I again asked, "So where you going on...", followed by the current street name. (When they tried to clean up the neighborhood a few years ago they renamed all the streets, so it is no longer called Granada Way)

The same guy, on the passenger side, repeated the street name. He sounded a little tight, now he was sounding creepy. It was a short ride, as in 5 minutes. I told myself that I'd feel better when I got them out of the cab, I was just being paranoid, and that after this ride I'd go back down town where I wouldn't worry about the passengers so much.

When I turned on the street, he'd asked for I asked, "Ok, where abouts?"

"All the way down at the end", he said.

Now I felt better. There was indeed a building at very end, in the cul de sac. However when I got to the last driveway on the left he quick said, "Hey, you gotta turn in here."

Ok, these buildings have separate front and rear entrances, nothing unreasonable about that. I pulled into the drive and asked which way, the guy said, "To the right."

I pulled up to the door, and was just turning my head to tell the guy who was doing all the talking how much, when the kid behind me grabbed my hair and slammed my head back against the head rest.

The kid on the passenger side said in a tone that was cool as ice, "I want everything you've got. We want all the money. Everything you've got." He said it very deliberately. His voice had been tight before, it was smooth and confident now. There was not the slightest hint of excitement in his voice.

It took me a split second to say to myself, no way. I grabbed the mike and started to say I need the cops, but didn't get it out, the kid behind me let go of my hair and was trying to cover my mouth with his hands. The kid on the passenger side dove between the seats and with both hands, one on the mike, one on the mike cord, and wrestled the mike out of my hand. Ok, if I can't call the cops, perhaps we can go find one. I slapped the shifter into reverse and floored it.

The pavement was wet, so the tires mostly spun, and I had to let off on the gas a little so they would actually grab. The kid behind me had picked up some kind of rigid object and was hitting me on the top of the head with it. It wasn't heavy, perhaps they brought something like a cigar box to carry the change away in. What ever it was, I knew he was hitting me, but it was like getting hit with an empty cigar box, no effect. The cab was picking up speed in reverse. I needed to back up about 4 or 5 car lengths to make the T-turn to come out onto the street going forward.

As I was looking to the right outside mirror, I saw a knife even with my head, about 10 inches away, out of the corner of my eye. I asked myself, "Am I going to get my throat cut out of this?", as I started to feather the breaks. I knew that if I threw it into drive from full tilt boogie in reverse, I'd risk lunching the transmission. If I blow up the transmission, I'm stranded here with these 2, I can't risk damaging the transmission. I need to slow down to fast walking speed, say 5 mph in reverse, before I pull it down into drive. I keep the knife in view in the corner of my eye, and I see the kid bring up his other fist with some of the mike cord doubled in it. He shoved the knife into the loop of doubled mike cord, pulled hard, and cut the mike cord in 2. By now, the rear door behind me was a little open.

I was just about ready to slap pull it down into drive when the kid with the mike threw it at me, it raised a bump on my head. Then his door and the rear passenger door swung open wide and they both dove out into the darkness. Almost immediately, I pulled it down into drive and gave it gas to go, but light enough to not spin the tires on the wet pavement. As I cut to the right, to go between the buildings, the one rear door slammed shut. When I got to the end of the street, I paused to reach over the seat and pull the other shut.

There used to be a police substation on Badger Road, so I went looking for a cop there. It was no longer a cop shop, what to do? No communications, no cell phone, and all the pay phones in the area have been removed, what am I going to do? Then I saw a Capital cop checking on a State building, so I pulled up in front of him. I jumped out and said, I'd just been in a robbery. He asked where, and when I told him he said, that was out of his jurisdiction. Ok, I said, then could you get me a cop? I have no communication, they cut my mike cord. It took a second for him to say, ok he would, then I told him I needed a few seconds to catch my breath.

They sent both township and city cops to this State office building parking lot. The BIG question was, whose jurisdiction was it. They all told me, more than once, that the chances of catching these guys was slim to none, as if I had a choice about reporting it and getting a police report. They cut the mike cord, they damaged company property guys, I have to have a police report. So, it was determined that the township cop had jurisdiction, and he and I drove back over to where it happened and spent about 2 hours standing in the rain filling out the police report.

J. J. kept asking for on the radio, but of course with no mike I couldn't answer him. After absolutely assuring me that it would be just about impossible to catch the 2 guys, the cop said something like, 'The only way we catch these guys is after they do it a bunch of times and each time we get a little more information, and finally they make a serious blunder and we catch them.' Did I want to go to the hospital? I don't know, I told him. All I had was a bump on my head. He looked in my eyes with his flashlight real good, I think he was looking for signs of a concussion, but that's only a guess. Finally, about 2 hours later, I was free to go back to the office.

When I got back to the office, there was a small group of drivers who'd hung around after checking in to see how it finally turned out. First to greet me in the parking lot was a fellow, I frequently refer to as pain. He asked me how much they got. Nothing, I said. The dove out of the cab, they didn't like the way I was driving. He grinned broadly, turned and said to the there's in the parking lot, "See, I told you, I knew they wouldn't get anything!!!!!!!" Then Bam Bam asked me if I was all right, did I need a doctor. I'm all right, all I want to do is go home.

And it was over, sort of. I'd always wondered if I'd be able to get back in a cab after being robbed. Over the years, I've seen the pain, and the hollow look in the eyes of other drivers after they've been robbed. And many have been robbed.

To get over it, I started to tell the story, mostly to passengers. As I told the story, other stories came back into my memory. Quickly, this story became the 5th knife story. Sometimes I would tell only this story, sometimes I would tell all 5 knife stories. In spite of the fact that they are not cab stories, I will at some time in the future tell all of them, as well as a number of other wild stories that really did happen.


Tonya said...

Just a quick Hello! I love to follow cabbie blogs ~ looking forward to reading more of your adventure.

In_spired said...

Found a little time. Came back to visit your first Cabbie post. "Life is an experience"...