It was around midnight. Halloween on State street starts to wind down at midnight. There will be people out until 2:30 when the bars have to close, but people start heading home at midnight.
I picked up a trio who wanted to go to a motel out by East Towne. They were from Milwaukee, and they didn't need any more to drink. We immediately had problems. "Hey! Turn off the child lock on the windows! I need to roll my window down."
I told them the windows didn't work. They weren't buying any of that. I started hearing the this is my cab crap that many passengers come up with. Ah, no, it's not your cab, it's MY cab and if you don't like riding in my cab you are free to find another cab you like better. No, they didn't like that idea, it was their cab and they'd do what ever they wanted, and if I didn't like it they'd have me fired first thing Monday morning. Roll down the windows immediately and we won't have you fired, otherwise we will have you fired.
The woman in the back seat behind me was slurring her words. She slurred out that they were going to yell stuff at people. For the time they were in the cab they owned it, and their idea of a good time was to hang out the window and yell stuff at the pedestrians we were passing. I again told them they could get out and find a cab they liked better, they again went through the I'd be fired by 9 am on Monday morning. In fact, now, because I was being such an a** hole, they'd have me fired either way. By 9 am Monday morning Mr. Cabdriver, you will be fired.
Again, I tell them they can find another cab they like better, if they wish, and yes they will in fact pay for the ride even if they are not allowed to hang out the windows and the cops will take them to jail if they refuse to pay. No ifs ands or buts about that. Traffic is moving real slow, we did about 10 minutes of this from Lake and University, down to Park, over to Langdon, up Langdon to Henry, down Henry to Gilman, and argh.......... GRIDLOCK. Dead in the water, for who knows how long.
The guy in the front seat with the blue face, he was Brave Heart. He said, "I think there's a fight going on up ahead, I'm going to go and straighten it out." With that he got out of the cab and started walking the 2 blocks up to Wisconsin Ave., which is where traffic was stopped at. Wonderful, I thought. That's 1. Now if I can only get rid of the other 2. I tried to get the other 2 to follow their friend, no dice. What they did do however was a really big mistake, they opened the doors and stood on the pavement with their hands on the roof of the cab and the top of the doors. I'm sure the reasoning was, they were hanging on to the cab, and it is true that if they'd walked away, I'd have closed the doors and locked them.
There had been no traffic in the oncoming lane all this time for some reason. I'm guessing that the fight the guy in the front seat thought he saw really was a fight, and the car in the oncoming lane was involved, so traffic in the oncoming lane was stopped 2 blocks up. For some reason, that cleared, and the first car coming up the street toward us was a ratty blue midsized American car. It was coming real slow, about 5 mph.
When that ratty blue car was about 10 feet in front of my bumper, the woman who'd been sitting in the back seat behind me slurred out, "You're a bitch."
SCREACH!!!!! The blue car slammed to a stop and a black kid, about 6'6" with a mouth full of gold, jumped out and shreaked, "Bitch????? I ain't no bitch!!!! You a bitch!!!!" And in the time it took him to say this he had her blouse in his left hand, and he jerked her away from the cab. Then, with her blouse in his left hand, he started slamming her in the face with his right fist. There had been 6 poor under priviledged minority youth in the car, and they all came out, ready to fight. The girls boyfriend who'd been sitting on the passenger's side ran around the cab, I suppose to attempt to pull the big black kid off his girfriend.
At this point, I was pulling the cab doors closed and locking them. Once I had the cab locked down, I laid down in the front seat, and started asking dispatch for the cops. I had visions of a brick going through the window, and me being pulled out and pounded, well if I keep down, maybe they'll think it's just an empty cab. Dispatch said that the cops were on the way. I holstered the mike and hugged the seat, waiting for the fracas to end.
After a while, I heard this faint tapping on the passenger side in the rear. I looked back and it was the guy and the girl, he wasn't beat up too bad, but she had gotten beat up really badly. They were begging in really quiet voices, "Please let us in." I hit the door lock button and unlocked all the car doors. I sat up and the ratty blue car was gone, traffic was moving past us, and I could see that traffic was starting to move, we'd be able to move on in a minute.
I keyed the mike and told dispatch that I couldn't stay at the corner of Henry and Gilman and block traffic, that I'd take Gilman to Wisconsin, Wisconisn to Johnson, and wait somewhere around here if there was a place to wait without tying up traffic. About this time, Brave Heart showed up and got back in the cab. He hadn't gotten beat up at all.
I didn't even make it a block down Wisconsin and there was a cop with his lights on behind me. I stopped and he pulled up along side. He rolled down the window and said, "We've got them, follow me." Wow, I thought, the cops found a way through that gridlocked traffic and caught those guys. I'm amazed.
We followed the squad up Wisconsin to Langdon and down Langdon to the Memorial Union parking lot. The ratty blue car was pulled almost to the end of the lot. If he'd gone 50 feet further, he'd have put his car into the lake. They only had 1 guy. The guy they had was 5'10", I said, "That ain't the guy, he's way too short." They had all of us look at this guy anyway. There were dozens of black kids, mostly girls, with their hands and faces pressed against the glass, watching all of this from the safety of the second floor of the Memorial Union. After the guy and the girl looked at the guy the cops had, we waited for another 30 mintues while the cops did their paper work. For you non cab drivers, next time you see a nice fresh copy of the New York Times on the front seat and ask yourself, when would a cab driver have time to read it, well, you just never know.
Finally the cops said we could go, and we started off to East Towne. I looked at the girl, her face showed a beating. I asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital. I told her that she was beat up pretty bad and she really ought to go the hospital. Since there was no blood, the cops had let her get back in the cab. She didn't want the hospital, she just wanted that bed in the hotel room. You're sure? Yeah, she was sure. Well, folks, now you know why I don't let people hang out the windows and yell stuff at people. They didn't say much to that, they didn't want to yell stuff at anybody anymore.
I let them off, only charged them for the ride, although they probably cost me 30 or 40 bucks in lost prime time, and headed back down town. When I told Roy Boy about it on Monday morning, I said, "You know, every time someone has called and complained about me not letting them roll down the windows, you always say, why didn't I just give them their way. Now you know why. I assume we'll never have a discussion about rolling down the windows again." He conceeded that I was right, and finally it made sense to him, that keeping the windows rolled up was persuant to passenger safety. Then everybody forgot about it for around 5 months.
In the spring, I got a call from these guys at the law school. They asked me if I was the cab driver who, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, that was me. Ok. And I didn't hear any more of it for a while.
Then the prosecuters office calls and this obnoxiously smiley voice tells me I will be served with a subpoena. By mail or in person? I'm told it's easier if I accept it by mail. Mail. So, I schedule a vacation day from my real job. 3 pm on the day before the court date, the same smiley voice calls and says it's posponed 30 days, and I'll get another subpoena. 30 days later, they postpone it 30 days again. The smiley voice can't understand why I'm not amused. I only get 10 vacation days a year lady!!!!! 30 days later, I get 2 subpoena's, both the prosecution and the defense subpoena me this time. This is now, 4 subpoena's. Hence, a 4 subpoena Halloween. How did it turn out? The public defender told me it was settled out of court in a plea bargain. I never did actually have to appear in court. Yeah, the kid they had went to prison.