Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Halloween story

I have many Halloween story's. I've driven most of the last 20, at night. A couple of years ago, I missed seeing a guy in a little 2 seater Mercedes smoke a phone pole by less than 2 minutes. That he walked away from it, is a real tribute to German engineering. What happened was.....

It was about bar time (2:30 am, is mandatory out of the bar time here), and I had a load to pick up, Club 5 going to Seminole and the Belt. Nice short ride, pays nice, wonderful if they're ready to go. They were in fact, ready to go too! 4 lesbians, a load, as we say. I recall the costumes of one couple, a pirate with a princess. How could I tell they were lesbians? Well, the 2 couples were doing some pretty heavy necking, and pawing, and professing love, and all that sort of drunken stuff. And yeah, the Club is a gay bar.

It's a quick ride. Jump on the belt line, run about a mile and a half west, drop them off quick and head downtown. Shouldn't take more than 10 minutes total. All was going according to plan, until I got to the top of the ramp at Seminole Hwy. There's this guy who's a little unsteady on his feet, waving, he wants a ride. What's he doing here, more or less in the the middle of nowhere, at bar time trying to flag a cab? I rolled down the window and said, "Sorry, I'm full."
Looking past him, to the south side of the bridge, I saw why he was flagging a cab. There was a wooden phone pole, about 15" in diameter, splintered and listing over top of a little 2 seater sports car. The phone pole wasn't broken off, but it was definitely shot. The little sports car was definitely totalled. How could this guy have walked away from that, I wondered.

The thing that comes natural to a cab driver is to pick up the mike and say, "I need the cops at Seminole and the Belt. I need an ambulance. I'm not involved. Single car accident, I have the car and driver in sight." Dispatch told me to stand by.

The guy who'd been driving the car saw me using the radio. He was wearing a cheap Halloween costume, it looked kind of like a gunny sac with a picture of Yogi the Bear on it. He started trotting off down Seminole in the direction of downtown, which is also down a really long hill.

Dispatch came back and asked for details. They do this when they are on the phone with the cops. What does he look like? Which direction is he going? Can you keep him in sight. Try to keep him in sight. All that sort of stuff.

I told my passengers that this was only going to take a few minutes. Sorry ladies. Being a shared ride, zone cab, there is no meter to worry about turning off. The fare is based on where they got in, where they're going, and how many people in their party, not on the route taken, or little side adventures like Yogi Bear smoking a phone pole. One of them says, she bets she'll be out replacing that phone pole tomorrow, she works for Madison Gas & Electric. The phone pole was indeed replaced the next day.

As Yogi trots, we follow. He's in a bad neighborhood to try and hide in. Ahead of him, about 3 miles away, is downtown. To his right is the arboretum, a thick forest environment, really dark at night. To his left is a nice little neighborhood of small homes, but it's bounded by a limited access highway, and a major boulevard, so it's more or less a blind alley that will trap him. I'm behind him. He has no choice but to head down the hill. He heads up a small street that is a dead end, quickly realizes it's a trap, and starts doubling back, trying to get past us, using the back yards. He goes through a couple of peoples back yards and comes out behind us, but we see him and again are following him. The drunken condition isn't conducive to running, but he was doing a hell of a job, considering he had just been in a car accident that should have killed him.

The ladies are beginning to tire of this adventure. A couple of them had their blood up for some touch, and they'd put that on hold for 5 minutes, and who cares if Yogi gets away or not? The wanted to be home in a nice warm bed or hot tub or what ever they did. "Ah, maam you don't understand. Once the cops are called, I'm on the hook to hang around until they come." The cops were definitely coming too. It was Halloween night, so most of the cops were downtown, but a bent phone pole and a totaled car with the guy who did it in somebodies sight is definitely something they want to respond to quickly.

Yogi was doing a pretty good job of sneaking in and out of back yards, but it was really tough. He was drunk. Getting hit with all those air bags is like being in a fist fight, ask anybody who has been saved by them in an accident, you'll feel it for a few days, you'll see stars when they deploy. He wasn't dressed for the cold. It was chilly, low 40's, and all he had for a coat was a gunny sac, no hat, no gloves. A 3 mile walk to downtown will take an hour if he makes it, and it will be a very cold, miserable hour.

Finally, the first squad car found us, we were about 4 blocks from the exit ramp. We'd last seen Yogi about 90 seconds ago, and pointed to a couple of houses, where he'd ducked into the back yards. The cop said there were a couple of more units on the way, that they had what they needed, so we were free to go.

We got back up to the beltline, and crossed to the south side. One of the ladies asked if we could stop for a second and look at the car, I said sure. It still had steam rising from it. The splinted phone pole was broken at an angle of about 45 degrees. All the air bags were blown. The drivers door was hanging open. It was truly amazing that somebody could walk away from that. He'd hit that phone pole dead on.

The ladies went to a home about 5 blocks further on, got out and paid me. They even tipped generously, which considering the delay was mighty generous of them.

My bar rush was shot for that night. It was time to take the car back to the office and check it in.

1 comment:

King of New York Hacks said...

“God looks after fools, drunks, and little children.” at least thats what my Granny used to say.