Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The pool players

When Bobby trained me, he spoke of the ball players. Back then, there was a soft ball team. I was never invited to play on that team, in spite of the fact that I was a day driver and a pretty good player back then. He told me that the ball players favored each other, which amounted to cheating. If they'd been favoring him, it would have been ok, of course.

Bobby was in a click of his own of course. He in 2 clicks. He was a pool player and one of the PSHA crowd. If you wanted to be really picky, you could argue there were 2 pool playing clicks, the Wilson's crowd, and the Que-Nique crowd. There is no Dick and Dave's crowd, all the cab drivers in town who drink in a bar, frequent the green and white awning from time to time. In all fairness to Bobby, he was one of the best dispatchers who ever sat behind the mike and nobody ever accused him of not being absolutely fair.

I was probably never asked to be a ball player because the fat man in the office was one of the central ball players was the fat man in the office was one of the central figgures in the management of the team. He didn't like me then, doesn't like me now, and having a winning team was never as important as the drinking and dope smoking comradery after the game.

If I were to rank the pool players in terms of skill, I'd have to put Crawdaddy and Tony V. at the top of the list. Bobby used to be up there, but I don't think he plays anymore. It makes me wonder what happened to Tony V., he hasn't been around for a while. Where do I rank? I usually tell people I don't play. When people lose to me, I hear a lot of, 'well, I don't play 8 ball, or I don't play 9 ball, or I don't practice trick shots, or.....' This isn't a problem since I almost never play. I don't know where I rank, I'm not as good as Bob or Tony.

The Hog fancied himself a pool player. He hung out in the pool hall a lot. I guess he was a player, just not a good one. Dickdro plays a lot, or did, he reminds me of myself as a chess player. He got about so good, and never improved from that point, which isn't all that good.

Pool and cab drivers have definately made Wilson a lot of money. His place is fun, you see all the other drivers who drink, and his tournaments must be fun they're well attended.

The Pinkney Street Hide Away (PSHA) got the wreaking ball many years ago. Delmonico's is there now. When I first moved to Madison I used to go in there and drink. I never noticed the cab drivers who hung out there. There was defiantly an in crowd who knew each other, I wasn't part of it. Powers was another PSHA type. He was quite a character, big, strong silent type, one day he went in to the VA hospital complaining of a headache, and he was dead within 36 hours.

I'm sure that in any city, if there are cab drivers, a bunch of them will play pool.

Monday, November 9, 2009

People from the past

I ran into a few people from the past over the weekend.

To the best of my knowledge Butch and I are the only 2 drivers who have really escaped robbers. They say that Useless One escaped, but he did he? The bad guys got his cell phone which they used to call a cab from a different company, and they put the driver from that company in the hospital.

Many years ago, there was a string of robberies which happened about once a month. It was always the same story. 3 guys, black, about 18 years old, a dark one who looked about like so, and a light one who looked about like so. I figured it was a gang initiation, but the company was always very adamant that I was wrong. That makes me believe I was right, of course. The way it always went down was the guy sitting behind the driver would throw something over the drivers head, draw it tight around their neck so they were strangling, and the other 2 would pound the crap out of the driver. After the driver was beaten up pretty bad, they'd ask for the money. No opportunity was given to simply give up the money.

When these guys tried to rob Butch, he won the fight. He laughed about it, and would say, "They was just flappin", to describe the fight. Butch must have had a bit of practice, when they try that on someone with no experience, the element of surprise is probably enough to win, all by itself.

Back in those days, another driver was said to have won, but that kind of depends on what you call winning. When they started beating the crap out of him his foot came off the brake peddle. His cab was in reverse and he was on a grade that went down to his rear, so the cab took off backward and wasn't going real fast, but was gaining speed. One or more of the kids pounding on him decided to exit the cab before the cab wreaked and didn't quite make it, his arm got pinned between the open cab door and a tree, so he got caught, and hurt pretty bad.

The white chick Butch was with was pretty skanky. He didn't remember me. He's been gone from our company for close to 20 years, and out of the cab business for around 5. Almost no one remembered him.

I had Mona and Stella in the cab. Mona has been Mona since before I started driving. She's never been all there, but age hasn't been kind to her. I really wondered why someone would take a ride a single block on Williamson st. When she got in the cab, I greeted her by her name and asked where she wanted to go, she gave an address a block and a half up the street. When she got out, I saw why she took the ride. The skirt she was wearing was mostly gone in the back all the way up to the waste band, which revealed the diaper she was wearing. At least the seat was in the same condition when she got out as it was when she got in, whew!

Stella was at the grocery store on Broadway. I guess most of the drivers know that ride and won't take her. She's also been riding since before I started driving and she always talks non stop a mile a minute the whole way. Most of what she says is a complaint, one after another, and she's always got 3 complaints about the driver before you even get the cab in gear. Her groceries MUST be in the back seat. Bull shit, groceries go in the trunk, but all the other drivers....... All the other drivers don't know who you are Stella, and don't know that it won't shut you up, and since you won't shut up, why should you get special treatment? Answer: You should never get special treatment. But once in a while I will take her because I need the good will it generates with the dispatcher.

I took The Cookie Lady to the same grocery, she'd gotten out of a week in the hospital. She too, figured she'd gotten crappy service. I started work at 3 and she was bitching that she'd called for a cab at 2. I drove out there from downtown to do that ride too, again to make points with the dispatcher. Ah, let no good deed go unpunished, right?

And finally, drum roll perhaps, the final ride of the weekend I did was positively creepy. A couple of guys, 25 - 35 years old perhaps, got in to take a ride to a small club to hear the metal band playing there. When the subject of smoking came up, the guy on the passenger side commented that he'd quit smoking once for 2 years, but started up again. The guy sitting behind me commented, "Yeah, but that was when you were in prison."

"You were in prison for 2 years? What did you do, if you don't mind my asking", I asked.

"Robbed a bank. Actually robbed a few banks", he replied.


I asked him a little about it. He said that the papers in the community where he was at the time gave him a nick name.

Then the guy behind me commented that they had a buddy who'd killed a cab driver. Really!? Here in Wisconsin? He said yeah, here in Wisconsin, and went on to say the guy would get out of prison in 4 more years. If he killed the cab driver around 20 years ago, the guy he killed was my best friend. The guy said that his friend was 16 when he killed the cab driver, so sure enough, their good friend Peter had killed Jim Bob. It was awkward to say the very least. They said nice things about their friend, and I said to not worry about it, it was a long time ago. What a blast from the past.........