22 December 2008
I’ve been reading another cabbie blog, and his description of a funny incident set my memory gears working. See Somebody did a doougie in this cab?! for the full horror.
I remember my first vomit incident. I spent an hour after midnight cleaning the cab out, and I couldn't smell anything. I couldn't smell anything, full stop.
My next fare was a lady in expensive clothing, she was only going a couple of blocks, but she didn't want to walk in heels. She opens the door and instantly recoils. "Has somebody been sick in here?" she asks.
"No," I lie.
She gets in, goes the two blocks and shoots out, telling me to keep the change.
Next fare is a bloke, well sozzled, and he jumps in, gives the name of a town just over the border, and starts telling me what an awful night he's had and his mates left him, and now he's got to pay for the cab all by himself without splitting the fare.
Then he starts sniffing and looks at me, and I look at him.
"Ah, someone threw up in the car yesterday," I explained. "Bloody day driver."
The road stretched out ahead of us, long and lonely. We wound the windows down and he stuck his head out of his, and I kept mine inside, cause I couldn't smell anything but the faintest whiff if I put my mind to it, and the floral scent I'd spritzed inside the car from the dispenser at the car wash was covering that nicely. Three minutes worth, you'd hope so. That was a buck well spent.
But my passenger was gasping. He was in genuine distress. It was midwinter and he wasn't coping well with the icy blast. He was a Queenslander, and they only have a pale imitation of winter there. It was well below freezing and even though I had the cab heater cranked way up, the bits of him that were hanging outside weren't happy.
I could almost see his mental processes going. He'd had a bad night, this cab was costing him a fortune - he kept glancing at the meter - he was freezing his head off, he was likely sitting in a pile of stale vomit and the lying cabbie was taking him the wilderness route - I'd automatically gone down the back road - and nobody cared. I could see him running off without paying.
We entered town and you could smell it, above the whiff of vomit, the cloying floral and the clean blast of icy wind. He was going to run. He was fully justified.
"Ah, it's half rates for interstate," I said, looking at the meter which had forty lovely dollars on it. "A twenty will be fine."
He paid me, and I gave up for the night. Took the car home, stripped out the seats, washed everything washable, found a few puddles of recycled pizza had seeped under the back cushion, and I aired it out for a day and hung up a couple of air fresheners on full flow.
And you know, it never smelt right. Months after, I just had to open the door at the beginning of a shift, and I was instantly wearing that lady's high heels, my sweet little nose wrinkling in outrage and dismay.