The Good ol’ Day
Early this week, the first work day after this month's check-day, which for some unknown reason lands on a Saturday, I got “the call”, my check-day call up to Montreal. A pick up at those ram-shackled row of houses near, oh I better not say, to the offices across from the Kingston Shopping Centre “with/STOPS”… An extremely twitchy n’ fidgety undefinably mid-aged gal dashes from the doorway and lunges into the back of my cab “...wait for my friends, there’s more of us.” As a couple of scraggly and as equally twitchy fellas get in, one in front the other in back with his gal, one of them tells me we’re off to the ODSP office; I ask if we’re to make a stop afterwards at the check cashing place, it's quite likely, I hit that gas and I think, oh… here we go.
Driving around with three fidgety n’ twitchy crystal meth fiends can be a challenge, if you want to make it one. The conversation's erratic, overlapping and idiotic. I find it best just to be mindful, a bit careful not to say anything that might confuse or provoke ‘em, crack a few inside jokes… They were a bit more docile than others I've had in my cab and I found myself in a playful mood, so I just played along. It was almost as if we were all in this together, just some pals off to get what we’re after right from the get go. It helped that they didn’t smell so bad.
Getting them out of the car at our government's offices in an organized fashion and in a way I felt certain they would come back and pay, better yet, continue our ride was a challenge. A little trick I pull is to offer to pause the wait time a few times, to save ‘em a few dimes. This also keeps me from running up the meter, the fare I’m ultimately responsible for, if they do flee. I was happy to see ‘em leave behind a worn out old bag and a dirty n’ ripped up jacket, you know, their valuable belongings… they got out and into the offices then after a too long while later back into the CAR with checks in hand, hooray for one and all!
After a bit of discussion, it was decided that indeed, I would take ‘em to the check cashing place. Deciding on which one was a feet of decision making I simply cannot begin to describe except to say, how it was ever made… I was quite proud of my new found n’ fleeting drug addicted pals. On our drive to the Money Mart on Division between Queen and Princess, I peppered the conversation with stories of my own… they continued along in fragments, a now more excitedly babbling incoherence that I knew meant something amongst themselves. As expected the overall mood in the cab was definitely improving… we were soon all going to have cash money!
The two fellas got out at the Money Mart. The undefinably-aged gal and I had a nice little chat. She asked over some of the snippets of my own I’d told them on the drive down to get our cash. We got a chuckle over the one about taking an eh hem… in a garbage pale while “waiting for my man” one dark n dreary night in Brooklyn. I think it relaxed her how I described the friends I’d made here in Kingston, folks much the same as her and her pals to the methadone clinics here in town, often, to often really, almost daily… When the fellas returned the conversation turned to “...where next? Hushed, a bit withheld at first until the young lady assured them that I was indeed “…one of us" Believable perhaps because I yam whats I am after all n' another challenging round of decision making... It was finally decided that, despite earlier agreements they’d reached long before jumping in my cab, they would like me to take them to… I’ll not mention the location out of my desire not to become too too involved in this. I mean, forgetting for a moment the joke I'd made with them that I'd had a fleeting notion of parking my cab and joining them for their afternoon’s endeavours, I had absolutely no intent of doing so. Having any more of a role in all this other than...
But… And I did have a thought... Really, what was my role in all of this? Honestly, as we sat at the curb just a few doors down from yet another “there” I stood down from before... I stood thinking for a moment, having a smoke... I waited for one of the fellas to do his business with many a long ago but not lost memory swirling ‘round inside my now spinning head... old thoughts, along with the thought… What is my role in this? …a roles I felt somewhat particularly troubled with was the role the Kingston Police might assign me as we all stood there, parked at the curb breathlessly waiting for that older looking than he should have, twitchiest of scraggly fellas to come back with… you know what, I don’t know, officer? Having had this thought, I’ve decided, I should really look this up one day.
The fella finally did get out and back to the cab, hands in pockets... We got our crazy o’l show back on the road.
Now, nearly in view of it all being in very “full swing” very soon. I watched as this scraggly bunch transform from scatterbrained and twitchy, undefinably aged bent over n almost dying drug addicts into a gang of almost too-happy gleeful pre-teenagers… yet another scramble to decide which convenience store would be best to make a stop for chips n’ pop n’ other stuff, various bits of paraphernalia I assumed, “...this one has that but doesn’t sell lotto tickets, that one has lotto but doesn’t sell that, we need this and that… and lotto.”
I was exhausted by the time we all got back to the ramshackle shack up on Montreal. They’d run up a thirty sum odd dollar fare, paid without a whimper and gave me a whole 5 dollar tip from the quickly dwindling pile of dough our government had just handed them. I pulled my car out of the driveway as quick as I could, rolled down all the windows, not to let any smell out… really, just to let air in. I pulled over into the nearest parking lot, out of their line of sight, as if they'd even bother looking, got out and lit a smoke as quick as I could. That ride? It had it’s moments of course, at times it was fun while it lasted and we got up to some crazy conversations, in the end about absolutely nothing at all. In the definitely very end of it though… I am truly glad… that that’s all over with... derogatorily... or not.