I was sitting there still recovering from my previous fare Richard. My nose still burned from the stench and I hadn’t had a job in four hours, FOUR HOURS! Worse yet, I was going to find out later that evening, that I’d missed a text from a regular that would have sent me to the airport earlier in the afternoon. I was in a foul mood wondering why anyone, ANYONE would be a cab driver. Of course my brain chimed in and said, “Because you couldn’t find a job you nimrod.”
Just then the bell went off. I poked the green check mark and studied the information. Crap, I was off to the hospital to pick up a fare named Jenean. Oh well, it was a job and after Richard, how bad could this one be? I was about to find out.
I rolled up to the main entrance and the valet popped his head in my window.
Valet: “Who ya here for?”
Me: “Someone named Jenean.”
He smiled a devious smile and said: “She’s right inside, I’ll go fetch her.” He winked at me and I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Next thing I knew the he re-appeared pushing a wheel chair loaded with a very large woman wearing wire rimmed glasses. It was my fare or more specifically, Jenean. The valet helped get her into a standing position and then you’d have thought she was being drawn and quartered as she got in the right rear seat.
Jenean: “Oh, ahhh, mercy, oh my goodness, ohhh, ahhhh, oh dear me, oh my.”
She was literally panting as if she’d just run the mile in under four minutes for Christ’s sakes, but she appeared to be on board and I was ready to go.
Me: “Hi, where we going?”
Jenean: “We’re going to Aurora, basically Arapahoe Road where it intersects with Smokey Hill Road. I live just south of there. You know where that’s at?”
Now a point here, this lady had one of those whiney little girl voices that was a cross between Rosanne Barr, Miss Piggy, and a long finger nail on a wide chalk board. There were jet engines that were less annoying. I was not looking forward to the next twenty minutes I was going to be spending with her. Yah right, if I only knew what was coming down the pike.
As I rolled out she started:
Jenean: “Exactly how far is it to my house?” She whined? “My Son-in Law wants to know”
Me in my expert cab driver’s voice: “I haven’t a clue.”
Jenean: “Well I suppose it’s not important, we were just curious is all. Hey, do you mind stopping at the Colonel’s Chicken place? I’m starved and God bless fast food if you know what I mean?”
My heart sank as I contemplated additional time with miss whiney britches. I knew looking at her she didn’t need any fast food, or slow food for that matter. I decided to be civil and engage her in a little tip building cabbie B.S.
Me: “Sure we can stop if you wish. You’ll have to help me locate it when we get over there. What were you in the hospital for?”
Jenean: “Heart attack.” She wheezed. “My heart’s not good and I’ve struggled with my health lately. I guess it’s a good sign I still have my appetite.”
Well, it’s always at times like this I take a good long look in the rear view mirror as I really needed to get my head around what I had just heard. Let’s see, she’s around eighty pounds overweight, just had a heart attack, probably my age or close to it, and we were going “WHERE” before I took her home? I was incredulous to say the least. Over the next fifteen minutes I learned about her family, answered questions as to why I’d never had any children as if that’s a crime or something. I always worry think maybe I’m gay so I always talk in a deeper voice. I’m tempted sometimes to say “I’m sterile, wounded in Vietnam if you know my meaning,” but I don’t. We finally came up on Smokey Hill Road.
Jenean: “You shoulda turned at the lights back there.”
Me: “You shoulda said something and I would have. Remember the “You were going to give me the directions part?”
Jenean: “Ooohhh that’s right. Well turn around and it’s over there somewhere.”
Well we made a couple of lefts, a couple of rights and there in front of us was the KFC, or as she put it “The Colonel’s Chicken Place.” Who was I to argue about a name? Realizing she couldn’t walk worth shit I headed the cab into the take out lane and pulled up. She was on the wrong side of the car so when the young chick popped her head up in the take out window, Jenean half screamed the order.
Jenean: “I’d like two family sized chicken dinners extra crispy, two family sized fish dinners. Make sure there’s extra tartar sauce. Could I please get a large Pepsi, no ice right away, I’m very thirsty?”
Well while she was rattling off the order that would have fed the 300 Spartans, I sat there looking in the rear view mirror. The young gal re-appeared with the Pepsi and the process of reaching the Pepsi across too Jenean took on epic proportions similar to a link up of a space capsule to the mother ship.
Jenean slurping away: “Oh thank God. Do you have any shrimp? You do! Well I’d like one family sized shrimp also and honey. You have honey don’t you? I want honey to go along with everything.”
Well the announced total was $147 and I almost spit up. But then something horrible happened, the young gal in the window said: “That’s going to be around fifteen to twenty minutes for us to put your order together mam.”
My brain went “Noooooooooooooo! I’ll die if I’m in this car for twenty minutes with her. They’ll haul me away in a freaking straight jacket!”
Well I pulled the car around front and took a deep breath as it was painfully clear she wasn’t about to take one.
Jenean: “My father was a Colonel in the Air Force, Ha; I guess that’s why I like the Colonel’s chicken so much. You see that’s why I can easily adapt to any situation as I grew up all over the world amongst many cultures.” And on and on and on she went.
My brain was literally gasping for air. I was desperate! I was trapped in a cab with an over-weight, blabbing, high pitched nincompoop. What to do? Suddenly I had an idea.
Me: “Ah mam let me go in there and I’ll see where they’re at as far as getting your order together. This is really starting to cost you, what with the waiting and all, so let me go see what’s up.”
Jenean: “You do that but don’t worry about the cost, the ambulance was going to cost $1,600 and they wouldn’t have let me stop here.”
I got out of the car and my brain took a breath of fresh silence. “My GOD!” I wondered, “Could they charge me with manslaughter for allowing her to eat all that chicken?” I mean the ambulance wouldn’t have allowed it. I raced inside.
Me to the young gal: How long on that order?”
Young gal: “Just five minutes more.”
Me: “FIVE MINUTES! Could you please hurry, she’s killing me out there. You don’t know what it’s like to be trapped in that car with her.”
Young gal: “It’s a really big order. She must be having a large party.”
Me: “No, I think she’s eating it all by herself.”
Young gal: “No way! You’re serious?”
Me: “Couldn’t be more serious, now get busy!”
Well I climbed back in the car and she just kept blabbing on.
Jenean: “It’s unusual in this day and age for a man not to have had at least one child. You’re not?”
Me: “NO I’M NOT!”
Jenean: “Well I didn’t think so but it’s just unusual for a man nowadays to not have had a child.”
Well, I was about to go the sterile route when thankfully a young man loaded with bags of food appeared and I got out to help him load the five family sized meals, tartar sauce, and honey in the car.
Jenean: “You did bring lots of honey didn’t you?”
The kid gave me a blank look and I snapped: “Get the damn honey, now!”
He took off at a nice quick pace and returned a minute later with what appeared to be the stores entire stock of honey. I looked at Jenean and patted the bag:
Me: “Honey, lots of it. OK?”
Well we headed for her house but not before she again gave me bad directions getting me lost in a neighborhood. While I was trying get back to the main road I learned all about her Ex-Husband Ronnie, turned out he was gay, not me.
As we got close to her house it turned out I wasn’t finished with my assorted tasks.
Jenean: “I need to stop at the mail box and get my mail. It looks like a little red farm house. Ronnie made it right before he left me.”
Now it should be pointed out at this juncture IT WAS DARK OUTSIDE! I finally located the stupid mail box (She was right, it looked like a little red barn) and as I handed her the mail and moved the car forward she said: “Stop, that’s the driveway right there!”
Great, I was looking at a narrow strip of dirt with a tiny wooden bridge on it. Hell, no problem. I was just driving a car the size of an aircraft carrier with a over sized load in back. I was sure the bridge would hold us. CHRIST! We made it over the bridge and up into the driveway where she paid me $62 plus a $15 tip. I helped her up the damn steps and into an easy chair and then proceeded to unload the five family sized meals, extra tartar sauce and that damn large bag of honey. I set it all on the landing while she moaned away in the easy chair. Concerned about the impending potential manslaughter charge Isaid my goodbye’s and beat it out of there as fast as I could. I needed a drink. NO, I needed several drinks, FAMILY SIZED!