I needed a cab to the airport this past weekend so I could come home from some on-campus summer research.
The cabbie shows up, over twenty minutes late, with another man in the car. I had not expected to share the cab, and am instructed by the driver to take the front seat. I am eventually told that the guy who had claimed the entire backseat is his brother:
"Hey, if the agency calls, don’t tell them he was here. He’s not supposed to be in the car, but he’s my brother!"
Then we stop at a convenience store, because they want some snacks. I just want to get to the airport.
The brother offers me chex mix from the backseat. I politely decline.
Both brothers light up. The cab is getting oppressively smoky. The smell is not pleasant to me, personally. The driver has a long conversation with someone on the phone, who owes him money. Apparently, if he doesn’t pay up, the driver will be taking his moped.
The brother lights up another cigarette, and alternates between taking drags and eating his chex mix. Suddenly he shouts:
"They put too many pretzels in this stuff!"
The driver agrees. ”They put a lotta damn pretzels in there.” End of conversation.
The driver asks me where I go to school. I tell him. It’s the same school he picked me up from. He asks what I study. ”Biology,” I tell him. ”Which one is that?” He asks. I do not know how to respond. I tell him it covers the study of plants, animals, humans, and diseases. Somehow, I think “the study of life” would be too ambiguous.
The driver asks me if I go to a “hippie school.” The brother rejoins the conversation, “Naw, man, it’s liberal arts!” He is correct. The driver seems concerned that he may have offended me. ”I’m not sayin’ you’re a hippie,” He clarifies. I don’t care. I’m too busy picking off the ash from their cigarettes, which has settled on my clothes.
They tell me they are from North Carolina, and ask me where I’m from. Massachusetts, I tell them. They seem sympathetic; even they know that Ohio doesn’t have much going for it.
At last, we reach the airport. I pay and thank them for their service. We part ways as unlikely acquaintances.