He stumped out his cigarette and sat back inside the cab. He saw his own face in the visor’s mirror. He almost couldn’t recognize it – to him it felt like yesterday when he was young and full of energy. As he looked deep into his own gray eyes, he realized that he couldn’t figure out many reasons to be happy. After his son had been killed in action somewhere far, far away, his wife had left him. The love of his life, Marie, only left a note, telling him not to contact her anymore. He understood though, the pain was too much for him too. The routine of starting his taxi every morning was probably the only thing to maintain his sanity.
As he pulled in front of the exit of the airport, like always, he noticed a man rushing out of the building. The driver knew from his experience that this was the perfect potential customer – his hairdo and suit told him immediately that he was a businessman. And they always had the money for big tips. The driver steered the cab perfectly in the businessman’s vision, and he ran straight inside the car.
“Let’s go,” hurried the businessman. “I’ll pay you extra for speeding a little. West Avenue, let’s go!”
“Fine, fine,” the driver responded.
Right when he turned the key to start the cab, he heard a knock on the window. There was a man standing outside the car. He looked poor and homeless, his old shirt was dirty and torn. He looked like he hadn’t had a shower in ages. The driver rolled down the window.
“Where are you going?” the man outside asked.
“West Avenue,” the driver responded.
“I’m headed that way too. Can I fit in?”
“You got money?”
“Of course, I can pay you in advance if you want,” said the man outside.
The driver took him in despite the businessman’s disgusted look. The driver took the payment in advance from the poor man, just to be sure, and started the cab.
“What are you waiting for? Let’s get going, if you haven’t noticed, I am in a little bit of a hurry,” complained the businessman loudly while snapping his fingers in a commanding way, like to a dog. The driver obeyed reluctantly.”Why are you going to the west? What has a man like you to do there?” the rich man continued, looking at the dirty, poor man in disgust.
The poor man did not respond. He only looked out the window, looking surprisingly happy, like his life was about to take a turn for the better. The driver wasn’t so happy – the arrogance of the businessman annoyed him infinitely. The driver never had had much money, and his wife had taken the rest of his savings with her. His taxi service really didn’t bring much money either. He couldn’t stand to even look at the rich man from the mirror, there was something to that man that repelled him so much.
After 10 minutes of silence, the businessman’s cell phone rang to the tune of some old summer hit a few years ago. He looked at it briefly and answered. Even though the rich man tried to cover his mouth and speak quietly, the driver could hear pieces of the conversation.
“Yeah, yeah… I’m on the way… What, you haven’t heard? I’m about to buy the hospital… Yes, that one! Gonna plow it down and build the new office… So what? Why should I care… This shithole of a city doesn’t even deserve a proper hospital in my honest opinion..”
The businessman chuckled a little, looked satisfied in himself and closed the phone. Soon his grin turned to a expression of disgust again and he dragged himself even further from the homeless man. Then he poked the back of the driver’s seat and exclaimed:
“If you don’t stop this taxi right now and throw that stinking hobo out of here, I swear I’m going to get you fired! I can’t take this anymore, you have two minutes to pull over.”
To the poor man’s surprise, the driver almost immediately pulled over. He told the poor man to leave the cab or he is going to regret it. The poor man was offended, but still reluctantly opened the door, stepped out and slammed it shut. The driver hid his anger and rage behind his empty expression. He knew exactly what he was doing. He couldn’t take this anymore. He was done.
The driver reached a road with fast, ongoing traffic. The cars swished past him faster and faster as the driver accelerated the car more and more. His hands were sweating and he could barely keep the car straight. He was trying to look for a good one.
Finally he saw the perfect one. The windshield of the truck was high up, there was no way it could break. As he approached the truck meter by meter, time slowed down. He looked at the businessman. The businessman noticed nothing – he was apparently texting something on his expensive phone.
Before the rich man could even react, the driver violently spun the steering wheel and turned the cab in front of the truck. He could see the truck driver’s shocked face and he could read the licence plate number by number. He knew this was it – there was no way they could make it. But in a way, he felt a little bit relieved.
The final thing the driver saw was his phone’s screen.
“1 missed call – from Marie”