In the taxi business, a driver tries to rely upon his or her instincts to determine whether or not someone is a threat. It isn’t enough to simply rely upon the sort of instincts one develops from accessing obvious danger at first glance. It’s true; one can’t judge a book by its cover but one can tell if the book is too heavy to begin reading. We’re all less inclined to begin a weighty tome if only looking for light fare over a three-day weekend. The same holds true for passengers that attempt to flag down my cab.
Over the years I’ve come to understand that four young men, disheveled and drunk, with one retching in the gutter, may not be the best fare to stop for if only to collect an additional $3.00 in extra passenger charges. Live and learn. That doesn’t mean that the bright-eyed stripper I just picked up isn’t a sociopath or that the sober and brooding young hipster isn’t Dr Lecter’s protégé. It just means that I have to try to rely upon my ability to interpret a vast mosaic of behaviors and attitudes. I have to suss out the tells in people’s voices, those little snags that betray their ulterior motives.
Todd, my last fare of the night, was not complex. Among other things, he was just some girl’s scary boyfriend. Stranded on the bad side of town, far from his home, he was like so many that just needed to get away. But, in doing so, he spent too much time and money all for the opportunity to find out that his girlfriend wasn’t home after his raucously good night out with his mates. His costume was only his street clothes and his makeup, at least for one young lady, had long worn off. Oh well, you can’t dress like a clown every year.