Sunday, January 1, 2017
So last night was New Years Eve. I took the opportunity for the holiday to actually see what life was at a party.
Giselle and I decided to make a date of it. I booked a room in Joliet, we had a nice dinner together, and then we decided to go to a bar just outside of Joliet called Bada Brew. They had some live bands and she knows one of the DJ's that was performing as well.
She suggested that it would be safer if we did not drive, since this is amateur night on the roads. Over dinner I hemmed and hawed at the idea, but then decided, that she was right. It is better to be safe than to be sorry.
A little over a year ago, I had pretty much burned my bridges with TeleCab, that in and of itself is a long story, but suffice it to say that I did not handle things as well as I could-or should-have on my end. So we used Lyft to get from the hotel to the bar. The man that picked us up was named Tim. His little Honda was clean and he had phone chargers and was nice enough. The ride was about $15 and I tipped him $5 and gave him a 5 star rating. Driving for a living regardless of the venue you choose is rough.
At one point during the evening we went outside to talk with some of the New Years revelers and I saw a TeleCab taxi drop someone off and I found myself smiling and craning my neck to see if I recognized the driver. I did not. He was someone who has come on the scene since my departure.
I let the moment pass and continued with the evening full of music, conversation, pizza, dancing and so much more. After the new years countdown and a most wonderful and breathtaking kiss, it was time to start thinking about getting back. I texted one of the dispatchers I am still friends with:
"You working tonight?"
"Yep" she replied.
"What's the wait time right now? I may call soon for a ride." I said
Even though she said slow, the short answers clued me in that she was likely taking care of phones or talking to drivers so I let her be A little later in the evening I told Giselle I was going outside to call a taxi. I dialed the number from memory and after a brief hold a voice came on the phone that I did not recognize. Considering how things ended I had no idea if I would even be able to get a taxi from them if my name poppped up on caller id.
"Hi. My name is Patrick and I would like a taxi from Bada Brew to the Inn on Norman. What's the wait time?"
"It'll be less than half an hour."
I went inside and we danced one or two more songs, hugged some people good bye, and settled the tab. I also texted the dispatcher I am still in contact with.
"Who am I getting?" I asked.
"Joe" She replied.
"The poet?" I asked excited to get someone I knew.
"No. I don't think you know him. Good kid."
"Ok. He will be tipped well."
We saw the taxi outside and we grabbed our coats and went out there. He had his window down and was filling out his log sheet in a neat and organized manner.
"You Joe?" I asked.
The young man looked up at me and smiled,"You Patrick Green?"
"Yes I am." Giselle and I got into the back of the Crown Victoria and he confirmed our destination. I asked him as we pulled out of the lot how long he has been driving.
"About a year." He said. "I made some bad investments in Cali and had to come here. I really love this job. Driving around and meeting people is amazing."
"I used to work for TeleCab. I was in sales and marketing and before that I was a driver."
"Yeah," he said, "Why did you leave."
"That is a long story."
"Am I going the right way? The GPS got turned around..."He sounded concerned.
"You're fine, man. Just keep going till we hit 30 and make a right." I smiled.
From there, with Giselle's hand in mine, I asked him about the drivers I used to be brothers in arms with. He did not recognize some of the names. Mike, Mark, Ronnie and a few others. But he certainly knew the names Santa and Patrick. We talked about the dispatchers and he mentioned that Amy was a dispatcher and she used to be a driver. I told him that she was one of our best damn drivers when she was behind the wheel. He asked why she wasn't driving anymore. I paused for a moment and said that is not my story to tell.
His cab was clean. He told me how much pride he took in that and how much he loved that JB let him have a take home car. I affirmed for him that is a matter of trust and respect from John and he should take pride in that. As we pulled up to the Inn he mentioned that sometimes after a week of 12-14 hour shifts he cries and misses family. That gave me pause. For all the nostalgia I was having, there was also the dark side.
The fare was $13, Giselle gave him $23 and we both wished him well.
As we went into the inn and made our way back to the room, I thought about Joe and I thought about how the some of the names have changed. People move on, we flow, we are fluid.
I am no longer a resident of the night. I am no longer the taxi driver. I regret the bridges I burnt in this life and I miss the friendships and the family. In that bittersweet moment, I also knew that I loved where I am and who I am and who I am with. I am embracing my photography and my art. I have made wonderful new friends this year. I have grown. I have learned so much. I have focused on being the dad I was meant to be and I am loved....truly loved. As I am for who I am.
I entered this New Year with love and belonging. That is home. I am home.