Every once in a while a fare will come up that leaves me with a new perspective, or simply shaking my head. Today I had one that did both.
I picked up an elderly lady at the hospital, one clearly more spry than she initially appeared. As I pulled up to the front entrance, she popped up from her seat on a bench, and pointed with authority to indicate I was to stop in front of her. I did as directed, and was about to get out to assist her, when the door opened, and she landed on the seat beside me.
We exchanged greetings, and I asked where she'd like to go.
"Take me to Dr. Marion's office..."
"Ok." I paused. "Where is that?"
She looked at me, mildly aghast at my ignorance, and the ease with which I exposed it.
"You must be new in town..."
She had a way of clipping her words that made me feel she found me somehow lacking.
I explained that there were several doctors offices in town, and listed a few possibilities. She looked at me, unwilling to surrender the upper hand.
"Well..." she said. "I think it may be at the Medical Centre, or the mall behind Price Chopper, or..."
She stopped as she ran out of my earlier suggestions. I pulled the cab to the curb, and excused myself. Inside the hospital I cornered a volunteer, and extracted the necessary information. Sure enough, the Medical Centre, about 300 yards down the street, was our destination.
I jumped back in, and headed for the street.
"Dr. Marion is at the Medical Centre." I offered the information helpfully.
She was all over it.
"Just as I told you. Here...I recognize it now. There it is, pull in here, right here, that's it. I told you it was here." She was still clipping her words, each syllable bitten to the quick as she spit it out.
We pulled to a stop, and I summoned her fare.
"Just you wait." Her tone chided me for my impatience.
She looked towards the entrance, and I could see some uncertainty in her face.
"You go in and make sure this is the right place."
She managed to convey that I wasn't to be trusted to get it right. But I wasn't offended. I kinda liked her. Of course I'd known her only a minute, maybe two.
I confirmed the location, and returned to collect my prize. She suggested I could collect when I returned to drive her home. I explained that another driver might get that fare, and I needed to collect it now. The fare was $6.50, a senior discount. She considered this, and handed me a ten. I gave her back three, and was fishing for two quarters when she helpfully informed me I still owed her .50 cents. She had the mien of a schoolmarm, presiding over a challenging student. I handed over the quarters, and she paused, considering. She then pressed a quarter firmly into my palm, and was gone, briskly making her way inside. I called out my window to remind her to turn left when she got inside. She looked back at me as though I were beyond help, and turned right, I think just to show me she wasn't about to be dictated to by anyone, especially an insolent cab driver with suspect math skills.