pinkmonkeybird

...busting up my brains for the words

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cab ride to hell

Last night I thought I was going to spend just another evening at the gym lifting weights, swimming, walking and stretching. But all I got done was the swimming. When I got out of the showers after my swim, I returned to my locker to get dressed for the land-lubber segment of my exercise, when I noticed a piece of torn off edge from my Excel spreadsheet class schedule.

O yeah! That's right. I am taking a few classes in Excel this current month of February. I wonder when the first class is.

Looking inside, I learn that my fargin' class is today! At 6:30. OMG, I missed it. Or did I? So I check out the big Westclock on the wall and discover that I have a half hour to get to class on time. It's just past 6 pm. Let's go. I can make it if I take a taxi-cab. It's not far.

Immediately, I got dressed and walked through the skyway to 7th Street, where all the taxis queue up. The first cab in line was a Green & White cab. I'm not entirely particular which cab company I hire. But Green & White is not among my first choices. Nevermind that I knew a cab driver who swore that Green & White is mafia controlled. I have no idea if that's true. It's just that I prefer Red or Yellow or Blue. Anything but Green for a cab. I should have trusted my instincts, for I was about to put my trust into a cab company that has no idea where my destination is, doubts it exists and has trouble speaking English. Those are all deficits in running a cab company in Minneapolis.

Ok. First things, first. The address. Yes. I am going to 256 Upton Avenue, South. It's a public school called Anwatin. I don't know where it is. Immediately, the driver makes a phone call on his cell. A bad sign, I know. He has no idea where this place is and is phoning in to his dispatcher to get some help. Sensing that I need more resources I pull out my class schedule for more information. I find a map of the metro that shows Anwatin as a big red dot near the intersection of Glenwood and Penn. Before long I am invited to speak to the dispatcher on the cell phone.

What is the address?

256 Upton Avenue, South.

2056 Upton Avenue, South?

No. 2.5.6. Upton Avenue, South.

I really think your address has to be wrong. There is no such number.

No. I have a correct address.

This line of discussion went on for a few minutes, during which, I maintained perhaps 4 more times that the address was 256 only and not 2056 or 2560 or some other such permutation. Unfortunately, the combination of the tiny speaker on the phone and the thick accent of the dispatcher inhibited my understanding of what he said much of the time. I had to tell him that I couldn't understand what he was saying. That didn't help matters much.

Clearly, this cab was headed straight to hell.

We climbed a hill on Glenwood Avenue that I know quite well. On top of that hill is Harrison public school. I pointed out to the driver that this was Harrison and that I didn't know where Anwatin was. Apparently he was thinking of something else and not listening to me, as 4 minutes or so later, he was doubling back to Harrison because he said he'd noticed we passed a school and that must be it.

At least twice, the driver turned about, 180 degrees, proclaiming that we'd passed the school by. This prompted me to ask him if he was able to read the cross street signs. We were looking for Upton. Was he sure we hadn't passed Upton? I don't think he was. But I'll never know.

The dispatcher kept rattling on about driving closer to the freeway, which made no sense to me, as I knew we were too close to the school to get on the freeway and the freeway bends and curves quite a bit at that part of town so what's the point? A dispatcher presumably has a computer and plugs into map quest, in which case he would be able to see this.
In which case he should be able to tell the driver to turn south on Penn Avenue and then right on Cedar Lake Road and then immediately right at the Y intersection and then go straight a few blocks until we run smack dab into Anwatin public school. Instead he babbled incessantly about driving to the freeway until I had to put the phone down. I felt like tossing it out the window.
Just then, at Penn Avenue, where I was pretty sure we wanted to turn south, the driver suggested that I get out of the car and ask directions at a convenience mart.

Once I was in the store and announced my query, not only did the man behind the service counter want to tell me where Anwatin school was, but two customers also wanted to help. A young woman, upon hearing the name of Anwatin, wanted to know if I was going to the basketball game.
No. I'm going to a class.
Presumably, her directions hinged upon knowing if I needed to find the gymnasium or stadium. She told me to go that way. And she gestured with her arm in a broad stroke that was over there to her left. And I wasn't sure what she was trying to convey. So I pointed out that Glenwood is an East-West street and was she saying I should go west on Glenwood. At this point the service counter man corrected the young woman to point out that I was not going down Glenwood at all, but rather I was to turn left out of the parking lot onto Penn Avenue. Anyways, she and the other customer and the service counter fellow, all of them got so excited about telling me where to find my destination, they all spoke at once and I could not understand anything anybody was saying for all the chatter. So I singled out the service counter man and asked him to tell me.

We established that I was to turn left out of the parking lot onto Penn Avenue. I should drive down straight to the first traffic light. There, we were to turn right and then take the right turn and then go straight about 4 blocks until we would run directly into Anwatin public school.

These people must not know what a "Y" intersection is. For, if they did, it would have made their directions more clear. But when you're lost, you try not to act too uppity. Yes. Right, and then the right, not the left. Okay.

Anyways, my tour through hell was near its end. We had no need for the useless rambling of the dispatcher. We had real people who actually knew how to navigate through the city streets, tell us how to get to Anwatin public school. The car pulled up under the glaring lights of the lot. Above the doorway was a stark, official signage that read, ANWATIN.

What's the fare?, I asked.
The driver was deflated. The meter read $17.60 for what should have been a $7 ride.
Whatever you think is fair, Sir. The poor fellow was almost despondent. I gave him a ten spot. He was very grateful and we agreed that he had learned something tonight that he hadn't known before.

He learned how to get to 256 Upton Avenue, South.

1 Comments:

  • At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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