I step out to the line of waiting taxis, the drivers beeping their horns and waving me over. I know how cabs work, I think. Stop honking at me. It makes me a little crazy.
The cab driver at the front of the line looks up and smiles as I walk toward his car. I get in. He is holding a yellow legal pad and a green pen, and I can see several pages filled with green writing.
“Hi there! Where can I take you today?”
He is in his sixties, I would guess, and is wearing the large plastic framed glasses that most fathers seem to prefer. It’s immediately clear to me that cab driving is not his primary profession. He is too friendly, has too much energy, and doesn’t race in between stoplights in the nausea-inducing fashion that is de rigueur in the professional cabbie community.
“So you heading home, or to work?” he asks.
“Work,” I reply.
“And what line of work are you in?”
Whenever I get that question, I think about how nice it must be to have a job that people outside the industry understand, and usually I just say something like “marketing” or “software,” neither of which is exactly true, but both of which are much easier to explain. But I’m in no hurry, so I give him a more accurate description.
“And what about you? How long have you been driving a cab?”
A little over a year, he tells me. He used to be a CFO, but was let go. He won $600,000 in a wrongful termination lawsuit, so he’s okay for money, but likes to keep busy so he took the job driving a cab, and also does some financial consulting on the side.
“I was working on a client proposal when you stepped in my cab.”
I ask him how he likes it, driving a cab. He tells me there are good things and bad things about it, just like any job. He likes women customers much better than men. Women are just so much more interesting, he says, and I don’t disagree.
“For every ten interesting women I meet, I run across one, maybe two men at the most who are interesting.”
We start to hit traffic, and agree that Lower Wacker will be the best way to get downtown. He mentions his daughter and asks me if I have children. I say no, and pause.
“I have cats.”
He asks if I’m married, and I want desperately for the conversation to not become awkward. I say no, and catch myself holding my breath for his response. He says he is shocked to hear that. I must have to beat them off with sticks, he imagines. A thin laugh escapes from my lips as my gaze alternates between the window and the rear view mirror. It hasn’t come to that yet, I reply.
We have exited Lower Wacker, and are coming up on my street, which is when he comments on my red hair.
“My hair isn’t red,” I say, but then immediately wish I had just nodded. He tells me it looks red, and says he wants to do a study to see if there really are personality differences in people based on natural hair color.
“You know, do blondes really have a different temperament than brunettes or redheads? Of course there are all the stereotypes of the serious brunette and flighty blonde and the wild redhead, but are there legitimate differences, not just based on gross stereotypes?”
Stop, I think. Don’t make this weird. Please don’t be creepy. You had a legal pad and a green pen. We had an understanding.
He tells me that his daughter is a psychologist, and maybe he’ll run the idea for the research project past her.
“Right here is just fine, thanks.”
“All right, then! Been nice talking to you. See what I mean? The women are always more interesting than the men.”
It was Mo. She texted to say it was so good to see me, but asked me not to say anything at work because Tommy might hear. Three exclamation points after each sentence, twelve in all. I thought about whether to respond, and what to say if I did. Did I really care if Tommy heard? Why doesn’t he want Mo to be happy? Control freak, must be.
But was it really good to see me? Why did Mo feel the need to use so many exclamation points? It seemed somehow disingenuous, like she was compensating for something. I don’t think she had all that much fun. Frankly, I think she’s mostly just worried that I’m going to say something. She and Tommy have a lot of issues to work out, clearly. Sneaking around, then lying about it. Eventually it’s going to catch up with both of them.
It’s a shame, though, that Mo didn’t text that message to the correct person, since I have no idea who she and Tommy are. Let’s hope the intended recipient isn’t a blabbermouth.