Maybe it's just me, but I'm never quite sure how to act when someone has sex in the back of my taxi. I can try to ignore it and just focus on the road, but sometimes, I try so hard not to think about it that I end up thinking about it even more. Like when someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant and it makes you think of a pink elephant? That's how it is with sex in the back of my cab.
I remember the first time it happened: a young couple flagged me down in front of Hurricane's Bar and Grill. I could tell they'd just met. They got in and asked me to turn up the radio. I did. They started kissing. After a mile or so, they became really quiet. I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw the guy with his head tilted back and his eyes closed. At first, I thought maybe he had just passed out; it's not unusual for people to pass out in a cab after a night of partying. A few blocks later, though, I glanced over my shoulder to change lanes and saw the woman's head bobbing up and down in the guy's lap. Was she . . . ? I glanced over my shoulder again. Yes, she was.
I didn't know what to do, so I just kept driving. Suddenly, her face popped up in my rear-view mirror. "I'm hungry," she said. "Let's hit Del Taco."
I've been driving a cab for nearly a year now. It started out as a temporary job, a way to earn some quick cash while I got back on my feet after a run of bad luck. An injury, an insurance-company runaround and car trouble left me low on cash and looking for work. I had spent the previous year learning how to do Hollywood-type lighting, but with my injury, I couldn't do the really heavy lifting that's part of that job until I got minor surgery. My savings were dwindling. I opened the want ads and saw three words that I couldn't ignore: CASH PAID DAILY.
I started driving at the airport and was trained by a guy named Ralph, one of the few honest cab drivers around. He taught me a lot of little tricks of the business and gave me an idea of what to expect. Among other things, he said, I'd never see anyone having sex in my car.
The thought had never even occurred to me. I'd never heard of that happening; I hadn't seen or even heard of the HBO Taxicab Confessions show. A week later, I picked up that couple in Huntington Beach and proved Ralph wrong.
I've been thinking lately about why people act the way they do in cabs. Some people get in and introduce themselves and start talking to me. These are the people who make the job fun. Other times, people completely ignore me; it's as if I'm invisible. Sometimes, these are businesspeople working on something, and they're just focused on their project. I understand that. Other times, it's that they really view taxi drivers as subhumans.
The worst are guys like the two I picked up one night in Newport Beach. They were in their mid-30s, wearing dress shirts and ties, headed to the Yard House. Other than telling me their destination, they didn't say a word to me. The entire ride they were quoting Britney Spears lyrics and talking about how great she is and how they were going to pick up women at the bar by quoting Spears' lyrics. Seriously. At the end of every sentence, one guy would say, "Ooops," and the other guy would immediately say, "I did it again." I almost had to kick them out of the cab. Even a lowly taxi driver can stand only so much abuse. There are a lot of rich losers in Newport Beach.
Not everybody in Newport acts like that, of course. Early in my taxi career, I picked up a couple at a restaurant. She was a short, drop-dead-gorgeous blonde, and he was an average-looking guy, both in their mid-20s. They asked me where the nearest strip joint was. They started kissing as soon as I took off. I wasn't even into Costa Mesa when I glanced in my mirror to see his head tilted back and his eyes closed. I knew this guy wasn't asleep.
I just kept driving and acting as professional as possible, but it was hard to ignore the slurping sounds. A couple of minutes later, I heard her moan softly. Now, that's a pretty hard thing to do with your mouth full. I glanced over my shoulder again and saw her straddling him, facing backward, rocking her hips. By this time, I'm sporting wood, totally amazed by the fact that two people I don't know are screwing right behind me.
Before long, the sound and the aroma of sex filled the cab. They finished just as I pulled up to the club. The woman leaned forward to pay me and asked, "You wanna come in for a drink?"