No, really. I think I have lived in this city too long. Something happened on Saturday that I didn't think much of, but the people I mentioned it to thought it a big deal. So I will pass the tale on to you, my dear readers. Judge for yourselves if I have become dangerously immune to the incredible.
The grocery store in my neighborhood is about a mile away. Because most people have cars. (Because I live in New Jersey, on a street overlooking the Hudson and midtown Manhattan.) Originally, I tried walking home with my groceries in my arms. Ouch. Imagine carrying 10 grocery bags for a mile. A few times I dragged my granny shopping cart to the store but hauling it there and back was a real pain. And food falls out of the sides, and I have to go down and up a hill.
One late night I helped myself to a store cart and pushed my groceries home. (No, I didn't steal it! You can't get them past the parking lot because the wheels lockup, I had already tried that.) I found it a block away from the store like manna from heaven, just an empty grocery store cart abandoned on the sidewalk. Because it was late at night I didn't feel embarrassed to be seen with a stolen shopping cart. In fact, I think I ran gleefully up the hill with it. But I did feel bad leaving it parked in front of my building, that was a ghetto thing to do. I swore to take it back first thing in the morning. By the time I got out of bed though, it was long gone. So then what could I do? I considered my responsibility for the stolen cart discharged. (Ok, I still felt bad about it for awhile.)
A few months ago I decided that it was worth $6 to get a cab ride home from the store. So now I only feel mildly guilty for spending money I can't afford on such a luxury. To obtain such a cab there are several methods. My friend always calls the cab companies to come get her. But that involves a wait of anywhere between 5-20 minutes. One night they stood me up even after I called 3 times. Wankers. I prefer to catch a ride with the freelance cabbies who hang around at the store looking for customers. I know this isn't the safest plan but they are already there waiting for you.
There is one older gentleman I have now used three times. I liked him because he speaks English, which makes giving directions easier. And he's one of those flirty old guys that you know is really a dirty womanizer. Well, yesterday I saw my guy and waved him down, asked him if he could drive me home. We got in his car and he seemed different, his speech was slurred more. I hoped he hadn't been drinking. He started talking about this rich guy he worked for who made him crazy. My guy has to drive him all over during the week. And now the man wants him to find him women. Blah blah blah. I couldn't really understand what else he was saying so I tuned him out.
Then he looked in the rearview mirror and asked me if I was married. I said 'no' but prepared myself with the 'I have a boyfriend' lie that I knew would be necessary shortly. He heard me and whipped his head around. He said, 'no? Look at you. You're gorgeous! You should go out with him.' I said, 'No, thank you. I have a boyfriend.' Then he went on and on about how rich this guy was, he paid 2 million for that building, he owns all the restaurants on some such street in the Village, he likes to throw his money around, just gives it away, he's lonely, he looks Elvis, his wife and baby died, and on and on...until we got to my street.
"I'm a retired cop." He says. So he would go with us and would protect me. "I wouldn't have to do anything with the man, not even kiss him, but I'd get a nice dinner. Don't I trust him? He would keep me safe." No. No. No. As I got out of his car he got really desperate to pimp me out to his sugar daddy. He said, "You're scared aren't you? Are you chicken? You're a chicken." I said 'yes' and collected my bags from the trunk of his car. Then he switched tactics to flattery, "How old are you? 20? 21?" Nice try. I'm 30 buddy. He wouldn't let it go until I slammed the door in his face.
I found the whole thing annoying and decided never to use that driver again.
My friend is afraid to use the freelance guys, she says if they kill you there won't be any record of it, at least with the places you call there is a record. I think she is overly optimistic about the quality of cabbie dispatch. And I trust myself to get out of the backseat of a car. She has more sense than I do generally, and probably in this case as well. I may rethink this though and start calling a cab from the checkout line.
My ride tried to pimp me! For real.