Lucas and Ray Wylie Hubbard, at 3rd and Lindsley, about three weeks ago.
It was early but the parking lot was filled with cars. I headed on to the alley but was promptly stopped by a hand signal to back up from a gentleman in a wheelchair. I put the car in reverse and he kept motioning me further and further back. For a moment I considered the possibility that he was delusional and that I had by virtue of my caffeine addiction played right into his daily traffic cop routine here in the alley behind the Vanderbilt Starbucks. But then the magic happened. Just as I cleared a massive SUV on my left, its backup lights flashed on. This stranger in the alley had handed me a parking space. Free of charge. I pulled into the spot with glee and when I exited the car I yelled over to him:
“Looks like I might owe you a cup of coffee.”
And you know what he said?
I couldn’t help but laugh, “Caramel Frappuccino?” I yelled through the lot, “that’s your poison?”
When I brought it to him he blessed me and said his name was Jacob. “Like Jacob’s Ladder,” he said. “Easy to remember that way.”
I asked him what his job was and he told me he was the “Parking lot Sheriff.” I asked him if he ever ran people out of the lot for parking where they didn’t belong. He said he couldn’t run them out but that he does make sure they understand about that “$200 tow truck” that would be on it’s way, just minutes after they lock their car door. “This is Vanderbilt” he said, “they ain’t playin’ around.”
Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday.
for a taxi in Nashville at two-thirty in the morning, a while back. I needed the car to be at my house at three o’clock, I think it was. There is no one on the planet I would ask to take me to the bus station at that hour so I plucked a business card from Music City Taxi off the mirror of my dresser. It was one of those fill-in-the-blank cards that drivers give you when you might need a return trip. The words, both printed on it and handwritten read: ASK FOR: Ron CAR#: 3.
The last time I saw Ron, he was out front of the Greyhound Bus Station, telling me how he did not want his picture in the newspaper. “What if I got people looking for me?”, he asked, his gaze lurching from side to side, in a questionable attempt to remain serious.
"If you got people looking for you," I said, "they would’ve found you a long time ago, Ron. Your car’s parked in the middle of Eighth Avenue five days a week, for God’s sake."
He laughed then, but stubbornly handed me the card and said “You owe me a ride.”
Those were his last words to me. You owe me a ride.
Then, three years later I held the card in my hand in the middle of the night, the opportunity to pay him back, looming on the calm moonlit air. I let it go, zipped my bag for the last time, and called the dispatcher instead. He was saved by the hour.
It was Dave who pulled in my driveway half an hour later. Actor. Storyteller. Low on gas. We discovered that we’d both read all of Steven Womack’s books. We talked about the strippers in Chain of Fools and I thought of how few places I could’ve had such a conversation at that time of night. No place more appropriate certainly, than in a taxi.
Taxi drivers are a wealth of information. Eventually, they know something about everything.