Friday, September 30, 2011

Every day I'm hustlin'

I have a new job but until the checks are rolling in regularly and I dig myself out of the hole I'm in as a result of being out of work for a while, I'm hustling for money anywhere I can find it. By hustling, I mean working hard and keeping my eyes open for opportunities that may present themselves in a non-traditional fashion. I'm not talking about anything illegal, certainly not ripping anyone off. People often confuse hustlers for con-men but that's not a valid association. Hustling is something you do for yourself, not to someone else.
In an attempt to make ends meet and get some cash coming in, I went out and got a Public Vehicle Driver's License and have been driving a taxi cab. It's a business made for hustlers in that you can make money if you know how to hustle and are williing to do it. I do and I am. Also, I'll admit  there was a certain bohemian appeal to being a writer/cab driver. Sort of like Harry Chapin or even better, George Carlin.
"What?!? Why are we just now hearing about this?", you may be asking. Well, I've had drunks and strippers and various oddballs in my cab so far, but I was waiting for something really blog-worthy to happen. 
The other night, something really happened. 
One of the key components to being a successful cab driver (I've learned some of these lessons very quickly; that's how hustlers hustle, baby) is repeat customers. They call you directly and not the cab company, giving you direct access to the fare instead of having to compete for it with some other jamokes trying to outhustle you. As a result, I've given my phone number out to a lot of people and it has paid off, as a lot of those people have called me back. One of those people, we'll call her Lisa since that's her name, calls me very late at night and wants me to take her to people's houses and wait out in front. I don't know what goes on inside but I have my suspicions. She tried to tell me once but I cut her off, telling her if I don't know about it now, I don't have to lie about it later. As long as she keeps it to herself, limits my involvement to 100% legal activity and isn't hurting anyone else, I'll keep my mouth shut. Is that bad? Maybe a little morally ambiguous? Probably. Kind of feels that way and I don't particularly like it, but I'm trying to dig myself out of a financial hole here. Desperate times and all that...
Any way, the other night she called and I took her to one of her places, a house in a not-great neighborhood. This time, she wanted me to pull up with the lights off and kill the engine the second we pulled in the driveway. Now, in spite of my commitment to ignorance, I'm not totally stupid. And without trying to porray myself as a character in a Scorsese film, I have enough street-smarts to recognize and respond appropriately to the alarm bells in my head when a sketchy situation presents itself. I told her the only way I was doing that was if I parked on the street. I was absolutely not going to box myself in somebody's driveway with the engine killed. She didn't like it and got all fidgety (she's always kind of fidgety anyway) but wasn't going to change my mind. She got out, I turned the car off (with the keys in hand but not in the ignition...leaving the key in can drain the battery over time; it usually takes a while but I wasn't willing to take that chance) and sat there with my window open as she went inside the house. Almost immediately I heard the "FAP-FAP-FAP-FAP" of footsteps on pavement, in a dead sprint heading right for me. Before I could do anything at all, a guy blasted past and into the backyard of the house I was parked in front of. Immediately following him, I heard the racing motor and squealing tires of a car in hot pursuit. At that exact moment I had no idea who was in the car but it turned out to be cops. One got out and chased the guy while the driver kept going to the end of gthe block in an attempt (I guess) to seal off exits in case they lost him. That was followed by more police officers, with flak jackets and drawn guns descending on the house. Also, there was suddenly a helicopter overhead. It was like something out of a movie. I sat there the whole time, being cool, a fortunate by-product of being frozen. I was glad it was cops on the scene, running around with their guns drawn, although not completely at ease as guns drawn is the standard precurosr to bullets flying (I don't care for flying bullets because of the way they often stop flying) and also, I don't need the hassle of being questioned about my involvement, even though I have no involvement. If asked, I'd have cheerfully and honestly answered every question they had but did not want to end up doing so 'downtown'. Thankfully, they ignored me. Lisa, understandably, didn't come out of the house for a long time. When she did, she made a beeline to the cab and we got out of there as discretely fast as possible. She didn't say a word the whole way back to her apartment which was good because I wasn't in the mood to talk. She paid the fare, got out and went inside.
I haven't seen her since, although she did call me four times last night between 3 and 4 AM, calls I didn't answer. I also haven't driven the cab since, as now I'm a little freaked out. Being killed in a drug shootout is a part of that, although, honestly, what are the odds (albeit, whatever they are, they get a little better every time I take someone like that to a place like that)? At least I can still maintain at least a small modicum of control in situations like that. A bigger part is that I don't know what my culpability is in situations where illegal activity is taking place. If I get pulled over and my passenger is carrying drugs, what happens to me? That's something I can't control and I'll be damned if I'm going to jail, even if I get right out, for something stupid that somebody else does without my knowledge.
Bottom line is I don't know when or if I'll drive again (it won't be until after I get crystal clear answers to my questions from a police officer, I'll tell you that much) so I'm left looking for another angle to hustle.


Denise said...

Wow. I don't even know what else to say. Just, wow. Next thing we know you're going to be say you've become an astronaut or a gourmet chef. You're too cool for school, C-dog (since you're a hustler, and all). I can't wait to hear more stories from the road.

Dawn Morgan said...

"One of those people, we'll call her Lisa since that's her name."

More like that one, please.

NumberWhisperer said...

I think i just died and went to heaven in finding your blog. Totally. Enthralled.