Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Monday, February 26

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


miss ellen / February 10, 2004 1:01 PM

definitely a cab i rode in georgetown to downtown DC during a stint working there this past fall. it was a friday night, we'd already hit one bar for food+drinks, so we were moving on to a club for more fun.

when i hopped in the cab, the driver was straight bumpin' good old-school MJ from "off the wall". once he realized we were into it, he couldn't help but turn it up & roll down the windows.

this guy was hootin' & hollerin' at every lady that walked, drove or happenned by the cab. SHIT, even the lady cop in the car next to us was getting a piece of his routine.

when i dropped us off, i commented on the 128 oz 7-11 cup he had firmly in his hand the entire time.....

wonder what the heck he had in there & if there was any more for me ;)

(no, i'm not condoning anything & it was probably mountain dew, but this guy was on another planet than the rest of us)

Andrew / February 10, 2004 1:27 PM

Picked up at around 1am at Damen and Balmoral, going north. We told the cabbie "Clark and Devon," and I quickly got the impression that this was a disgruntled worker. He ended up taking us up Ravenswood to Peterson, then instead of moving over to Clark right away he took us up the residential street just west of Clark, speeding and slamming his brakes at each stop sign. He started honking at a car in front of him who wasn't also speeding and then tried to beat the guy around a traffic circle.

He finally gave up on the side street at Granville and tore out onto Clark. But instead of dropping us off at the southeast corner at Devon, he got into the left turn lane and expected us to get out in the middle of the street. We fought with him to finally make his turn and drop us off at the northwest corner.

No tip for him. He's lucky we paid the full meter.

jenny / February 10, 2004 2:14 PM

I think I'm still waiting for a TRULY memorable cab experience...but the other night, coming back from a late concert, I thought I saw a friend trying to hail my cab, so I got the cabbie to stop. It was actually 1 of 2 very drunk Irishmen, but they were going my way, so what the hell...we rode, the cabbie dropped me off, but not before the 2nd of the two Irishmen had asked me if I wasn't "going to invite them up for a nice cup of tea". A pint is more like it.

Pete / February 10, 2004 2:40 PM

One time a Jamaican cabbie told me the story about a "friend of his" (or quite possibly himself) who had a rather interesting encounter with a prostitute. They were in the middle of completing their transaction when suddenly the guy discovered that she was not a she at all. But I can't elaborate further, lest I set off the obscenity sirens in DC. Let's just say he found out the hard way.

Craig / February 10, 2004 2:51 PM

A recent cabbie story:

A West African chap picked me up the other day on my way from North/Clybourn to the West Loop. He instantly quite friendly, but told me he was "very saddened" by what happened to him earlier. He proceeded to tell me in detail about how he was in the Aldo store, and he wanted to buy a pair of shoes that were $40 (originally $140-- "A good deal, no?"). However all he had was $25, and when he asked the clerk to hold the shoes and keep his $25 as a deposit while he left to get more money, the clerk refused. "He was being a jerk! I could not believe it!" He was deeply saddened by this clerk's rudeness, but he told me that if he ever picks him up for a ride, he would not charge him for the fare, to show him an act of true kindness. "What a kind fellow," I thought.

He overcharged me by $4.

Kate / February 10, 2004 3:05 PM

A couple of weeks ago I caught a cab that was coming out of the parking lot of my neighborhood grocery store at 14th and Meridian (this is in DC). I'd been waiting for him since I saw him pull into the lot to drop off another person, but it seemed to take forever for this to happen. I waited anyway because it's hard to catch a cab up where the politicians don't hang out.

The cabbie started telling me about the woman he'd just dropped off, who was 96 years old and still independent. Then as we drove through Columbia Heights and the U Street corridor (the latter was a major center for African-American music/art/performance in the Jazz Age), he started telling me about the buildings we were passing, which ones had been gin joints during Prohibition, which ones had housed jazz clubs and salons and art galleries. As we passed Howard University, he told me about how he used to be a middleweight boxing champion, and about the guys he'd boxed, some of whom would probably have sounded familiar if I knew the first thing about boxing. Finally he let on that he had been driving a cab in DC for 53 years, and knew all the streets backward and forward. How old are you? I asked. He was 78.

He was a wonderful raconteur and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, but the punchline of the story was that he couldn't find the Smithsonian Castle.

jima / February 10, 2004 4:44 PM

No really great/bad/weird cab experiences yet, but one night we did have a talkative cabbie who explained to us about how he had a series of clients who specifically hired him to drive them around. One of these people, an elderly woman, had him drive her downstate to a family funeral, because she did not want to attend alone.

Or, as he memorably put it, "she gets the heebie-jeebies around stiffs."

armaghetto / February 10, 2004 5:07 PM

Did you know you can fit 7 people in a cab?

Cinnamon / February 10, 2004 5:09 PM

Either I could tell you about the Iraqi cab driver who asked me to help him define words he'd heard that day on NPR and then told me he wanted to go back to Bosnia so he could be helpful to people like he had been just after their war.

Or, I could tell you about the time a friend got a little sick in a cab, I got into a yelling match with the irate and belligerent driver who refused my money to pay for a cleaning and insisted on pressing police charges against my friends and I. We ran off evading him, cleaned up my sick friend and were walking back to get another cab when police pulled us over to see if we were the elusive cab patrons. I lied and said we'd just left our friend's house. He asked where she lived, I told him. He said he might want to talk to her. I said she had left to spend the night at her cheap-ass boyfriend's house who took her to mass on Sunday mornings just so they could eat the free bagels. The two cops laughed, muttered the name of a church, and then said, "Have a great night, ladies." and took off.

Brenda / February 10, 2004 5:10 PM

The most memorable has to be Ray St. Ray, the Singing Cab Driver! I was lucky enough (unlucky enough?) to hail his cab as he was leaving the Belmont/Ashland Whole Foods parking lot, and I was leaving Stitch n Bitch at Caribou across the street. I usually don't like chit-chatting with cab drivers, but this was a rare opportunity, and I was in a good mood.

Ray doesn't just start singing... he asks you to pick a category (politics, love, etc.) and then sings a song about it. And he has a decent voice. I was impressed.

Other Chicago cab stories:

Erik / February 10, 2004 5:36 PM

It was freezing cold out and 3 friends and I stopped a cab driving down the street that had someone already in it and asked to share it. A young woman was in the cab and we begged her to let us in cause it was so cold out (well below Zero) and we just couldn't find a cab anywhere. We told her we'd pay for the cab and she said "it's fine, I don't want you all to freeze." Arriving at my friends house everyone got out, but I still wanted to go out some more and asked all my friends if they wanted to go to Smart Bar for one last one with me, but they just wanted to go home and go to sleep, so I asked the woman in the cab if she wanted to go. She was like "why the hell not" so I got back in the cab and her and I went together to smart bar, we had a bunch of drinks and had a rocking good time. She ended up coming home with me that night and never left. She is now my girlfriend of 3 years.

Ramsin / February 10, 2004 5:52 PM

Yeah, I'm gonna have to second the "Ray St. Ray" thing. We have his flier up on the fridge.

Joseph J. Finn / February 10, 2004 6:41 PM

Unprintable, and with a soon to be ex-wife.

paul / February 10, 2004 11:23 PM

I remember the driver who threatened to cut my head off with a nailclipper-size knife when I got out of his cab because he was heading in the wrong direction.

LD / February 10, 2004 11:29 PM

I got into a cab that didn't have a meter. I quickly got out.

suzanne / February 11, 2004 9:48 AM

It wasn't so out of the ordinary, but a taxi ride in Paris comes to mind. Nobody said anything funny, nobody was disgruntled, and we even we got to our destination without being ripped off. The manner of driving comes to mind. It was like a roller coaster without the ups and downs but a lot of quick turns, changing lanes without looking and driving as fast as he could. We spilled out of the cab at our hotel grateful to have made it there in one piece, more or less.

Dragonslayer / February 11, 2004 10:19 AM

I got a shared ride in from O'Hare. Even though I wasn't going to the Loop, I let the cabbie pick up additional fares.

Lo and behold, two women got in. I had been eyeing one at various points in the terminal. All three of us struck up a good conversation, but me and the girl I was so enthralled with really hit it off. It was one of those rare moments when you just *click*. Everyone in the cab knew it.

There came a point in the conversation where it was just natural to ask her out and I had to inform her...I was married. Everyone was disappointed.

Now that the wife is a faint memory, I wonder every so often about what could have been.

Benjy / February 11, 2004 1:42 PM

About 2 months ago, I somehow left my wallet in a cab after paying for the ride--it was 4am when I got home and had a drink or two (or more) during the evening.

Anyway the next day, I got a call on my work v-mail from the driver saying he'd found it! Because of his accent, it took me 8 attempts to decipher the phone number but I got my wallet back eventually with everything in tact.

stephen / February 11, 2004 4:47 PM

New Years, this past, and we emerge from a lovely small party to a post-apocalyptic Wicker Park. Crashes, screaming, fights, all the good stuff, plus its like -10 out. So we wander up Milwaukee, and of course every cab is taken, but it still seemed like a much better strategy than driving drunk on the bubbly. Anyway, we finally get to a intersection on Damen (across from Cans) and see a couple of people get out of a cab. Golden!

But wait, they're a couple, and the guy is storming off and the girl is trying to get him back into the cab. He pushes her back in the cab, slams the door nearly on her, and the cab jets. As we're watching this a cab pulls up on an adjacent street. This now cab-less drunken very angry gentleman proceeds to try steal it from us, and we yell lovely things at him and I kick his door closed.

Just as this is about to become something I'd have in a rap sheet, a friend of the taxi-stealing angry guy shows up and says "Dont mind him! Share it with us!", so, without any other options for miles around, we get in the cab with this guy and we continue to exchange vulgarities through the seat divider. As he realizes we aren't leaving, the angry guy turns up the radio really loud, which happens to have Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything for Love" and sings to it.

So, I just sit there and absorb the absurdity for a while, but apparently the heartwarming Meatloaf song chills the guy out, and eventually he apologies and offers me his hand, which I gladly shake and everybody's friends. As we get out on Belmont they refuse to take money for the cab as well.

So the moral is, things just ain't what they seem. So be nice! ;)

Audrey / February 11, 2004 7:41 PM

Well, there was the cabdriver from a cab company I had never heard of who couldn't part his eyes from his issue of Hustler during the cab ride. Sticky fingers, indeed, I told him to keep the change.

Then, there was the Indian cabdriver who couldn't stop telling me how beautiful I was and proposed marriage to me. Quite obviously, I thought this was a joke given that I've never been mistaken for a supermodel and it wasn't even 8 a.m. yet (let alone the many other obvious reasons like, I don't know you). But he was serious! And to think, I could have been his fourth (concurrent) wife.

miss ellen / February 12, 2004 10:15 AM

ooh, how could i forget my cabs down in miami over new years:

1) based on a faulty address, was driven ALL around miami w/clueless driver who refused to put a call in for directions / help; he wouldn't try to find a map or anything. after rolling the meter up to about $20 and putting 4 girls into the middle of a very dark, very far-away neighborhood, we ordered him back to the venue downtown. we hopped out near some cops & refused to pay the fare. when he spied the cops, he quickly sped off. when we found our destination, it was so close to where we started out.

2) finding a ride back to south beach on NYE was a bit tricky. we finally found one, and boy, driving over those causeways with other wastoids on the road, i couldn't tell if our driver was loaded, or merely swerving to avoid all those wastoids on the road. let's just say i had a little moment when we arrived back in one piece.

lesson learned - stay the hell away from cabs in miami!

Onid / February 12, 2004 1:29 PM

1) Athens Greece: I had to get to the train station and due to partying with the cousins the previous night (the plan was to sleep on the 7:30 train after being out until 6ish) didn't know there was a taxi strike. There were taxi's driving around but no one would pick me fact a few slowed down and shook their heads then drove away. Then, for some reason, I put a baseball cap on backwards. Almost immediately a taxi pulled over I got in and the driver started to speak to me in broken english. It turned out that he wanted to help me because he didn't want me to go back to my country with a bad opinion of Greece. The whole time I was trying to avoid speaking Greek lest he think I wasn't a tourist and dump my ass on the side of the road. I had to make that train.

2) After a Blackhawks game I took a cab back to my apartment. We travelled down Madison with the driver on his cell phone the whole time. Then he pulls over, puts the car in park and proceeds to have an animated half hour conversation with the person on the cell phone. It wasn't until I touched him on the shoulder that he got kind of startled and said,"I forgot about you." And he drove REALLY fast to my destination and only asked for half the fare.

Shylo / February 12, 2004 2:36 PM

Wow, what a gimme.

It's got to be between the time I was stuck in the cab with a jam-covered Angelina Jolie or the time I found a magic suitcase full of opium.


GB store

Recently on Fuel

Urban Ethos [26]
What is Chicago's "urban ethos"?

Cool Glass of... [16]
What're you drinking?

Supreme Decision [22]
What's your reaction to the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act?

Taking it to the Streets [20]
Chicago Street Fairs: Revolting or Awesome?

I Can Be Cruel [9]
Be real: what is the meanest thing you've ever done?

View the complete archive

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15