So its New Years Eve, and I am preparing for the big night of organized and planned foolishness. If I didn’t get a broad cross-section of Americans on this night then I don’t know who did.
The night began normal as I picked-up a guy from a wealthy suburb and took him to an upscale mall to meet his girlfriend, he told me that he would be spending the holiday with her and that he no longer drinks after being an alcoholic for thirty years and in and out of treatment centers and went on and on about the ills of alcohol and of how it is a deadly drug. Heading back to the city I picked up a middle-aged black woman who I knew. She works as a housekeeper at three different facilities and works seven days a week and told me she wanted to get home before shit started getting crazy. Things got boring for a while as I had a crazy old woman who went shopping for her cats and a couple I picked up from a beauty supply store; until I picked up a trauma center nurse. I was taking this nurse home, to one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in St. Louis, and she told me that her landlord had neglected to pay the electric bill so the lights were off and she was going to have to pick up her two kids and take them someplace else. She also told me that even if the lights were on she wouldn’t be spending the night at home on New Years Eve. On the way to her home, as we passed drunk drivers, dope dealers and crack whores, she kept me entertained with stories about a mangled body from a train-wreck and a man who was so dirty he was rotting from the inside and had maggots in his legs.
Things started moving along more quickly and I picked-up a group of twenty something professionals to take to a party and I chatted with one of the women who was a P.H.D. student in history with a focus on the 1960’s Civil Rights and Black Power movement. We had a good conversation, and she knew a lot; but I was surprised that a graduate student in her field would not have heard of Franz Fanon and The Wretched of the Earth. When I told her that I first read Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver at age fourteen she was shocked and she was even more shocked when I told her that the Autobiography of Malcolm X was a major contribution to me becoming a Muslim. I got some boring people before getting a nice 79 year old man, who works as a security guard, who told me that since 1983 he has spent every New Years Eve eating at Bar Italia (a fancy Italian restaurant owned by Ethiopians; I ate in their once and was not at all comfortable, but it is a very nice place and the owners are very nice people, its just not my thing, my people work behind the counters and in the kitchen and don’t dine on fancy meals daily).
The night moved along with some more anonymous people until I had an obnoxious Indian guy who told stories about how wealthy his father was and about how some guy he knows has a father who medically tests him for alcohol everyday( the father will disown the son if he his caught drinking) . I picked up a young kid, like 18 maybe, from a group home who was with an older guy and they went to a gay club that is known for its rowdiness; Ill let you guess what I was thinking.
As the night goes on, and people are ready to party, there is a theme that keeps on reoccurring; men sitting in my cab who are waiting on their women to get ready and are bitching to me but too pussy-whipped to say anything to their woman. Do men today have any balls whatsoever? Or have all white men in America thrown in the towel (including most white Muslim men I know)? I move on to a Turkish psychiatrist, who is spending some time doing research in ST. Louis, and he wants to party but doesn’t know where to go, so I take him to the only bar he knows. On the way we chatted about Turkey, which he referred to as a model Muslim state and I told him of my experiences in Turkey; “Turkey is modern and clean, and much better organized than Arab societies, and the streets of Istanbul are not filthy like those of big Arab cities, but the Turks have lost Islam and they are not a warm and friendly people like the Arabs.” He told me that Turkey belongs in the EU and I told him that there were two issues; economically the EU would benefit from Turkey joining the EU, as would Turkey itself, but socially and culturally Europeans will not be able to accept Turks as equals even after they are allowed in.
Next I got an annoying yuppie couple who kept asking me personal questions before I dropped them at a nightclub well-known for drug-usage. That’s when things started coming over the radio; a shootout had occurred on or near Cherokee Street and the police had the area blocked off and a driver had just been robbed, the nuts were out. Midnight hit, and guns were blazin, and the cops went into hiding for half an hour or so. Along with the gunfire, fireworks could be seen from the First Night Celebration at Grand Center that caters to families and non-drunken idiots like the rest of the city was catering to.
Before I picked up a woman who stank like hell, and smelled like she had repeatedly pissed on a can of mackerels in her panties, I picked up some lazy Bobo who was complaining about having to walk ten feet and a guy from New York. A bar called the Tin Can was going crazy with people coming out and I picked-up two carloads and took them out of there. The first carload was of drunk young girls, one who cried because she had lost her cell phone while two in the back gave me complete opposite directions, while another was crying over some dude. The next group was a more cheerful group of med students.
Then came some major assholes. Two young white guys got in my cab and one immediately says “great we have a white cab driver, you don’t see that often.” The next thing out of this assholes mouth was, in response to me playing the BBC World Service radio was “are you a Hebrew or something, what are you listening to? Man you are a Hebrew. Or do you study the Quran?” When I asked him what the questions were about, how come I couldn’t be an American and want to listen to news programming or the BBC as opposed to the Top 100 Countdown and asked him if he voted for Bush he said “ I’m an American, and a Republican ( which I’m sure be believed are synonymous)”. The next thing I know this good Republican, who I am driving to a strip club, is telling me that he wants me to go to the club with him in order to get some “good ole American beaver in your face”. I declined, you know, Ill leave the worn-out, multiple STD infected, runaway Mormon girl for him. From then on all I got were drunks who could barely talk and who were all leaving the city for leafy suburbs.
I worked almost eighteen hours that day and was tired. I thought New Years Day would be normal; but I left home and the first thing I get is a woman who is balling like crazy and telling me about how much of a jerk her boyfriend is and asks me for advice on how to deal with him. What am I supposed to tell her? Well, your relationship will start improving once you tip me better? I ended the night with a very attractive woman taking her cat from her condo in the city to a pet ER room deep in the southwestern suburbs and all I am thinking is this; you mean this cat can get better health care than half of the American population? These people care more for their pets than they do their fellow humans. I got all kind of things wrong with me and don’t even have access to a doctor; but this cat does? On the way there she was chatting to her cat and how badly I wanted to tell her “shut up woman, its an animal, it cant understand you.”