Pink taxis with female drivers that serve only women customers are catching on in cities from Moscow to Dubai.
I was sitting in the pink taxi line at Logan Airport, hopin’ for one decent fare before the end of my shift. All I’d had all night so far was two nuns–how come they always travel in pairs?–and a professor of women’s studies who tipped me a used copy of The Second Sex by Simone de Boovoir, which I needed like a fish needs a bicycle, to quote an old feminist gag.
I took a puff on my Lady Cubana cigar and looked down the line. I was third, and for fares there was an old lady with a knitting bag, a woman in Birkenstock sandals eating sunflower seeds from a paper bag she’d brought on the flight, and–bingo!–a professional woman in a Talbots suit–accessorized with a little string of pearls–a laptop case and a four-wheeled suitcase. I’d say an MBA on a business trip–paydirt!
I jumped out of the cab when my turn came and helped her with her suitcase.
“Where to?” I asked.
“I’m staying at The Taj,” she said in a frosty tone. You couldn’ta melted butter in her mouth, I thought to myself. Maybe Promise Ultra Fat Free Margarine, but that’s about it.
We settled in for the drive, and I started in with my patter. If you want to get a good tip, you got to connect with your passenger, you know?
“Did you watch that WNBA game tonight there?” I asked, looking at her in my rear-view.
“I’m afraid not,” she said. She was tapping away at her BlackBerry.
“I really think the Chicago Sky have a chance, you know?” I asked. It was a rhetorical question–she didn’t have to answer. It was just a conversation starter. “It’d be their first playoff win–ever.”
“I don’t follow basketball,” she said, and not too graciously I might add. I decided to mess with her a bit.
“They say that the Detroit Shock is named after Toxic Shock Syndrome. You believe that?”
She finally looked up at me. “I’m sure I wouldn’t know,” she said.
“That’s a joke, lady.”
“I see,” she said. Maybe her cat just died, who knows.
“You know what really frosts my panty hose?” I said, trying to change the subject. “We hardly got any women politicians here in Boston, you know what I’m sayin’?”
“I thought this was supposed to be a progressive city,” she said. I’d finally broken through the brittle carapace dat da modern woman has to put on to survive in the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of business.
“We got two out of thirteen seats on the City Council,” I said. “We’re half the population, we oughtta have half the seats, right?”
She looked out the window. I thought I saw a smirk on her face, as if she was thinkin’, she made it on her own, every other woman ought to, too. Cheese Louise–I used two homonyms in one thought there. Must be the fish I been eatin’.
“How ’bout da Boston Militia, huh?” I said, trying to yank her out of her self-absorbed reverie. Let me tell you, you get a gal who’s lost in a self-absorbed reverie, first thing she don’t think about is your tip.
“Who are the Boston Militia?” she asked.
“Only the 2014 Women’s Football Alliance Champions!” I said, showing a little civic pride.
“Fascinating,” she said, but I could tell she wasn’t. She started rifling through some papers in her briefcase. You can’t win with some of these dames.
I was just about at the end of my rope, when an inspiration occurred to me. “Who you think’s gonna go next on Grey’s Anatomy?” I said, and I watched the mirror for her reaction.
She looked up, and I knew I had her.
“What do you know?” she asked breathlessly, or as breathless as you can get and still talk.
“I dunno, I hear Izzie’s gonna disappear for five non-consecutive episodes. And Mer– she’s outta there pretty soon too.”
“Way. I read it in Michael Ausiello’s spoiler column.”
“Where can I get that?”
“EW.com,” I said, allowing myself a moment of smug self-satisfaction. You come to Boston, you’re gonna getta knowledgeable cabbie, y’know?
We pulled up in front of The Taj. It’s a hotel as big as the Ritz, as F. Scott Fitzgerald might say. ‘Cause that’s what it used to be–The Ritz.
“Well here we are,” I said. I popped the trunk, hopped out, and handed off her bag to the doorman.
“Thanks for the information,” she said, finally cracking a smile. “How much do I owe you?”
“Let’s see. The fare’s $19.75,” I began.
“All right,” she said, and started to fish some bills out of her wallet.
“Hold on–there’s a $2.25 airport charge, and the toll for the tunnel is $5.25, so that comes to–let’s see–$27.25.”
She looked down into her wallet again. “I’m sorry,” she said, “all I have is a twenty and a ten.”
A lousy $2.25 tip. I felt like flippin’ it right back at her–but I can’t afford to.
“Why you chintzy, cheap yuppie bi . . .”
“Wait,” she said as she dug down into the little pocket coin pouch on the outside of her purse. “Here–I found another quarter!” she said as she turned and headed into the hotel. “Buh-bye!”
I was ready to explode, and I did. “Yeah, that’s right–save your money, so next time you can afford a frost job dat don’t make you look like a skank waitress in a biker bar!”
Available in print and Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Boston Baroques.”