Long before Uber, long before Philly Ride Share, back in the era when the Checker Marathon ruled the Earth, I learned a valuable lesson about business and life.
One evening in the early 1980s I was hanging out at a bar on South Street, commiserating with a group of friends about life as put-upon employees, forced to do work well beyond the scope of our jobs. In other words, we sounded like a bunch of whiny, twenty-something recent college grads–so please take note that if/when you diss a Millennial, there’s nothing new under the sun. After several rounds of drinks, the party dispersed into the night, but I was eager for more entertainment. I wanted to hear a cocktail pianist uptown, but didn’t want to shlep up ten blocks in the cold, so I hailed a cab.
The cabbie pulled over, asked where I wanted to go; I told him “16th and Lombard”. He went about a half-block, stopped at a light, and didn’t move after the light changed. In my soft, nurturing manner I yelled, “Hey guy, the light changed, you gonna move or what?” He replied, “Zzzzzzz”—down for the count. Since this was before the era of Plexiglas safety guards between the front and rear seats, I reached forward, threw the column-mounted gearshift lever to Park, and got out in disgust.
Then it dawned on me: I was still freezing, and still ten blocks away from the club. So I opened the driver’s door, pushed the cabbie to the passenger side, put the cab back in drive and drove the taxi to the club. I left the taxi and cabbie in a parking lot behind the club; when I came out a few hours later, they were gone (presumably the drugs had worn off.)
Sometimes you have to drive the taxi if you want to get to your destination.
Consider the past week: I’m sure that everyone reading this newsletter has had to intervene in some situation where their participation should never have been necessary (for me, it happens about once a week when the staff of my parents’ continuing care facility almost, but not quite, does their jobs properly.)
We have a choice in life: we can be indignant and stuck in the cold, or we can drive the taxi. You’ll find me behind the wheel.