I'd been on autopilot for days. "He got in and said where to go. We went, discussing inoffensive topics/in silence. I dropped him off. He tipped me reasonably, and wished me good-night." That's far more typical than anything else, but is hardly riveting material. I promise myself that I will stir up something worth writing about my next passenger, no matter what.

He has stuff hanging all over his belt, so I ask what he does. Upon hearing he works for the gas company, I tell him a funny story.

I once reported a gas leak. The guy came out, waved his little electronic nose, and said all was well. As the devices are calibrated to accept a certain base level of gas, I asked him to turn it down. Still nothing. I begged for one more recalibration; he humored me the way one does a whiny child. But then it started to click. I, and my cats, had smelled a gas leak far below what should be detectable by the human nose.

The punchline He said, "Oh yeah, I remember you, all right. No one back at the office believed me."

I pull over immediately and turn around. "Oh my god, was that you How cool!" I offer to come back to his dispatch office and prove his story to all and sundry, and he wants to take me up on it. Yes!

You know, usually I treasure this odd olfactory trait. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a liability in this job....