I'm trying to tune out the guy in the backseat. I picked him up at a bar in far North Portland, and now we're cruising south on Interstate in the hope that he'll recognize the motel whose name he can't remember.

I turn up the stereo a little bit as his soliloquy continues. It's not any different from all the other alcoholics'—a litany of self-pity and perceived victimization. In his case it's his brother's fault that he has to take a cab home, I caught that much before I stopped paying attention. I know the routine all too well; it used to be my own.

I nod my head and mumble "uh-huh," and ask him if any of the motels look familiar. We're a block past one he's said wasn't his when he yells that we missed it. Instead of getting out and walking, he has me go up to the next light, make a U-Turn, and double back to make another U.

I pull up in front, and tell him that it's nine dollars. He hands me a twenty and tells me to keep the buck for myself as he gets out. I thank him, and drive off. As I do so, I realize that I'm the asshole. Hell, the guy was even going to tip me a buck, and I couldn't be nice enough to correct his mistake? I can't go knocking on motel doors at this hour, and realize that instead I'll just have to give the next depressing drunk a free ride.

TO BE CONTINUED.... —nightcabbie@wweek.com