I pick up the two teenagers in inner Southeast at 5:30 on a Sunday morning and instantly like them, if only because they remind me so much of myself at the same age: stoned and out way too late without permission.
They’re both recent immigrants from Ethiopia, and the more sophisticated kid, with cornrows and a gold chain, is trying to explain to his chubby friend that he has to stop worrying about proper enunciation and grammar, and should instead try to sound the way people actually talk. Thus “do you know what I am saying?” is actually incorrect, while something that sounds like “gnome sane?” hits the mark.
The disbelieving chubby kid calls me in for an expert opinion, and I weigh in on his buddy’s side. The three of us spend the rest of the trip laughing and talking in the most preposterous accents we can come up with, until the kid with cornrows tells me to pull over, we’re there.
I do so, and he’s immediately out the door and running. His bewildered friend also gets out, and begins to slowly wander off without paying.
“Hey man, come on, I don’t want to have to call the cops.”
The kid looks startled. “No police arrest!” he keeps repeating.
“I don’t want to deal with police arrest either—you got any cash at all?”
He’s got eight bucks, and I’m not going to sweat the fact that the meter says 13. He even sticks his arm out to shake hands.