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July 16th, 2008 Night Cabbie | Night Cabbie
 

The obese old woman at Fred Meyer has a bad hip and a wheelchair...

     
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The obese old woman at Fred Meyer has a bad hip and a wheelchair, and needs to sit in the front seat. Which is fantastic, as it’s scorching hot and she doesn’t seem to have bathed in days. I grit my teeth, crank the A/C and count my blessings that it’s a relatively short trip. I’m even able to maintain a pleasant conversation, my consternation waning as we discuss the joys of avocados.

We arrive at her dilapidated apartment building in Milwaukie, and after I’ve unloaded her into her wheelchair she explains that I’ll have to go inside, fetch a cart for her groceries and take them up to her apartment for her. As I enter the dimly lit lobby, the sum of the cracked fluorescents, dingy walls and omnipresent odor of staleness registers as a miasma of despair and decay. I hustle to load the groceries and navigate the rickety cart and my chair-bound customer into the tiny elevator as mute observers in tank tops loiter in the lobby.

We get to her floor, and she begins to sob hysterically. “Can you push me to my door?” she gasps. “I’m just so tired.” She keeps repeating the phrase, as if ashamed of her fatigue. I tell her that it’s no problem, and it really isn’t. But she continues to cry and apologize as I wheel her down the long corridor. We get to a battered door, which I unlock for her, as her wrists are too weak to manage the feat. TO BE CONTINUED...

 
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