"Son of a bitch, you're running up the meter!"

The old man is drunk, and furious that I was unwilling to make an illegal turn through busy traffic.

"Hey, I told you I'll knock a buck off, just chill."

"You piece of shit, it costs $8.70 this way, and $8.30 my way!"

"So we'll call it $8. This isn't a big deal."

When we reach his retirement home, the meter does indeed read $8.70, and he begins again. "I know what you just did to me! I know how you cabbies are, you can't fool me."

"Look, I said it's eight, calm down."

"I should call the police on you, you little motherfucker," he growls as he offers up the money.

"Hey, just keep it and get out, all right? You can have a free ride, that's how greedy I am."

And he spits in my eye, and the blood burns my cheeks, and I'm screaming as loud as I can. I call him a pathetic, washed-up drunk, a disgusting old fuck, and countless other vile things. I berate him out of the cab, his pupils dilated with fear. I've lost all control, and it's both exhilarating and terrifying.

When he's gone, I turn off the MDT, pull into an empty parking lot, and collapse into my seat, disgusted at my treatment of someone old enough to be my grandfather. The epiphany is as clear and unmistakable as it always is: I'm burnt out, and I need to get out.

Night Cabbie is now off duty. Contact him at nightcabbie@wweek.com.