Pursuant to my policy, I’ll generally fork over one dollar a day to a homeless person. The bums love to hit up cabbies for change because we are easy stationary targets while staging, and we always have money handy. That and I think the homeless feel like they can relate to cabbies for some reason. The lowlifes know their own kind. At one time there was a stretch where I gave a dollar to the same individual every time I seen him for a period of about 3 months. I liked the guy, I suppose partly because he was mildly entertaining and partly because he called himself “Stoner”. Just like with the hookers, the self aware hobo’s are easily the most fun to converse with. Once he realized that I was good for a buck, it didn’t take Stoner long to figure out my patterns of working the downtown stands. He knew where to find me.
One night I was staging on the 3rd street stand. Situated in the cul de sac where 3rd St. dead ends at Fremont St. sits a cab stand right in between the Four Queens and the Fitzgerald that I have spoken of often. Adjacent to the Fitzgerald is a McDonalds which is where Stoner emerged from on this night. He walked out of the backdoor of the McDonalds holding what appeared to be a small bag of food, probably an item or two off of the value menu in one hand and a drink holder with two cups of coffee in the other. He seemed excited to see me parked there waiting for a fare as he hurried up to my window.
“Say man, I’m glad you’re here.”
“Oh yeah?” I replied.
“Yeah man you’re not going to believe this, I was just in the McDonalds there and bought a cup of coffee and this sandwich and the manager was really cool and gave me another cup of coffee for free!”
“Sah-weet,” I said, mildly excited for his score.
“Do you want to buy it? I’ll give it to you for a dollar.”
“Surely you like coffee don’t ya? You can have this fresh cup for a buck man!”
“You’re trying to sell me the cup of coffee?”
“…that you got for free?”
“Yeah,” he said with no idea where I was going. “You don’t want it?”
“No Stoner I don’t want to buy it and while we’re at it why don’t you get lost. And I don’t want to see you coming up to my window again. You come up to me again and we’re going to have problems alright? So get the fuck out of here,” I said.
“Jeez what’s you’re problem?”
“What’s my problem? Did you really just ask me that? The fact that you don’t know what my problem is is the same reason you’re fucking homeless dude. I’ve been giving you money for months, trying to help you out, and you get a free cup of coffee and have the nerve to come over here and try and sell me the fuckin thing? I know you're hard up man but I've been hooking you up for a while you can't throw you're boy a bone, you gotta work it out for you?”
All he had to say was, “Yo Funk I’m glad you’re here man I just scored this free cup of coffee and I want you to have it.” Had he done so, not only would he have earned my respect, but I would have given him a dollar for the thought anyway. Plus, he would have still been able to sell the cup of coffee to the driver behind me, which is what he did do after he walked away from my cab, because I don’t even like fucking coffee.
A few months ago I told, or tried to tell a tale on twitter about the dumbest question that I had ever heard. Unfortunately the character limit on tweets made it impossible to effectively inform you of the incident. So I would like to utilize this space to tell you about it now.
I loaded a nice middle aged couple, I don’t remember where. At one point in the ride the lady asked me a variation of the most commonly asked stupid question. I may have mentioned in these pages before that the most commonly asked stupid question I hear is, “Do you live here?” That’s right, people have such a demented sense of the City of Las Vegas that they think that the entire City is the Strip. They can’t fathom that someone could, or would actually live here. Of course Vegas has over 2 million residents now but generally when I hear this question I will revert to one of my canned smartass responses along the lines of, “No I’m actually a cabbie in Chicago and I got a fare out here to Vegas so now I’m just working here trying to catch a fare back to Chicago.” Believe it or not, one time when I said that with a straight face somebody replied with, “Really, how much was that fare?” Which of course, is also a very stupid question. Or if the mood strikes I might reply, “No I commute to Vegas on my private jet from my home in the Caymans, so I can take your ass to the Mirage (or wherever it is that we happened to be going)” That one kills every time. But this lost soul didn’t ask me if I lived in Las Vegas, she asked me a modified version of that question, she asked “Where in Vegas does everyone live?”
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking what the fuck Funk, that’s not a dumb question at all, in fact it’s a rather intuitive question because she managed to avoid the pitfall of the most commonly asked stupid question and in the process dove straight to the heart of the real issue. To that I will say, just bear with me for a moment, we’ll get to the real stupid part in a second. For now we'll stick with, “where in Las Vegas does everyone live?” She was smart enough to realize that people must live here, but she hasn't seen any houses. So what gives?
At the time she posed the question we happened to be in a place where we had a good view of the mountains in most every direction, which I realized could serve as a helpful tool to help answer the query.
“Well Vegas is a large valley,” I replied pointing, “there are mountains on all sides north, south, east, and west and as you can see those mountains are pretty far away. North to South the Valley is 30 or 40 miles I think. Basically, the neighborhoods stretch out that far. On the east and west sides, houses go all the way up to the edge of the mountains. On the north and south ends there is still room for growth but not too much.”
“Wow that’s amazing,” she responded.
“I know, a lot of people never realize that Vegas is as large as it is. There are over 2 million residents here now.”
“No I mean how they were able to do that,” she said.
“How where they able to move the mountains like that?”
“Move the mountains?”
“Yeah how did they move them out so far?”
I was waiting, and thankfully the husband took over. “Honey, what do you mean?” he said.
“I don’t understand how they moved the mountains so far,” she said.
Taking a second to comprehend, the husband said, “Honey, you’re a school teacher.”
“Yeah but I don’t teach geography.”
You’re probably thinking what does geography have to do with any of this? I was kind of thinking the same thing but I think she meant geology. A Freudian slip? It’s possible. But perhaps more likely a pattern is emerging. It’s hard to say anything more about this really. “Dumbest ever” moments don’t come around very often and when they do they usually speak for themselves.
However a footnote worth mentioning is the occasion a few weeks later when I was telling this story to a couple of guys that were in the cab. When the timing is right or if they ask or if it’s relevant to something we’re talking about I will tell a story to passengers. In this case I was telling these guys about the “dumbest question" I’d ever heard. Only I ended it with the ago old line, “what does geography have to do with the price of rice?” To which one of the gentlemen replied, “Actually geography has a lot to do with the price of rice.”