Eye of the driver

Kevin Crittenden

Driving a cab in Chico was the best crappy job I’ve ever had.

I gave rides to hookers, lawyers, lowlifes and lonely drunks. I was always surprised at the quality of conversation, the openness of communication my passengers felt riding with me.

If it wasn’t for the dangerous people and crazy hours I might have kept at it. But it’s impossible to live a normal life when you spend over forty hours a week behind the wheel, witnessing this strange town and its people at night.

People would always ask me, “Don’t you get sick of all the drunks?” I didn’t mind them.

Maybe I’m too tolerant for my own good. But even blackout drunks know not to mess with the person who is bringing them out of the clutches of downtown mayhem and into their cozy homes.

You don’t mess with the driver because they can kick your drunk ass out of the cab at any time.

Even the slim percentage of customers who got nasty with me felt bad about it by the end of the ride. People in Chico generally want to get along with one another.

The fun part about driving people around in this town is that for a moment you enter their world.

In a small way, you set the tone for their night by the kind of driver you are, the music you play and the way you take them where they’re going. It’s your choice though. You don’t have to participate in their night — you can be curt while being an effective driver.

But it’s much more fun to ask questions of the lubricated minds who are brimming with secrets to spill to the right stranger. The cab driving life is fertile ground for insight into the tortured alcoholic souls of this town.

Kevin Crittenden can be reached at [email protected] or @kevlodius.