Thinking's Got Nothing to Do With It
by Mather Thomas Schneider
It was a cookie-cutter neighborhood, noon sharp. She didn't answer her phone so I got out of my cab and walked to the door. I rang the bell. Dogs barked inside."Who is it?" I finally heard.
"Taxi!" I said through the door.
"I'll be right out, sir!"
"Is that Don?" she said.
"Oh! I thought it might be Don!"
"It's Matt!" I said.
"Don took me last week!"
"Don sucks choir boys," I mumbled.
"Can we get a move on please?" I said.
20 minutes later she opened the door. She was in a wheelchair.
"I broke my ankle," she said. "The doctors wanted me to use crutches, but fuck crutches."
She had an emaciated body and terrible acne. She was maybe thirty. You can tell she had been pretty one time and probably could be again, but would never be again. She was one of the millions who had given up and blamed the world.
"Forgive me, I have no strength," she said, "would you mind?" I steered her down the driveway to the taxi. Then she held her arms out to me like she wanted a hug. So I lifted her from the chair into the cab. My face was very close to hers during the lift, her flat breasts pressed into my chest. She smelled like death, death and entitlement. I put the chair in the trunk. She yapped the whole way to her doctors: the government stole her kids...her ex-husband beat her...her mother was a bitch...there are strange insects that come in through her vents at night...she used to work with Charles Barkley... "Wait," I said. "What's that about the insects?"
"They get in the bed and bite you," she said. "But nobody believes me."
"Why don't you catch one in a jar or something? Then you'll have proof."
"I tried that," she said. "But, they disentegrate when they are captured."
"Little bastards," I said.
"I used to have so much fucking money," she said, "I'd leave brand new cars on stranger's driveways. I'd put big yellow bows on the cars and just leave them there. I wouldn't even leave my name."
"You sound like a generous person."
"I'm broke now," she said. "You think you know broke? You don't know shit about it."
"I'm rolling in money, myself," I said.
When we got to the doctor I got the wheelchair out of the trunk and lifted her into it and wheeled her inside. Her doctor was on the 7th floor so we went up the elevator.
She was finished in 30 minutes. I went back up the elevator and wheeled her out and down and lifted her back into the taxi and put the chair back in the trunk.
Then she needed to go to the pharmacy. When we got to the pharmacy she said, "Ah, damn."
"I forgot, I changed pharmacies. The girl at this pharmacy is a fucking cow!"
So we went to another pharmacy. I lifted her from the taxi into the chair and wheeled her in.
While she was waiting for her prescription to be filled she wanted to do a little shopping. I pushed her down the frozen food aisle. She grabbed ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, a frozen cake, and frozen cookie dough. We went through the cashiers and I held her bag. We went back and got her "medicine". Then it was back to the taxi, and more lifting.
Back on the road, she gripped her little rattling bottle.
"It just makes me so sad sometimes," she said. "I hate taking these pills."
There was an ecstatic gleam in her eyes. "I never used to do drugs at all," she said. "I never even drank! And pot? Forget it. I was a clean thing, when I was young, I was clean and innocent. But, those doctors, those fucking doctors! And the pain, you know?"
"Yeah," I said, rubbing my head. I thought about my last customer who was 24 years old and got his legs cut off in a car accident when a drunk guy hit him. I thought about how good it made me feel to be next to him as I drove him to his physical therapy, the way he talked and smiled and had sense in his head. So different from this woman.
"I totaled seven cars last year," she said. "I don't drive anymore."
"Thinking's got nothing to do with it, they took my license away."
"None of those accidents were my fault," she said. "Except that last one. That last one was partially my fault."
"Is that how you broke your ankle?"
"No, that was something else," she said. "Besides, it's only sprained. Fucking doctors."
I didn't listen anymore after that. I looked at the clean blue desert air and breathed the warmth in through my nose, out through my mouth, just as another passenger told me to do one time. He said his doctor told him to breathe like that.
At her house I opened the trunk and got the wheelchair. I lifted her from the taxi to the chair one more time and pushed her up the steep driveway toward the door. The sun glinted off the metal chair. My face was sweating. All I had to do was let go of the chair and she would roll backwards 30 feet into the street.
At the door she said, "Sir, could you, could you..."
Dogs were barking inside. I just turned around and left her for them.
I am a cab driver in Tucson.