Mean Mr. Mustard | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Mean Mr. Mustard 

Published July 2, 2007 at 7:53 p.m.

This past weekend was a big one for Vermont weddings, and my family participated. I spent Saturday at my nephew's wedding at a beautiful inn in Marlboro, just outside of Brattleboro. I got back in town at 11pm, and immediately hit the streets for the prime cabbing hours. Things were hopping, but - sheesh - I was beat. As the night wore on, the tiredness slipped into orneriness. Perhaps that's why, during my last fare, I spoke up in a situation where I'd normally bite my tongue.

It was nearing 4am, and I was taking one last spin through downtown. I picked up a thin, mustachioed, middle-aged man who had wandered out of Kountry Kart Deli and flagged me down. I noticed a splotch of mustard hanging from the left side of his mustache, not real attractive. "Bay Road in Shelburne," he said from the shotgun seat.

"Sure 'nuff," I replied. "Man, you closed down the town tonight."

"Lotta hot babes tonight," he said. "I couldn't bear to leave."

Isn't that just lovely, I thought to myself. (At this point, take note, I'm still behaving myself.)

As we continued up Main towards a right on South Winooski Avenue, a couple of pretty young girls were in the street near Nectar's also looking for a ride. I slowed down, and yelled out my window, "Where ya headed to?"

"Winooski," they shouted back.

"Sorry," I said, "I'm headed the other way," and kept rolling.

My customer went apoplectic. "Are you nuts?! Get back there and take them. Did you see how hot they were? For chrissake, man."

I looked over at the guy and, I swear, he was salivating. I said, "You're going to Shelburne, and they were going to Winooski. I'm not gonna take you 20 minutes out of your way."

"I don't give a fuck," he said. "Go back and get those girls."

"It ain't gonna happen, man, so forget about it."

"And why not?"

Here's where I had the choice. I could easily have responded with any number of innocuous explanations, such as, I'm sorry man. I'm just too tired, and I'm gonna knock off after I drop you. Something mild like that. Instead I told the truth.

"The fact that you are so friggin' enthusiastic about getting those girls in the car with you is the exact reason I'm not doing it."

"What the fuck are you talking about, man? Did you not see how hot they were?"

"Those girls are less than half your age, man. I mean, c'mon - didja ever hear of decency?"

"Fine," he said. "Just fine. You're losing money, man. You coulda had the additional fare to Winooski."

"I'll live with it," I said, and made myself a promise to keep my mouth shut for the remainder of the ride.

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About The Author

Jernigan Pontiac

Jernigan Pontiac

Jernigan Pontiac was a Burlington cab driver whose biweekly "Hackie" column appeared in Seven Days 2000-20. He has published two book-length collections, Hackie: Cab Driving and Life, and Hackie 2: Perfect Autumn.


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