Summa Cum Plastered | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Summa Cum Plastered 

Published May 7, 2007 at 5:02 p.m.

For some reason, Champlain College holds graduation the first weekend in May, a full two weeks before UVM and St. Michael's. Speaking of St. Mike's, for the last few years they've moved to a Thursday graduation, to which I say, "What's up with that?" I'm sure they have their logical rationale, as well, but could it be more inconvenient for the friends and family members who wish to attend?

OK, that's all I have to say about the the local college graduation schedule.

So, Saturday night I picked up a graduating Champlain College senior and her sister. The ceremony had taken place that morning at Memorial Auditorium, and they shared with me that, after the conclusion of the commencement festivities, they had retired to the downtown bars. That was 10 hours ago, and they looked it.

"Let's stop at the Murder Mart," the happy grad blurted out just as we got underway.

"Wow, I haven't heard that in years," I said, pulling into the store's parking lot on Winooski and Main. About 15 years ago, a clerk at this store was shot to death on premises by a deranged ex-boyfriend. Within days, folks began referring to the place as the "Murder Mart." Callous, yes, but this is one way a community copes with senseless violence.

The sister went into the store, and I turned half-way around in my seat and asked the graduate what she majored in. "Business," she answered, and I realized I had no idea what that means. I followed up with, "So, what are you going to do with your degree?" She looked at me wide-eyed, pie-eyed and rosy-cheeked. "I have absolutely no friggin' idea," she replied.

The sister returned to the cab toting two 12-packs of Miller Lite, and they gave me a Maple Street address, right up near the College. When we arrived, I told them eight bucks with the stop. The girls pooled their money and it came to a grand total of $4. The grad said, "Take me up to the college - there's an ATM machine."

As we pulled next to Hauke Hall, the grad said, "Oh crap - I lost my ATM card. Take us back to the apartment." Back at the apartment, she triumphantly pulled out a credit card. "Take it out of this."

"I don't take plastic, sorry. The fleet cabs I think take credit cards, but not me."

"Didn't we start today with $400?" the sister said.

"Where the hell is my ATM Card?" the wilting graduate responded, sort of.

"Girls, could you do me a favor. Just give me the $4, alright?"

"No, no - we can't do that," the grad replied. "We need to pay you. We need to give you a tip."

"Look, I know your hearts are in the right place, but I need to get back downtown and grab other fares. The $4 will be fine, trust me."

They paid; they stumbled out and into the apartment; I hustled back downtown. I shook it off like a Labrador Retriever just out of a pond. Incidents like this occur weekly. If I took it personally, I'd be headed to a shallow grave.

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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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