Manchester United | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Manchester United 

Published December 12, 2007 at 9:49 p.m.

This past Tuesday I had a run to Manchester. This is an excellent fare for the midweek in December. I was happy cabbie.

My customer was a teenager in Barre. His father, who was out-of-town, had arranged for me to drive his son to a family get-together in Manchester. I carefully took down all the relevant information, most especially the address: 143 Elm Street. "Do you," asked dad, "need instructions how to get there?"

"No," said I. "I know how to get to Manchester, and I'm sure I'll be able to find Elm Street."

I picked up the young'un at 10am on Tuesday, and off to Manchester we drove. The town is in the southwest sector of Vermont, on Route 7 between Rutland and Bennington. There's a few potential routes to get there, but I decided to go maxi-highway:  89 to 91 to Route 11.

We approached the Connecticut River which neatly divides we Vermonters from our new Hampshirite brethren. This is also where we would connect with 91. Said the teenager, "I'm hungry. Do you have time to stop for a bite?"

"Well," said I, "you talkin' about fast food, or do you want to stop at an actual sit-down restaurant?"

"I'd like to have a nice meal, if that's OK with you."

The kid was polite and that scores a lot of points in my book. "OK, then," I said. "Once we get on 91, it's all small towns the rest of the way and who knows what we'll find. So, let's cross over into Lebanon, New Hampshire, where I know there's plenty of good eats."

We found a nice pub-type restaurant with plump friendly waitresses and cozy leather booths. My customer ordered chicken wings, a hamburger topped with bacon and just about everything else that could fit, and onion rings. Oh, yes, and a large Coke. Teenage boys know how to eat. I had a grilled cheese sandwich and a ginger ale.

As we left the pub and walked back to the car, I joked, "Well, at least we got to visit New Hampshire."

The kid gave me a strange look and said, "What to do you mean? I'm going to be staying in New Hampshire."

"What do you mean? I'm taking you to Manchester."

"That's right," he said. "I'm meeting my folks in Manchester."

Then it hit me: This kid is going to Manchester, New Hampshire, not Vermont. Stopping at Lebanon and my random comment had avoided a multi-hour driving error. Luckily, the distance from Barre to either Manchester was comparable, so the price quote I had given the father still worked.

The grilled cheese sandwich, by the way, was excellent.

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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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