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Montreal, Make It a Double 

Not every Vermont taxi company will accept a run to Montreal. You'll have to ask them for their reasons, because I am so going. I probably catch a Montreal fare 5-10 times a year. Last week, bucking the odds, I went twice in an 18-hour period.

Thursday evening at five o'clock I collected six buddies for a trip up to a hockey game at the Forum. Why rent a cab? You guessed it:  so they could all drink their asses off without drawing straws for a designated driver.The boys night out was organized by a regular customer. He and his friends were all late thirties to early forties, and mostly family men. He assured me that the night would not get crazy. "Maybe a quick drink after the game, and back to B-town. Gotta get up for work in the morning, and we got families." Riiiiight.

They were drinking when I picked them up and that continued until 10 minutes from the border, then stopped, and recommenced when we made it through. Some groups of men get nasty or violent when intoxicated; these guys, however just got loud and funny, even taking breaks to call the wives and kids at home.

While they were at the game, I hung out - not at all like a vagrant - in the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. (If you dress well and act discreet, no one will say boo to you.) After the game, I reconnected with the boys at a St. Catherine Street bar (all praise to cell phones.) Then - surprise, surprise - it was off to one strip club and then another. Women are right: men are dogs. These guys were good dogs, but nonetheless.

At the U.S. border station at four in the morning, the agent took our I.D.'s, looked right at me and said, "Have you been drinking?"

I said, "Ma'am, I am cold stone sober."

She nodded and said, "How about the rest of you guys? Have you been drinking?"

A stunned look came over the group, and then from the back one of the guys called out, "You bet we've been drinking!"

The border agent actually cracked a smile and said, "All right, go on though."

I got to my home at half-past five, managed to sleep for a fitful hour and arose for a 7am pickup in the South End. A couple were on their way to India to visit with their spiritual teacher for the entire winter. I would be driving them to Trudeau Airport, f/k/a Dorval.

The trip up with these folks was as different from the last run as, well, night and day. We talked of karma and spirituality, not a word about hockey or strippers. Not to pass judgment one way or the other, but I enjoyed the change of pace.

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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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