Sinclair-Ford | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Published January 5, 2008 at 12:38 p.m.

The first week of January marks the return of the Middlebury College students. Middlebury's academic calendar is odd, perhaps unique. (Go a'googling if you really need to know.) Every January, the students attend a one-month "J-Term," which is sandwiched between the two conventional 4-month semesters. For J-Term, a single morning class is required, allowing for afternoon frolic-time and nighttime studying. Ain't it great to be an undergrad?

The returning students, mostly from out-of-state, create torrents of taxi fares out of Burlington Airport. Speaking for the local cabbies, we likey.

I was scheduled to pick-up Cecilia Sinclair-Ford on Wednesday night.Things being as they are, the arrival was delayed, and delayed again until it finally landed just after 1am. I could grumble, but really - this is the name of the game in the transportation business. Delays happen.

Cecilia was glad to see me waiting for her at the arrival gate, sign in hand. She was hardly bushed and not at all disgruntled. I attribute this to the wonder of being a 20 year-old. She was short and pretty with bright red hair. While we stood around the baggage belt, I mentioned that only 3% of the population has naturally red hair. She said, "Really? I thought it was more than that."

We had a delightful conversation the whole way down Route 7. In my experience, Middlebury students often come from privileged backgrounds and, well, Cecilia Sinclair-Ford was no exception. If her blood was any bluer, she'd probably be recruited into the Blue Man Group. But like so many of these wealthy Middlebury kids, Cecilia and her family - her mother a corporate lawyer, her father an historical architect (you got me) - were progressively active, concerned about improving our society, empathetic to the plight of the less affluent.

As Shelburne turned into Charlotte, it began to snow. I was surprised as it was about 5 degrees, and it usually doesn't snow when it's so cold. But snow it did, heavier and heavier as we headed south. By Ferrisburgh, the road was coated, and difficult to follow. I slowed down to about 30 mph, and concentrated on driving. I must have been doing a great job with the conditions, because Cecilia's gleeful demeanor never wavered - apparently, she had full confidence in my driving chops.

Between Vergennes and Middlebury, we passed no fewer than three vehicles off the road, stuck in ditches. At least two of them were other taxis, who should know better. I paused each time to see if they needed assistance, but, each time, the young driver, as it turned out, told me that tow trucks were on the way.

Got a pencil? I'm about to lay down the oh-so secret method of bad weather driving. Here it is:  Slow Down.

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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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