The Bartender's Sister | Hackie | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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The Bartender's Sister 

Chevy is a new regular customer whom I've been driving around for a few months. He's a hard-working trades guy, mostly drywall. It seems that if you excel in a trade - carpentry, electrical and the like - you will never want for work, and that's Chevy: he can work as much or as little as he desires.

One pillar of his flexible lifestyle surely is his lack of family. With no wife or kids to look after, a man has a certain freedom of a fancy-free nature. Chevy keeps his overhead down, as well. A contractor buddy of his owns a warehouse and (illegally) rents him an office room in the huge building, outfitted with a bed and maybe some basic appliances. I'm not saying I would like to live like this, but it seems to work for Chevy.

Other than work, his main outlet is making the nightly bar rounds. (This is where I come into play courtesy of the stringent DUI laws.) He seems to know and like everybody, and he's a champion carouser. But mostly the point is to find and pick-up women. Chevy is probably in his early 40's so he doesn't approach this task with the single-minded ardor of a twenty year-old. If he scores, he scores; if he doesn't, he doesn't. As Sinatra sang it, "That's life."

This past weekend, he called from one of the service clubs in Winooski. When I arrived, he got into the front with me. Before we took off, a woman came out the door and calmly got into the back seat.

"Hey Irma," Chevy said, as if this was an expected development. "Would you like to go to my place or yours?"

"No, that's OK, I'm good," Irma replied. "I'm just going downtown."

"You do know that I ordered this cab, Irma?"

"Oh, yeah," she replied, with the logic of the semi-groggy, "you could just drop me downtown."

I looked over at Chevy who shrugged and said, "Well, let's take the lady."

As we drove through Winooski, Irma said, "Pull over at that ATM so's I can get you money for the fare." She got out, worked the machine's buttons unsuccessfully for a good five minutes and returned to the cab. She tapped Chevy on his shoulder and said, "Cover this for me, will ya? I'm Babbo's sister."

Babbo is a well-known bartender at one of the local bars. Among a certain segment of the Burlington population - well, the demimonde - having him for a brother immediately establishes your bona fides.

Chevy said, "You're Babbo's sister? For real? What don't we just go to his bar so he can pay the fare for you?"

"I would," Irma replied, "but we're fighting."

"Ah-ha, so you're fighting. That explains it. All right, I'll cover your fare."

"You're a peach," Irma said, and leaned over his shoulder to kiss him on the cheek.

Chevy lit up for a moment. "You're sure you don't want to come back to my place to party?"

"Nope," Irma replied, settling back down in her seat. "I'm good."

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About The Author

Jernigan Pontiac

Jernigan Pontiac

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


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