December 25, 2007
Still feeling quite reminiscy. This is a seasonal affliction I come down with annually. So here's a posting in that spirit.
Back in the '80s, I regularly worked the airport. Things were far less organized back then. The taxi regulations were sketchy and the enforcement, such as it was, was spotty. It was like the wild frontier. I loved it.
One of the fleet drivers who likewise appreciated the pleasures of airport work was a huge fellow universally known as "Big Phil." (For those of you in possession of my first book, Hackie: Cab Driving and Life, you may recall that I wrote about this guy in the story called, "Big Phil's Gone." For those of you not in possession of the book, click the icon on the right side of this page marked "Buy the Hackie Books!" and, well, do it.)
It was great hanging out with Big Phil and the other regular airport cabbies. Flight arrivals were far and few between back then, so there was all the time in the world for mega-schmoozing.
Big Phil had this routine he would pull out when the conversation lagged. His eyes would light up with a mischievous twinkle and the rest of us would be, like, "Uh-oh - here it comes." He would then announce in a booming voice that befit his gargantuan frame, "Bumpy-Boo!" Like a bull moose in rutting season, he'd then charge at one of us, bumping the guy stomach to stomach, which usually sent the object cabbie flying back a few feet. The goofy grin on his face was worth the juvenile insanity of the act. Plus, I guess it's an open secret that men actually like to touch other men (I mean even straight guys), and Bumpy-Boo was a great, if inane, excuse for some quality male bonding.
At a certain point, if I recall, a lot of cabbies just began calling him Bumpy-Boo. And that's kind of hilarious, too, if you think about it.
I had a routine up my sleeve that Big Phil enjoyed, one that he would periodically request. Venezuela was enjoying their first big oil boom at he time, and a lot of wealth had been created in the country. For some reason, our Vermont ski slopes had caught on big time with the Venezuelan tourists. We cabbies, during the winter, all looked for one of these lucrative fares up to the mountains. To help encourage the cab-taking process among our Latino visitors, I had composed a little ditty. Big Phil loved to hear me recite it:
Hello wealthy Venezuelans,
Won't you take my gringo taxi?
Please don't rent a car or bus it,
That would be grody to the maxi.
Hope ya'll had a warm and meaningful Christmas. Onward and upward in 2008! - JP
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