...an old fat man in a gray jumpsuit came out of the store. He leaned on his cane, looking at me in the cab, then walked over to the Cadillac parked next to me and opened the door. He looked at me again. No one else was in the parking lot—it was as if the streets had emptied and everyone had gone home. No cars, no people, no nothing except the fat old man who was staring at me. I stared back at him. Finally he walked around his car—slowly, slowly—and came over to the cab. I rolled down the window.
“You know, you’re parked in a handicap parking space,” he said. He had a big bald head and round glasses.
“Yeah?” I asked.
“And you don’t have handicap plates, or a sticker.”
“No,” I said. “I guess I don’t.”
He planted his cane carefully and leaned over, smiling. He had a huge round head. “Well, you know, I’m kind of an activist for handicap parking rights—my friends call me the Ralph Nader of handicap parking rights.” He chuckled and looked at me—proud, I guess, of being the Ralph Nader of handicap parking rights—but I didn’t say anything. After a moment, he said, “So, I guess I’ll have to ask you to move.”
“I’m just waiting for a customer,” I said. I looked away at the store. “It’ll only be a minute or so.”
“Well, then, I’m afraid I’ll have to call the police. I’m going to have you arrested.” He slowly started to turn away, pivoting on his cane.
“Wha-aaat?” I couldn’t believe it. I drive some maniac albino around for an hour, and then I get threatened by an old bald man.
“You’re parked in a handicap zone! And you don’t have authorization!” The old man took a step back toward me. He wasn’t chuckling now—his face was turning red with anger, or madness, and spit flew out of his mouth when he said the word authorization. “I worked for years for handicap rights in this city and I’m not going to have my rights taken away by some damn—cab driver!”
“Hey, pal,” I said, and stopped. When did I start calling people ‘pal?’ Miller. Jesus, you drive riff-raff around all day, you become riff-raff—and it doesn’t take very long, either. I said, “I’m just waiting for my customer, okay?”
“I don’t give a damn about your customer. I’m not going to have my rights taken away by some sleazy cab driver!”
I remembered another driver once telling me that cabs could park in handicap spaces if they were waiting for a customer. So I said, “Ah, fuck you, call the cops.”
“What did you say?”
“Call the cops.”
The old man’s bald head was turning redder and redder. “No,” he said, “before that.”
“Fuck you, I said, call the fucking cops.” The old man staggered backwards with a shocked look on his face. I hit the window button and the glass rose quickly, and I looked hopefully toward the door, willing Miller to appear. That’s how bad my day had turned—I was praying for some goddamn weirdo to get in my cab! As for the old man, let him call the cops. The worst that would happen would be that the cops would write me a ticket that I would stick in the glove box and forget about.
But then there was a bang on the rear of the car—and another. I looked around and the old man was beating on my left rear fender with his damn cane. Bang! Bang!
I pulled my big, black flashlight from beneath the seat and got out of the car.