So I’m in the back of a bouncy and beat-up rogue van filled with bleary passengers bound for Cambridge, Arlington, Belmont, other towns north of the Charles, from Logan, where we were all plucked from the long taxi line by a short hustler who kept yelling “Downtown! Back Bay!” while pausing to collect travellers going to neither of those places. “Belmont? Get in! … Somerville? Get in!… Downtown! Back Bay!”
There were no taxis. It was 1:40am. The line was a couple hundred feet long, and this dude plucked us all out of the back of the line. I only had to wait a minute or so, and now here we are, slopping down Storrow Drive, which is semi-clear and wet, with piles of gray and sloppy plowings on either side, pushed up against ten inches of winter wonder stuff. The driver, who sounds Spanish to me, is listening to a country music station. It’s a mess here, but not an insurmountable one for resourceful folk, which they have everywhere I suppose, but which seem especially Bostonian to me at the moment.
We’re coming up on Harvard Square now. Here the snow is crushed to a lumpy gray layer of extra pavement. The wheels of the van spin now and then. But we seem to keep the traction going, and the city is pretty at what’s now 2am.
None of us asked for or were quoted a fee. Wonder what it wil be?
Somewhere up Mass Ave the driver starts looking for an all-hours curb market so he can buy some de-icing windshield washer fluid. I tell him I have some at my house, which is our next stop.
After I get him the fluid, which I am amazed to find easily in our basement, he fills the reservoir and I ask him about the fee.
“Thirty, thirty-five, whatever”, he said. I give him forty. Seems a fair price for a guy who does what the taxis won’t, at crazy hours. Much appreciated, and not just by me. I had only left Paris 34 hours earlier. We had people in the van who had been traveling from Singapore by way of Tokyo and Los Angeles, as well as by the D.C. plane that also brought me back.
Anyway, it’s now 2:32, fresh snow is falling outside the window of the attic office where I’m writing this, and I’m going to bed.
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