"Just starting? Did you have an official ceremony with Oompa Loompas cutting the ribbon? Or did they just turn the "Open" sign on?"
"Actually, I had a small ceremony. I got a Johnny Depp crush so naturally I designed the opening sequence complete with dolls, fireworks & theme song. It was smashing, I got standing ovation." she said excitingly.
"Oh, complete with dolls set on fire and melting? I'm duly impressed." which wasn't a lie.
"Eh. it was 2nd hand store dolls & it was the soundtrack from the movie and I use propane torch to melt the dolls & used the fire extinguisher. The set was in my office and I was the only audience, quite anti-climatic. But I still got that standing ovation. My palms were sore for half the day." she beamed.
Is there no end to this woman? "So, this crush on Johnny, is he the reason why you got into chocolate? I mean, don't tell me you're going to try to drown a boy in chocolate syrup trying to boost sales."
"Oh, nothing of the sort. I do have a liquid chocolate fall. Not the biggest in the world but it does keep the chocolate light & frothy. I had trouble locating a proper chocolate fall. They are hard to find, if it wasn't for the internet. It isn't like a water pump for your fish tank, its more of cork screw in a tube sort of thing." she informed me.
Derek driving was meandering because I know for fact this isn't the direct route. I tap on the glass "Look James, you're no longer a taxicab driver. You don't have to fleece me by taking the scenic route. You're getting paid the flatrate not by the miles."
"Shut up Bob and enjoy the scenic route, you worry to much. I take the time to smell the roses because I'm no longer in a rush."
"Well, I liked you better when you were the taxicab driver, you weren't such a smart-ass"
Derek replies offhandedly "But Bob, you pay me to be a smart ass, it says so in my job description."
Damn, he has me there. I always forget I wrote that in the job description.
Leaning back I remember when I first met Derek.
Just out of high school and times were lean. Barely making enough to eat on a weekly basis, I was the standard at the Soup Kitchen. My hometown isn't big at all but it does take couple of hours to walk from one end to the other. Living on northside in redlight district, my job was naturally midtown near the other redlight district. Never having enough to pay busfare, I walked often. Sometimes I thumbed it, a futile effort though but good thumb exercise.
It was a bright sunny day, I was sweating bullets and worried I was going to be late for work. Sticking thumb out not expecting results but then I could tell my boss "Hey, I tried hitching a ride" when I'd be late for my shift. Before they improved this street with couple of timed stop lights, small traffic jams were the norm, that day was no exception.
Traffic was backed up and my thumb was getting futile excerise when the driver on outside lane leaned over and yelled over the traffic and informed me "I THINK THE TAXICAB DRIVER IS TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION!!" Looking at driver and then forward and indeed, the Yellow Cab driver was busy waving his arm outside his window. I run to catch the cab for he stopped for me and traffic was moving and I can hear the irrate drivers behind me honking their horns. I get into the front seat passenger side.
"Thanks for the ride, I don't have cab fare."
"Yes, I figured that much when you had your thumb out, genius. Where are you going?"
I tell him where I work. "You're in luck, my next fare is not too far from there. I can drop you off right there." Relieved that I am able to keep my minimum rage job. I ask him "So, are you busy today?"
"Not really, that's why I picked you up. Slow business on sunny days, people want to walk or they figure the business could wait for a rainy day."
"How long you been a taxicab driver?" standard question I ask everytime I take a cab (I decided right there anyways, being its my first time in taxicab)
"For five years I been a taxicab driver here in town. I really love it. I get to meet different people daily and the scenery changes often."
We make small talk until we reach my work place. I ask him "The next time I call for cab, how do I get a hold of you?" "Here's my card with cab #. Just ask the dispatcher for Derek and they'll send me."
That was just over 20 years ago and I've called him every single time when I needed a cab.
When I got my freak inheritance, I asked him to be my limo driver. "Sure, why not but here's my terms. The limo is mine, you pay for upkeep on it. I get a hefty salary weekly. I'm on call but when I'm not. I get to drive other people around and I keep the earnings."
"Alright, you set your terms, here's mine. When I'm in town, you're on call and you pay for the gas. When I'm not, you get to play 'upgraded taxi driver' and you have to be frank with me. No pussy footing around. Tell me like it is and be a smart ass about it."