The Pink Shirt.
I was lucky that Bag Lady didn’t spill a drop in my car. Not everyone has been so fortunate. I include myself in that statement. Depending on what I was trying to accomplish in my personal life I would set a goal for every night. If I was ahead for the week I could slack off some nights. If I were behind on my goal I knew I needed to step it up and that I was in for some late nights. I was definitely behind one week so I had to stay out quite a bit later than usual. I needed the business. It was already almost 4 AM so the likelihood of me getting a ride was growing slim. I decided to say “fuck it” and was just going to head home. I figured that if I left the app on I might get lucky and catch another request. Someone had to be trying to sneak away from a one-night stand or leaving a Waffle House.
I was a few miles from home when I got an odd request in. Most calls I get are less than ten minutes away but one came through 21 minutes out. This would be the first of a few bad omens I had about this ride. It was really out of my way and I really didn’t want to go. I was having a Han Solo moment because I had a bad feeling about this. Me being the idiot that I am I took the ride anyway. I was hoping this ride would help me meet my nightly goals or at the very least serve as a source of entertainment. 21 quiet, lonely minutes later I pulled up at a house party that I wasn’t invited to. I’m not being sarcastic this time; I am truly grateful that I wasn’t invited. They weren’t exactly “my crowd.” Which became more blatantly apparent with the motley crew of preppy looking frat boys standing out front and not a female in sight. They were probably trying to relive their High School glory days, as it was quite the sausage fest. I was waiting for a couple of minutes before having someone approach the car. Not surprisingly, they were not the client and wanted to know who I was and what I wanted. I told him that I was here for a pickup and gave him the name, let’s just say it was “Brett.” I wanted to congratulate him on all of his Stepdad’s accomplishments that he was living off of. The guy asked around to a few of the guests, none of which knew who I was talking about. I started to think I was at the wrong place and was getting aggravated at myself. I went back through the app and confirmed the address then put my car in gear. Maybe I read a number wrong, it tends to happen. Right as I began to pull away some wannabe sat up from the bed of a pickup. As he climbed down he started waving and walking towards me. I’m hoping he’s waving to some invisible person behind me so I don’t have to deal with him. He climbed in the back and said “I’m Brett. I need to go home.”
Brett is not his real name, but it sounds like it could be. Maybe a Chet or a Grayson or Bryce, one of those trendy fuck-boy names. I was itching to get out of this fucking neighborhood and getting tired of being stared at. I’ve got a short fuse and I’m not good with crowds. I pulled off and started to follow the GPS, which I think was a more logical idea than going to that party and taking out my revenge on all these rich kids for the ones who used to pick on me for being poor. Jesus, that sounded like a manifesto. Moving on.
I glanced at my passenger in my mirror and asked him to put his seat belt on; to which he shook his head “no.” Meh, your funeral, pal. I can’t make someone do something they don’t want to or are too stubborn to do. Kids, always wear your seat belt, it greatly increases your chance of survival in an accident. I was tempted to Paul Walker into a tree just to see how far this guy flew. Stuff your “Too soon” bullshit. He was a classic yacht-club wannabe IZOD prep boy. A “punk bitch,” if you will. He had the whole motif down to include the khaki shorts, a damn visor at night covering his Beiber haircut, loafers without socks, a polo shirt tucked only in front and Buddy Holly sunglasses hanging around his neck, covering his “Cool-guy” hemp necklace. Again, this was in the middle of the fucking night, people. Why the fuck do you need to make sure you’ve got your visor and sunglasses before you go out at night? The icing on the cake here for me was that this “grown man” was wearing a pink shirt with his frigging collar popped up. Now before you get all “homophobe” on me and start bitching about how I’m not respecting gender choices or some bullshit like that, it has nothing to do with my ego, masculinity or anything petty like that. Well, maybe a little. Okay, a lot. The point I’m trying to make right now is that I have never understood how guys wearing pink or the popped collar trend in any way became popular. You look ridiculous, stop it. It really took off around the turn of the millennium and I’ve been against it ever since. What the fuck ever happened to proper gentlemen?
It wasn’t just his fashion sense, or lack of, this guy’s whole persona did not vibe well with me. Something about him as a person or his energy was putting me off. I glanced in my rear view again as a street light caught his face at just the right angle. This guy was developing a nice, fresh shiner. The corner of his right eye was starting to darken while the surrounding area was red and puffy. He was having a bad night. And given his outfit choice, I’d say deservedly so.
By the time I hit the interstate he had completely laid down in the back seat and had begun to snore. It didn’t bother me, we all need a nap from time to time. Plus, this meant that he was not going to try to talk to me. I can only fake cordial for so long. I turned on my radio and let my thoughts wander as we cruised along. I could already tell I was heading to one of those between-big-city towns that are full of nothing and I usually get lost in. We were a few miles away from our exit when he began to gag and cough. I didn’t think much of it because the dumb shit was out in 25-degree weather in shorts and a polo shirt. But I also didn’t want him choking to death in my car, then I have to report it to my real estate agent. The gagging had stopped just as suddenly as it started and the snoring commenced again. Then the odor hit me. I was torn between “Please tell me this piece of shit did not just fucking puke in my car” and “I hope he puked in the car so I can charge him for detailing it.” At the time I thought it worked that way, turns out it doesn’t.
I adjusted my mirrors to see if there was a mess in the backseat and cracked my windows. The odor was faint and after about a mile I couldn’t smell it anymore. I put it out of my mind thinking maybe he was just rocking some rancid fucking breath. As I merged onto the off ramp getting off the interstate I heard another couple of coughs and a caught another slight whiff of a bile smell. I was really starting to think his breath was just fucked up from a night of drinking because I couldn’t see any puke when I looked in my rearview. It was dark but I was catching street lights. I didn’t want to turn on the cabin lights because I didn’t want to wake him. Even with the windows down, it smelled like someone was straining curdled milk through a homeless woman’s crusty panties. You can go ahead and savor that visual, I’ll wait.
A few confused moments and an olfactory shut down later I pulled into a neighborhood nestled the middle of fuck all. I was fairly far away from civilization, my GPS had stopped tracking my movements and there was no cell service. It probably didn’t help that this neighborhood was fairly new and not showing up on most maps yet. I rolled up to a stop sign right after entering the area to where the road forks to the left or right. I couldn’t see any of the house numbers or discernible features but for some reason, I decided to go left. I really thought left was the way to go. I was straining my eyes trying to catch house numbers and having shit luck. We had circled around the entire neighborhood and I was quickly approaching the entrance where I came in. During the course of all this, several attempts were made to try to wake this piece of shit up. No dice there. I was running out of road and needed to know where to drop him off. Had I continued to follow the logical progression of house numbers, I was about to run out of numbers without getting to the house I was given. I was shouting and rocking the brakes trying to wake him. He just laid there still and silent. I was pretty sure he died.
I was three houses from being back at the entrance when he darted back to life; straining a “This is it.” through a yawn. Before I came to a complete stop he opened the door and tried to get out while I was still moving. I stopped and turned around to try and wish him a good night and all that jazz but he was already out of the vehicle. I whipped my head around just as he was turning back to close my door when I got a peek at the source of the smell. His pink shirt was now a nice shade of too-much-Jagermeister-brown. To be honest, it was a bit of an improvement over pastel pink. A pool of shit brown liquid had pooled up under his Adam’s Apple and he had covered himself south to his belt. He slammed my door and walks away wordlessly. I remarked to myself about how bad this guy’s night was going when an epiphany bolted through my skull. Did any of that shit get on my seats? I jumped halfway into the back seat but I couldn’t really tell or see anything. I still had not met my goal but I needed to go home just in case. I was tired and I didn’t want to grab another ride with puke on my pleather. I turned the app off and went home. I didn’t even bother to long in the back when I got there I was so ready for bed.
After I woke up I got dressed and ready to drive for the day when that little voice in my head told me to check the back again. I think I got off pretty lucky. There was one spot about the size of a kumquat was crusted right in the center of my back seats. Cue the five-year-old temper tantrum. I’m pretty sure I threw a couple of things and shocked the neighbors with my choice of language. I went back in the house for cleaning supplies and ended up scrubbing my entire vehicle. I was over an hour late getting on the road. Punk bitch.