Last night I quit work three hours early, at midnight rather than 3:30. I reached home before 2:00AM and was asleep by 3:00AM, rather than the usual 6:00AM. I did so for two reasons: the night before and the following morning.
The night before, I had reached a new low of exhaustion and despair. I found myself screaming at a woman who was too drunk to remember where she lived. I had braced myself for something bad when I saw that the address to which Dispatch had sent me was a bar. When a bartender guided her to the car and told that Castro and Chavez was her destination, he handed me $15 to take her home. I tensed up and then drove her as quickly as I could to that intersection.
All the way there, she kept falling asleep in the back seat, waking up only when I opened all the windows and left the frigid night air blow through the car. Then she would wake up and ask me to close the windows, complaining loudly about the cold. Then, when I did, she would immediately fall asleep again. By the time she was making her fourth or fifth request to close the windows, I merely ran them up, which quieted her, and then immediately ran them down again.
When we got to Chavez and Castro, I stopped the car and asked her where to leave her off. She didn't respond. I asked her loudly, "Where do you live?" She directed me to drive up the block. When we got there she told me to turn right. She told me to turn right again in another block. At the end of that block we were right back where we started. I was furious. Every minute spent with her was another minute in which I might have found my next fare. The $15 was hardly worth any of this behavior.
I finally thought of a different tack to take with her. Instead of asking for directions I told her to tell me her address. Sure enough, despite the havoc that alcohol has wrecked on her spatial awareness and understanding, she easily, automatically I should say, retrieved the required alpha-numeric data, which she was able to recite, sounding like a little child reciting multiplication tables with her eyes closed. I drove to the address.
Once we reached her address, she was again asleep. I yelled at her to “get out of my cab!” She started to do so but was suddenly asleep again, with her legs hanging out the door. By the end of it, I had gotten out of the cab, walked around to the rear passenger door, opened it and was screaming at her, shaking all over, my face mere inches from hers, demanding that she get out of the cab so that I could continue working. Eventually, she did rise to her feet. But as I tried to back out of the drive, she kept leaning on the side of the cab, saying “You’re mean! You are so mean!” Shaking, I slowly backed away. She righted herself and stood on her own feet, continuing to call out after me that I was "so mean!" as I drove away.
I had three more fares after that, but I was still so off-balance that, when I had returned the cab and made my way home, I was too upset to fall asleep. I didn’t go to sleep until 7:00AM. Then some idiot in my building pulled the fire alarm at 8:30. After that, I got no sleep at all. So last night I began another all night shift but with almost no sleep.
And that is why I quit early and came home to bed by 3:00AM.
[Note: Where I have said that she "fell asleep" and "woke up", I should more accurately say that she "passed out" and "came to". There is a world of difference between the two pairs of events.]