Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Cab Driver

Last weekend I went to Augusta to spend the weekend with my family and (most importantly) to see my nephews. I'd been planning on this trip for a few weeks since nephew #2 was born. I had been buying clothes and books to bring up for nephew #1's first birthday. At the beginning of September, I found a great deal on a snowsuit for nephew #1 and I was really excited to finally get to deliver it to him. (Even though 1 year old babies don't really care about snow suits).

On Friday afternoon I was, as usual, running behind schedule, and packing in a hurry. I was taking the new bus (only $13 to Augusta, and WAY less sketchy than Greyhound), and wanted to be sure to get there a bit early in case I misread the schedule or anything. I ended up taking the metro bus to the station, and half way there I realized that I had left the snowsuit hanging in my bedroom. I considered forgetting it and mailing it to them at a later time, but I REALLY was stuck on making sure they had it. (Besides what good was the red and brown hat without the snowsuit to match?) So I decided to go home and get it. Good thing I had left early! I could not take the metro bus to the apartment and get back in time, so I decided just to take a taxi home.

Generally, if I were to call a cab I would call ABC Taxi because the cabs are bright orange and easy to spot coming down the road. But as I went out of the station there were a line of taxis waiting to pick people up as they got off their bus, so I just got into the next available cab. I asked if the driver if he would take me to my apartment, wait outside for me to get something, and then bring me back to the bus station. (Do cab drivers usually do this?) He said yes, and off we went.

For some reason I sat in the front seat of the van, I don't ever do that, and I'm not sure why I did that day. As we started to drive I explained to the driver (Harry) my predicament, and we chatted about all sorts of things. (I also generally don't talk to cab drivers either). Harry was an older man, probably in his 60's, with grey hair, a plaid shirt, jeans, suspenders, and no teeth.

Eventually, he asked me where I worked and I told him about working in the day shelter, and he replied:"Oh, you might be seeing me over there soon." I said, "I hope not." He confessed that driving a taxi no longer paid the oil bill and he didn't know what to do. He said that he has been going to the food pantry in South Portland but that they only give out food once a month. I told him about our food pantry, and how we serve three meals a day for anyone who needs it. He asked tons of questions about where we were located and which entrance to use, and what to expect when he got there. At that moment I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and that maybe forgetting the snow suit wasn't much of a coincidence at all.

Conversation drifted to other things, but as I was gathering my things he seemed genuinely grateful for the information that I had given him. Before I left he gave me his business card and I gave him all the cash (about 3 times the cab fare) that I had and told him to have a good day.

I told this story to my dad and he insisted that I am too nice, and that Harry was probably telling those "sob stories" to everyone in hopes for a large tip, a thought that NEVER ONCE entered my mind. Either way I'm sure he needed that money more than I did.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Identity Crisis

I think I'm going nuts.

I was at the farmers market today during my lunch break and I heard someone yell "Amanda!" and I turned to respond. I am now answering to the name Amanda.

There's this really sweet older man at the shelter who thinks my name is Amanda. I don't know why, and I'm sure at some point I told him otherwise. However, sometimes things get really busy and you don't pay 100% attention to what is going on, and I think, on one of these occasions I must have responded to him calling me Amanda.

The thing is, he when he talks he uses people's names way too frequently. For example:

Erica: Hey Bob, How's it going today? (I changed his name to protect the innocent)
Bob: Hi Amanda, I'm great, Amanda. How are you, Amanda?
Erica: Pretty good, can I help you?
Bob: Yeah, Amanda, do you mind letting me into my locker?
Erica: Sure let me grab the keys.
Bob: Thanks a lot Amanda, I really appreciate that Amanda.

And on and on and on...

The thing is, he's so nice, and it's gone on for a few weeks now (maybe longer) so I don't know what to do about it. I'm sure he would be cool with it if I told him otherwise, but I'd feel silly because I've been answering to it for so long. (Apparently long enough that I'm responding to it in other places).

So, what do I do? What would you do? Part of me has no problem letting him call me Amanda, but sooner or later someone else might notice, and it could become awkward.

Either that or I'm going to start signing checks with "Amanda."

Never a dull moment!

Later Days Friends,

Erica (Unless you want to call me something else)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

As time goes by, the fire still burns

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted anything for my trustee readers. It was a loooonnng winter, but I'm back now, and better than ever! I'd like to thank Allen for sparking my re-entry into blog land, by publicly (on the internet) calling me rude. I maybe rude, but I will prove that I am not a giant dork by now posting an awesome story...instead of a story about a plant whose name is the coolest thing about it. ANYWAY, enjoy!

It all started with an unexpected visitor from Indiana. He came to Maine last weekend to stalk (I mean visit) one of the students I went to Louisiana with this Spring. We decided to give him a big warm welcome in the form of a bonfire in the student's yard off Washington Ave in Portland. It seemed at first like it would be a quiet night. There were only a handful of us there, and it was pretty casual. Until the time came to actually start the fire.

Turns out Indiana boy had NO CLUE how to start a fire, he didn't have any paper, or sticks or anything, only huge logs they purchased at the store. We critically watched him fail for over a half an hour, until he went inside to use the facilities, and then we took over. We searched the yard for anything smaller than a log to burn, and found a few arm loads of sticks.

I promptly got to work, putting my years of camp experience to good use. However, even the best camper can't start a fire with damp this time I was starting to doubt that this fire was ever going to happen....UNTIL....we made an amazing discovery, doritos are extremely flammable. That's right friends, we started a camp fire with doritos!!

So the fire was going great, Indiana boy had fallen asleep and we were chatting quietly and enjoying the warmth, until, out of no where a group of self identified stoners showed up at our camp fire. They were entertaining for sure, but also demanding, and ask me to make them all smores. It was all downhill from there.

I have a system for making smores, Which involves a little technique where I use 2 marshmallows to sandwich the chocolate, so that it gets extra gooey/melty/delicious. The stoners loved them, but I was getting tired, and apparently a little careless. Marshmallows started burning, and you can't make smores with burnt marshmallows, so I was getting frustrated, and of course, making the situation worse.

Now I've got two marshmallows roasting over the fire, being prepared for their amazing entry into the sandwich of goodness, when all of a sudden, they ignite. I pull them out of the fire, and somehow, as if infused with magical jumping powder they fly off the stick onto my hand/arm/semi-new-jacket. They were now aflame, attached to my skin, and I don't know WHAT to do. I feel like I just watched them burn for a while before realizing what was going on. My "friends" of course are laughing their heads off. (One of them claims that she was yelling "stop, drop, and roll" though that thought never crossed my mind.

Finally it dawns on me that probably watching the sizzling sugary goo is a bad idea, and I should make an attempt to stop it. So I do what I think of first, and try to pull my arm out of my jacket, but that doesn't work, because, well, I'm on fire, and very very sticky. Finally, one of the stoner girls comes to my rescue and puts the fire out. That's right, the stoner girl saved my life. I ended up a little scorched, but otherwise ok.

I'd be lying if I told you it was the first time I had set myself or a fleece jacket on fire. Probably won't be the last time either.

Moral of the story: Never doubt the power of doritos and people under the influence of illegal substances.

Hopefully, that story will satisfy you all for a short time. I'll make an attempt to post again soon (at least less than 6 months from now.)

Later Days,