When Ecocabs took on the difficult, wearying process of shuttling patrons to and from the new H St. bars and nearby Metro stops every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., I knew there could be trouble. I knew, specifically, that someone could throw up in my car and ruin it forever with a horrible smell and I always said, when the subject came up, that the first time anybody threw up in my car would be the last time I operated the Atlas Shuttle.
Over the months, lo these many months, there have been a couple of close calls. There was the woman who, after half an hour with her head between her knees on the sidewalk out front of the Red and the Black
, was helped to the open rear door of my car by her boy friend only to vomit in the gutter there. I had to refuse them service after that, just like the cabbies who came along afterward.
There was another woman, only a few weeks ago, who was waiting for me with three friends outside the Argonaut
with a small bucket being held under her chin by her best friend. The best friend was very reassuring to me about the fact that she had the situation under control and that there would be no vomiting on my car. I am not stupid. I started to back away with my hands in the air, but it was very late and the friend was convincing and I took them where they needed to go. Only at 7th and H St., as they were getting out, did the sick woman vomit again as she slumped out of the car. It is a really awful thing to see people so drunk.
And now there is Ian, a 6 foot 2 or 3 inch Englishman with a great big belly who works at one of Joe Englerts Capitol Hill bars and regularly uses my service to get up to the Argonaut where his girlfriend works. I never suspected it would be Ian. Great, big Ian! An Englishman! A bar or restaurant veteran would never be the one to soil my ecocab; it was going to be one of the sorority girls who had ventured down to Northeast for a lark, I thought. On Saturday night, when I picked him and his wonderful girlfriend Vanessa up towards the end of the night as usual, he had a bizarre, forced grin on his face. She made an offhand joke about him driving with his window down that was totally ignored. I bantered with them. Actually, I bantered with her because he wasn't saying much that was intelligible. Then I heard the sound from the back seat. It was a disturbing sound, and she made an exclamation. I pulled right over and she quickly got him out of the car and began wiping up what appeared to be a tiny bit of vomit on the seat. Almost all of it was on his clothing. They were very apologetic and offered to pay to have it cleaned, but I said no and we all agreed that it would be best for them to walk the rest of the way.
In the light of morning it turned out there was a bit of residue on the carpet that I easily cleaned up myself, and I didn't feel the urge to resign my post as Atlas Shuttle Driver. There is no smell and practically no stain, and if you send something with Ecocabs I will be sure to set it down away from that area!
Chalk one up for the sorority girls.