Misconceptions: We’re all guilty of them, especially when it comes to other people.
I carry a lot of passengers in my taxi, and as a student of human nature I've learned to "read" them. However, I do jump to some conclusions about people. I don’t like it when I’m wrong. And sometimes I don’t like it when I’m right.
I carry a lot of military kids in my cab. The Naval Aviation Technical Training Center (NATTC), based at Naval Air Station Pensacola (NASP) has over 4,000 young U.S. Navy and Marine Corps students in attendance at any given time. Many of them are under 21, and very few of them are allowed to have cars, and so they depend on taxis to get around. Over 90% of my business comes from the navy base.
Getting a tattoo is a time-honored tradition in the military. Lately, the government is putting more and more restrictions on tattoos, but nevertheless the desire for “ink” is strong and I transport a lot of young sailors and Marines to the various (and numerous) tattoo parlors in the Pensacola area.
Recently, three young ladies got in the cab at the navy base. …Three Marine women, all in their smart-looking Class C uniforms which the Marines are required to wear when they go off base here. …Three clean-cut, wholesome, conservative-looking, nice young women hopped in the cab at Foxtrot barracks.
“So…which tattoo shop can I take you ladies to today?” I said in my jokingly sarcastic way.
“Monster Ink!” was the excited reply. All three of them had appointments to get tattoos.
Well shut my mouth.
I hate it when I’m wrong.
Then a couple of days later I got a call from a woman whom I’d carried before and who lived way out west of town. Her daughter was at home and needed to go to the Cordova Mall. The woman could not drive her. A pickup time was arranged.
When I got there, the daughter (who is white) and a boy (who is black) got in the van. They were very young…sixteen...maybe. I couldn’t tell whether they were boyfriend and girlfriend. You never know. It might be racist of me for even mentioning it, but there is a trend today for white girls to go out with black guys. You almost never see the reverse: a black girl with a white boy. It just doesn’t happen. For obvious reasons, I suppose. (And if you have to ask…don’t.)
The ride to the mall took over a half-hour, so I had time to assess the young couple in the back. These kids were a puzzle. For one thing, the girl spent almost the entire time on her cellphone. Secondly, they weren’t holding hands, nor did they seem at all affectionate. They didn’t even seem very friendly to one another. In fact, there was a palpable air of tension between them. I got the distinct impression that the boy didn't even want to be there. Then it dawned on me. “Ahh, she’s pregnant!” I smugly thought to myself. That’s what sixteen year-old white trash girls do down here – they get pregnant by the first boy who pretends to be in love with them just so he can get laid.
Halfway to the mall the boy’s cellphone rings. He has a short conversation with someone I take to be a male friend and who I gather wants to get together and do something. A question is posed, but I cannot hear it. “I can’t," the boy replies in a disappointed tone. "I have a doctor’s appointment,” he says. Then he hangs up. Hmm. “I” have a doctor’s appointment? Not “we” have a doctor’s appointment? Could I have read this whole situation wrong? Perhaps. And so being nosy, I ask if they want to be dropped off anywhere specific “at the mall,” which coincidentally is right next to Sacred Heart Hospital and a bunch of medical clinics in the surrounding area. But they say no, the main entrance is fine.
We finally get to the mall and the kids get out. As she does, the girl drops a folder on the floor right behind and between the two front seats. I reach down to pick it up and hand it to her. On the front is a label with her name on it and…wait for it…the logo for the obstetrics clinic at the hospital. Aha! Okay, then. A fifteen or sixteen year-old girl, pregnant by a guy she's probably not all that fond of to begin with.
I hate it when I’m right.