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taxi conversations

I played poker last night. The intention was to stop playing at 02:30 so that i could grab something to eat and then catch the last streetcar which was scheduled for 03:15 - the next street car after that wouldn't be until 05:45ish and i didn't want to make last night an all-nighter like i had the previous two weekends.

it was still tempting to stay. Essence Fest is going on right now and at 02:30 in the morning the casino was busier than usual with plenty of fish. I was up $300 and knew i could have made more - i was playing pretty well and had the image on the table that i wanted - i was being fairly aggressive and people were trying to catch me, and i chose my battles carefully. I would have been up about another $400 if an idiot didn't make a poor call for a flush and a gut-shot on the river. I knew it was a matter of time. But i needed to not make Saturday a waste. I need to finish cleaning the apartment, and i need to do some serious music-writing. I told myself if i did enough today then maybe i could go for a quick session saturday night where it would likely be just as crazy if not crazier.

So i got up and cashed out, prepared to go to McAllister's Deli inside the casino to get food. It was then that i discovered how much of a mad house it was at Harrah's. The lines for all food were at least 12 people deep. At 02:45 in the morning, there was a line of people waiting to get into the casino, something that rarely happens. There wasn't any way that i was going to be able to get my food in time to catch the last streetcar. I walked out of the casino, decided to walk down Canal to hit up Arby's or McDonalds - not a choice i wanted to make, but i hadn't eaten in about 14 hours. When i inspected those establishments, lines were worse. I nixed the whole idea, stating that i would instead stop by the Walgreens by my place or just snack on stuff in my fridge.

But now i had another issue - it was 02:50 and i didn't want to wait around twenty minutes or longer for the last streetcar to come. At that point i was ready to just leave. So i decided to hail a taxi, plenty of which were roaming about that night since the customer potential was huge.

So i hopped into the taxi. The driver looked familiar, but i wasn't sure from where until he said, "you just come from playing cards?" and i realized that i had seen him at the tables a few times. He was a semi-regular, and he recognized me before i recognized him.

The drive from Harrah's to my place is about eight minutes. In that time we chatted, and i learned what sort of poker player he was mentally (not particularly skilled), how much he planned on making as a taxi service this weekend (over $10,000 easily he said), his second job as lock-up officer in the Sheriff's department, his 15-year-old son who was a 6'2" stocky football linesman who was currently being recruited for a big high school texas football team, and that his wife passed away two years prior.

and again, it was another one of those slice of life sort of situations. Getting a glimpse of the mind and the personality of a local who had a particularly strong charisma because of his life experiences. He didn't think he was going to move to Texas because he liked the values that Warren Easten had been teaching his son. He knew he wasn't a great poker player, and was therefore trying to stay away from there for a while to focus on his taxi job and his sheriff job, saving money so he could send his son to a college that he wanted to go to if he didn't get enough scholarship. He made a few offhand comments that showed how he took his jobs seriously not just to keep them, but because he was an honest hard-working individual. He dropped me off at Walgreens, and said, "you're sure you're good from here?" meaning that he was willing to wait and then send me directly home because it was late in the morning and he didn't want me walking by myself too long. I paid him about double what the actual fare was. We shook hands and i left.

it made me glad i left when i did, made me glad that i waffled about waiting for the street car versus getting in a taxi the way that i did, as several potential home-bringers passed me by before i eventually decided to flag one down. He represented optimism and strength of character for someone who has gone through a lot of adversity and change, a story that would never make it to television or news but felt no less amazing. Eight minutes in a taxi cab and i came out of it with a reminder of why life is so fantastic, because of people like him.

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