Charles Rammelkamp, 6/24/2019
Current Occupation: Retired, Reviews editor for Adirondack Review
Former Occupation: Technical Writer and Teacher
Contact Information: I am the Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books, in Baltimore and a compulsive writer, which falls more in the category of stuff-I-do than stuff-I-get-paid-for. Recent books include MATA HARI: EYE OF THE DAY, and AMERICAN ZEITGEIST, both as published by Apprentice House (Loyola University), and a chapbook, JACK TAR’S LADY PARTS published by Main Street Rag. Published by FutureCycle Press in 2018 is another chapbook, ME AND SAL PARADISE.
It was a year before the movie with Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster came out, but I still thought it would be a romantic adventure, more than just a job. Trouble was, I’d just moved to Boston from a tiny town in the Middlewest – Potawatomi Rapids, Michigan – that didn’t even have one-way streets or left-turn arrows. But I figured the fares I picked up would know how to get to where they needed to be, right? How hard could it be?
I got a Hackney License downtown somewhere in Copley Square, no problem. I didn’t have a criminal record, I’d just gotten a Massachusetts driver’s license, I was over 21 (22 to be exact), a clean-cut corn-fed college kid.
I must have looked honest. The management at the taxi company over near Fenway Park hired me with no problems. My first day of work was the day the clocks jumped ahead an hour, February 23, a bleak, sleety, slushy morning For some reason – one of the original “energy crises” – somebody had decided that starting daylight savings time in February was going to save power. I trudged over to get my cab from my roominghouse in Kenmore Square, a huge sprawling Romanesque Revival style building with conical towers built in 1901, the hallways of which were as confusing as a rabbits’ warren.
My first – and only – fare I forgot to throw the meter. Fortunately, the guy was only going a short way, and he kindly gave me a five-dollar bill.
“You wanna go back to the garage,” he confided, “hang a left onto Beacon.”
I was way out of my depth, for sure. Reality had run smack into the crazy romantic dream of a madcap escapade. I headed back through Kenmore Square, a middle-aged lady on Commonwealth Avenue yoohooing at me with her scarf. I ignored her, driving on and turning into Brookline Avenue and on toward Landsdowne Street, back to the taxi company, like the Trojans fleeing inside the walled city, escaping the Greeks. Smartest thing I ever did in my life, even if I felt like a failure, my pride a dirty doormat.
Inside the garage, I got out of my cab, handed the dispatcher my keys and the five-dollar bill, explaining my folly to him, pleading incompetence. No harm, no foul. He agreed I should maybe try again some other time when I was more familiar with the area. Then I went back to the Charlesgate and crawled into bed. When I woke up a few hours later, I began scheming about Plan B.