The alarm clock is in the dark, and its deep, familiar beep is in stark contrast to the early morning silence. Three snooze buttons later, I'm not on my mattress, but wobbling, and then on again. A few more minutes, I'm wondering if I really need money. My stomach grumbles, and I lose my objectivity. I have to eat. Hence, I have to work. Taxi driving.
I'm in the shower and too lazy to separate the entangling mix of my rational thought and my emotion. The stress bears down on me: could I mean something? When I drove past her, did I change her life? What if she was late for an interview? What if I could have gotten her there on time? What if she didn't get the job? This was her fifth try; she will be so crushed. She'll mope around the house and be depressed for weeks. Her cute but shallow boyfriend of just a month will leave, and her innocent, fragile heart won't be able to stand it. She'll take her own life, and it will be my fault. I could have stopped and opened the door to her gentle face, her soft giggle, her forgiving eyes. I could have saved her.
The time lights up on my dash board as the engine clears its throat, getting ready to sing carbon dioxide. I shift to reverse, a hard right, gear one, accelerator down. Same thing every day; why am I still here? The people are different, but they act alike, naively putting their lives in my hands, entrusting me with their safety and their future. Without a second thought, they drop more pressure on me than my measly fare could ever hope to cover. Why am I still here?
So I pick up a passenger. She's young, she's pretty, she's got lots of bags. She's got somewhere to go. I guess that's why I stay; I can be a part of any life I want and none that I don't. The hope in her voice, the strength in her eyes -- we're moving on together, the next plane out to our new life.
And it's always like that; every time I drive I am born again and the years tick away with the fare. When it dings, I die. They get out and I wander in consternation, lost in a thousand possibilities. I've got nowhere to go. So I pick up a passenger.
But for all my affectation, the day still drags, the cycle continues. Endless rebirths in an applied context, I am a businessman and a crook, a mother and a father, an individual and a population.
So when my hands slip, they've got a perfect hold. When I drift across the lane, I'm parked and speeding. And when I crash this car, I'm not dying, I've always been dead. I've always been alive.
I wish I had a face.