Confessions of a lady cab driver

Twin Cities-based cabbie Chey Eisenman talks death and taxis and everything in between

I once had a $20-a-day customer who earned her living by strutting in six-inch heels into the spank banks of frat boys, bachelor parties, lonely men, and sometimes women. I would pick her up at home and drop her off at work, with a designated pickup time.

One warm September day I received a call on what was supposed to be her day off. I retrieved her from a new address and took her to work. She was much quieter than normal. I would soon learn why.

Over the next few days, this $20-a-day customer blossomed into a $150-a-day customer. I kept getting calls to shuttle her from one motel to the next. Her gangbanger boyfriend told me that they were thinking of moving to Florida or Chicago, and wondered if I would take them there. Had I hit the cabbie jackpot!?

Chey Eisenman began driving a cab when she lost her two jobs, but not her bills
E. Katie Holm
Chey Eisenman began driving a cab when she lost her two jobs, but not her bills
E. Katie Holm

My wheels started spinning, trying to do the mental math of this payday. But they were obviously running from something — either the cops or worse.

The thought of becoming Defendant Chey, getaway driver, was less than appealing. I soon realized he was likely on the run from a murder that occurred that late September day on the East Side of St. Paul. But there was nothing in the news about him being wanted. No cops had reached out to me. So I kept driving.

Three months later, police caught up with the couple at a Bloomington hotel. The stripper had gone silent, and on a hunch I called local jails until I found them.

He'd been booked on murder, she for aiding and abetting.

The fisherwoman's primitive approach to romance

You have probably gleaned that cab drivers deal with a lot of shit and a lot of shitty people. Most of my customers are truly awesome human beings who spoil me rotten, but there are some who have no sense of boundaries, respect, or basic human decency.

One Friday night, as I pulled up to Kellogg Square to drop off one of my regulars, I noticed some riff-raff hanging out at the bus stop. They saw me arrive and jumped into the cab before my customer had a chance to pay. I knew it would be more work to remove them than to take their funky five-dollar fare.

My heart sank when one climbed into the front seat. Fuck. She gave me that look that said she wanted to mess with me, how I wasn't sure. One block into the ride, her intentions became clear.

The bitch shoved her hand up my skirt, making it past my panty line, her fingers fishing. I froze, then reacted in my best scary cabbie voice: "Get your effing hands off me!"

"You keep yo' eyes on da road," she responded. "I do what I want."

Um, no? I wanted to choke this bitch, backhand her, and dump her in the river. But it's not in my nature to react physically. The more pissed I got, the more aroused she became. She leaned back in the seat and began assaulting her own vagina, saying, "Look at you and your bad self driving this taxi."

I considered calling 911, but imagined being the fodder of morning radio shows. They say you should pick your battles, and this woman wasn't worth one.

We arrived at the destination before she had a chance to finish herself off. I barked for the $7.50 fare. After pooling their resources, they came up with a grand total of six bucks. I snatched their $6 and moved on with my life.

A few blocks later, I heard a phone ringing and a short burst of rap music. I looked to the floor, realizing I was staring karma in the face in the form of a Walmart flip phone. The fisherwoman had forgotten it.

I drove around all night with that phone ringing. Had it been any other passenger, I would have promptly returned it. But this wasn't any passenger.

I thought back to the woman who had lost her daughter and been betrayed by her husband. I thought about why people would share such powerful and personal stories with me, while others wouldn't hesitate to rob me, assault me, or even use my cab to run from a murder.

This is why, as the economy rebounded, I focused on growing a customer pipeline that would distance me from all that makes a driving cab hard work. I'd rather drive someone from Rochester to the airport than drive around murderers. These days I mostly drive good people and their cleaner money.

Around 3 a.m., I made a decision. If I couldn't have the satisfaction of knowing that the woman who had assaulted me would wash up on the banks of the Mississippi next spring, I would do the next best thing.

I pulled over on the Wakota Bridge, got out of my cab, and walked to the railing. The phone was still ringing as I looked out over the Mississippi. I threw it over the edge, watching it sail through the night, plummeting into the water below.

The satisfying splash told me that, in some small way, I had won.

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