A Spiritual Adventure

        I am dispatched in my cab to one of Tucson’s many “spiritual retreats.” I feel my chakras squinching up as soon as I pull in. A line of pine trees leads into the “ashram area.” The trees are watered artificially and suck god knows how much water from the aquifer, but it’s pretty. I find “meditation abode number 14” which looks almost as swank as the Marriott. My passenger is portly white woman around 60 years old wearing Birkenstocks and a Himalayan pashmina with what appears to be a mustard stain on the front. She gets in the cab. 
        “6565 Carondolet.”
        “Sure.”
        “Been driving a cab long?”
        “8 years.”
        “Oh, well, these are hard times.”
        “Yeah. Thanks.”
        “Are you going to take Speedway or Grant?”
        “I was going to take Grant.”
        “Oh, I see...”
        “You don’t like Grant?”
        “Well, Speedway is better.”
        “Grant has fewer stoplights.”
        “They have the same amount of stoplights.”
        “No they don’t.”
        “Yes they do.”
        “Oh, I must not have noticed that after 8 years driving a cab here.”
        “I’m very observant. But go ahead, take whatever street you want.”
        “So, what’s this, an ashram?”
        “It’s a spiritual place. The people who live here are very spiritual.”
        “Is it expensive?”
        “That’s not important.”
        “True. Look, I’m taking Speedway.”
        “You can always learn something.”
        “I appreciate it.”
        “I’ll teach you another thing, there’s a secret way in.”
        “To the spirit?”
        “No, to 6565 Carondolet.”
        “The marijuana dispensary?”
        “We prefer “herb clinic.” 
        “My bad.”
        “It’s ok. So you’ve been there?”
        “About 50 times. I remember when they opened it. It used to be a tire shop. ”
        “Well, I’ll teach you the back way in.”
        “Can’t wait.”
        I drive a few miles down Speedway and take a right on Craycroft.
        “Take a right on Craycroft.”
        “We’re already on Craycroft.”
        “Good job.”
        When we arrive I get into the left turn lane and sit there with my blinker on, waiting for traffic to let me turn.
        “Turn left here.”
        “You mean, here?”
        “Yes, turn left here.”
        “If you say so.”
        I turn left and head into the parking lot. There’s a “main entrance” and a back entrance, both of which I’ve been aware of for years. The main entrance is where you are supposed to drop people off, and the back door is for the employees.
        “So, you want the main entrance?”
        “No! I’ll teach you the secret entrance. Keep going.”
        “You mean there’s ANOTHER entrance?”
        “Yes, it’s not well known.”
        “I’m trusting you now.”
        “Life is an adventure.”
        I pull up a few yards to the only other entrance.
        “Surely you don’t want me to go in here?”
        “Yes, pull in.”
        I pull in and see the back door, cars parked in every spot.
        “Pull right up there.”
        “You mean where it says, NO PARKING?”
        “Yes, right there. You learn something every day don’t you?”
        “Do you know how much parking tickets cost in this town?”
        “I don’t drive.”
        She gets out and heads in. 
        I stand up and say, “Uh, pardon me, that will be 18 dollars.”
        “Oh, yes, your precious MONEY,” she says. She comes back to the cab and hands me some bills. There’s a ten, a five and some bill of foreign currency.
        “What’s this?” I say.
        “My mistake, this is Tibetan money from my last trip. You’ve never been?”
        “It’s on the bucket list.”
        She finds three wadded up dollar bills and stuffs them in my hand.
        “I’ll be ready to go back home at two o’clock,” she says.
        “Just call the number,” I say. “And pray someone answers.”
        I get out of there as the security guard rushes my way. Some guy cuts me off as I try to pull out onto Wilmot Street, probably stoned out of his gourd.
        “Om,” I say to myself. “Stay calm.” 
        And then suddenly I’m craving crawdad Pad Thai.


Mather Schneider is a cab driver who has had many poems and stories published in the small press since 1994. I have 3 books available and a fourth coming soon in 2017.