"No, why should I? If I caught the car in the middle of the forest, then I might be worried. But not if I catch a car in the center." Her rape prevention training was obviously lacking.
At this point I had been driving for about 12 hours straight. I wasn't really sure where I was when I saw two girls in skirts and high heels come out from under an overpass and hail a cab. By now it was around 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, somewhere in an industrial zone. You'd think I'd have the fare sewn up, but somehow two bombily, three if you include me, materialized out of nowhere. The two cars queued up to snatch the fare but neither took it. That's because the girls had no money and wanted to go far, where the elite Rublovskoe Shosse intersected the MKAD ring road.
"Please, you have to help us," the girls pleaded as soon as they came up to my window. "We never really do this, but we really have no money and are lost."
How could you say no to two cute girls in miniskirts and high boots? If I was a real cabbie, I would have made full use of this situation by pulling over and striking a deal. "I'll drive you the rest of the way, but you gotta do something for me..." But I was too nice. And way too tired.
They got in and told me their story. Their names were Yana and Nastya. Yana was a Semitic-looking brunette. Nastya was a Slavic blond. They had gotten wasted at a house party and were stopped by two cops as they were leaving the building. The girls were 17. The cops said it was illegal for minors to be out that late and shook them down for their last 1,000 rubles.
Although the girls denied it, they talked as if they were high on ecstasy. The told me about their feelings, how they became friends, where they worked, how they went to Malta together, about all the boys who were courting them, how Yana lived all alone in her apartment.
The two girls lived in adjacent buildings. I dropped off Nastya and then Yana. When we pulled up to her podyezd, she asked me to feel a bump on her leg. "Is this natural?" she asked. She was making it too easy, doing everything but asking me to come up. But all I wanted was to go home.
Shit does happen here: in September, it was discovered that a gang of cabbies operating in Moscow had been chloroforming and raping women for years. Given how much sensitive information some of these girls give away unprompted, I marveled that it doesn't happen more often. But after driving around all night, I now understand that most cabbies are just too damn tired to be sociopaths. Raping and murdering doesn't seem so fun when you're dying for sleep.
"Thank you so much," Yana said as I she got out the car. "It's nice to know that there are good people left in Moscow."
I mumbled something in response like a true bombily and hit the gas. Thinking of nothing but my bed, I drifted back home along Moscow's deserted Sunday morning streets.
What would you do if you found out your fare was a homosexual? We put the question to three veteran Moscow gapsy cabbies.
Valodya Lvovich, 42, Radio Engineer
"That's a stupid question. Everyone knows that homosexuals are too scared too leave their homes, let alone to catch cabs. I saw a program about it on Channel 1."
Bronislav Sergeyavich, 36, Unemployed
"Cho, blya! Homosexual? You mean a fucking fairy? I'd do what we did to them in the zona, I'd make him my bitch. But because we're free men, I'd have to kill him afterwards. "
Danila Ivanovich, 47, High School Teacher
"Ha! You know, that reminds me of a good old joke. You know the one, it ends with 'only homosexuals ask that question.'"