the people you meet when you're not paying attention...
"How are you tonight?" I ask as I climb into the van.
"I'm feelin' groooooovy!" is the enthusiatic response, issued in a low, gravelly voice.
And then I realize who he is... and a little tingle of excited anticipation can be detected at the base of my spine.
"Well... you can't go wrong with that, can you?" is my somewhat awkward response to his response...
"So... you got any jazz for me tonight?" I feel I have waited the appropriate thirty seconds to ask the question that's REALLY on my mind.
"Do I! Just let me call this in- where you headed, Sweetheart?" He is thrilled at the question, just like I knew he would be.
I give him my address and we're off. He calls it in to the dispatcher with the predictable result: this evening's transportation will cost me nine dollars and fifty cents. But the joke's on them. Tonight I get much more than a ride home for my money. I get an education. 'Cause tonight I'm riding with the Jazz Man.
The first time I met the Jazz Man, he was transporting my roommate and me to meet some friends for a beer. We heard the strains of what seemed to be some interesting music playing softly on the stereo, and asked him if he could turn it up? And so commenced our education.
"You like Jazz?" he asked
We nodded and vocalized our response: "Hell, yeah!"
"Well then, have I got something for you!" My roomie and I exchanged looks of curious anticipation as he deftly removed the current CD and flipped through his collection until he found the desired album, telling us all about the music, the musician, and the background to both. And then we listened... toes tapping, fingers air-strumming, and hearts filling to bursting- grins on our faces the whole while. THIS was the shit. Oh yeah.
As the song ended, we pulled into our destination (I noticed that the Jazz Man drove slowly to allow time for the entire song to play... I'll bet the dispatcher just LOVES that! hehehehe). A little sad to go, my roomie and I pooled our change to offer the best tip we could muster, and thanked him, truly from our hearts.
Since that night, I have encountered the Jazz Man twice more. And this brings me back to where I began...
"I've got this one song that you NEED to hear. Let me set it up for you: It's a ballad... kind of corny, but clever. And it's sung PERFECTLY, right down to the last note... Here it is... see what you think."
And so we listen. His fingers playing the piano on the steering wheel. The city lights pass by, and the texture of this amazing music washes over me. The troubles of my day slip away like water down a drain. The harsh-then-caressing sax, the ups and downs of the vocals... they renew me. So I listen.
The song ends and all I can do is nod in appreciation.
"Ooh! Time for one more!" he says.
A fortuitous red light allows for the changing of the CD, and I am once again awash in the music. This one is different- a bit more up-beat. Jazz Man looks at me and grins: "Eh!?" I just nod and grin.
And then we're on my street. Stopped outside my house. We chat about the music a bit, he writes down the name of the musician for me, I pay him and hop out.
As he's pulling out, he rolls down his window: "You have a good night now, and thanks for loving the music!"
No, Jazz Man, thank YOU.
I can't wait to see what he's got in store for me the next time we meet.