“Yesterday and today,” he says. “About forty eight hours.”
A few flakes of snow melt on the windshield. A quick flick of the blades and they disappear. “Is it rough driving a cab in winter, here,” I ask.
“Not too much different than Minneapolis,” he says. “I drive a cab here part time. It’s something to do for a little extra money. Rest of the time I stay home and take care of our two kids.”
“Your wife?” I prompt.
“Oh, she’s a pharmacist. You know, we came up here on a vacation three years ago. It was summertime with everything blooming, there’s a lot of flowers during the summer around here, and we needed to purchase some antihistamine for my oldest boy. He’s got a lot of allergies. Anyway, we went into the Thrifty store and she, my wife, got to talking with the pharmacist there and it turned out that he was getting ready to retire and they were looking for a pharmacist to replace him. So they asked her if she’d stay for forty eight dollars an hour.”
“So, you stayed?”
“You believe it,” he says. “Can’t make that kind of money down in the lower forty eight, and we even get paid for having children, here.” He screeches to a halt as close to the door of the Hyatt Hotel as he can get. “I’d get inside in a hurry,” he urges. “Getting a bit frosty, outside.”
I look at the fur coats the few nearby pedestrians are wearing and remember the admonition in the information packet, “fur coats are politically correct in Anchorage.” I finger the thin lining in my jacket. The jacket is just about thick enough to protect me from the deep chill of an air-conditioned room in Sacramento. I hand him a twenty and Lydia and I make a dash for the revolving door. The wind lashes us, but we make it without any visible scars. Is my nose frostbitten? Behind us, the cab driver heaves our heavy pieces of luggage out of the trunk and leaves them with a large lump of dark brown fur that has just sprouted a gloved hand. That statue of a bear we admired turns out to be the porter.