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He wasn’t from around here. A female friend had called in the ride for him and she texted me where I was taking him. He was late 20’s perhaps with thick-lashed heavily-lidded eyes and he had on the Eastern European uniform for young men of his age: graffitied T-shirt and artfully tattered jeans. “Sister!” he bellowed. “No speak English!” He jumped into the car and we headed for Glendale. Ah, probably Armenian. I had to make a complicated left turn onto Western that involved pulling out into traffic praying that other cars would stop followed by a bout of apologetic handwaving (Driving in LA Tip #23: It’s better to apologize rather than ask for permission) which made him laugh. The only other time he spoke was to ask “Cigarette Ok?” “No sorry,” I shook my head. “OK OK.” When I got to the parking lot to drop him off, he pulled out a stack of crisp new bills. He bypassed the hundreds, I saw a few twenties, then a one. He hesitated. Then pulled out a twenty. “Sister! Thank you!” He kissed my hand. “Brother,” I cried. “Welcome to America!”

Later that day, I picked up a trio of ghetto fabulous boys in Weho. One had to be over 6′ 5″ and at least 300 pounds, dark chocolate, and with a soft high voice that could only belong to someone that big. The other queen had auburn curls, big fake tits, and she skipped to the car, defiantly perky, the world her runway. They were just going to the grocery store a few blocks away and they wanted me to wait for them. Sure. They sang me directions, each one trading off in a call and response. Make a leeeft, stay right hereeeeee, right hhhhhhhereee — up and down, with tremolo, a little trill at the end. Not surprisingly, they could all sing, and not fake talent show sing, but CHURCH SING. I couldn’t help but join in with my barely-good-enough-for-drunken-karaoke voice. “Is this where you waaaant meeeee tooooooo stoppppp?” It was a $5 ride and big boy added $20 tip. Awwww…

Every once in a while you get a tipping angel. I got two. Must have been my lucky day.

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The Big Tipper
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