Long ago, in The Dark Period of my life, I lived in the suburbs and commuted to The Big City (Toronto) for work and amusement. This mason jar represents my reward after a night of watered-down drinks at a now-defunct club (Montana), a stupid long ride on the last GO Train home, and a blistering wait in January winds for what was probably the most awesome cab ride of my life.
There were no cabs waiting at Clarkson station at 2am. Unsurprising given the sub-zero temperatures and time. Shivering, I pull out my cellphone to call a taxi, just as one pulls up. It’s picking up the only other person at the station, woman in her 40s in a long coat. She’s slumps into the car and then motions to me, “Wanna share? It’s cold.“ Why not.
It’s a fun ride. The drunk woman (let’s call her Eleanor, because I never got her name) regales the cabbie and I with episodes from her life as a Desperate Cougar, and the driver is quick with his observations thereof. He also has a few compelling stories about his own evening, particularly his previous passengers: a brood of no-tipping slackers who smelled like “ass” and left a mason jar of oregano in the cab.
He holds up the mason jar of oregano.
Eleanor finds this hilarious but my face slackens with awe. The cabbie might as well have been brandishing a gun or a piece of his own lower intestine.
Was that a mason jar full of oregano?
Now, I had since given up Italian cooking but fuck. It was like half ounce in there. And the dudes who forgot it are toting it around in a mason jar? It must have been some primo shit.
I had to have it.
The drunk woman hands me a few bills as we drop her off. Heading home, I’m not quite sure how to broach the subject of herb sales in the back of this cab. I try to formulate a plan, while the cabbie prattles on. Tell him I’ll throw it out for him? Do I pretend I collect mason jars? We pull into the driveway of my parents’ house.
“So how much for the jar?” I blurt.
The cabbie acts confused, as though it’s inconceivable that I would want to purchase a lousy mason jar of oregano.
He shrugs and holds it up again. “You want this? I don’t know. Thirty dollars?”
Both my fists clench, and I take a deep and silent breath in through my nose. Now I can see inside the jar. It’s an ounce. It’s definitely a full goddamn oz of dank, dank, Italian aromatics.
I glance at the forty-dollar meter and take a chance.
“How about $50 including the fare?” And the cabbie laughs.