Smoking With Mather Schneider

by Tara Laskowski Read the Story October 2, 2011

So I see that you drive a cab for a living. How autobiographical is this story then?

Yes, I drive a cab for a living. This story is pretty darn autobiographical, like most of my work.

So what is your favorite part about driving strangers to their destinations? And, perhaps more interestingly, what’s the worst part?

I don’t really have a “favorite” part. It’s a job and I don’t like working for a living. The worst part of the job is being in the cab with an asshole, somebody who will puke on the floor, refuse to pay, or threaten me. The best part of cab driving, I suppose, is the freedom, the movement, not having a boss hanging over my neck all the time.

Why do you think the Buddhists want to go to the casino? Do they win?

I assume they wanted to go to the casino for the same reason everyone wants to go: to get something for nothing, to win big. I do know that a lot of Asian people like to gamble. I have no idea if they won, because they never called me back for a ride home (the fuckers).

I like how simple the telling of this story is. It’s one of those bizarre moments in life that just is, and I like that you don’t make it seem overly profound or meaningful. Did you always intend it to be that way, or did the writing/editing of the story bring that out?

Thanks, Tara, I’m really glad you liked the story. Yes, I intended it to be that way, simple, straight-forward narrative, without trying to make it seem more profound than it really was. I just thought it was strange, and there really was a look in that girl’s eyes that made me think she was unhappy. The fact that they all nodded off so quickly was also pretty bizarre, and I knew I would write it down as soon as I dropped them off. I do rewrite/edit extensively, but mainly for clarity and brevity and to make sure the prose flows.

If you could just get into a cab and tell the driver to go anywhere, where would you go?

I would tell the driver to drive to the Grand Canyon. I have lived in Arizona for 14 years and still haven’t seen it.

Thanks for everything, Tara and staff!

About the Author:

Mather Schneider was born in Peoria, Illinois, on January 8, 1970. He has lived in Arkansas, Washington state and now resides in Tucson, Arizona. He has a book of poetry called Drought Resistant Strain published by Interior Noise Press and another forthcoming this year from New York Quarterly Press called He Took a Cab. He is married to a Mexican woman, is learning Spanish and works as a cab driver. Pardon, "transporter."

About the Interviewer:

Tara Laskowski has been editor at SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010. Her short story collection Bystanders was hailed by Jennifer Egan as "a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills." She is also the author of Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons, tales of dark etiquette. Her fiction has been published in the Norton anthology Flash Fiction International, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and numerous other journals, magazines, and anthologies. Tara lives and works in a suburb of Washington, D.C.