Bob Gersztyn's picture
06.30.2008 | Comments(36)

Dan Green Is Dead

Dan Green was one bad ass mofo, and now he’s dead. He told the doctors at the VA hospital to go f--- themselves. They wanted to poke him with scalpels and IV’s. So he refused to cooperate, and he died. He was 74, weighed about 160, and stood five foot six, with a short-cropped buzz cut on a clean-shaven bullet-shaped head.

He was a welterweight on the Navy boxing team, until he realized that his arms were too short, which is why he was receiving more than he was dishing out. When he quit boxing the Korean war was still going on. He worked on the deck of aircraft carriers, wearing an asbestos suit. That’s how he got emphysema and lung cancer, but he didn’t bitch, because the VA took care of him.

Dan Green through window
Photo by Bob Gersztyn

The first time I talked to Dan Green was my rookie year, the summer of 2004. He worked a split shift as the graveyard dispatcher two days and swing shift two more. When Dan dispatched, he talked to some of the drivers over the radio like they were lower than crap. Some customers even complained that he was rude to them, but he’d been with the company since before the current owners bought it out. He was a fixture, a permanent part of Yellow Cab.

On nights that he didn’t dispatch, he liked to hit a bar called The Hanging Tree and get shit-faced. When he did, he used a cab to travel, so sometimes I drove him. He was as big an a-hole in person as he was over the radio. When you saw him at the office while you were doing your paperwork, or checking out a cab, he didn’t say much, but when you were trapped in the cab with him he talked, but was always pissed off about something.

"What the f--- are you doing?" he’d ask if you didn’t come to a full stop at the sign. He’d nag you about your driving until you either told him to go f--- himself, or laughed in his face for the absurdity of it all. After I did that one time, then wiped the smile off my face, he never commented on my driving again.

 Streets at Night
Photo by Bob Gersztyn

To fill the dead air I’d ask him about his life. When he was sober I would have to drag it out of him, but when he left The Hanging Tree, he became a waterfall of verbiage. I found out that his wife of over forty years had died ten years earlier. They had four girls, and raised nearly twenty foster kids. He got married right after the Korean war, and he got a job at the Oregon State Correctional Facility and became Sergeant of the Guard, until he stepped down to work as a common guard at the state prison. Driver Number 7001 told me the story of why Dan voluntarily took the demotion one night shortly after his demise.

"He had a ten-year-old daughter that was raped, by a family friend," Number 7001 said. "The police botched the investigation and all the evidence had to be thrown out. The girl’s violator was never even charged. Dan waited about a year and then one day he and two of his prison guard friends tracked down the rapist, and took him out to a deserted area in West Salem, and hung him. Everyone knew who did it, but nobody talked and they couldn’t do anything. As a slap on his hand, he privately agreed to step down, as Sergeant of the Guard, and finished his time as an ordinary guard."

"How did you find out?" I asked.

"I asked him one time when I was driving him home from The Hanging Tree. I said, ‘Did they ever get the guy that attacked your daughter?’ He didn’t say anything, just nodded his head. A couple of years later I was having a drink at Pete’s and I ran into Dan’s cousin, who was pretty drunk. He’s the one who told me the story, but he made me promise not to tell anyone, at least not while he was alive."

Photo by Bob Gersztyn

Dan Green retired from the prison system with a good pension 15 years ago. He used to brag about how much money he had in the bank, and how he didn’t need to work and could sit around getting drunk and watching TV all day long if he wanted to. He made some good financial investments that paid dividends, and had his house paid off. After his wife died, he sold it and moved into the dump apartment that I used to take him to and from. He put all his money in a trust fund for his grandkids’ college educations. He lived off his pension and dispatcher’s pay.
He started driving a cab back in 1962, part time, to help support his family and get ahead.

He was robbed two times, he told me one night, when he was blitzed. The first time he picked up two teenagers about 11 o’clock at night. One sat in front and the other sat in back. Then the one in back put a knife to his throat, while the one next to him said, "Give me your money."

So Dan gave him his money and they ran out of the cab. A couple of weeks later he was looking for an address in Felony Flats when he saw the same two teenage boys, walking on the sidewalk. He turned off his lights and followed them. After he saw the address they entered, he drove off. The next day he recruited one of his other guard friends to return to the house with him.

"We went there in our prison uniforms," he told me. “The other guard was a big black guy, who looked really mean. When we got to the house, I knocked on the door, and a man answered. He asked what we wanted and I told him about the robbery. Then he asked me to describe what the kids looked like. After I did, he called his son to the door. He asked was it him? When I told him that it was, he punched the kid in the side of the head so hard that he collapsed on the floor. Then he asked me how much he took? When I told him, he got out his wallet, and paid me back, along with a tip."

The other time wasn’t really a robbery, since the guy didn’t get anything. According to Dan, he was driving a man who was sitting next to him as he began to open a knife.

"What are you going to do with that knife?" Dan asked.

"I’m going to rob you," his passenger answered.

Dan told me that he took his 5-D Mag Light from between his legs and hit the guy in the face with it, knocking him out cold.

"I thought to myself," Dan said, "’If I call the police, they will tie me up for an hour or more, and then I’ll have to waste time with a grand jury, trial, depositions, etc., plus the guy will end up in prison.’ So I pulled over and dragged him out of the cab. After I took all his clothes off, I took my Mag Light and beat his arms and legs with it, until welts began to appear. Then I drove off and threw his clothes in a trash can."

Dan chuckled and said, “I think that I rehabilitated him."

Capital Inn
Photo by Bob Gersztyn

Dan had to quit driving a taxi when he lost his vision because of some complications during one of his surgeries. So he started dispatching full time. He had an account with Yellow Cab, and usually paid for his bar-hopping fare with it. He had a soft spot for homeless middle-aged prostitutes and a few other indigent types. Sometimes he’d give you a call and say to put the fare on his personal tab.

Jasmine was one of his favorites. The first time I picked her up, her boyfriend of the moment paid, and I dropped them off with a twelve-pack of beer by the trail leading to Mill Creek during a January rain storm. I learned later she lived in a tent by the creek, right below Interstate 5. She told me that she and Dan had been friends for over twenty years, and that he paid for her fare all the time.

Street Blur
Photo by Bob Gersztyn

Sometimes people would call up and give Dan a sob story about why they couldn’t pay for the taxi and he’d tell them that he’ll pay and they could pay him back when they got it. He’d have the drivers put their fare on his personal account. One indigent type that I picked up a month after Dan died, was complaining about how quickly the meter added up his fare. He threatened to call his friend Dan Green, who dispatched for Yellow Cab, and was a personal friend of his and tell him about me. He wanted my driver number. When I told him that Dan died, he broke down and cried.


budda | 12:11 am on 7/01/2008

Great story Dan. I was moved.

Structural Foam | 02:08 pm on 2/22/2011

Dan, you will be missed. That short, stocky, composure will continue to haunt my dreams. You were one intimidating man.

UNCLE KENNY | 08:36 am on 7/03/2008


Thanks for letting us read these amazing stories for free. You are an incredible writer that has a real knack for noticing people. One day, some publisher somewhere will come to their senses and help you put out an anthology of these stories.

Amarie | 01:54 pm on 7/03/2008

I'm sorry you lost your friend.

traveling sam | 04:07 pm on 7/03/2008

What a loss. And just speaking as someone new to The Door online, what a loss of future columns ... sorry I didn't get to know Dan much much sooner. This is great writing, and just speaking for myself, more spiritually nourishing -- and challenging -- than the vast majority of what I hear in church. Where is Christ in our world? Working up soft spots in the heart on behalf of middle-aged prostitutes and other indigent types ... and bawling His eyes out in the back seat of a cab. Now THAT I can believe. Thank you very much for this piece.

Anonymous | 01:03 pm on 7/05/2008

hey Bob, they let you write this shit for a christian publication? hee hee.

BJ | 08:25 am on 7/16/2008

Thanks, Bob.

SRebbe | 04:33 pm on 7/25/2008

great tribute for a great guy. hopefully I'll get to meet him. we never know.

janet | 02:50 pm on 8/16/2008

On the recommendation of a christian friend I had a read of your "christian" newsletter.This is the first article I looked at.What a great F***ing witness.Shall recommend your style Christian love to all my athiest/humanist friends.By the way,I know you wont object to me using the F word cos I learnt how to do that from YOU!!!!

Anonymous | 03:12 am on 9/10/2008

Enjoyed this very much.

Christov_Tenn | 08:38 pm on 9/24/2008

Thanks for telling us that guy's story.

Kenny6 | 04:04 pm on 10/11/2010

This story is really wonderful because it was quite interesting to read it. I have to admit that I have read it twice and I will definitely read it one more time! Well, I have just been searching for some information about famous woman Shawna Lenee and accidentally I have noticed this publication. I really like such kind stories and it is really great that I have found this one. Thanks a lot one more time and I will definitely bookmark your website.

lc pk | 01:16 pm on 10/15/2008

"Real life is meeting"--thanks, Bob

Anonymous | 06:13 am on 2/04/2009

Is this still on line and working?

Anonymous | 07:24 pm on 3/08/2009

Bob, once and for all, I wish you would publish what you write. You have been blessed to tell a story. Keep up the good work!

I am so sorry about your friend.

From the 60's

Anonymous | 01:43 pm on 3/26/2009

Dan was the "Jesus" we never knew - the "Jesus" that "religious" people will never understand. Beautiful article.


Anonymous | 01:44 pm on 3/26/2009

Dan was the "Jesus" we never knew - the "Jesus" that "religious" people will never understand. Beautiful article.


Bill Bekkenhuis | 09:18 pm on 10/22/2009

Posted on Facebook: "If you want to find Christ crucified in the world, He's embedded (the technical word is "incarnate") in the ordinary, even the nasty, things of life. Another Door article you won't find in your local Christian book store (with some rare exceptions :-)"

Thanks, Bob. Great article about my fellow ungodly for whom Christ died.

Bill Bekkenhuis
Bethlehem, PA

Anonymous | 05:53 pm on 1/16/2010
Relocation in Geneva | 04:26 pm on 5/22/2010

Force these type of authors to create more beautiful articles like this; thanks.

clothing boutique | 04:24 pm on 10/16/2010

It's really sad to know that you too have lost your close buddy.It's really very difficult to control yourself when someone very beloved passes away.

document translation | 03:05 pm on 10/17/2010

I deeply mourn at the loss of your good friend.The only thing we can no do is pray for him and his departed soul.

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alandrake | 10:19 am on 12/12/2010

I am really lucky to go through this sad story. This how it happens with each one of us who happens to lose his close one. We can do nothing only to pray for bereaved ones of the departed soul. Thanks for sharing. cheap ghd hair straightners

igre | 11:05 pm on 12/14/2010

Dan Green is just an ordinary character. But thanks to your art of story telling which made a hero out of an common character. Nice work indeed. Keep it up.

newburgh real estate | 02:15 pm on 2/02/2011

It is always appreciated when we achieve success against the odds. Due to lack of concern for others and appreciating their lives, we happen to meet few such personalities in our society. I salute you for this noble work.

Internet marketing Specialists | 03:57 pm on 2/21/2011

It is a must read article; very thought provoking and very informative. I should bookmark the post for its relevance. Thanks for the nice work.

Bathroom Fan Experts | 03:51 pm on 2/23/2011

This story really depressed me. Why would anyone refuse medical treatment? Isn't better to live than to die?

Rose Henderson at London Hostels | 11:01 am on 3/30/2011

Indeed Dan Green seemed to be an unforgettable character when he was alive, a man with a grizzld and gruff exterior but a soft heart and a thirst for justice.

kitchenaid mixer | 05:47 am on 4/06/2011

He sounds like real character. I like the story about him beating the guy with a flashlight. It reminds me of stories my granpa would tell me.

LG Optimus 3D | 06:01 am on 4/19/2011

I think it was a great guy. Sorry for you loss

rifai | 07:27 pm on 4/20/2011

great tribute for a great guy. hopefully I'll get to meet him. we never know.

Condoideas | 02:35 pm on 4/26/2011

Sorry for the loss.

asim | 01:06 pm on 4/30/2011

This how it happens with each one of us who happens to lose his close one. We can do nothing only to pray for bereaved ones of the departed soul. Thanks for sharing

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This how it happens with each one of us who happens to lose his close one. We can do nothing only to pray for bereaved ones of the departed soul. Thanks for sharing

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