Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gimme 22 minutes, I'll give you the world.

Before I go into tales of cabdriving, I'd like to invite my dearest New Yorkers on a bicycle adventure this Saturday (5th). It's my only day off. A friend and I plan to pedal through Flushing Meadows Park, stop by the Queens art museum, ride over the GW/Bayonne bridges for great views of NYC from NJ, and board the SI ferry back into town. I have an extra bike. Get in touch.

This past Friday I drove the PM shift for the first time. Just wanted to get a taste. No plans to make it a habit cause my body gets better rest at night. First fare a Dutch couple I mistook for Scandinavians. They taught me the correct pronunciation of Brooklyn (Breukelen) and swapped spots with a traditional Texan family en route to a sybaritic restaurant on the UES. The aging macho father sits up front, annoyed at his newly married daughter's back seat inquiries: "Dad, do you want to visit the cigar bar after dinner? But first we have to find out if blue jeans are allowed." They're in for a disappointment. Soon the roles are a switched again, with a sumptuous, semi-elder French mossback couple entering and uttering a single word: "Peninsula". Nightly rates at that place and the size of my tip are like night and day. I guess its exact address should have been in my rote memorization, along with 40,000 other locations. Or perhaps I should have gone to taxi school in London, not Queens Plaza. I'll remember places I can relate to. So, no, saying "it's by abercrombie & fitch" doesn't clarify anything. I swear it's so much more fun, less time consuming, more spiritually rewarding, and just as lucrative to take two working class women to the nearest subway station from their alphabet city housing project. After that it's on to some intoxicated dude duo that stumbles out of a busy club and politely request Penn Station. All trip long, one deplores the other for having made out with someone who had an ugly face. "Yeah, but the rest of her body was nice." Blah bla bl b. Time to go back to NJ, boys! Then at around midnight this pre-adolescent was operating his remote control taxicab right out in the middle of a heavily trafficked strip along St. Marks Place in the East Village. From the safety of the sidewalk this kid navigates the little toy car back to the curb , narrowly avoiding it getting crushed.

Final fare of the night was by far the best. At 3:39 am an old Polish lady headed home to Maspeth (Queens) stood at the corner of 6 Av and 28th. Her coworkers from the largest department store in the world had just treated her to a few drinks. She had her head poked through the partition the entire ride as she chatted unscrupulously with me, comparing her miserable 75 hour workweek with mine. Laughing ferociously at the mutual list we assembled of similarities between customers at Macy's and typical taxi passengers. Wish I had a grandmother like that.

On Thursday my friend Cassandra, an upbeat schoolteacher from Florida, rode along in the cab with me and had a great time sightseeing New York as we delivered people all over town. She had considered riding one of those double decker bus tours, but discovered this was much better for plenty of reasons. Around two dozen acquaintances have taken me up on my "on duty taxi copilot" offer since last winter. Don't wait too long. I might be retiring from the taxicab profession as early as early this autumn. Outside of hacking, my life has revolved around trying to deplete resources in the kitchen so they don't rot in this apartment that is devoid of all its residents for nearly three weeks, except for the one solitary cabbie who stayed in town. Also, I'm serious about memorizing the lyrics for that song "They want EFX" by DAS EFX, to use as performance art in social situations where the air needs slicing, like bread. Ever heard that song. So intricate.

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