A retired news photographer hailed me on E 72nd and the whole way over to Hell's Kitchen his memories of chasing after structure fires, homicide scenes, political rallies, and celebrity sightings are regurgitated by our urgent maneuvering of the avenues. Seconds after he steps out, a gypsy lady gets in and wants Lincoln Center. What starts out as a smile quickly turns into an avalanche of slurs and sounds of coke being snorted, and ends with the seat cushion being hurriedly slapped clean. And she remembers to pay the fare.
After witnessing an elder entrepreneur from Mali get refused by three cabs just above Times Square, I welcome him in. He's headed back to his African art gallery in westernmost Chelsea and speaks of fighting to keep the home he owns in an increasingly Hebraic neighborhood across the Hudson, where they pay a third of the property taxes in order to cleanse it of
its gentiles. Later on an ambulance runs me off the road as I escort some web designer from his office in the Flatiron district to his apartment off Wall Street. We joke that its driver must have spun and scratched many a turntable record, telling from the unctuous styles of his siren blares.
If I preoccupied myself with finding a lawful parking spot at each urge to urinate, I'd literally be making single digits an hour. So instead I stay on duty until a metered space materializes. With a 200 minute long bloated bladder I pull into a vacancy on Bleecker and drop quarters into the pole. The manager at Manatus refuses to allow me relief because I'm not a customer. He sees my taxi in the window and I remind him that I'm the customers' transportation. Find out who finally lets me pee.
Every now and then a passenger
wearing oversized headphones enters the cab and voices their destination in accidentally high decibels. And for the remainder of the ride it's the same with anything they feel like saying. Amusing and simultaneously obnoxious. Then there are those riders who make my day with comments like: "that was the safest, yet fastest taxi trip I've ever had. Got there in record time, and my pancreas isn't in my throat." Sometimes my own mother calls me up to see if I can take her shopping for Kosher products in South Williamsburg. We always try out new stores, but the Satmar community rarely fails to leave her feeling alienated and unwelcome. You'd think they'd be into people buying their theosophical food. Go figure.