Wednesday, May 28, 2008


5 am in the city of New York. The Brooklynites are still asleep. But on Ladies Mile there's a eurofemme duo bound for home (the East Village). They chat back seat in English by way of two differing accents. Perhaps Deutsch and Francois? Self eject and in enters an athletic missy who goes 50 blocks and disappears into a subway pit. Scratch my head and then oh, it's also an entrance for Equinox. The 3rd fare's a redheaded boy in a sharp suit. Jumps in at Kell's Hitchen and off we go to FiDi. Soon as he says "best way is to stay on 9th and take Varick", he apologizes and says "you probably already know that". Cabbie's reply: "Comparing notes! That's a fantastic idea. Especially during rush hour."

#4 is a short fare. Chelsea to St. Vince. She's petite, polite, and tips 75%. #5 isn't noteworthy. Neither is #6. Just bland, dried out suits. And then a guy gets in slobbering voraciously on a red apple, so I'm thinking: yes, this one's laid back. But no. He immediately freaks out about the rubber cushion lining that's sticking out of the door frame at him. "I'll let the garage know to fix that this afternoon. It's always one thing or another with these cabs."
"I SEE THAT" (why the wise guy attitude?)
And I can't say "go find yourself another taxi" cause sis needs monthly MetroCard funding, art supplies, lunch money, etc. and mom/dad need support getting through their mortgage woes and homeownership gone criminalized in general.

Midmorning four suburban housewives climb out of the Long Island Railroad staircase and have tickets to their favorite syndicated American TV talk show. Giggling the entire ride up about every idiosyncrasy they can spot from their window view of my beloved human circus of a city, they join a monotonous herd minded line at ABC studios.

A blond euroman in an immaculate suit you wrote off early on in the trek (Theater District to Museum Mile) as being sterile and aloof, turned out to be so neat. As we traversed across 96th Street, under Central Park, for the last leg of the journey, he asked me if the narrow sidewalk is bicyclable. He took a cab this first time in order to scope out the prospect of a two wheeled commute, soon to be his routine. Excitedly, I recommended the circuit that runs within the park's perimeter, which is a whole lot safer and surrounded by the fragrance of trees. He mirrored my enthusiasm instantly and his seeming pompousness melted entirely. Silence ought not pervade the space between cabdriver and passenger unless an official indifference has been formally established.

Then from one part of the Upper East Side to another, this euromom and her two gringosified children sit tight as we weave, squeeze, wail, swerve, and honk to lessen the shame on their faces for being late to an appointment. "Story of my life", says the adorable Scandinavian mother.

A straightshooting yet tenderhearted suit guy has you take him from Turtle Bay to FiDi. He's understanding of the little manifesto you mumble to him when the lanes that feed into the FDR above 34th St. get real backed up. "When my last day as a yellow cabbie arrives and I'm stuck at this spot, I'm going to drive right over that low concrete slab that divides ramp road from highway. I either won't need my license anymore anyway, or I'll slip away undetected and be able to brag about it to all the sucker motorists.

Shortly after that fare I encountered another, from Two Bridges to Bowling Green with a suit feller so extremely square that I'd label him an eccentric for gawking at every perfectly comprehensible phrase I uttered, like "I'm going to take South Street unless you have a better idea." As if my kidnapping of him was underway.

Some dude holding a loaded laundry hamper hailed from a Greenwich Village curbside. As you extended your wing flaps outward and steered the wheel in at him, a mack truck slowed from 30 to zero in 3 seconds and signaled a right turn, which instead of making, he pulled over in front of your client all angle posed like a cop car at a scene. As you hovered forward to pull in a head of it, the dude nearly destroyed his own flip flops trying to run out into the street with his heavy sack and get your attention (which he already had). Once inside, he said, "can't trust those trucks". Your reply: "tell me about it! Just last week one ripped my side view mirror off, left it dangling by the wires scraped some paint, and proceeded to take off through heavy traffic, like nothing had occurred. You followed it and used the next red light as a stage for dialogue.

I had the honor of transporting the MoMa cafe's Trinidadian chef with boxes of fresh produce from Union Square to the 54th St. loading dock. She is so hardcore and awesome. And towards the end of the shift I had the pleasure of taking a dentistry professor to the main NYU and we exchanged tidbits of etymology. He taught me that pediatrics comes from babies having their foot in their mouths. I in turn taught him that vexillology is the study of flags. Important word for someone who grew up memorizing those of every nation and their geo
graphic outline.

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