Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Read (rap) these homemade lyrics to the beat of this instrumental:

Self appointed guardians of the status quo
Plainclothes detail struck with its own ammo
A deported Dominican at Queensbridge station
only tried to avoid some Metro card inflation

But who's a cabdriver to judge the situation
Roles would undergo weekly rotation if we had our way
Bus drivers, traffic agents learning empathy the hard way
Chess matches manifest in brain cell expulsion via urination
Without pointing at an empty bottle like taxi percolation

Cops hide out by the south exit ramp with a perpetually painful paper fine
For those coming off the FDR unto Houston without stopping at the sign
Little kid in the cab asks his mom: 'is it better to be early or on time?'
And when we arrive he asks 'are we late?' you know he's in line...
Phenomenal we're malleable as clay and yet some other mom allows her child to play
with the backseat GPS screen during payment with a credit card
and almost beats the fare by denying cash confirmation with no regard

A Chicago businessman bounces out of hotel 41 and hasn't had breakfast thus far
Cabbie asks if he wants to grab a slice as they roll passed the 99 cent pizza bazaar
Odd questions like this hurled from the front seat make a square feel awkward as fuck
But hey eccentric hacks can have exceptional knacks and still deliver the hurried puck
Just figured it made sense to sacrifice 10 seconds and undo two famished bellies
But this suit had no trust that both the means and the end could be smooth as strawberries

There's no shortage of white collar criminals, they're practically everywhere
Beijing reroutes water from thousands of miles and it's a loss that the farmers bare.
Four elder intellectualists crowd into the cab on their way to an art museum nearby
One of them compares collage journaling to visual hip hop, which nearly makes me cry.

On the next post you'll see a list of traffic regulations for each Manhattan intersection
and a list of all the other jobs that I've had since the age of 16 and their effects on my soul

And a list of peculiar prerequisites for the soul mate I haven't met before.
It's been plenty of years since I've had to find myself looking at the front door.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Azerbaijan votes but there's no pluralism. Hindus and Christians in India force conversion upon each other. 40% of the world has no access to proper toilets. But all you can do is complain about the people who ride in NYC taxicabs. This pompous prick in a corporate suit walked across 50th street and pulled on your door handle as you pulled away, after writing a note in your journal. He was like 'whoa!' (applied to horses) and you braked abruptly. Stuck your head through the window and told him he should speak in advance... say "taxi" or something, you know? But he found this offensive. "Know what? I'll find another cab, idiot!", he slurred in a loathsome fashion.

They think taking a cab is like checking into a vacant restroom at Starbucks. No need to recognize there being an actual human behind the wheel. You're like a commode, available to hold his ass when he needs to go (somewhere). It took a lot of discipline not to step outside and swing at his face. Your NYC hack license is far more valuable. But this scene reminded you of another instance a few nights ago when these 2 married executives got in and wanted to go anyplace they might have luck getting laid. "Our wives won't find out you facilitated this. Just help some geezers out. Somebody's getting rammed up the ass tonight (LOL)." Only difference in treatment of the cabdriver was that the latter were drunk. Therefore, the patronization came in a lighter form.

Every time you're stuck in Second Avenue traffic around 8:30 am (where are you not stuck at that hour?) and explain to the passenger that it's the Midtown Tunnel jamming things up, they say, in a malapert way, "but why would people be leaving to Queens right now"... as if you tried to pull a fast one over their heads. "No, I'm talking about the influx."
"Ohhh, I see what you're saying."

It'll be hard to forget this one elder aristocrat who hailed you down by the end of W23rd. She wanted to take the 6 train back uptown. You hadn't even crossed 9th Ave. when she began asking if you thought it's good exercise to walk across town. It was one of her only times ever coming this far downtown. "Well of course it is".
"But I don't see any good clothing stores around here".
"Sure there are, haven't you heard of Ladies Mile?"
"Well, so show me then".
You made a left instead of continuing towards the subway station.
"What kind of shops are you looking for?"
"Top of the line, high fashion".
So you begin naming off the storefronts and when you say Eileen Fisher she perks up and squeals for you to stop right here, this instant. The fare is $5.70 and she dishes out 6. No other cabdriver would have treated her with such genuine consideration the entire length of the trip. Yet if you compare her tip and the average price tag inside that place, something ain't right. Perhaps if you were rude she'd ask for three dimes back.

When not driving the cab, you teach Yoram (your dad) computer literacy skills, like how to attach his resume to email in response to ads online offering employment to experienced electricians. He's got a job, but wants options in case the economy grinds to a halt. You also get him a web cam so he can keep in touch for free via Skype with his sister in L.A.. She (your aunt) happens to be among the most incredible artists on the planet, in the realm of collage journalism. An inspiration to those who try to place meaning on the subtle contradictions of life.

Dad is so adorable on the lap top. In a short span of time, he's gone from nothing to picking up his pouch of coffee and typing up a map search of its distribution warehouse in Paterson (NJ). Both of us are interested in exploring this the 2nd largest Arab American population outside of Dearborn (MI), and bringing some authentic Baklava back to Queens. What's that? Astoria, right. You 're left with a picture of the first night in months you went out with old friends. Cabdriver with a social life. What?

Monday, October 13, 2008


The driver's lounge at your garage turns into the scene of belligerent feuds between our browbeating Russian dispatcher and a handful of west African drivers, over adjustments made in the daily lease rate and early bird special, as well as whether he's fibbing about the commission having threatened him with summonses for allowing us to surpass the 720 minute continuous vehicle operation limit.

Upholding your idea of what is a good cabdriver, you tune into the traffic report nearly 15 times an hour, in case someone gets in the taxi who wants to get somewhere affected by roving construction, an accident, or just plain volume. In between, the radio blares out snippets about the potential for solar powered desalinization plants to cover the world's deserts and the theory about terrorism being a symptom of alienation (and degradation of the environment being its cousin). You take this extracurricular taxi idea home by using Google to compile upcoming NYC events, planned street closures, and the schedule for Javits shows as well as cruise itineraries at piers 88, 90, and 92. This is recommended for all cabdrivers to do if they want more lucrative shifts and/or care about improving the yellows' reputation for conscientiousness, or lack thereof.

Got your fix of Autopanethnic news via Caracol (Colombia) and Mabat (Israel). After the recent riots in Akko, an Arab apologized for driving through the Jewish quarters with a loud radio during the strict holiday of Yom Kippur. But no record of a Jew apologizing for hurling stones at him and his little son. Your latest You Tube fixation lasts an hour. In those 60 minutes you and dad watch clips of near catastrophic airplane take offs and landings. Dad injects his engineering background into every scene in attempts to explain what went wrong.

A landscape architect from Argentina in lavish Oxxford suit over drank and lost his cell at one of the bars. It's 4 am and he wants to know how much you charge to Orange (16 miles into NJ). "What the meter says, plus double rate from the state line, and tunnel toll." He says never mind and begins to exit (as if you resemble a con artist). Wait, what did you expect to pay? "It's always $100." You guarantee the meter will total out cheaper and even let him call his phone with yours. 25 minutes later the bright red digits read $80.10 and he hands you 120, smiling and staggering out into a dusky October dawn.

Chip came for a ride in the cab last week, but it was too close to the 5 pm shift deadline. Instead of cruising in search of itinerant people to give him a feel for this magnanimous profession, we had to return over the Queensboro bridge to drop off the cab. Chip looks healthy even though he complained of Candida complications. He stuck to his ironclad diet in tupperware while we had veggie burgers and onion rings at the local diner. Speaking of the 5 pm shift cutoff: it sometimes calls for maneuverings and negotiations to maximize time, space, and monetary efficiencies. For example, it's 3:30 pm and a mom/son duo from the Satmar sect wish to go over the Billy bridge to prepare for the sabbath.

You can see inbound traffic backed up beyond the horizon, so it seems like the end of your shift by default. Who would've ever thought these last 90 minutes would see so much action though. You begin up Bedford Avenue towards Long Island City a little bummed out at having been booted from Manhattan so early on, yet too late. But then in the heart of hipster district a girl jumps in and requests Fort Greene. From there it seems best to use the Manhattan bridge, which nearly never sees a jam, and work your off-duty Queens bound again. On the corner of Tillary and Flatbush stand a crew of young Spaniard tourists awaiting a lift back into the island of money. And then another instant turnover further uptown that leaves you a 1/5 mile from base. What a chain of luck. An extra $45, all thanks to the hub at Williamsburg.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Peruano father and son duo stand by their '84 Toyota van wagon, holding cables up high to an audience of frenzied autoists on 8 Avenue. You pull right in to give them a jump but nothing works. They coyly inquire a ride to Cobble Hill, if their 300 pound floor finishing machine fits in the trunk. The three of us barely manage. Meanwhile the radio blares about the jihadist diaspora, closet quranophilia, and auto-erotic asphyxiation . We return from Brooklyn to exhale that the meter maids have only now begun their rounds around the block.

I've been studying Mediterranean demographics and cartography in preparation for an adventure this spring. Not sure if these countries allow one to pass through without a return ticket. I think sufficient bank funds are a viable alternative. If anyone has hitch hiked through southern Europe, please share some info.