Monday, November 3, 2008

MOSAIC OF TAUTOLOGIES

Member FDIC don't mean jack squat. The car wash restroom on W24th has a sign that says "This bathroom is available to all who need it". You must always put a dollar in there to help maintain the cleanliness. And they do a commendable job of it. It's the most community oriented thing in all of Chelsea. Aside from the gracious proliferation of public relief zones (star bux), an accessible non profit restroom in Manhattan means jack squat and much more.

Not flossing greatens my risk of heart disease, but my arm wrestling match against languorous apathy itself is dwindling in most aspects of my life, aside from the fact that I militantly pour heart health Emergen-C powder into every glass. Lycopene and mineral ascorbates to counter poor hygiene and lack of exercise? Atrophy from perpetual operation of a yellow cab.

Don't go one inch past the white line when approaching Avenue of the Americas while westbound along Canal unless you want a 5000 cent postcard in the mail. If you encounter a street hail, esp. an individual standing snobbishly smack dab in the middle of the street and not budging over as you angle and decelerate, then ever so slowly coast right past them as they follow frantic until snuggly curbside. They have no right to obstruct the flow of traffic for self-absorbe
d purposes. And half the time they will turn their head and hail the next taxi.
Which weeds out those who have no cognizance of public safety and most likely no appreciation for any driver. Move on, they aren't worth the hassle.

Can't afford to do that, you say? Hard time fishing for passengers as it is? Well, I have a formula that works for me, any hour and anywhere in Manhattan, and parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Just go straight ahead until 2 or more vacant taxis are cruising in front of you. Once you spot a plurality of lit roof lights, turn off at the next street. If someone on that block is coming out of their building, you'll be the first available cab. Otherwise just turn again on that following avenue, which often gets you dibs on that block as well. Repeat step one and two over and over. This gets the goods. Believe me. There's nothing more detrimental to a cabdriver's income than to sit in an ocean of empty cabs. Avoid drag race chicken fights. Make the dough and get the hell home. We don't burn fossil fuels for the fun
of it. And it ain't just for the hell of it that I'm adamantly against splitting atoms and creating other high level waste.

Regionalism can get sort of silly sometimes. This week Katy Couric corrected her guest on the pronunciation of 'Nevada'. She made him say it like 'vast', not 'far'. I looked into it and discovered that folks out west believe Katy's correction to be appropriate. I doubt any Nevadans will read this, but 'nevada' happens to be in Spanish (Espanol). It means covered in snow. Hence, the Sierra Nevada (mountain range in California) literally means 'snow-covered hills'. And Nevada is pronounced like Dada (art cultural movement), not rat or mad hatter.

I really do try to withhold from judging others, especially when they're passengers in my cab. People have their reasons for tipping the way they do. But with every new fare, I automatically begin to compile a picture of their socioeconomic status and personal value system out of what I piece together from a conversation, the rear view mirror, or the price tag for an event I'm taking them to. Last week I brought several groups of people to the convention center and back, so they could pick up their runner numbers to put on their abdomen during the NYC marathon. I learned that it costs $177 ($232 for foreigners) to register in the race. Based on that, I'd say the Californians were generous tippers, but the Englishwomen were cheap scoundrels. It's not like these ladies came from London's east end and have spent their entire lives saving up for this.

I just finished reading a fabulous zine:
WORLD DOMINATION THROUGH DUMPSTER DIVING #19.
It features an article called YOU DON'T DESERVE BRAIN CANCER.
YOU DESERVE THE FACTS. Amy Worthi
ngton reveals cell phone industry secrets and makes a connection between it and the endless civil war in the Congo. This was published in 2003 and since then the violence in that country has all but disappeared from the news. Ironically, only days after I read the zine, this unique slice of human misery reemerges in the mass media.

I had a recent rider from Albania whose name (Fiutra) means butterfly in Shqip (her old Balkan language). She's especially memorable because she said that when she tells people that she's Albanian, they say oh you're from the state capital (Albany). Another conspicuous rider was a Scotsman in a suit who's traveled to all the Central Asian nations on behalf of the beer industry. He's having difficulty resolving his visa here because his passport contains stamps from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrghystan.

DHS don't like the fact that he's tasted authentic home brews around the world. And in yet a third illustrious fare, the Jennifer Aniston lookalike had you stop by a sidewalk cart so she could buy her 15 month old a hot dog and got one for you too. That never happens. Who ever wonders if the cabdriver is hungry? Then there was the German couple who just disembarked a cruise ship. Their only 48 hours in NYC were looking very pluvial. I came up with the most cliche idea for that: MUSEUMS?. "Boring", they murmured defiantly. Right then I had a clairvoyant moment. I knew exactly what they'd like to hear. "Did you know we have a MUSEUM OF SEX in NYC?" Their eyes lit up as they pulled out a pen to write down the address. That tip that would manifest into another pleasant tip as we pulled into their hotel.

As a cabdriver it's alarming to discover how little people actually know about the miseries that entail our profession. $110 to lease the cab for a day and another $40 (way less than a couple months ago) for gasoline. Roughly half the shift goes by before we actually begin earning an income. We drive anywhere from 12 to 17 hours a pop, in circles, through some of the most temerarious traffic on the planet. The odds stacked against us are twice as tall as the Empire State Building, and still we manage to make due.

If a passenger shows interest, I'll speak their godforsaken ear off about it all, as they lay there in astonishment, wide eyed and open mouthed. More questions flood their heads and the answers keep churning. God bless us, the yellow children of Gotham. I think the exact number of human faces we see in a year's time is greater than any other line of work, simply just from ceaselessly scanning crowded streets with eagle eyes while maintaining a thirty mile an hour peripatetic.

WARNING TO N
YC YELLOW CABBIES:
There's quite often a speed trap on the FDR North, just before you go under the Brooklyn Bridge. If you enter where South Street ends or off the 9A underpass (tunnel), do not go a single MPH over 40. Everyone floors it here because it's the
very beginning of the highway. A cop stands in the shoulder just over the hill. Only other radar gun trap I've seen in NYC is SB on Cross Bay Blvd. as you enter the residential zone of Broad Channel the limit plummets to 30 MPH and an unmarked hides in the median. On the opposite side of Queens, when WB on Astoria Blvd do not make a left on Crescent St. from 7 to 10 am. One of those little golf cart-like interceptors is busy around the corner. And in Manhattan, I'm pretty sure what I witnessed had to do with that far left lane on Broadway as you're about to cross 14th. It says on a sign and on the ground that you MUST turn left. Taxis break this rule 50 times a minute. Well, I saw folks getting pulled over systematically on that southeast corner one day last week. Must've been that rule being enforced. That's all for now.

5 comments:

  1. totally agree with the way to drive. always turning rather than going straight and getting lost in a sea of empty cabs is much more profitable, saves gas, and relieves stress.

    nice b+w picture with the yellow.

    the marking on broadway and 14th street should be changed. why would only one lane go straight?

    not sure i agree that we see the most people. certainly a cashier at the union square whole foods interacts with far more people. But we do see the most stuff.

    I love the blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Who has the best stuffed grape leaf in town?

    And do you like yours with yogurt or sour cream.

    The only ones I can get here come from a can, I like mine with sour cream.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ali baba's on macdougal in greenwich village has the best stuffed leaf. and i like mine with home made hot sauce or tahina and houmous.

    ReplyDelete
  4. yes , they are installing many cameras that will deflate our income yearly because they know we have no way around it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. In Monterey, California, party people going home in my taxi via the fast-food drive-thru would *always* ask if I wanted something to eat, and I always refused. Once someone gave my two huge slices of pizza, and another time someone gave me something good from a restaurant, seafood, I think.

    ReplyDelete

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