#1. A cocktail waitress from Winnipeg: home to Astoria from the bowling alley on West 42nd.
#2. An elder trio from Minsk: to church service in Boerum Hill from their doorstep in the E.V..
#3. The skinny version of Morgan Freeman goes 4 dollars worth and says, "God be with you".
#4. Windshield gets dangerously dusty on the newly salted expressway and urine flies unto your face when you pour the piss bottle out the window to substitute the empty washer fluid tank. You can call it 'minimal maintenance' on the fleet garage's part.
#5. Maori father and son who just immigrated here (NYC) from New Zealand now find themselves not driving fast, but flying low from Chinatown to Sutton Place and breaking the sound barrier in a cadmium yellow light.
#6. I often get the straphangers who never take cabs, but are running late to work. These MTA aficionados and the bartenders who do a marvelous job of empathizing are the best tippers of all. They know our professions put us up against the worst mental states NYC has to offer.
#7. Hannah Temple boards the front seat of the taxicab for a couple hours of co piloting and part of the plan is to roll past the evening's scheduled humanitarian Gaza demonstration in Manhattan, but out of the hundreds that show up, everyone gets either arrested, sent to the hospital in an ambulance, or promptly escorted back to subway pits and parked cars on parallel avenues, courtesy of NYPD on bullhorns in paddywagons and on foot. Hooray for freedom of speech!
#8. Swank man pops out of Webster Hall and jumps into your cab. He's visiting from his customized mansion in Western Mass. that he brags about the entire ride. He's here for GlobalFEST '09 and wants a ride back to the Hilton in midtown. That's all fine and dandy, and we even get into a friendly chat about our mutual love of international rhythms. He suggests I attend next year's event because it's well worth the $40 admission. Now mind you the cheapest room at this hotel is $219, plus his gas, tolls, and steep parking rates. He hands me a $100 bill and asks for 10 back on an $8.10 fare. "But sir this is not a twenty" and I hold up the bill. He says, "oh, well in that case gimme 90 back". Not a single utterance of appreciation for this whopping act of honesty. He steps out and doesn't look back. My heart sinks low. I understand these things must be done without expecting anything in return, but this just adds to the feeling of bleak helplessness that comes with providing a service to the best of your abilities and being very poorly compensated for it time and again.
#9. First long distance fare beater in my 28 month cabbie career occurs the following night. It's just past 4 am on a Wednesday morning and I'm idling on the corner of Prince and Thompson in SoHo. People are emptying out of Milady's bar and one guy in his mid 30s comes inside. He sits there silent until I ask, "where to?"
"Queens, take the LIE" is all he says, in a voice almost as shady as this. Twenty minutes later we're in front of his single family unit on Mexico Street in St. Albans. The meter reads $38.20 and he says,"I gotta go inside to get some money. Wait right here." Before I can protest he slips out the cab and into his house. Twenty minutes later he still hasn't come out and I've never called the cops in my life, mostly out of indifference. But this time I feel an urgent thirst for justice. It takes them another twenty minutes to arrive. They wail the siren for a moment and put all their strobe lights on before knocking on the front door. Lights remain on inside but no one answers. They come back shrugging their shoulders. Nothing they can do. They say I should have demanded advance payment but that happens to be highly illegal under TLC rules. I bite my tongue, clench my teeth, and cut my losses by heading to nearby JFK airport.
#10. Zubin rides the front seat of the taxicab to triple check if this is indeed a job he would want to do part time. Looks like the verdict is positive. People hesitate to get in when we respond to their street hail because they think we're undercover cops. He's a substitute teacher in NYC schools and perhaps I should be doing that too. Did it in Florida for a brief period of time. He's an Iranian Jew and when I reverse haphazard yet clear through an intersection to catch a missed street hail he remarks it's a very Persian thing to do, as in very genius.
#11. We pick up the lady who was La Reina de Turkiya at last year's International Coffee Beauty Pageant in Colombia. It was the first time Turkey was ever represented. She's currently couchsurfing among friends in NYC and considering a permanent relocation from Istanbul.
#12. A few days later that plane lands in the Hudson River and when I suggest to a passenger that it should be put in a park and turned into a playground like I've seen them do to old planes in other countries, she gets emotional about how good an idea that is and tips me like 45%.
#13. On MLK, Jr. Day I get this murmury and miserable young Bangali dude in the cab who claims that this holiday is only for the blacks. I don't bother arguing, but what about all the other struggles people like MLKJ stand for. They represent the triumphant human spirit.
#14. Financial absurdities I keep hearing on the radio making me lose momentum in the otherwise perpetual taxicab hustle hunt for rapid rider turnover rates because I see how easily billions of dollars flow above me, while the trickling down takes hundreds upon hundreds of hours to accumulate into an income on the streets. Three new local stadiums are being built next door to older ones that, if you ask any developing or underdeveloped nation, are in near mint condition. The 2nd Avenue subway tunnel might be a need postponed for too long already, but here we are again in the midst of economic depression. That is precisely what stopped this line from being built in the 1930s. And how about that John Thain character? Spending lavishly as CEO and then disappearing so as to leave less of a trail. Who the hell needs an 83.1 million dollar salary? Only someone with a damn heck of a lot of charitable ideas in mind. Not some numskull in an deceitfully ironed suit.
#15. Jenine Bressner of Rhode Island rides shotgun in the taxicab late one Sunday night and our suspicion of being potential soulmates and twin siblings from other nibblings is confirmed. We both have a tremendously vigorous admiration for life and the world as a whole. We absolutely love learning, teaching writing, editing, and being fit on various fronts (muscles, intellect, and spirit). We each have a plethora of future goals that involve the proliferation of our independent artistic endeavors, an ongoing altruistic service to humanity, and ecological homewardboundness. We both have an extensive travel destination list and a commitment not to be merely tourists in our peregrinations. Our lifestyles and ethical stances mirror one another. The both of us are multiethnic Jews who deplore violence and negativity whatsoever. We can more or less communicate in three languages. And juiciest of all, we have an immense physical attraction to each other. The only issue to look out for is that we're both Leos and therefore must be mindful not to burn each other up in contending passions. It's like putting two confident lions or blazing suns next to each other for prolonged periods of time. It can either turn into one unstoppable ball of flame or two charred and wilted carcasses of infatuation. I have reason to trust in the fireball. And no it ain't making holiday stops at the shopping mall this fall.