Wednesday, April 1, 2009

diurnal tachycardia

Hybrid taxicabs have crept up and infiltrated the iconic streams of Crown Vic for many months now. Though I remain the steer of an old school icon, I've become increasingly ashamed of not making the effort to find a garage that would lease me a hybrid. That was until now.

I just read something quite disturbing in the taxi newsletter. It turns out that just as compact fluorescent bulbs defeat their own energy efficient purpose when you repeatedly turn them on and off, hybrid vehicles emit more CO2 than conventional ones when used in the extreme stop and go conditions found in places like New York (nothing compares). I'm not sure this information is entirely accurate. It might be a ploy on behalf of traditionalists. I myself am what you'd call a flexible tenacity slicker. Therefore, although I adhere to my perspectives with passion, I'm simultaneously on guard for and urgently open to epiphanies, whether internal or imported, that could flip those views upside down, right on their ass.

Both scenarios involve the irony of the apparatus requiring more juice to start up and less to keep going. I've always had a splinter in my cortex about burning fossil fuels for a living. But every time I've expressed these concerns to eco-sensible peers, I've received the same comforting response. A city full of taxicabs is several times more sustainable than a city full of private vehicles. And on top of that, I do an unquestionably good job at it. By that I mean a stellar combination of....
-acutely galvanic maneuverings
-geographical acclimatization
-a voraciously assertive attitude
-blunt honesty about traffic patterns, ETAs, and fare estimations
-an overly accommodating approachability
(especially towards guests of our city)
-utmost respect for bicyclists and busdrivers
(minimal amounts for anyone else)
-the ability to navigate organically through swarms of pedestrians without costing anyone behind you the light (letting three cross the walk and then squeezing by before the next three)

All of these and a whole lot more are essential to a genuinely adequate NYC cabdriver. More than people want to give it credit for. We're not white collars. Nor are we blue. We're cadmium yellow light. Prepare for supersonic flight and the respite of an elevated kite.

I keep a pouch in the cab that contains both the free NYC condoms that I pass out to passengers and the Emergen-C packets that I occasionally pour into my jug of H2O. Sometimes I'll find myself accidentally having reached for the wrong one when my eyes must remain glued on the road. You can't pour a condom into your water. It won't boost your immune system. Speaking of that, I often bring a couple cloves of garlic on board to chew on, and its odor befuddles some of my fares.

I love it when the early parts of a shift line up perfectly like a row of Tetris cubes. Last Friday I hit the streets at 04:00. Off the Q Boro, I followed Lex to 23rd. Three dozen blocks on the tail end of a bar night and no fare? Time to get ill. One vacant cab split to the right. Another sped straight through. Up for grabs was the left. That Third Avenue light and I always synchronize with each other. Round the bend to the right stand two men hailing. Off to South Slope in the BK we go, all clubbed out and talkative. Less than a block away from where we said our goodbyes, in jumps un Mexicano con mariachi, meritoriously loud in his ears. "Roosevelt and Junction (Corona) please." That's not one, but two fares of $30 or more in under an hour. Eminence!

Fatigue overcame me early this morning while fare fishing in Carnegie Hill. I pulled over and laid my head down for 45 minutes, while remaining in the driver seat. During that time I had a dream about some lady with a dog on a leash that was looking for a taxi. She'd seen my vacant cab first, but then made a face and tried to run over to another cab. Each time the cab would become occupied before she could reach it. So she'd turn back reluctantly towards me. She repeated this cycle what seemed like a dozen times, until all of a sudden someone jolted me back into consciousness by knocking clamorously on my window. Standing there outside my hovercraft was a statuesque executive with a uniquely deep voice, asking if I was available. As we pulled away from that nourishing curb, I noticed how fresh the nap had made me. But I could use a taxi dream interpreter.

Actually, something somewhat similar to that dream occurred within a couple hours of that nap. An older Japanese couple from Rhode Island opened my back door and began to step inside, only to suddenly step repugnantly back out. It had been raining and this couple was profusely reiterating that the seat was wet, while escaping over to the taxi behind me. While that driver was refusing to take them for having an outer borough destination, I was wiping off the back seat (merely moist) with my stash of stray napkins. They noticed my effort and came bouncing back again. I smilingly let them know that they could have simply brought the 'wetness' calmly to my attention and waited 5 seconds for me to address the problem. No need to run off and try to catch another cab. After all, they were merely going on leisurely visit to their daughter's condo in Brooklyn. It turned out to be a real enjoyable ride for them and I alike, full of fascinating conversational points. They asked why I hadn't become a limo chauffeur, like the guy who drove them in from the Ocean State. Thought bubble: "Because then I would have been too busy kissing your delicate buttocks to have any time for an intriguing, down-to-earth chat like this."

On a shorter note, one of Ben Harper's tour managers jumped in my cab on Avenue C and begged me to rush him up to his Upper West Side hotel. I must say, that was one of the most delightful fares I've had in a while. We talked about growing up on the southwestern quadrant of the Los Angelino sprawl. I lived in the part of that vicinity known as Lomita from ages 4 to 11, and it really helped shape who I am today. He was born, raised, and still lives a few neighborhoods over, in what is known as Inglewood. He mentioned growing up on the same block as Pharcyde and watching them go from inconspicuous jam sessions to stardom in a matter of months. Our conversation immediately led to a thorough mutual listing of the Jazziest horn samplings from Hip Hop's golden age, of which we are both very fond.


  1. good to hear your back. I'm not so sure about those hybrid bits. I feel the hybrid is a threat to our old hat culture, and to fight the threat, many reports will surface, pretending to be based on fact, with phony sources. I just can't trust the reports. the starting up of an engine, I heard is now much more economical than it was just ten years ago, as is the idling of an engine. Toyota hybrids, and maybe ford's too, can regenerate their power every time the brakes are applied. so something about the report doesn't seem right.

    i love the videos and the remarks, and the dream intersplicing. I too had a good start on sunday with two 20 dollar rides in a row, but however, my day's averages aren't as high as they were last summer... yet?

    anyway, good blogging as always

  2. Wendy S.4/13/2009

    It's impossible to generalize about hybrid vehicles and how much energy they use, because the different types of them use different systems. The Toyota Prius, for instance, is one of the most fuel efficient kinds because it doesn't use gasoline at slow speeds or while idling. There are other hybrids, like the Escape, the Civic, and some others, that use a more consistent gas-electric combination and therefore aren't nearly as fuel efficient. (The Escape hybrid, from what I've read, has about the same fuel efficiency as the regular gasoline Toyota Rav-4, which is the same type of small SUV - while being probably much less reliable.) But then again, there is an organization of tall people that complains that the hybrid taxis aren't big enough for them. How can you please everybody?

    Also - a city of taxicabs is worse in a way than a city of private vehicles, because the taxis are constantly cruising, as opposed to private vehicles which stop once they reach their destination. However, more importantly, if this were a city of private vehicles, it wouldn't be nearly as easy for a pedestrian to traverse, so the lack of space for cars is what gives it its character. Thanks as always for telling us your stories.
    (p.s. Jenine's clothes are beautiful)

  3. Naoki Ohira4/13/2009

    I am impressed by your website as well! What a stories!! Also, I want to thank you once again from the bottom of my heart for your kindness, generosity and tremendous help in the last Sunday morning. You really made my day! I appreciate and admire your cab driver philosophy.

  4. Not sure I understand what Wendy was saying about a city of taxicabs being worse. The cruising part makes sense (although I feel like that's a small price that's easy to offset with the number of riders in a cab per day), but the thing about less space for pedestrians to traverse... I don't get that. Elaborate? Or someone else that understands?


  5. Samara Tulipomanic4/24/2009

    enjoying yr updates as always, and in the last one particularly yr flexible tenacity slicker thing. it's quite a phrase and hell yeah to being both deeply passionate about one's perspectives and yet always ready to release attachment to them, or as you put it, open to epiphanies that may flip them on their ass. a lot of my it reminded me of something that i recently heard at a restorative circles workshop i went to (which as you may know is one model for managing conflicts). the insight was the that the people who learned fastest to effectively learn the practice of restorative circles were not the people who had relevant skills such as nonviolent communication, but were actually usually the youngest people, because those tended to be the people who were least attached to things as they are. i think the quality that will allow people to best survive the apocalypse is flexibility, which means not being attached to things as they are. (or to our ideas about things as they are.) and i think US americans have among the lowest percentage of flexible tenacity slickers on the face of the planet, which spells trouble for the apocalypse. in any case, i've rambled enough. thanks for reading my mind fart of the day! and sorry i've been out-of-touch.


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