QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED BY CABBIES:
I'm crossing town on West 57th at 4:30 P.M. Doors are locked. Backseat is empty. I must have the cab back at the base (in Greenpoint) by 5:00, for the night shift switchover. I can't help but empathize with folks who are stranded on the roadside, trying to make their way home after a long workday. I decelerate past each hailing body, just enough to holler "where to?", through the window. If their response is above 72nd or below 42nd, my answer is an apologetic, yet assertive and distinctly audible, "sorry but I'm eastbound into Queens right now."
Approaching Eight Avenue there was a man in a suit going to 63rd and Broadway. Slightly out of the way, but very doable! Right after that fare, a woman at Columbus Circle requested 58th and Lexington. Precisely on my path to the bridge! That's $7 and $9. An extra $16 towards gas and two very happy campers who saved a fortune of time on their reverse commute. Negotiating does work, and not just for the hack. There is no need for the city to find itself paralyzed between 4 and 5 each afternoon. There is, however, a need for all parties involved to be flexible and compassionate, including the TLC in the rare event someone accuses us of refusal.
OFTEN ASKED BY THE PASSENGERS: Upon dropping that previously mentioned suit man off near Lincoln Center, he asked me how he'd get down to Ludlow and Rivington around 5 PM, if catching a cab was too hard? "Just jump on the downtown B or D train, at Columbus Circle, and transfer to the F at Times Square. Exit at 2nd Avenue and walk east/south". My advice was free and enthusiastically given, with the help of the miniature subway inset on my laminated street map. And I had done him the favor of taking him the 8 blocks out of my way, off-duty light lit, and Queens-bound. He returned it by tipping over 20%. What a symbiosis!
Another question, asked earlier in the shift, was by a pregnant lady headed home, which happened to be across the street from Roosevelt Hospital on W59. She was headed home from work (Park Av and 56th). Soon as we pulled away from the curb I had to ask intently whether she was OK with taking 57th, but she was intent on using Central Park South, which we got stuck in for a quarter hour, along with all the horse carriages and tour buses. She admitted we should have taken my route. Westbound on 57th is piece of cake in the afternoon, as opposed to the mornings. People get bad taxi experiences eternally stuck in their head and fail to realize that not only does every part of the day have differing traffic patterns, but also not all hacks are inept.
She became very trusting and talkative half way through the ride, and asked me what she should tell the cabdriver who would be destined to take her when she goes into labor. Ironically, even though she lives across the street from the hospital where John Lennon was rushed, the plan is nonetheless to give birth at NYPH, on the other side of town. Her question was, should I simply just tell the taxi driver to take me to New York Presbyterian Hospital?"
Absolutely not! There's a reason why the reputation of cabdrivers has fallen through every possible crack in this city. You must say 68th and York Avenue. Otherwise, you might confuse the hell out of them. I've heard you can even do that by merely asking for the Empire State Building or the Staten Island Ferry.
QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED BY EITHER OR:
Could you take a picture of us sitting in the back, once we pull into the airport? This time I happened to be the one suggesting it, and I was forthright with my motive of sharing it on my blog. This lovely couple visiting from Atlanta and I had an uncommonly refreshing, mutually uplifting conversation all the way out there, about a wide range of things: their lifelong love of New York from afar, their intense solidarity with taxi drivers (especially NY Yellow) and other working class people, their right to bear arms, my right to arm bears, and so many others issues.
Another question that could be asked, and in fact was asked by both hack and passenger earlier in the shift is, "what the hell kind of cow looks like that ?" (referring to the middle photograph above) I guess you'd have to call that number. Neither of us could explain why the lump on the left was bigger than the one on the right. Can you?