I have a little question for the Taxi and Limousine Commission of NYC. What happens if a Kennedy airport fare hails my cab in Manhattan around 3:00 PM? If I take them, I most definitely will be late to the garage, which strictly requires the cab be brought back by 4:30 PM. If I refuse to take them, they could report me to you.
See, at 3:30 PM (every shift) I switch on my OFF-DUTY lights and head for my garage (in downtown Brooklyn), while slowing to a near stop in front of every street hail to check if they're going downtown (Manhattan or Brooklyn), in which case I'll gladly take them. If I were to start turning on my OFF-DUTY lights at an earlier time, in order to avoid impossible airport fares, I could get in trouble for NOT actually being garage-bound just yet. These are risks we all (cabbies) take, on top of the hundred other risks (and odds) stacked against us.
Avoiding eye contact and pretending not to have seen someone with lots of luggage isn't an option either, especially if they happen to be black (which elevates it from refusal to racism). Also not an option is simply returning to the garage a whole hour or two early. This job is only economically viable if you max out your time and presence on the streets, because the lease rate is steep and fixed. The TLC is good at addressing public concerns, but they leave cabbies as clueless and vulnerable as a herd of cattle standing next to an electric fence. It seems that's the way they want it. Someone please tell me if I'm wrong. I hate to be so cynical and assuming.
My fellow taxi driver and book author, Melissa Plaut, would certainly agree. Check out her fabulous article in the Huffington Post, about how the TLC giving us a bad name is consistently unwarranted.