Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brahman or Holstein?

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.


  1. TLC doesnt care you are a cabbie and you are known proven criminal with no respect but punishment.
    I hate ppls when they dont understand and try to b smart but what we can do other than being patience?

  2. u can refuse airport and out of town fares after 8 hours of work with out turning your off duty lights on, but we need to turn those lights on for the fares going to 187th street and fort washington or to the bronx, but who cares, we are cab drivers, scumbags, you can see more love expressed here towards cab drivers by fellow new yorkers.

  3. I can't speak for the situation outside of Boston, but here I've found, once you scratch the gruff surface of the police patrolmen or hackney, 99 out of 100, they're actually my friend- they know what we're up against.
    It can often be the same with passengers. They may take that one time in 100, and ascribe their outrage to all cabbies for it. And, conversely, I know I've entered a funk at times over the nature of some fares, but then started a new day very consciously noticing the actual attitude of my fares to discover everyone's being quite nice. Mutual respect between public and cabs is in everyone's interest. Blogging is one opportunity for us to inch along toward this end. By relating our tales we make ourselves known, no longer an "other" fit for all unjustified ridicule. I look at "Cabs are for Kissing", and feel as though it's an ambassadorial effort on behalf of the industry. We can all make a dent. And as for the "love" that's out there, we have to let it roll off our backs, and realize people of this nature through their own words say more about themselves than anyone else.


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