Until recently I worked out of a garage that was 10 minutes away by bicycle, 20 minutes via subway/walking (only 3 trains an hour) or 5 minutes by cab. Their available shifts dwindled down over time to only Sundays. Since I'm saving for summer travels in Europe, I need more workdays. So I switched back to the very first (of three) garage I leased cabs from when I first got my hack license (2006). They now require a 5 day schedule, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. I'd rather rest on the Sabbath, but I'll take what I can get.
This garage is 25 minutes away via bicycle or subway/walking. It's 10 minutes by cab. An $11 fare. $15 with the tip cause I don't have the heart to give a good cabdriver any less than that. I avoid the bad ones (if at all possible) by sniffing them out before I get in. I only take a cab to work if it's raining, too cold, or I overslept. I must be frugal since I only average about $190 a shift, depending on how many breaks I choose to take (zero for 200+) and luck of the passenger turnover rate.
At 4:44 am I was assigned to taxicab 7L62 by my favorite dispatcher (of 10 I've met), the magnificent Bobo (of Haiti), who always carries the sincerest smile. Today's shift would entail 134 miles of urban meanderings and two fares to Newark Liberty International (within two hours). Oddly coincidental, since I normally only get one fare to that airport every couple of months.
The shift also entailed brief, but peak moments of nail biting, like the puddle on MacDougal Street that turned out to be a crater lake of a pothole, as I dashed through it, sending a 10 ft. splash at pedestrians on the sidewalk. NYU students, on a Sunday stroll, shrilled at the top of their lungs, as I faded into the horizon with my giggling Korean passenger.
At one point I was cruising down Fifth Avenue (in the sixties) when I spotted a sheepish hand flail about and drop, just before disappearing behind a stopped MTA bus. My peripheral vision had sensed a gang of tall, lost Europeans huddling around a map. I was on the opposite side of the street and had to instantly drop my speed from 34 to 4, in order to pull into the first available fire hydrant. I put it in park and ran across. There they were, four lovely Norwegians attempting to figure out where to have breakfast. They were stunned (and grateful) that a cabdriver would go so far as to fetch them by foot, to initiate what would become the best cab ride of their visit. They explained that after breakfast they planned to walk around Greenwich Village.
Their question was, "are there any good traditional American food in that neighborhood?" First word that came to mind was diner, a term they weren't familiar with, but I knew that's what they wanted. Off hand, I could only think of the ones along the eastern and western flanks of 23rd Street. Not the Village. I called up my main man Mikey (who also drives a cab) and he unveiled a brilliant idea: the Waverly Restaurant (on Sixth Avenue)! They fell in love with the place before they even stepped inside. I was given $15 for a $10.50 fare and my helpfulness. The tips are in the pudding. I owe you one, Mikey.