It was the one year anniversary of my beloved Jenine and I. I spent the later part of the day caged inside 4H55, earning what would become a near personal record-breaking net profit of $272 for 13 hours of navigation on a Monday night in this nefarious metroplex.... all while wishing I was with her, whether in her state or mine. Ocean or Empire. Many say long distance relationships only last if they are the real deal. This one has proven true, through and through. Here are the high and low-lights from that lonesome taxi shift of 37 fares (that became less melancholic when Fela Kuti filled the radio with his perfect soundtrack to taxi driving at night. If you're not familiar with his music, what a pity).
16:00: a scruffy duo of Dutch men in show biz enter the cab near the Fashion Institute of Technology en route to West 4th. Each is on his own cellular call, but both dialogues center around some film shoot in Cape Town. All in English. No trace of Afrikaans. I get nine for a $7.40 fare. That's a 22% tip.
Down the block enters a woman who reminds me of my step grandmother (a psychologist in L.A.). En route to Chelsea I guess (out loud) she's an NYU professor, based on where I picked her up and her demeanor. I'm correct! She teaches law, and although a bit jaded, holds a pleasant chat with her inquisitive cabdriver. I get eight for a $6.30 fare. That's a 27% tip.
17:00: Scoop up a fare from Soho to La Guardia. Lady in a suit who came here on a business day-trip from Chicago is home bound. Her fingers are crossed because apparently it's snowing heavily there. I get thirty for a $22.90 fare. That's a 31% tip! My wait at the airport is brief and I'm soon city-bound again with yet another pleasant lady in a suit, who also flew in from Chicago (for a corporate meeting tomorrow). She had been stuck at O'hare International for several hours (due to weather) and she is ready to call it a night at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown, but we end up in an unexpected traffic jam on the QMT tunnel approach.
I felt bad because I told her this was the quickest way there during the evening rush, since most of the congestion is often outbound along this route at that hour. 1010 WINS finally clarifies the situation. There are emergency roving pothole repairs in progress near the toll booths. She tells me not to stress out about it. I get forty for a $35.37 fare (far more expensive than it should be). Precisely why she gave me a 13% tip. Far more expensive than it should have been. I wonder about the fate of the other lady's flight (and Chi-town cab ride home?). Delays abound about the land.
18:00: A retired Finnish double date on vacation (and staying at the Roosevelt) step in as soon as she steps out. They're heading to a hockey game at Mad Square tonight. They're fond of the Rangers because talented Finnish players have historically lined their ranks. We got into other histories too. Like that of Finland itself. Ruled by Sweden, then Russia, and finally independent. I mentioned a movie on my favorite films list about a 3-way language barrier that didn't stop two enemy soldiers and an indigenous Laplander from becoming friends. It's called Kukushka and they had indeed seen it (and agreed it's superb). I really like it when someone from the actual country a film is set in approves of that film. Gives me the right to keep advertising it. Got thirteen for an $11.60 fare. That's a 12% tip.
20:00: A couple hours later I was back in the Penn Station vicinity. I was hailed by two women who had taken the day off from work to take Amtrak up to Albany, to join a large demonstration against contamination of water caused by the extraction of natural gas, which the governor recently gave the green light for in several sensitive sections of upstate NY. Both ladies wore professional attire. One was Taiwanese. The other was Filipina. I dropped them each off in their respective neighborhoods of Chelsea and Greenwich Village. Got twelve for a $10.40 fare. That's a 16% tip.
21:00: Barely noteworthy, but definitely the blockheaded simpleton of the night. He was a schmuck in a suit, slightly younger than I am, with a sense of entitlement more inflated than a hot air balloon. I only had my own window down when he got in, and it wasn't like the interior of the cab was cold. The first thing he said was "roll up the windows." Not a please or a thank you in sight, and with condescension in his tone and persona. "Is that good?," I asked, upon leaving only a crack open for my own sanity. "I guess," he replied, with the audacity of a 5 year old. The rest of the ride was silent. Got ten for a $9.10 fare from Hell's K to No Ho. That's a 10% tip. Like I said, not much of a story, but it infuriated me. I have anger in my genes and too much pride on my zodiac sign.
But it didn't take me long to cool off because of the grace and humor with which my next passengers treated me. They were an older couple who commute down from the Mohegan Sun resort once a week to teach Casino Business at NYU. They were heading up to Grand Central so I instantly guessed that they had parked their car in New Haven and jumped on the MTA North. Damn I'm good at guessing geographical technicalities. That's the second time in one shift I transported NYU professors and played a guessing game with them. Got eleven for an $8.20 fare. That's a 34% tip!
02:30: a young, native New York couple get a ride from a bar on Bedford to their Ridgewood apartment. She's Guyanese, and by the way he treats her, he's a prick (who claims to love farting because of the fuzzy feeling he gets down below.) "That's because your prostate is right next to your ass," I remark, in a smart aleck tone. All the while I'm pondering how she should just get a strap-on and help him achieve more of that anal pleasure he was talking about, instead of putting up with his perpetual verbal abuse. He did tip me better than anyone else that night, and I am frankly appreciative of that. His intoxication allowed him to be more sensitive toward how effortful and efficient I was at my job. Got twenty six for a $13.90 fare. That's an 87% tip!