Being “on-duty” takes on a much deeper meaning to me than simply hacking. I am the eyes of New York. My scanning of every inch of public space and my vigilance of every visible human being, though done for the sake of seeking out a fare, can't help but double as a form of citizen patrol. I am at all times prepared, at the drop of a dime, to (reasonably) step into any situation and facilitate safety, justice, and the well-being of strangers.
My ears prick up when I hear vulnerability and/or aggression on the streets. My eyes read facial expressions and bodily gestures like a studious Jew reads the Torah. My reflexes spot movements as if the seconds of time are getting sucked forward ever so slightly, like a mosquito that successfully evades a swat. I get in and out of the cab readily, like a milkman making his rounds.
Ideally, my work bag for the cab contains jumper cables, a tire iron, a car jack, a couple of used inner tubes (as ropes), a subway map in case someone needs directions, an air pump for bicyclists with low pressure, the shirt off my back, etc.