Sunday, October 31, 2010

Almost Jacked

Just today I realized it, while driving past, that the two sketchy characters i had picked up on Atlantic by Smith a few weeks ago, who pretended to be undercover cops and gave me a hard time, and then got out ever so nonchalantly on a dark, abandoned street behind a housing project in Brownsville and walked away without paying the fare..... had come out of the Brooklyn Detention Center. I had never looked at the big sign on the entrance to that building. I just knew from peripheral vision that it was some sort of government facility. Drivers, please be careful picking people up on that block: Atlantic Avenue between Smith Street and Boerum Place.

These two men looked menacing from the moment they jumped off the curb and into the street, hailing me as I drove up. Of the thousands of street hails I've seen in my four years as a hack, I've only had to avoid and drive past half a dozen or so of them (all together) because I felt immediately threatened or disturbed by the prospect of their presence in my cab. My threshold is high. I pick up most anyone. But these two guys emanated bad vibes, out of their eye balls, facial gestures, and body language. Still, I picked them up because I glanced and there was a cop car in my mirror. I did not want to be stopped for refusal. Though I've had cops tell me some disgusting things I'd never expected from them....

"this is your fault. why do you pick up drunk people?" (in response to a sleeping passenger.)
"you should never pick up people in this part of town"

Anyhow, I had them along for an excruciatingly long 20 minute ride out to the far eastern reaches of Brooklyn and they interrogated me the whole time about some guy named "Jinx" and how I must have some information on him. They said they were on a murder investigation and that once they caught him, he'd never see the light of day again. I grew very afraid that they were being metaphorical about what they planned for me. They also said a lot of really stupid stuff and after the first two minutes of the ride, the tiny little part of me that had believed their purported NYPD role collapsed. I really got scared when I learned they had smelled fear on me."why you so scared, man? what are you scared about?"

For a minute after we had pulled over at their destination, they messed around with me some more. They'd look at me and smirk at each other, as if deciding whether I was worth robbing or not. Finally, one of them lifted up a twenty dollar bill at the partition, and said....
"take this and get the hell out of here. don't blow our cover."

But when I reached for it, he pulled it back quickly, and they stepped out of the taxi, calmly and with an evil little giggle. They walked away ever so slowly, with mad swagger. I sighed with relief and quickly drove away and out of that neighborhood. I felt lucky to be alive at that moment. Sure, a little part of me wanted to go back and run after them with any piece of metal lying around, demanding my money, but that would not be wise at all. It's like instead of getting paid 20 dollars for my service, I paid 20 to keep my life. What a bargain. The rest of my life for only 20 dollars. This is the first time in four years of cab driving that I felt in that much danger.


  1. yeah, good to know, I always have noted that, that there was a prison there, there is also a detention center I believe, a block away from lguardia community college too, but as for both these places it seems that it's very likely someone in the nighborhood not from the prison will hail a cab and be a really grateful customer, perhaps going right across the bridge into midtown.

    But thank you for this scary tale. i'm shivering just reading this. despite always knowing it's a prison, It still slips my mind sometimes. and yeah I quickly learned that the police only hate it when cabbies pull crazy maneuvers to get passengers, usually when they avoid passengers, the cops understand. it's only the tLc that enforce the taxi rules. yeah the one frightening fare i got was in front of the strip joint on 7th ave between, i dunno, it was Lace in times square, and these guys had that same tough demeaner and were heckling me about costing them too much money when i asked them if they wanted me to go a cheaper way with more lights, ofcourse they didn't care about that, cause they didn't pay, they took me to the projects by cropsey avenue, and had me drive around the whole thing, till i was in the back of it by the train yard and that's when they ran out, not a car in sight. I rushed back to the city and got a jfk almost immediately at the ritz carlton, so hey, no big deal i guess. and i had the same thoughts, and it's still in the back of my mind -never go to times square empty at night, and also entered in my mind from then on to watch for people's mannerisms, and attire. also when they got the cab they seemed to be exstatic about it, like they won a prize and now that they got something for free they were going to treat it like it was worthless.

  2. oh also about prisons. you know there is an MTA bus that goes to and from rikers island, not sure where it goes, but that's all good as it's all people who work and visit there, that's my guess. However, when people get out of Rikers, they get dropped off at Queensboro Plaza, I read that in a Times article a few years back, I assume that's still happening. Also There is a prison in upstate new york that I think a lot of new yorkers go to, overcrowding perhaps? and so a lot of people come to new york city fresh from the prison at the port authority bus terminal. I took somebody to his uncle's place in the bronx from the port authority, he still had the prison issue shirt and shoes. he was pretty nice actually, he told me the first thing he was going to do was buy a pair of Jordans and get rid of these shoes that were worth a nickel. If you ask me those shoes were pretty cool, but I didn't tell him that. He was staying real positive, I'm sure as method of survival to try and start fresh again. He didn't even have cell phone, because everything was confiscated, so that's one thing about people coming out of prison, they are probably not carrying any weapons.


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