Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
This is how much respect and appreciation our city has for us. The worst part is that TLC ex-chairman Daus paid several visits to the lot and posed in pictures with smiling cabbies, which were shown in the Taxi Insider (a newspaper representing our transportation industry). Don't come and give us hugs, pretending to be our best friend on camera, and then leave the bathrooms in this state of disorder for months on end. I sure hope this new Yassky guy is more sensitive to our basic needs. Yes, that's right. We have a new TLC Chairman.
Image Sources: Wikipedia and Verizon
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I made a pit stop at Starbucks on East 17th to go #2. I took exactly the perfect amount of time to complete that endeavor, because I immediately hopped back in the cab, made a left onto Fifth Ave., and magically picked up a woman who turned out to be one of the big dealers for that art show. Not one minute into the ride she handed me a free pass for two, good for all four days of the show (and $80 value!)
Now, as you hopefully read in the first half of this shift (previous post), I was having a really lucrative morning so far. I knew all of these things combined meant the universe was opening a window of opportunity for me to simply turn the cab in early today and go to the art show with Jenine. I couldn't contain my excitement, so I picked up the phone and gave her a rude, yet uplifting awakening. She went from cranky to ecstatic in 5 seconds. We agreed to wait an hour to see if I could will into existence a fare into Brooklyn. That hour went by and the closest I got was Battery Park City, so I decided to just hop on the Brooklyn Bridge and shoot down the BQE, since the Metropolitan exit lines right up with Ainslie, the very street that leads to my doorstep.
She joined me for my last two hours on-duty. We looped around the main drag of Williamsburg a few times and came out with a trio of the most delightful Ohioan tourists hopping flea markets. All they had to say was Fort Greene Flea and I knew exactly where to head. Jenine talked it up with them, so much to their enjoyment that they dished out $20 for a $10 fare. Upon crossing the Manhattan Bridge with an empty backseat, we parked in the Lower East Side briefly, so she could grab a snack from Babycakes (a vegan and gluten-free bakery). I also wanted to get a close up look at the three buildings on Grand and Eldridge that were charred in a blaze last week.
WE HAD THREE MORE MENTIONABLE FARES BEFORE TURNING IN THE CAB:
1. A Swedish couple, stuck in NY due to volcanic ash, who had a wonderful time chatting with and being transported to the Theater District by a dynamic taxi-operating duo, to see "In The Heights." Oh, how I love Jenine and her exquisite mind and spirit. And I must try to see that Broadway show. Never been to one, and I hear it's especially good if you love the anthropology of New York (as I obviously do!)
2. A lawyer who said most of her colleagues are buying East River-front condos in Brooklyn, hence contributing directly to the neighborhood's second wave of gentrification. First it was the Latinos. Now the artists and musicians who pushed them out. The history of SoHo repeats itself here.
3. A young New Yorker waiting for the B62 bus on Park Avenue by the Navy Yard. I drove past him and thought, "He's probably going to downtown Brooklyn. Why don't I just offer him a free ride, since it's in on our way to the depot?" Jenine looked at me funny as I stopped abruptly and reversed into the bus stop. The guy looked at me funny too, but accepted the offer without thinking twice. He'd been waiting 15 minutes for the bus and was so relieved to be given a free ride by a yellow cab, something that never happens. It felt good to do something I'd be so thankful for, if offered. And thankful he was! I even earned me a little peck on the cheek from a very beautiful co-pilot. He jumped out on Flatbush and Tillary.
We gassed up and turned in the cab. I mentioned a possible car problem to a mechanic at the garage, and he got upset that I hadn't brought the cab back when I first heard rattling noises in the axle. It started during my first two hours on the road. Returning the taxi then would have sabotaged this entire streak of luck. But that is not why I had neglected to bring the cab back. You see, at my previous garage in Greenpoint, both the dispatcher and the mechanics would have chewed me out for bringing a cab back that wasn't completely falling apart. As long as it ran, their policy was not to bother with it. Being the creature of routine protocol that I can be, I had that unpleasant and bankrupting scenario in my head when I chose to stay out.
The art expo turned out alright. Nothing I would have paid full admission for. Afterward we took the 6, N, and 7 trains out to Tito Rad's for a Pinoy meal. Lovely ambiance and tasty dishes, but the waitress didn't recognize the Pinay in Jenine, which was a bit of a bummer.
My favorite part of the entire evening were the two Senegalese men on the subway platform beneath 68th Street, playing and singing traditional Senegalese music that raised the hairs on my arms with its beautiful grace and humility.
Last but not least: I have a brief request for the folks in charge of TAXI TV. Is there any way you could refrain from playing that little recording over and over and over again, throughout every single fare..... the one that says, "Welcome to Del Frisco's" ? It's really drilling a hole through not only my head, but the heads of a number of passengers who've complained. And, if you could, when a passenger presses the off button, could you see to it that it actually does in fact go off, and not back on again without anyone's permission? I would really appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Just a few feet ahead I stop for Craig, my second fare. We take Madison and Broadway all the way up to 161st Street. My taxicab is the friendliest, most non-judgmental one he's ever ridden in. His advice on heterosexual romance is the most omniscient and non-intrusive that a drunk, homosexual passenger has ever offered. By the time we get to Harlem, he feels so comfortable that he politely asks if he could sit up front, and I instinctively let him. He tacks on a $20 tip to the $19 fare and disappears into the predawn abyss.
As I make a U-turn for downtown again, I am hailed by a man trying to get to his hotel on 125th and St. Nicholas. It's his birthday and his "lucky night." At the first red light he rolls down his window and asks a woman walking on the sidewalk if she has a cigarette. She comes over and he opens the door. She steps right in and they start making out. I haven't had my cup of coffee yet and I'm entirely unsure of what's happening. She pets his head and tells him to relax. She has a thick New York accent and he sort of does, too. He rounds the tip to the next dollar and they step out.
Minutes later I scoop up two buff men on Central Park West at 105th, heading up to 171st and Fort Washington. As soon as they exit the cab, a vulnerable young transplant from San Luis Obispo runs over and hops in. He's going to 96th and Amsterdam. With that, my predawn roll in upper Manhattan ends. It isn't until after sunrise that I find my next fare, and only due to swift stratagem.
I'm cruising up 4th Avenue and vacant cabs infest every possible route, except East 10th. As I complete that long and potentially treacherous right turn, a man in my peripheral vision steps out of his apartment building. I slow to a crawl and poke my head out the window. Mere eye contact yields a trip to Flushing Avenue and Bogart (Brooklyn). I return via Metropolitan, which yields a pleasant fare back over the bridge to 9th and C, followed by okra on rice for breakfast, at the Punjabis on Houston St.
Around 8 A.M. I transport a Tudor City trio to Newark Airport ($55). After returning through the Holland Tunnel I pick up a Jewish trio in TriBeca, en route to Friends Seminary for their teen's exam. Upon dropping off, I turn the corner onto Rutherford Place and stop to jot down a few notes. Soon I hear whistling from behind. One of them needs a brisk emergency ride back to TriBeCa to grab documents they forgot at home, and then come right back. I do it all with a smile. He says, "I want you to have lunch on me." That's two $20 bills and $10 from the initial trip. $50 in 25 minutes. Or $105 in just
Second half of the shift coming soon to a blog near you.....
Stop in at the tips blog for today's digest: Wishful Yearning (Citizens' Band)
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I HEARD ON THE NEWS THAT AS SOON AS SOME AIRLINES FLEW TEST FLIGHTS WITHOUT PASSENGERS THROUGH THE VOLCANIC ASHES AND CAME OUT ALIVE, THERE WAS AN UPROAR WORLDWIDE QUESTIONING THE NEED FOR AIRSPACE RESTRICTIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE. I'M SORRY BUT HUMAN BEINGS ARE QUITE THE INSATIABLE CROWD. IF THE AIRLINES AND THEIR GOVERNMENTS WOULD HAVE BEEN CARELESS AND ALLOWED FLIGHTS TO PLUNGE CATASTROPHICALLY OUT OF THE SKIES, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A CONTROVERSY TOO. YOU CAN'T WIN WITH PEOPLE. THE BLAME GAME NEVER CEASES.
FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT JET ENGINES SUCK IN OXYGEN IN ORDER TO IGNITE THE TURBINES, WHICH COMPRESS THE AIR, THEREBY PUSHING THE PLANE FORWARD. WE DO NOT WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FINE DUST PARTICLES FROM THE VOLCANO INTERRUPT AND CHOKE THE ENGINES AND TURBINES.
On a side note, here's an article about a famous comedian who took a taxi from Norway to Belgium. And here's an article about how Eyjafjallajokull is affecting New York City. I love the butterfly effect. I do! Please do give my other blog a brief visit, especially if you live in NYC. You might find it helpful, whether you take taxicabs or drive one.
The latest post is called FROM FLEA TO SHINING FLEA!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
PLEASE CHECK OUT MY LATEST DISPATCH ON TIPS FOR HACKS AND PASSENGERS.
IT'S CALLED "HOW A CABBIE WOULD CATCH A CAB"
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
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.