My first fare's a blond mid-age Brit. She requests the Manhattan Bridge from Delancey and Ludlow to Myrtle and Nostrand. I'd a taken the Williamsburg to Lee, but I do as I'm told. "Stop at the deli, I need to get milk. Do you need anything? Please don't leave me here in this neighborhood." No thanks (and you haven't paid me yet so why would I take off?). $17 for a 14.30.
Marcy to Union and my next fare is an semi-awkward peer from Bedford's hip strip to 1 River Place (off W42 in Manhattan). We talk about music. Grunge was his thing back in 8th grade. Same here. Says he can only listen to Punk if it's harder than the pop sort. I play him some Casualties and he's down. $24 for a 19.90 [by credit card (take 5% off total)].
Been eating mad healthy last few days so I treat myself to a couple slices of cheese at the original 99 cent Pizza on Ninth behind the bus terminal (owned and operated by a crew of Bangladeshi harlequins). I down the last of 15 antibiotic pills from last week's ear crisis with a can of root beer and spend the next 45 minutes frantically searching a fare (ironic time for a lull in business as 4 am comes and goes).
A girl jumps in at Essex and Rivington, headed to Blissville (via BQE, McGuinness, and the G-point bridge). On her way to work. She didn't know the neighborhood's historic name. "Someone must've been happy when they named it." Actually it's named after mid-19th century developer Neziah Bliss and its only landmarks are the enormous tombstones at Cavalry. $15 for a 13.90 [meager tip (minus 5%) for an immaculate ride and free history lesson].
Over to Bedford's trusty hip strip again and I catch one to FIT. He's actually going to the Chase bank nearest 29th and Ninth. Online with his phone, he changes the destination twice and still isn't sure. Without saying a word I simply drive him to the branch on 27th and Seven (one I'm familiar with). $18 for a 15.10 (minus 5%).
At Eighth and 23rd I catch fare #4. He's just going to Penn Station, but our mutually spastic mannerisms jive well and feed of each others' high strings. We're there in 15 seconds and he gives me a fiver for 3.80. Then up on Eighth and 56th I find a good listener to hear out my rants while I drive him over the upper level to Astoria. He agrees this taxi life stuff sounds rough. Sixteen in cash for a 12.70. I don't rant for tips, believe me.
Back into the city and zig zag the east side and bingo at Third and 33rd. This one ain't cut and dried though. A drunk, fabulously flamboyant Irishman has lured three drunk Mexicans out into the street from a bar and kitchen he'd patronized while they were wrapping up their shift.
It took them a good three minutes to figure out who was going and where. I dropped 3 of them off at Queens Boulevard and 46th. The fourth one, who had been sitting front seat with his head dangling out of the window, was to continue all the way home to the beach neighborhood of Rockaway Park and pay the full fare for all of them. I bluntly asked why the well-to-do guero hadn't chipped in. He looked me in the eyes, and in spanish, with as sober a tone as he could muster, told me not to worry cause his brother's a cabbie and for that reason he couldn't wrong one if he wanted to. He then asked if he could take a nap. Como no? Claro que si!
As he snored through his thick drool (his repeated attempts to puke had all failed) on the door, I carefully (so as not to stir his stomach) made a right on Woodhaven and drove straight down to the ocean with the heat blasting to make up for the open window (see photo above). With the $1.80 toll it came out to 51.70. I waited 5 minutes while he went inside to get more cash. He paid $60, in all singles, and apologized for being a busboy. I felt bad for taking his hard earned cash, but I'm not the one who decided to get too drunk to take the A train home. Actually, it's a hell of a long way (end of the line) no matter how you slice it.
Just then the sun had risen (it was 7 am). I stopped for coffee and a donut and watched seagulls pass overhead while the radio announced that last night a 50 year old man in Ozone Park (just beyond the bay from there and one neighborhood over from mine) had lit a firecracker that ruptured his gut and killed him. Having been up since 10 am Monday morning, the surrealism of it all had me smirking like De Niro. Typical for sunrise on any shift consisting of those hours.
I drove back just the way I came and found a fare from Woodside back out to Kennedy. Three courteous men from Bangladesh (two of them cabdrivers) to catch an Emirates Airlines flight. $38 for a 33. Getting there was a breeze, but coming back would've been a standstill, so I stayed at the holding lot and took a two hour nap in the back seat. I was dispatched to the same terminal (4) I'd dropped off at. An East Asian lady and her curious, wide-eyed son of about 7 (who watched my every facial gesture and wheel maneuver) were on their way to the Sheraton near Times Square. The radio reported heavy traffic on the bridge so I took the tunnel and crossed at 42 with no delay. Meter read 50.30 and she asked me if $52 cash would be sufficient. I politely pointed out that 20% was customary for a good service. She added $2 to make it 54 and I got out to handle the luggage again, trying to not to show dismay. I assumed she simply wasn't used to proper tipping a la New York.
At that point it was 11:30 am and my friend Lluvia (Rain) boarded the front seat for a one hour copiloting tour. She had come to perform in an acrobatic show and was leaving for Oakland in the afternoon. We had three short, friendly, central Manhattan fares totaling $37. One of those actually only tipped 20 cents and another gave $20 cash for an 11.80 fare, which more than made up for it.
Remainder of afternoon:
Chelsea to East Village: $9 (minus 5%) for 7.40
Stuytown Loop to NYU Hospital: $6 for 4.60
Same spot (the driveway) to 7 World Trade (via FDR): $15 (minus 5%) for 13.80
TriBeCa to Chelsea: $10 (minus 5%) for 8.60
Back to Boerum Hill (Brooklyn) without a fare to end the shift.
Jimmy (the taxi garage cashier) said I'm dressed like a lumberjack. Between him, the lot attendants, the morning cashier and dispatcher: -$4 in tips. Gas is $44 (for 150 miles). MTA state surcharge is $8 (16 trips). Even though my total overhead (expenses) was $20 more than my net profit, I still made $150 clean cash "in the pocket" for me (minus self employment income taxes) for 1o hours of driving and a 2 hour nap. Not bad today, though I doubt Mitt, Newt, or any of those guys want my job.