Monday, May 7, 2007

A Flat Tire

East Village, Manhattan

I was lucky to have a fare at such a time at 6:30 am and I just came back from another very lucky ride to Bay Ridge. We hadn't gone but 2 blocks, when the car started to rumble, as if it had caught something in the undercarriage. The rumbling in seconds became worse, and soon enough it seemed clear that we had a flat tire. So I pulled over, coincidentally right where I used to work for 2 years, back in 1999. Sure enough the right rear tire was flat. Cabs in front and behind were bidding for her ridership as they saw my situation. The guy behind me took her, and he wished me good luck. She asked if she should pay, I told her that it was up to her, and she paid me 5 bucks, the fare was at 3.30. 

So I enjoyed the moment of peace as I serendipitously was at the place where I used to work.

Then I called the garage. "J" let me have it for a split second and then he told me a guy would be on his way. I decided to walk down to the Yaffa Cafe and get a coffee and work a quick piss in. They were nice enough to tell me that I didn't need to buy anything to pee, but I wanted the coffee anyway. Ah memories, old friends and I went to the Yaffa after barhopping ‘till 3 or 4 in those days. But back when I had more then a few drinks, I never remembered the outrageous prices. The coffee was 2.17 and they had no soymilk. I paid 3.17 since it was more of a restaurant. The coffee SUCKED, one more place to cross off the list. The food wasn’t ever memorable either.

I returned to my abandoned car with its flashers on amongst a flock of lonely parking meters. And I sat in the rear and checked the trip sheet, counted money, took pictures, drank coffee, stepped out of the car, went back in, sat in the back again, then stepped outside. What time is it? I thought to myself. Where the fuck was my phone? I lost it somewhere, but where? I searched the front, I searched all my cell phone pockets, the glove compartment, the trunk (why the trunk? no it wasn't there) then I went in the back again, and there was a little pocket of space in the seat where all sorts of things were: 

1. A 'Halls' gum, wrapped and sealed

2. An IRS paper stating the work address, home address, and social sec. number of a certain Mr. someone. But now who was this? Were they my ride? Or was this person from another shift? 

3. A 20-dollar bill folded or crumpled so small, that it was 1/8th by 1/8th of an inch. So she was a big tipper.... hmm, 
well it was all piecing together as not long ago a transvestite who worked at Lucky Cheng's (a themed restaurant as indicated on the IRS slip), was the same individual who dropped these items in the seat.

4. My cell phone.

She told me she was a good tipper. She also asked me if she was the freakiest person I’ve had in my cab, my response: yes actually, but I’d expected freakier sooner, since I’d been driving 2 years now. (Actually in retrospect I recall one or two other men dressed as women, but they weren’t memorable, they didn’t register as official transvestites. This one was working as one, and the others probably only dressed as women four times a year, and half-assed I might add.) She searched through her purse to pay, and the tip was pretty good, but to have gained another 20 and some personal information such as an IRS slip, passed my time with a flat tire rather nicely. Guess what, the transvestite wait staff at c's, the famous Chinese restaurant, earn only $4.60 an hour. Of course all wait-staff and bartenders work for the tips as we know. 

Eventually the service car arrived after a little more than a half an hour. He even turned on the siren, they just installed yellow sirens on the top of the junk taxi they drive. Behind his partition laid 3 full tires with wheels in the passenger bay, stripped of seats. The partition window was shut to keep out the smell of grease and rubber I assume. In the trunk "D.W." pulled out the full jack, the trunk was stripped of all carpeting. I told him I thought my back seat was loose, but it turned out it was ok. I tipped him a little. And was off to find more fares.

Service Vehicle

Because of the timing, the flat tire didn't ruin the day. After the tire was replaced, I got a fare to Corona Queens, and then from around Lefrak City I got a ride to Main Street. Despite the 5-Borough Bike Tour dividing Manhattan's crosstown streets with a wall of moving bicycle's from the south tip to Central Park between 10am and 11:30, 2nd avenue being closed from 57th street to 42nd, and Broadway through SoHo, both from 10 am 'till 6 I did ok by mostly staying far enough east and making sure people didn't want to cross 6th Avenue.

P.S. I mailed the IRS paper to their home address.


Ted Martin said...

What is the late fee mentioned at the bottom of the trip sheet? Is that for returning the car late?

NYC taxi photo said...

yeah, i only got hit with the late fee once when i was a half hour late. now i sometimes get there 15 minutes late and they don't say anything, espicially since most people pick up the car at 5, and mine is due back at 2 or 3.

Some garages will charge 5 dollars or 10 dollars per minute when it's late. This garage may do that sometimes too.

anyway, i try to be a good leaser and return the car on time everytime.

Unknown said...


I just came across your wonderful blog. It's absolutely fantastic! It looks like you haven't been posting lately, but I'm wondering if we could reprint one of your older posts, "A Flat Tire," from May 7, 2007 on WorkersWrite, a website created by the National Writers Union to encourage workers (of all stripes!) to tell stories about their working lives. We're creating a new category on the site called "Taxi! Stories," and I'd love to include this post of yours. Of course, we would credit you, and link back to your site. Thank you!
Rose Imperato
Editor, WorkersWrite

NYC taxi photo said...

Yes absolutely! I just looked at your website and I love it. I'm still ding this job, sort of, although the car I drive is now black, and I kinda sorta own it. Uber, Juno, Lyft, and Via work now.

please do add my story, and thanks for reminding me of this story, it was back when I definitely put better effort into my stories. I did way back when, put the blog posts that I thought were the best posts, in this link here:

but I may have gotten too bogged down with the details there and eliminated the development and flow of the stories in doing so.

my more current stuff and exploits, I post about on my twitter @nyctaxiphoto
I am also the "uber driver" who achieved what I believe to be the record for consecutive traffic lights driven through before reaching a red at 236, this past year in December.