Friday, December 12, 2008

11/30: Where There's Smoke...

This day was a crazy busy day. It definitely proved the rule that the rainy day adds income, but often that doesn't always prove true. We had the full house though: of late drinking, incoming rain, and persisting rain with the increase of holiday shopping. I had a weird fare that night, and I'm not very proud of it. I picked them up in front of my favorite spot, usually a very reliable spot for people who've had sometime to let the alcohol out of their system.

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Sexy Sleepy Uncool, X+Y=Wrong-
Quite often I get people who remark at how late it is, which is always a good sign that they are actually concerned about getting up early and therefore partake in no funny business in the cab. People who know what time it is often are aware on all other fronts; they know where they are going, they want to get there with smoothness and timeliness,  and they have knowledge of how much cash or credit they have on hand.

These two however, possessed few if any, of these attributes. Before I picked them up they took a corner in the diorama out my passenger window, holding each other and kissing, trying as best they could to combine into some sort of unified super freak. They were at it so good, that I figured I'd get someone else who wasn't as pre-occupied before they were ready to jump in to a cab. 

However before I knew it they went right in and requested, eventually requested, Queens, or was it the Upper West Side, they couldn't decide too quickly, but eventually sided for Queens first and then a second stop back in Manhattan. 

She told me the directions consisting of the midtown tunnel, and two highways, and then, she said, she'd "Tell me from there." Well the first time I double checked with them that I was going the right way, she was sans blouse mounted on the dude, and neither of them would pay me any mind. I was on the merger to the GCP and we were all having a difficult time getting around two battered BMW's and another innocent car in between. I'm only familiar with Queens up to a certain point, anything past Shea Stadium and I need lots of help so I was trying to hide my fear. I took the GCP the wrong way of course, then after asking twice more ten minutes had gone by and they were both asleep, or might as well have been, since the guy who looked like a reject from the movie Trainspotting with a british accent and the faux fashion of a redneck, was wide eyed, but couldn't give me any help. He didn't tell me he couldn't help, he just stared straight ahead without saying a word. She, the Brittany Spears double, had gone from riding him slowly, to asleep on him within a minute, and he'd followed by sleeping too. I was totally perplexed by them. 'Is this how you do it?' I thought. 'One gets on top of the other and then falls asleep?' I started to think they were made for each other since they both slept at the same time, but then I thought maybe it was drugs. And shit if it was drugs, I had a whole other set of things to worry about, I don't want any death or, kidnapping or who knows what being done through this vehicle. Eventually after turning here, and there, several times, with the guy just staring straight ahead un-responsive, and the girl in the corner catching up on some rest, I managed to get a hold of them. I couldn't go any further, it was my last resort, every exit I'd taken, I'd totally lost all sense of direction, and I needed simple and correct directions that instant. I got him to ask her where she lived, 

"If I can just get her to tell me where she lives." I said, "Then I might be able to find out how to get her home." 

I gave him the map and a pen. These were very strange objects to her, they might as well have been a stuffed bunny and a rattle, that was the level she was on. I was on my knees up on my middle arm rest attending to the rear through my partition like a bank teller asking for a simple signature. "Just tell me where you live." She moved! her head turned up to me, and she repeated the command, "Where I live?" 

"Yes, just use the pen and circle where you live." 

I told him the neighborhood where she said she was supposed to go, to give them a starting point. He pointed to that spot on the map, and she found her house just above that in a whole other neighborhood just above it. Finally I had a destination, but I was totally fooling myself if I thought I knew where I was. Every time I passed a numbered street I guessed the next street I would pass wrongly. It turned out everywhere I went I was about 1 mile south or 1 mile east, which threw off every move I made. It was kind of like doing algebra where x+y=wrong. The guy had grown weary. 

"Xcuse me mate, but I have to take a wiz," he admitted.
"Oh sure, go ahead," I said, and pulled to a stop by a random strip mall on the edge of the earth or Queens. At least there was something I could do right for them. He stepped out leaving the door open and pissed behind a bush. She started to freak out, she grabbed hold of the middle seat-belt and said, "Someone fix this" 

"Fix what?" I turned and watched, her exasperation didn't match the predicament. Was she complaining about a seat-belt? 

"This, this isn't right, I don't like this?" 

"Fix what? What's wrong? Are you okay?"

She thought about it in tears, and she goes, "No," making the hugest puppy dog eyes you ever saw. So I walk around to see either if I should fix a seat belt, or if I should fix another situation, perhaps block the guy from view so she can tell me if he's the problem, but then he comes out of the bushes I walk casually back to the driver's seat, and she gets really happy to see him again. We'd played peekaboo with her heart, and now this teenage baby was happy again. 

Miracle of miracles, now that her emotions had been jostled by our game of hide the boyfriend, she was able to help. Just before I was about to head back on a highway in the wrong direction for the 3rd time, she told me that if I turned around on this road, she'd direct me where to go. The pain, the agony, it was all over, and in 5 minutes, we'd finally arrived at the building. The boy laughed at the meter, "It's a bit high don't you think?" 

Normally I would grant them that, but I asked them how to get there so many times, and drove around frantically being stuck in some sort of episode of The Twilight Zone, where it seemed I was always almost there. If only I had my own personal GPS. So I responded the only way I deemed right that time, "Well, if you'd given me better directions to your home I would've gotten you here much faster. In this time I would've probably made more money on smaller fares." They understood, well, she understood, swiped her credit card, gave me a ten dollar tip, and even thanked me for my patience. 


Back To Business-
I stopped at Laguardia Airport to use the bathroom, and grabbed a fare from one terminal to the next as it started to rain, then went back to Manhattan, hoping to keep all the early birds dry. 

Times Square

If you're lucky enough to be dry while seeing the city go through the wash, it's pretty inspiring. The pavement reflects the colors back, creating the illusion of an even larger metropolis. And during the fall season, the warm underground pushes steam upward to react with our world. I'm guessing you've all seen the movie Taxi Driver and even in the newer Conspiracy Theory, the cinematographers used the urban geyser as visual poetry to symbolize the underbelly and the hidden world of New York City.


East Harlem


So where there's smoke, there is most often just a false alarm, but in this case, there was a full blown alarm on Sunday. Surprisingly only two fire engines were called, but perhaps more were on the way.

One last trip from Downtown to the Theatre District. this is too common, gridlock on Broome Street. All those people going to New Jersey blocking the flow of traffic on 6th Avenue, leaving only enough space for one car at a time to squeeze through. Now imagine what it's like a few hours later when traffic gets bad. 


Anonymous said...

I love reading your posts. Seriously though how come you don't have a gps for situations like these? They're really cheap now... in fact my dad just picked one up from Staples for something like $130. Hey it's a business expense too, right?

NYC taxi photo said...

You're probably right. I haven't bought one (yet?) because:

1. If I buy a GPS I will be admitting to myself that this is my permanent job, something worth investing in, and I'm not sure I want to make that commitment yet.

2. I love technology, but I don't know if technology loves me back. I need a GPS that is easy to use, accurate, and can inform me of live traffic problems. it sounds simple, but i'm not sure they make an affordable, or even an expensive one that can do all of that.

But I suppose in situations like these any gps would suffice.

Jennifer said...

I'm so anti-GPS it's not funny. All my friends have them and love them, but call me old-fashioned, I just love the feel of a paper map and the challenge of figuring it out on my own. Not to mention, I hate the sound of some computer-generated voice telling me that I'm going the wrong way..."recalculating..."