Thursday, December 18, 2008

12/6-12/7, 1st Weekend of December

Lucky day! I scrambled around wherever I usually go, I don't even remember, but then I waited only 5 minutes in front of an residence and a woman steps in and wants La Guardia. It was the perfect time, 6:30 a.m. , perfect for waiting. 

LaGuardia Airport, Queens

There was something I really needed to do. I had to buy the proper book for out of town rates. For 2 years I'd been using the Hagstrom Taxi Driver's Guide (yellow), when I should've been carrying the MTS Taxi/Chauffeur & Tourist Guide (blue). The difference is that the blue book is much more extensive with directions, locations, general information, plus it lists all out of town rates at 4 dollars a mile, while the yellow book lists fares at 2 dollars a mile. The T&LC states that Westchester and Nassau County trips are double our standard city fare, and rather than leaving the multiplication to the driver, the blue book lists the actual estimate. So I feel much more official with the purchase of the book. New Jersey fares and beyond are just a suggestion, but it helps to get something more accurate.

The airport experience was great. I don't usually wait at the airport because I  fear there is too much risk in waiting all shift and loosing all profit, but I found out the next departing flight was in only one hour. Since the line was single file I didn't risk getting trapped in a big yellow parking lot. It was a really nice way to spend the sunrise, I didn't catch that flight, but the one after it, yet still waiting two hours during the dead time, during a dead season, as far as the early morning weekend was concerned, wasn't so bad. I got to stretch my legs, turn the engine off, walk around the arrival terminal, see the flight schedule monitor, what a human experience.  

Sunnyside, Queens
Traffic lights look a lot bigger when they're at street level, swinging from a crane.

Times Square

West Midtown
Key strategy, as I'm sure all the New York taxi bloggers will tell you, is spacing yourself from other traffic and especially other empty cabs. I clearly am not doing the best job of that, but it is clear that the other cabbie and I are in the foreground are competing to be last in the traffic wave. In the background, a big clump of traffic and a whole string of cabs.

The less demand for taxicabs, the further the spacing between empty cabs should be as it is best to give yourself the optimum amount of time to grab a fare. Another good strategy is to pick your favorite neighborhood and continuously make turns down side streets and major Avenues; thus avoiding a monotonous, unprosperous, gas guzzling trek in one direction fighting unnecessary battles with other idiot taxi drivers. The tortoise beats the hare, the slow and steady driver who carries through a good strategy while gaining familiarity with his/her territory will do better, and have less moving violations and accidents, and so on, and so on. Of course when the meter is on, the most quick efficient ride is best. In other words, drive fast with people, slow when empty.

West Midtown near Port Authority Bus Depot

Midtown/ front seat 
Speaking of idiocy, I thought I may have ran a red light while making a turn with a fare, so I searched for wifi access after I dropped her off and looked up red light cameras. Err, I don't know if I actually found what I was looking for, but I convinced myself I did, and that's all that really matters 

I as most New Yorkers, am not the biggest NASCAR fan. I love cars, I love watching them race too, but seeing a lot of the same car racing around an oval track doesn't do it for me. Nonetheless I was pretty excited when I pulled up beside the stretch limo that I assume was driving around a some NASCAR dude. I quickly fantasized that I was driving right next to the best of the best in American racing, and it sent my heart racing, racing much faster than the two miles an hour we were driving. Within the next few hours I saw two limos with NASCAR flags parallel parking at the Waldorff Astoria Hotel. Whenever tourists would ask what was up that day, even the day after, I'd tell them about the Nascar thing going on at the top hotel. 

I gotta say I felt a lot more excited passing the NASCAR limo than I did when the Pope Mobile passed me earlier this summer, this was probably because the Pope Mobile was empty when it passed. And even when I waited for the Pope motorcade, there was too much distance and security to really feel connected with the moment. I felt so much more connected to the serendipitous moment being nearly inches from race car driver, and after all, race car drivers are the bishops of all professional drivers. Now if only they could make right turns, that'd be exciting.

So I took some people up to the Hotel randomly, and I told them about it. This was a prime opportunity since they were from Texas, and since Texas and New York are so very different, I figured NASCAR was big there. They told me they heard Tom Cruise was there, along with some other stars too. The wife said she wanted to crash the party but she had no idea what to do with her hair. I told them they should go for it, just pretend they belonged. Ah good people, but still I have to wonder, what the crap is NASCAR doing in New York!! I'll out race those fools on these streets any day, well, first I have to learn manual, and umm, maybe I should learn something about fixing cars, then I'll be ready.

Ah and what would December be without a little shopping congestion. Above, the holiday extra restrictions, no right turns on 55th, 53rd, and 51st, from 5th Avenue. Also there is extra traffic police, and they often don't let you make right turns in the 50's from 6th Avenue either.

And above again, the express bus thought it could make it through the light. Does this count as through? No matter, they don't give them tickets. We all often stop just after the crosswalk line thinking maybe we might be able to get through the light but then we fail to do it. The brave new tourist manage the trek across the Avenue just past all the exhaust pipes.

I wanted to make this left too, I was empty, I was done, done with 5th Avenue thanks. You have to be real patient to make these turns, but yet aggressive, passively aggressive I guess. The black Mercedez didn't make it across 5th Ave before the tourists took charge, and left him to block the two left lanes.

Depression/recession, solution: Canal Street! Busier than ever.

Now there's something we can all agree on.

Jackson Heights, Queens
Somebody took me across the Williamsburg Bridge to his place in Jackson Heights, with good directions. But this marked a key point in my career, getting back. Finally I'd found the entrance back to the BQE. So many times I'd follow the signs and get thrown for a loop, then another loop, then another loop. It's simple really once you ignore the damn signs, at 34th Ave and the underpass. From Broadway I seemed to find my way, and all the signs here were accurate, unlike the ones in the area surrounding. I'd be tested the next week.

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Oh holiday tree, oh holiday tree, how lovely are thy plastic wrap. 

I another fare out to LaGuardia and so again I set out to find the same taxi line. I was an hour later so there were a bunch more cabs. I got a nice surprise when the guy who pulled up right behind me was Mr. B, the dude I usually talk with before we both pick up our cabs at the same time, out of 13,000 or so cabs in New York, what are the odds. He told me to pull in to the adjacent lane, and we both headed in the Terminal for a bathroom break. There were no arriving flights listed on the monitors in the Terminal so we got nervous and though better of staying at that hold lot, maybe we'd try our luck with another. I went over to the Starbucks, but canceled that craving when I saw the extra premium airport price. We pulled out of the lot but I couldn't get away without answering the nervous questions of the other cabbies, always looking for a tip like a mad broker running through the NY Stock Exchange. 

"There weren't listed arrival times on the monitor, so I don't want to get trapped here," I told each person. After answering the queries I'd lost B. I was at the wrong line anyway, so I got to the better one, but apparently I'd cut in front of four cabs around the corner. A cabbie politely told me, no really he was pretty polite, he could tell I wasn't too familiar with the craziness. I still made a good wage that day in total, but I wound up staying at Laguardia for a total of three hours before I got a fare into Manhattan. I didn't have the luxury of waiting inside the terminal this time because I wasn't parked close enough. I also didn't want to turn my car off and on too many times, the cold weather doesn't do a starter good, especially when it has 150k on it.

An excellent tip from me to you is to walk down either Mott Street or Grand Street when touring New York's Chinatown. The heart of Chinatown is not Canal Street, dedicated only to swindling suckers with shoddy merchandise, but the heart is on these small streets East of Broadway, and East Broadway itself, with bargainers shouting for competitive prices on every vegetable and more, including live frogs and other sea things.



King of New York Hacks said...

Happy Birthday brother, and sorry about the Vanderbilt anniversary coinciding with the date LOL All the best to you in the next year !!! We keep the pulse of this city beating !!

Jennifer said...

NYC--Great pictures as always. I was away for a couple weeks, but it was great coming back and catching up with your stories. Any ideas for New Years in NYC? My girlfriends and I are coming into town.

NYC taxi photo said...

I dunno, m friend is coming down too, and I totally got to do something fun. It's pretty hard to make a plan on a low budget, ad a low tolerance for crowds.

Anonymous said...

MTS Taxi/Chauffeur & Tourist Guide (blue).
Please tell me where I can pick up a copy in NYC?

NYC taxi photo said...

YES anonymous- you can pick it up when you drive into the terminal D holding lot at LaGuardia. purchase the book from the food truck vendor. please let me know if you get it.

ben said...

i love the black and white time's square shot — what a capture. it's not easy to snap a unique photo of that area.

Gusgamashuq Abunoori said...

About the current picture on the very top of the website: there are/were camels crossing the street in Manhattan? That's awesome. My favorite animal, besides the raccoon. I like how you keep refreshing that title space. Keeps your blog fresh.

NYC taxi photo said...

thanks gil, I wish I could update the blog more too. I appreciate it, oh and i got your number, thanks for that too, not sure what your work schedule/sleep schedule is if i were to get lost again.

Gusgamashuq Abunoori said...

You can call me anytime day/night and leave a message if I don't answer. I check my voice mail immediately and return the call. My schedule is often two double shifts and a single. So on Sunday at about 3 am I'll roll out of the garage and won't stop cruising the streets until 3 am on Monday morning, except for a break somewhere in the middle. Then I'll go home and crash until Tuesday or Wednesday and pick up another 24 hour shift. Then on Friday I usually pick up one last single (12 hour) day shift.

NYC taxi photo said...

cool, that's a pretty cool schedule. I've heard a few cabbies say sunday nights are good, and personally and from what i've heard, sunday morning is good too. I mean it's all a crap shoot really. I might drive more if i felt more comfortable with taking a car anytime without questions or interrogation. my schedule for a good while is pretty much saturday and sunday 3am to 3pm