Wednesday, January 14, 2009

1/03-1/04/2009: Humble Beginnings for 2009


Well it was so busy that saturday and it was mostly trips in Manhattan, so I didn't take much pictures. I kind of fell flat on the photography that weekend. all the subways I normally take from my parents apartment to the garage in Queens were either skipping my stop or not running, so I kept this in mind and tried as best I could to capitalize on the poor subway planning while I drove my cab. Half my attempts at picking up were failed, people were always hailing cabs at opposite ends of the street from where I was. 

the most aggravating moment was when I saw a mother and son come out of the subway station with a big duffle bag and a hockey stick. They started to head west and the mother quickly looked east towards the traffic. When I had the light I made my left on 23rd and drove past them really slow. She looked at me, all freaked out and stuff, and I tapped the brakes a little, then I stopped completely when I was about 10 feet in front of them. they ignored me, so I continued, turning around the corner to go back to the subway station again. I looked in my mirrors, and they were hopping into another cab. "GAHHH, I HATE STUPID PEOPLE." despite being alone in my own box, it was a statement worth shouting even if nobody could hear me. 


Somewhere in the middle of the day I brought a fare to my friend's old builiding in the meatpacking district. Standing only 300 feet further with her hand out in perfect form, was another customer. She directed me to her house in Brooklyn and immediately started her long cellphone conversation. I believe she was a woman of purpose. Everything from her furry winter hat to her words spoken, were carefully chosen to make people aware of her success. 

"I'm generally very busy from January 'till March." She would tell her poor friend. I imagined her friend as one who never gained any success and always wished she was as beautiful as this tall number thought she was. 

"I just finished a shoot, with so and so." She continued, my ears perked up, as I thought she might be in the photo business. It turned out she was on the other end of things. She wasn't the artist, rather the canvas, willing to be manipulated for money. Turns out she was on the show Americas Most Smartest Model. She went on about how they would save all the clips of weird facial expressions she made, and edit them in to every show to add tension and drama for the viewer. So she really wasn't as bad as they made her seem. Anyway, that all said, she was really cool, she gave me directions well, never raised her voice, never grew angry. She thanked me and gave me an appropriate tip. When a cab driver comes across such a person, a cabbie can only say one thing to him/herself: 'No matter how conceded, that woman has a good head on her shoulders and knows how to get things done.' Well I'm a huge television addict, but I've never seen that show, so I couldn't tell you who she was. Why do I think she was conceded, she dropped this bomb on the phone, 

"No, I don't think any of the other girls on the show could make it as models in the real world." Followed by, "The show was unnecessarily cruel to the cast sometimes." 

It all reminded me of being back in art school again, being all talk and no productivity. I have to say it was both exciting and disappointing to pick her up in a neighborhood that used to be untainted with money. She walked on the same sidewalk that was once paced by transvestite hookers, drug dealers, meat handlers, delivery people, supermarket employees, and of course middle-class and low income residents. Now the sidewalk was only walked by the haves, and those that pretended to have.

Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn


I tried to make the money I did on saturday, but it wasn't in the cards. Everyone was waiting for buses or taking alternate subways rather than hailing me when their subway didn't run as expected. And then there was this guy:

It was 5 am and he was on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 59th. He tried to hail all the cabs that he could as I waited on the opposite side of the red light, none gave him enough of a try, deciding to end their shift and head over the bridge. I crossed my lanes of traffic when the light turned green figuring the cab on the left would get to him first, but the cab exhibited cunning politeness and waited for me to cross the lanes to pick him-up. Normally everybody fights for a fare, but not this guy, nobody wanted him, and I'd drawn the last straw. 

"Brooklyn," he said. Brooklyn is cool, real cool, but when people hail me and appear not to have come out of an establishment (restaurant, club, bar, anything) than I worry a little, just how far into Brooklyn. There is a side of Brooklyn at night that resembles the dark side of the moon, and when a cab driver goes there, he or she leaves feeling grateful to have left with their life. There is a Brooklyn of industry, where not a sound is heard for miles, than there is a part of Brooklyn, many parts, where massive groups of housing projects are laced with winding city streets, and again, nobody cares to hear you scream.

So I asked, "Where in Brooklyn?" 

To which he replied, "Rogers Avenue," Shoot I don't know Brooklyn past the park, so it sounded far, it sounded eerily familiar. 

"Oh I got to go off duty in like 20 minutes man." I lied, I felt guilty, but I also was nervous. 

Here was a guy, I forgot to mention who right after hopping in my cab, tells me about how he, "Was banging this white girl in front of her boyfriend and how she was all saying how her man couldn't do it like he could, while he was finger popin'." Umm yeah, so I thought he might have had some pathological disorder.

"Oh that's cool man, don't worry," he told me, "It's like right over the bridge, like only 6 blocks after the bridge." I chose to believe him, I felt guilty for lying to him. And so chose to enroll in our game of lying to each other. He gave me pretty good directions, though they required him to tell me where to go every 6 blocks or so because he didn't want to admit how far it was. We were in the East Village right behind a cop car when he asked a passerby for a cigarette It is illegal to smoke in my car, but I don't cause a fuss about that, the cops didn't care either, that's the TLC's jurisdiction. The guy who gave him the cigarette asked for 2 dollars for it, but gave him one for free. 

After the guy handed him a cigarette my customer shouted, "Motherfucker was going to charge me 2 dollas for a fuckin' cigareete, Fuck you, I'll fuckin' shoot you full of bullits motherfucker. 

Holy jesus- "HAHAHAHAHA," I say, trying to be the best gangsta child I can be. I got a fuckin' lunatic in my car. And again it seems that he's really more pathetic than dangerous because he yelled at him after his back was turned. When we finally get to his destination it's 23 dollars which he pays without tip on a credit card. This takes about 1 dollar and 13 cents from my pocket. Then he asks for 40 dollars cash back on another swipe, I performed this for him too, again because I felt guilty and unprofessional for lying to him, so I lose another 2 dollars on that. So his ride turns into a 20 dollar ride which considering the vacancy of Manhattan probably was still decent.


Down Flatbush Avenue I returned to Manhattan, he wasn't too far into Brooklyn, just on the borders of scary but not really there yet. I look around for fares back in my neck of the woods, Lower East Side, East Village, Grammercy. I get a guy who has to get to Grand Central Station from Houston Street. He was my favorite typecast of fare, probably worked all night long and now going home. He found Ketchup smeared all over the seat, and fortunately I had enough napkins for him to wipe it up. It was bad enough I didn't get a tip from that guy who went to Brooklyn, but to smoke, to shout about killing, and fucking people, to smear ketchup all over the seats, and to treat me like a cash machine, it wasn't very cool.


Hell's Kitchen


Jill said...

Hi did you notice that you put 2008 in your title instead of 2009? It's been happening to me all week.

NYC taxi photo said...

Oh darn, Thank you so much, I'll change that right away. Let me know of anything else too.

Izcariot said...

I don't take cabs often (I'm young and earning little) although every time I do it I enjoy it, as u say I feel like I'm being part of a NYC icon, even though it's only for a couple of minutes, most of my trips are on the 5-10 Dls range, do u usually get tips on this rides?

NYC taxi photo said...

yes, I expect a tip to be rounded up to the nearest dollar when at or around 5 bucks. and when it's around 10 bucks i expect a dollar tip. when its twenty i expect 2 dollars and sometimes get 3.

basically i guess the standard tip is 10%, but it varies between 0% and 50% tips. giving a dollar extra is fine.

King of New York Hacks said...

when I have a crazy dude in the car he gets dropped off at the nearest patrol car and I still get my 20. I'm not in this business to cater as a cash machine for no tip, because now he'll do it to every driver and try to intimidate them if they dont.
F-That, nearest patrol car , lock doors , talk to cop, end game. I've done this 5 times this year, got paid and no nerves get jarred, We don't make enough just because we lied . Be safe my man, a guy like that is a time bomb who will want more than you have in cash for what he can charge on his card,be careful my brother.