Monday, April 6, 2009

Searching for crispy dollar bills: Me, myself, the economy, the media, and the taxi blogosphere, Oh, and why I decided to become a blogger

The perfect bill-
Abut a month in to the taxi career I started to be compulsive with the paper money I saved for change making. The money I saved specifically to hold in the cab had to be of a certain quality. Each bill had to be of a certain thickness, practically new but still shuffled through consumers hands for at least a few months. If a bill was too new or too old it would feel inadequate and latch on to its fellow bills, bills that were in the prime of their circulating lives. I thought it was only me who had become such a paper money separatist, but I saw another driver ask for change from the dispatcher than quickly exchange one bill for another, "This one is too old," he said.

We need the best quality in our bills, because we can then make change for the customer faster, if bills start sticking or folding they will throw off the whole change making process. It has become increasingly difficult to find a good dollar bill now a days. If I go to the bank, the bills are too new, and if I purchase something, which I rarely do, I receive change in over-circulated bills that are past their prime. The strippers and bartenders must be suffering and hence not taking cabs as often.

The profit-
I'm counting my moneys at the moment and I thought I'd shed some light on the money situation. As far as my income goes, I can't complain much. I do remember when I started a few years ago I overheard quite a few drivers speak of one-hundred fifty as the average profit for a shift. I strived to take home one-hundred and fifty at the time, then soon enough it was one-sixty. Some rare days I came out with profits higher, and occasionally there were days lower. The unpredictability of the job makes it hard to average it out fairly, but I think my average might be down to a hundred-thirty now.

Still there are some days when I strike big, but they are fewer and farther between. The low profit days grew more constant from February through March; a day just over a hundred, or a poorly planned day below a hundred, but the averages are creeping back up to one-twenty or one-thirty. And still who'd we be to complain, for at least we have jobs. Taxi driving must be understood as the difficult profession that it is though.

Gone but not forgotten: NYC taxi blogs-
I've seen examples of the fruitlessness of the taxi pursuit just from sitting at home and perusing the internet, remembering the taxi bloggers that once were. There was the blogger who'd taken his viewers on a journey through taxi school, only to have made forty dollars on his first day. Soon after without so much as a report on what had gone wrong, the blog just disappeared as if it never existed. You can find his current blog at: His flickr photo set, the only evidence that he'd once tried his hand at the adventure is here: The First Week. Another fantastic taxi blog with a unique approach was Buddha Cab. Buddha cab took a humble perspective to the career, while mentioning his ventures in Buddhism. It was the most honest and unique taxi blog, and a true inspiration. His career might have ended with a lawsuit from a car accident I imagine, but I could be totally off base. Most likely he's a registered nurse these days, a very dependable and honorable career. And Lets not forget New York Hack, a blog that became quickly so popular for its bluntness and unique perspective, that it spawned a book, and a very good book at that. She wrote that it was way too much to take as a career, though very worth while. Her blog was a huge inspiration to me as well. 

It was through reading her blog along with Cabs Are For Kissing and another blog that I don't even recall, that I decided to enter the blogging universe. The writing in these three blogs, were terrific. Cabs Are For Kissing is still going, and still going very strong with great dedication placed in each posting. So I figured, how hard could it be, I took a little inspiration from C. F. Kissing and a little from the N. Y. Hack, and I got started. I was also inspired greatly from David Bradford, who published two books of his photography shot while driving his cab. I believe he may still be out on our streets, driving and shooting. Soon on I discovered both the tasks of remembering the moments of my shift to write about and producing good photographs, to be more difficult than I anticipated. G.S. the author of C. F. Kissing, was first to comment on my blog and include me on his list of links quickly, now that's class.

The New York Taxi blogs that exist today and still post about current taxi driving experiences are: the aforementioned Cabs Are For Kissing, as well as Taxicab Almanac of NYC, The King of New York Hacks, and Hack Shots of New York. The secondary blog of C. F. Kissing, is Pictures From a Taxi, and from Taxicab Almanac is Tips for NYC Cab Drivers. There were several other taxi blogs both local and international, that have stopped as soon as they began, and come tomorrow, who knows, which blog will continue, I sometimes wonder how long I can keep this going.

The media interpretation is often misled-
A one-thirty daily profit averages to ten dollars and eighty-three cents per day. There was a recent New York Times article that cited a survey done by the Taxi and Limousine Commission through their data from the GPS units, which stated that the average cabbie only works nine hours per day, rather than the twelve everyone was thought to believe. However this information is incorrect because our GPS units switch to off-duty when we shut the engine off while waiting for fares; the waiting takes between one to three hours. Also we need to leave between 30 and 60 minutes of log off time to manage a timely return of our cabs to the garage. I usually take a 20 minute break for a meal, but lately I've been waiting for longer periods between fares, as the prime times for picking up passengers are smaller. The survey also stated that the number of fares has stayed the same, but it wasn't reported in the survey that due to the larger numbers of working cab drivers, the average number of trips a taxi provides are lower. The article can be found here: Credit Cards Help Drivers. And I agree, credit cards are helping, but please give the tip in cash, so we don't have to pay a higher 5% surcharge.

The independent contract: 15% tax
Oh and my taxes, this really bites. I give double tax to the IRS because of the independent contract. I find it interesting that Mayor Bloomberg has supported the Freelancers Union, but doesn't offer any sympathies to the cab drivers, yet we are all in the same boat. We are suffering because the government has created a loophole for our money hungry employers. Oops did I say employers? I meant to say our clients, since we are technically not employed, which makes it even harder to find another job.


roy said...

Up to rank 6 now, I'm mad jealous!
Keep it up! you'll get to ten eventually'll be bigger than google!

Bum Atom said...

Dude I had to look up Travis Bickle
I kinda want a mohawk it's funny cause I'm about to play the movie Perth
Great post
Taxi Bloggers
I need to develop an approach to the photography
I can't work days I'd be so unhappy with traffic so I'm thinking about upgradding to a new Camera I.m using a G10
But I'm so pissed off in the cab since money is non existent I haven't felt any inspiration. this post made me to totally relate. Taxihood is tough. The blog is incredible
My mom bought me "Hack". Yeah it inspired me, But I've been exposed to a much harsher reality it seems. I'm a risk taker.

NYC taxi photo said...

Roy, I always think I'm one of the lesser read ones, and I just told my mom today to take my site off her default homepage because it's messing up my site meter count. that google page rank is the only thing that makes my blog look good.

and taxitalk, I agree, I think you've been exposed to more too. on the downside, a mohawk might freak out your fares, but on the upside, a mohawk might freak out your fares.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


roy said...

I'll answer for NYC taxi photo (lucky) just this once:
Please keep commenting! it's what helps us bloggers to keep going.
I bet your comment made him smile
And ALL you other readers
Leave a bleedin' comment!

NYC taxi photo said...

thanks again, the comments, no matter the level of sincerity are always appreciated. I love the appreciation, always.