It is hard to believe it has been 3 and a half years since I first drove the taxi. It never gets too easy, but it is far smoother than it used to be. The following was my first ever:
My first fare ever came from the building that I was born and raised in. I drove around for an hour or more before I finally got that ride, and it was like a sign from above that of all the places I'd tried, my first would come from this small tenement where I breathed my first breath, and walked my first steps.
He wanted to go to LaGuardia. I asked him if he'd like to take the Williamsburg Bridge, and he seemed indignant from that point on, "Why would I want to take the Williamsburg Bridge?" He asked, "Just take the Midtown Tunnel." Then he told me that he wasn't actually going to the airport, but to a rental place nearby, which was the least of my problems, as it was my first ride, and I was struggling to find which highways to take. Every time I acted uncertain with my direction, he would make a suggestion. Every suggestion he made was wrong. He eventually took the map from me and tried to find it, which we eventually did. If I had gone with my instincts and not let on that I was so new we'd have probably been fine. But I was screwed from the beginning because if I'd have gone the way I knew best he'd have thought I was taking the wrong direction.
There is no winning with that type of customer, and I suppose it was karma that we both wound up with each other. We deserved each other for that moment, I would learn a lesson about the potential trouble I could get into if I wasn't assertive enough, and he deserved to get his smart ass in a car with an idiot cab driver like myself. He even asked me how it is possible that a cab driver doesn't know how to get to the airport. I was trained with maps in a classroom and told specific routes to the airports, but the driving experience is on the job. I told him that I'd gone to Shea Stadium dozens of times before, but I always took the Williamsburg Bridge, so I wasn't familiar with the directions from the tunnel. See a real New Yorker who grows up in the East Village would never take the Midtown tunnel, but a taxi rider would much rather take the fastest way possible.
Just thought I'd shed that story, it's been stuffed up in my memory banks for more than 3 years now. Water under the bridge, I've since taken many of rides successfully to the airports, and still a few screw ups here and there. While I can't say that he was the worst ride, he definitely ranks up in the top 10.
The way to overcome this rider is to:
- Know a trusty route to the airports from the neighborhood, you're in
- To know it like the back of your hand, lane, by lane.
- As you progress, know 2 routes, then 3,
- And then start piecing together the major streets by the exits, the major streets of Brooklyn and Queens, and piece together the alternate routes, MAJOR, nothing too small.
BUT don't stray from your usual route, unless:
- You're sure that it would be faster, and
- You know the exact specifics turn by turn, because you've been down all the roads before.
There is nothing better than experience, without it, we are nothing.
Stay tuned tomorrow, for a look at Randall's Island. part one posts here at nyctaxiphoto, and part two is already up at http://tracingnewyork.blogspot.com/