The sun had just risen and in the usual dead time that involved waiting somewhere between 15 minutes to a few hours, I'd gotten somebody. He was a fire safety inspector, and he just recieved a phone call as we went directly across town.
"Hello. You did WHAT!? No don't put that there, you know he's gonna break it." Long pause, "How many times do I have to tell you that is a bad place to put the full length mirrors. They always fall, and it's bound to cause a very bad accident."
Well I don't remember the call exactly, but it went something along those lines. He got off the phone and told me how long he was working that day, that he needed the day to finally be over so he could go home already. Somebody already broke, a side-view mirror on a truck earlier, and nobody would take the responsibility to claim the damage.
He was the perfect fare to have, blue collar but working for a long while with a good pension plan. Though he was fed-up with work that day, I could tell he was also proud of his career. All his grey hairs indicated he put in enough years that these everyday stresses were all manageable. He wasn't some twenty something who was in way over his head, on the contrary his head was way over this.
The importance of this fare comes here. He tells me that the big worry in New York isn't fireproofing, the big thing he was afraid of, was an earthquake. He said that every building made after a certain year has a weak infrastructure, and nobody is doing anything to fix them. He attended meetings with other officials solely on this topic.
"Bloomberg," he said, "Has done nothing to preserve our buildings."
We both agreed, and I ramble on about how I feel Bloomberg is the real-estate mayor. All Michael Bloomberg's projects have been about making new buildings and getting landlords rich, weather it was on the surface of the projects or buried deep within them. It's too bad that since the recession all those efforts to make money off of brand new New Yorkers was wasted, now so many brand new condominiums lay vacant.
"Gulianni was much better," he continued.
I tried not to laugh, I must have showed some slight chuckle, but he explained.
"All Bloomberg has cared about is making new buildings and getting new money. But Gulianni, I know he surely pissed off a lot of people, but Gulianni gave the police and fire departments more funding, and he made sure the buildings were safe."
I was on the Upper East Side, or Yorkville if you want to be specific. I got that ride I was looking for, An FDR drive south ride. A man who looked like he should be called uncle so and so, he stepped in with two 5 year old girls and gave me turn by turn directions to a small ice cream shop in Greenwich Village. He was a nice enough guy, giving the turns as suggestions, but when they turned sour, he apologized for his directing me into a jam. I said I wouldn't have done any better due to the street fair on 6th Avenue and the uncertainty of small crosstown streets. And he thanked me for my acceptance.
He then told his girls as we passed the Village Cigars shop, that it was a famous landmark and he owned the property. I'm pretty sure this impressed me more than it impressed his 5yr olds, but I suppose by telling them so I would over hear, it was less pompous of him. He then told me which small street to turn down on. I couldn't bare it anymore, I went to elementary school in Greenwich Village and he'd already told me vicariously of his connection to the neighborhood, so I told him that I knew the street very well as I'd been in the GV little league as a kid. Unfortunately this gained no response. I thought someone who owned the property of the Village Cigar Shop would surely know about the local baseball little league, but it was as if I were speaking Spanish, oh well. I let them off, got an acceptable tip, and saw them head into the small store where everyone knew their names. Pink and green balloons were fastened to a sidewalk sign which read, reserved for a birthday party.