Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gum wrapped in dollar


I blew my Saturday by waiting for 2 hours or more. And when I got a ride it was to LaGuardia, the cheapest and closest airport of the 3. This wasn't a bad thing, but on my way to the Midtown Tunnel, I saw people searching desperately for a cab to go to the airport. Damn, I thought to myself, I just wasted 2 hours, when I could've got these people. Park Avenue was closed for the summer bikeway program, and it gave a few hotels no space for cabs to wait for airport fares. I came back and tried to pass by these hotels time and again, but I never saw another potential customer from there.


Sunday is always a nice day of relaxation, as it is best to separate from the packs of taxis and get stray customers throughout the day. The traffic is non-existent, and the rides are quick, and cheap. It seems customers know this, as there is usually more demand for rides on Sunday then Saturday. This weekend however, both days had the characteristic of super slowness for taxi demand, and I felt I had to hope real hard that I'd grab the big fare or a whole string of little rides towards the end of the shifts. Saturday I caught an unusual string. I waited by the Whole Foods on the Lower East Side, hoping for a fare to Brooklyn. I concentrated hard on the exit door, before I looked up and saw a hand raised at the corner. I took them to Park Slope, and I took the 'hail mary play' and went further to the Brooklyn Museum. I turned a corner and presto, a ride to Bensonhurst. She said taking 278 would be fine, but I opted to take the streets as I didn't think it'd be fare to go all that far in the opposite direction to the expressway. It was a learning experience for both of us to travel through Brooklyn around the Park and straightish to Bensonhurst. The fare was 20 bucks, and she tipped good. Does anybody know what the fare would've been via the expressway? I told her that the ride was a pleasure, as I love finding how all the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens connect. She then asked if there was a way to get to Queens Boulevard from Fort Greene. I told her pretty much that McGuiness is the one name you have to remember, just find McGuiness, I said and then you can get to Queens. I don't know if she knew how long Queens Boulevard is.


Yes my first passenger on Monday was one of those odd ones. He looked fairly together, but when we get to Park Slope he tells me,

"Just drop me off ehh..."

"At 7th and President?" I had to finish his sentence, and it seemed he forgot that he told me already where he lived. We arrived there in under a minute after he, or I, told me where to drop him off. It was 13 bucks even, and he gave me only 12.

"Uhh, I'm gonna need one more, errr, two more dollars. This one's got gum on it." I say.

Who does that? He then found a twenty, so I give him back his ten and two singles and then his change of five and 2 singles. He was so odd, that I decided I'd investigate the cab, incase he upchucked. No, all was fine, but on the street by the door lay the dollar with gum. Oooh I thought real hard about taking it, but it would be more trouble then it'd be worth. I left it on top of the newspaper boxes hoping that the guy collecting bottles and cans at the trash can would find it. But really, who wants a dollar with gum on it?


These weekdays are so different then the weekends, obviously, let me explain. Before the sun rises to start a new day, particularly a Wednesday, the solitude, the feeling of ownership or bond with the nature of the urban environment grows extremely strong. The best examples of this natural feeling is right after it has rained, when you can hear the tires of other cars in the distance pushing against the thin layer of water. Busses accelerate from corner stops sounding like friendly monsters, assigned to help its little people who wait under an occasional street lamp. They watch the dialogue between man, machine, rat, and pigeon as they wait for the bus, a scheduled mobile guardian of the night. The homeless are up early and they're gathering their belongings to hide away, or they are digging through trash. The garbage trucks disturb the stillness with the loudest laboring groans. All these beings are most certainly at least somewhat proud they fit into this world few venture to.

I took the most expensive fare I've ever taken from LaGuardia Airport to the downtown Wall Street area, long after the sun had risen of course- that's another story not sure if it was so beneficial to wait at LGA for 1.5 hours- but anyway, the traffic was busy and filled with self assured 'me people', the city is filled with them and they all drive stubbornly to work everyday, despite so many other commuting solutions. Two good things about 'me people', or 'me first people':
  1. Most of them have enough confidence mixed with experience, that they drive pretty efficiently.
  2. When they get tired of New York City, they move to Miami, where they honk even louder, and longer
I digress, anyway, what would be a 35 dollar fare on a Sunday Morning, maybe even 30, had become a, well I don't remember, actually it might have been the same price, but she gave a 6 dollar tip! excellent! Instead of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to the Brooklyn Bridge, I exited at the Long Island Expressway bound for the Midtown Tunnel. I was then able to take the 3rd lane (far left) of the tunnel which runs inbound during the rush hour, other times it is outbound. Determining that my passenger was kind, I took the exit at 38th street to the FDR Drive. Honestly thinking about it now, 34th to the FDR might have been better, but you never know eh, 34th could get seriously backed up.

I felt really bad for this customer I picked up at 34th and 9th and brought to Madison Avenue in the 70's. When she hailed me I turned to 9th Avenue and indicated I'd pick her up there, as there are no turns permitted on 34th until 5th Avenue and then until 3rd Avenue. But because of that and because of Penn Station and the main post office, we had to go to 30th then wait in that long block filled with traffic, after which it got worse, taking 5 minutes or more to pass Penn Station. The police were doing a 'me people' drill, where they park on the sides of the Avenue and the streets surrounding the station, and when every officer arrives and parks and is marked in attendance, they pull out with their sirens; they stop traffic for it. I have to say the aesthetics of it are quite astounding, I saw police cars one after the other, with no end in sight, in front, behind, to my right and left, and also I saw the squad cars crossing the Avenue, as well as proceeding in 2 lines up the Avenue. 8th Avenue looked like it might get bad near Columbus Avenue and I had to go crosstown anyway, so I took 54, hurray! d'oh! I meant to take 54th, 52nd was stupid. I turned up 6th Avenue to get away from that mess, only to find the city was truly moving had a constant soupy consistency with its slow speed. The only reprieve from it all was when I found the park drive was open in Central Park from C.P.S. all the way to 72nd and 5th. Not surprisingly, Madison Avenue, although the rider's destination wasn't but a few blocks, took another 5 minutes. She tipped nicely, and was kind, although when asked if she'd like her receipt she wanted one, but then changed her mind after she saw how long it would take for the meter to print it out.

Credit receipt rant- (TLC are you listening?")
There is too much of a space on credit receipts between the typical cash info, and the signature spaces, of which two are printed for unknown reasons. Also, the credit card numbers are printed on two lines, and spaced three spaces below the regular information. If in the re-engineering of these machines, something was done to cut down on both paper, and printing time, we'd all be happy.

Another fare I felt sorry for asked to go to an address on East 32nd Street from around Carnegie Hall at 7th Avenue. I took them straight down 7th, and struggled with my taxi dance, finding each lane that moved, and quickly cutting out of the stopped traffic, only to turn down 32nd and find it at a stand still. We sat through 2 blocks of traffic for about 10 minutes. I think I took 2 dollars off that fare out of pity. It was the construction at 32nd and 6th Avenue that messed it up, narrowing the cars coming from 32nd to one, along with a flag man indicating there was work going on, and so they probably stopped or slowed traffic from time to time. In addition, all cars going across 6th Avenue were hesitant to go around the turning traffic, Gahhh, what a nightmare.

It always surprises me then, when people always ask apologetically to go downtown, or to Brooklyn, or Harlem, "Yes!" I tell them, "Get me the F*** out of here!" Sans the cursing of course.

I forgot to mention a few other 'me people' I encountered but avoided confrontation with, on Monday. In New Jersey heading back towards New York from Newark Airport, I did a signal and lane switch into the left lane to pass a slow truck, when a late model Chrysler mini-van with Jersey plates came from behind without slowing down, speeding up in fact, and fearing a collision he/she leaned on the horn. In the driver's fear they must have mistaken the brake for the accelerator, a common mistake in New Jersey, and in my fear I quickly got back in my place behind the 18 wheeler. Here's my rule, if you're more than 5 car spaces behind me, then I have every right to take 'your' lane, fucking 'me people' I hate you all. If your late to work, that's your own damn problem.

One more, 5th Avenue, with passengers, at 34th Street: The middle lane moves the fastest, and a Porsche Cayenne S.U.V. with 20 inch rims, countlessly tries to switch lanes, but does so improperly every-time. They never signal, and they always drive into the car adjacent to them. For some strange reason I was the car this driver felt would let them in, despite me being right next to them, when they switched lanes. Hey!!! get a damn smart car, there aren't any blind spots on it, and good luck keeping that car in mint condition.


EV Grieve said...

I really enjoyed this post. The gum/dollar anecdote fascinates me.

Thanks, as always, for sharing.

NYC taxi photo said...

thanks! it wasn't as much of a succinct story as usual, but it reflects more accurately the stuff lately, as I don't ponder the people encounters as much as I think about the traffic and places to drive etc..