I have been driving a cab for 4 years, maybe it has been 5, I'm not good with remembering things relative to time, and only recently have I discovered the joy of JFK airport. Mondays are a fantastic day to take a break and drive into a big fenced in parking lot filled with almost every imaginable regulation medallion yellow cab. Just yesterday I got the unfortunate task of transporting somebody to JFK in the morning. It is easy enough to do by itself, but the trip back to Manhattan that is daunting. So rather than eating vacant time it is better on mondays particularly to wait in the lot and get another ride.
After either receiving a ride back in to the city or a ride within the outer boroughs it is worth the wait. I landed myself in lane 21 of 24 of a lot that holds, oh darn I forget, well it's a lot of cabs, either it's 480, or 960, and that doesn't include the shorty lot. A shorty for those out of the cab business is a ride that stays in Brooklyn and parts of Queens. Cabbies who get the shorty will then receive a ticket that gives them permission to arrive back at the hold lot for a shorter waiting time to get another passenger. See in an ideal world you might be able to get a ride labeled as a shorty that still holds a high price on the meter. Then you make a quick dash on empty back to JFK before the 90 minute time limit hits, and presto like this for your whole shift. See achieving this magical stroke of luck will land you with a coveted element of life the average cab driver, the full-time garage driver in particular finds truly miraculous... down time, a moment where you can actually park the car, walk around, stretch, and feel the breeze from New York Bay. Some drivers play cricket, other play dominoes, many eat from a not so cheap cafeteria. For the most part there is no pooping allowed as 98% or the toilets are out of order, but there are urinals available. I imagine there are women's facilities though, but of course I have no idea how they fare. Most drivers sleep.
JFK is one of the few things that make a good strong case for going full-time or owning a cab. Without the literal fence of the holding-lot convincing us we're trapped in a confined space, we actually are trapped more so, without space for parking a bouncing from soul to soul as we take in each new ride, we find it hard to find a legal place to park and eat and.. well.. do our number ones and twos. for the most part holding the cab for 12 hours a day holds us in that steel frame for most of the duration.
I'd say that I've found some solace with the cab in this weather though, it is so damn hot out there, and I'm thankful for every minute behind the wheel. I mean imagine this if you will, to have permission not only to people watch for 12 hours a day, but to do it while sitting on a sofa with air conditioning on to the level of your heart's content!! everyday I don't drive, I wake up in sweats and wonder what I'm supposed to do with myself, unsure of it all I go back to sleep.
What's more in this city of millions, I've had 3 separate people who've been repeat customers the day before in only the past month!! overall I think I've had 6 of those in total.
The most fantastic one of late was a rider I took from Woodside, Queens, in to Times Square. That ride was just before 4pm on a Saturday, then the next day as I'm waiting about 3 or 4 blocks from where I dropped him off at 8am, I see a the guy looking at me and signaling at the diagonally opposite corner. It was only when he requested a destination in Woodside about 3 or 4 blocks from where I picked him up the day before coupled with him putting his ipod in his ears following the exact same protocol as the day before that I remembered him. He was a particularly good fare to have as I don't get too many who come in to work in a taxi from Queens, not so rare either, but by all means not 100% likely for me to come across on my morning shifts. So I call it out, ultra rare of me, as I'm not good with faces, worse with names,
"Hey, I had you yesterday didn't I?!" my inside voice in the cab needs high decibels over the bulletproof partition and Steve Jobs accessories.
He pauses, "Yes, I think so," says he.
We both have our chuckle, that was all.
2-Now that I think about it 'coincidence' is a topic worth posting separately, but for the sake of me remembering for future posts-->
two more rides of note, the church lady, the ex New Yorker shopping at BB and Byond, and the guy who called it out -day one to Statue of Liberty -day two coming home with different people from a bar in wbbk. and of a totally different coincidence, there was the customer who chatted with me about the significance of boston life, that it wasn't any fun once you were done with school. he was middle aged, and remembered the city fondly. Now are you ready for this? when he inquired where I lived, I gave him the street name. He then followed with, "was it the yellow house?" It was the yellow house, the only one on the street. a house where he lived when he was in college. we shared the same house many years apart. I will go into this in detail when I finish with that photo project i'm on, yep so I expect to have another post for y'all on thursday.