Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Week in Summary

I'm gonna ride my bike home to Brooklyn and then I'll get back to posting the pictures! Yes the pictures, got to get my ass caught up on that stuff.

Anyway if you like stories like the last one I put down, I'll have to tell you for the most part I don't get strange ones, people will always ask about that. I'm a day driver and so for the most part my tales are of a grid of normalcy, a bizilion cut-outs of ordinary moments, either people have something to hide and put on a facade, or the have nothing to hide, and their facade is their so-called wild-life. And I suppose that really explains people on the flip ends of our taxi shifts, day versus night, promotional artists versus the cellphone suit and tie artists.

Sunday Morning
On Sunday I picked up an interesting facade of a fare. I'll have to walk you through this upon how I picked them up first, because it proves that good intentions sometimes leads to more money.

I turned on to Broadway from Union Square and then I saw a real nice taxi driver I knew from the garage beside me, so I gave him the friendly beep and wave. It's always nice when I see a familiar face amongst the 20 or 40 thousand yellowcabs, it certifies that I'm in good company for that moment, two similar minds that look to do the job not just for money, but for the opportunity to contribute to society, and if one saw a fare on the opposite side of Broadway, my guess is they wouldn't race the other for the cut-off and the accident. Anyway, I found my beep and wave wasn't met with such happiness. It was a very slow time, the sun had come up, and the people have all gone home, and we were both probably desperately seeking something. So rather than take the same road as him, I decided to give him Broadway and I turned on to 12th Street.

a few minutes later I hear a door man whistling for me to back up to his door! Ah fantastic, a random street with some time waiting at a light had yielded a very random ride. These two girls get in, and instantly and through the course of the entire ride to the Lower East Side, an "After Party" from what I gathered, One of the girls wouldn't stop talking about how much she likes sex and how they're both so horny and how she likes all kinds of sex, to which the other was a little grossed out about doggy style. This was absolutely ridiculous. Why would two girls jump in at 6 in the morning, go to an after party, and be talking about sex like it was lunch, while having the energy that people would normally carry at about 6pm. I figured perhaps these girls were part of some sort of private call girl ring, the only explanation I could imagine for why they'd be leaving a residential building at such an hour dressed as they were, but the enthusiasm at least one of them showed was definitely more of a sign that they were just slutty college aged girls looking for good times while they're good. Only one way to see for sure if they were professionals or just mere idiots. The fare comes to 8.20 or something like that, and they ask how much it is, after annoying me with descriptions of which place it was, on the left, the red awning, which one, this one, here is fine, no wait here, no, no there. These inexperienced annecdotes, plus giving me a 10 and I decide to say "let's make it 8." then I follow this by giving them 2 dollars back. Now anybody would usually have given one dollar back, many would give 2 back, but a professional call girl would give 15. They were totally just stupid Nancy come lately college aged, but not college educated girls who will be back in Westchester by next year, that's my guess.

Potential for Disaster
I had another annoying fare on Monday, two get in around the Penn Station area and the guy says to me 32 and Second, I could've sworn that's what he said. I had no choice then to take 32 across. We eventually hit back up caused by a few trucks between 5th and Madison, and he says "Do you think we could take another street to get there. I'm kind of.. In a hurry."

So I say, "Sure. If you want." we were fortunate to have a position not quite on the jammed up block yet, so I turned to 5th Ave and took 30th to 3rd Avenue where I checked with him if he wanted me to go back to 32nd and bring him to his location. He told me that was good, and then only when I got there he told me that he was going to 32 Second Avenue, "This is the worst cab ride ever," he said. Now in the past I would've been fuming, I've cursed out old ladies before, and told wall street drunks to get out of my cab, but in the past year or so I've learned to hold down the anger and ask them a few more questions or explain my actions to see if their attitudes change to nicer people, or if they become unmanageable. "Oh is that so?" I ask, t'was a test for him to see if he could explain why he felt he'd been so wronged, and then I could've errupted in a shouting match about what moves I made to cater to him, what he said exactly, using the keyword 'AND' rather than mention that it was an address he was looking for and not an intersection. But none of that needed to happen, as he answered my question with rationale: "No actually," he said, "I've had much worse rides." and then it became a topic starter for him to talk to his friend about all the strange rides he's had the other times he's been in New York City.

Addresses in Manhattan are tricky as a prominent business will have a huge sign marking the address, but if it is any other place it is impossible to find the numbers. We came to 46, then 40, then 28 and 20. So I told them I couldn't find it. "Were you looking for Manhattan Storage?" I ask. I tell them the adresses just jumped from 46 to 28. He admitted that was odd and then he told me they were looking for a casting call. Well if he'd been specific enough to tell me that in the first place along with the intersection it was nearby which he did assist me with during the near altercation, then perhaps I'd have had enough time to think on it. I assume it was the old church-like building at the corner of 2nd ave and 2nd street. That place is a theater group and they tend to put on shows, the entrance is on second street. Unfortunately they'd have to figure that information out themselves. I don't feel mad at him at all for his momentary outburst, he is after-all an actor on his way to a cast-call, most-likely it was very healthy for him to stay comfortable and also for him to try out the disgruntled rider roll before he got there.

Bad Apples
What else, what, else... the drivers on Sunday were crap, cutting lanes from left to right, slowing down to do so, but doing so abruptly, almost getting into collisions first and then stopping to make sure it was safe. It fucks up the flow of... EVERYTHING!!! Stop it damn it!!! do you know how many rides I get in a day? I get over 30, even on a Sunday, and I do it by turning off streets, and seeing what I can find unhindered by traffic, you can't get shit when you pull your bull crap! Monday Was fantastic for the most part. But there were two assholes in particular. One cab driver pulls in to spot on the taxi line for the cruise ship terminal 3 cars from the front, while we were all waiting in line for 20 to 30 minutes. the cab driver behind me told me about him, and told me to get him out. I walked over and banged on his trunk lid, and talked to him. "Hey we're all waiting here. You got to go, you got to get out." He looks at me with his cheshire cat grin, thinks of what to say... "I was just leaving."

"Oh... YOu're leaving?!!" I said incredulously. "Good Then Get OUT!" He pulls his moves like a stupid 5 year old experimenting with dad before he gets a lesson, turns the wheel out, and then he pushes the gas, then the brake. the line starts to move again, and he moves up in line again, turning his wheel back in. This idiot thought he was going to fly to JFK. So I Pull out of my line spot floor the gas then the brake hard roll down my window and now safely in my cage I give him hell. "Get the fuck out of the god Damn taxi line!!!!"

"I would, but you're blocking my way out." he said
"Oh, is that why you haven't moved?"I pull back reverse and block that lane of traffic, and watch him pull out. The rest of the cab drivers on line were very courteous and let me return to my place on line. My ride I received after that was a mere $6.60 to the columbus circle train line, and I felt mad too that I could've done a better job with the efficiency in which I got there, it could've been cheaper even. Fortunately with my courtesy of service, figuring out which station they wanted (they only specified that they wanted the subway) and also pulling into a nice spot and helped them with their luggage in and out. they gave me ten. I then saw the cab that was in front of me on the taxi line, very interesting that we both got the same ride from the same location. we both shared a laugh at that idiot cab driver who thought he could pull a fast one on about 20 other cab drivers back on that line. Later on I pulled behind a car at a hotel in Turtle Bay, only to see another cab pull up right in front and then to have people walk right up to him with luggage, Fuck!!!! This is what happens at stupid hotels that don't have a doorman. You're supposed to show a courtesy to the hotel and not pull right in front of the door, unless it is really small.

And Tuesday, ugh Tuesday, I shouldn't even start. Unfortunately I felt like everyone was out for carnage that day, people cutting everywhere, all playing the drive straight down the Avenue game, weaving like slimy snakes and even stopping by people who looked like they couldn't walk. I got to say that all of this behavior is okay by me, as long as attention is paid to the convenience of the rest of the surrounding environment. You shouldn't block traffic, unless you have clearly made indication on it, and given people a sufficient New York Minute to get around you. If I am on the left and someone hails me on the right, I try to let other cars and bikes go by and then pull to the right, and i try to find a nook apart from the flow of traffic. If I do have to pull in front of cars, I make sure I have enough room so as not to slow down and I make sure to pull out of traffic as well. I was extremely angry that day, I only drove 100 miles and the car ate 13.10 gallons. nobody could keep steady speeds, so all day I was flooring gas and hitting the brake hard to get around slow people in the middle, and to avoid hitting the aggravating car service drivers who drive with two feet.

Damn you!! oh wait, Damn myself
One time I was so mad at this fare on the upper-east side who looked like he needed a cab, but he held his hands down at his side, until the latest possible minute when he stuck one finder out and wiggled it around while holding a direct eye contact with me. Out of mere instinct I hit the brakes and signaled right. There was a car behind me and I was pissed that this potential customer had so much time to get my attention and that he chose to only signal me with such ambiguity at the last minute. I decided to vent my anger by driving off in frustration. Nobody who hails with that much ambiguity deserves to stop traffic. I shouted to myself about how I was going to tell my story on this blog, only to realize 5 minutes later that my stupid meter was still on. Shit it was my fault!!! Fuck I'm so stupid. See most passengers turn the meter off themselves now with our new gps credit card machines, but every now and then you have to hit the print button on the machine to set it back to vacant, which I didn't notice, clearly a dumb rookie mistake that I shouldn't be making after 4 years, or 5. oops.

and extras- I also picked up a guy who commented as he walked in, on Saturday morning, "Well that was an interesting experiment, how long does it take for a black man to get a cab in midtown." He of course didn't tip me, but that doesn't matter, it was a perfect ride, and on my way back I got an excellent ride down to Union Square with a 3 or 4 dollar tip on top of it. All drivers know that one ride leads to another. And all drivers should therefore realize that two rides can easily add to the same total as an airport fare with the added bonus of saving time and gas, having never left the borough. But also this example has me cursing my fellow cabbies who are getting their dues by not getting the income they could be achieving. There are plenty of places I don't want to go to, and I am very afraid of drunks and arrogant fools who lost their brain cells somewhere nearby, but when the sun comes out I act on my instincts, and those instincts are to pick-up everyone unless they look like they haven't showered in a few years, or show signs of aggression. As a day driver you have to have a very matter of fact line of thinking, and you have to leave your fears at home. The streets are completely safe, and your cab is very safe, so there is no reason not to do your job correctly.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

I must say, after reading this, I will look at cab drivers a lot differently... U definitely need a thick skin for this line of work... I follow Bitchy Waiter and I for one don't think I could take on that job.. U sound as if u still have your sanity and your sense of humor...That I guess is 90% more than most have in their line of work..

John said...

I tell the guys here that one fare leads to another. Never refuse a fare.A few years ago 2 beautiful were refused by a taxi driver. I was swcond and said "Jump in girls" This was the first time I ever met anyone from Malta. Great girls. They got out and this started a one after the other taxi fares until I had made €60. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Here are a couple of interesting little tidbits:

In Carmel, California there are no street addresses and it's against some bylaw or other to wear high heels on the cobbles.

In Nelson, BC it is against some bylaw or other to skateboard on the streets.

Anonymous said...

A couple of little roadworthy tidbits for you:

In Carmel, CA there are no numbers on the houses. It's also against some bylaw or other to wear high-heels on the cobbles!

In Nelson, BC its against some bylaw or other to skateboard and roller-blade on the streets!

Star said...

Thanks for this post giving us another enlightening glimpse of driving in NYC (I'll remember now to give the cab driver a bit more info than the address, thanks) and the life of a NYC taxi driver. I was particularly reassured by your approach to life: thinking about the others around you. This seems to have gone the way of the dodo in the last few years, though it does help so much to avoid friction, and even gives a smile to all involved (or it should).