Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1st week re-born

I gotta say that this first week back driving a cab in 3 months was tremendously gratifying. I feel like that time off to think about other jobs, and to dis-associate myself from cab driving allowed me some fresh perspective. It's a funny job that way, how really when you come into it with new energy you actually better than when you have experience. But of course experience helps you do the job well when you get passengers and you actually know how to handle them and their destinations.

The differences I feel in my tactics since the old me and the new me, is

  1. driving style: I know now that certain days and conditions will allow for me to drive in a very slow deliberate even pace to maximize fuel economy, as no other cars will aggressively cut me off and slow me down. And however there are many other times when an aggressive style helps to maximize time efficiency to gain each green light in a sequence and to pursue all empty taxi pick-up locations. I need not worry too much about what my customers think about my driving, because I know that I am driving to maximize potential. There is no use pushing harder when you are destined to lose.
  2. eliminate wastes of time. The old me was gravitating towards waiting places, driving to Williamsburg for good coffee, filling the tank up with gas at the start of the day to ensure that the driver before me wasn't cheating me on gas: The truth is, even if you were cheated by 10 dollars, you might just lose the opportunity to grab a fare, which at 3am is most likely to be more than 10 dollars. I did fill my tank at the beginning of the day yesterday though just to make sure. It was tuesday, so what could I miss? It turned out my tank only needed 78 cents!!! yeah I wasted my time, but I got lucky anyway and on my way in to Manhattan I got a fare to Williamsburg for 10.20 and she gave me a 5 dollar tip. It was on credit card though, so it was more like 14, but hey, fantastic way to start the day!! So I guess I just falsified my own argument. But I am truly seeing the failings of going out of your way to find places to pick fares. the money is all in finding the closest place to pick-up, and driving always in a method that allows you to see potential fares anywhere and grab them.
  3. Airport Mondays: Again, I'm gonna contradict my last point by saying I believe a good monday can be had with going to the airports empty in the mornings. I messed up my Monday completely by doing this. BUT I will try again!!! it starts with JFK ride at 6am to the city, and if I am close enough to a bridge or tunnel, hauling back to JFK empty again to get there before 9am. My error was that I landed my fare destination at the bus terminal, and it was teaming with customers there. I took a fare out of there for 6 bucks, I waited at the Sheraton Towers hotel but within 15 minutes I got a ride to Penn Station for 10. I went west then and too the highway to vestry and went over the Manhattan bridge to get back to JFK empty. It was all good, giving me only enough time for a breakfast and bathroom visit before I got another ride to Manhattan, this wasn't the fastest though. by the time I picked her up at 8:20 or so, everybody had woken up and taken to the roadways with their cars. That first ride to Manhattan took 25 minutes, and included going across town!! That second ride took longer than an hour, and yes I know all the alternate routes, I took her on North Conduit to Atlantic Avenue and across the Brooklyn Bridge to Rector Street. Here is where I screwed up if anybody is still reading this trash: I waited at the Downtown Marriott for 40 minutes and it was only 9:20!! I didn't have enough perspective on how much I had totaled in gross income. I thought I was doing badly, I thought I needed an airport to get out of the city. I had no idea that I was actually doing really well at that point. What I should've done is wasted no time at all, I should've hit the Brooklyn Bridge again and head up to LaGuardia Airport, I could've made it there by 10am. The airport was stripped!!! But instead I took a 10 dollar fare from the hotel across the messy downtown streets, and then pulled another 5 and 6 or so. I headed to LGA airport at 11am, and by the time I got there at noon, all the lots were full of cabs. I went to Delta Shuttle and waited for 2 hours and got a fare to the upper east side for 27 dollars. Something about starting the day with airports makes me jaded about city traffic, and I avert it all and need my rest. I figure a 5 day work week @ 60 hours calls for at least one day built on airport fares. I know it's possible, I just have to do it right. 
But okay, now that we're done with all that nonsense, I must say that for the most part the week has been fantastic!! 


I started on friday, and got the fortune of a few trips around the FDR drive, these are like mini airport rides and they keep you in Manhattan so you can land another trip quick. I got a LaGuardia Airport ride and saw how busy all the taxicab waiting lots were, so I took my roads back through queens into Manhattan. How lucky was I that day?? This lucky, I got a ride 2 blocks or so away from the airport in Queens, over to another part of Astoria for 8 or 10 dollars, I got a 2 dollar tip. Then I got a ride while sitting at a red light! In Queens again! No time wasted! he wanted to go to the upper east side and take the 59th street bridge. I explained to him that it seemed like traffic might look bad today. I told him I wasn't familiar with how bad traffic might be on the bridge. "Do you think traffic is usually this bad at this time?" I asked him. He told me he figured that traffic probably is this bad and that he usually takes the bridge into the city and it is never too pretty. We sat in traffic watching that meter tick along as we sat in traffic. I sat in the correct lane I did the best I could despite some slow traffic, but as he said traffic did clear up pretty well. I showed no signs of struggle and neither did he. We just sat there and took what traffic gave us, and we were content to receive an eventual smooth passage in to the city. the ride came to just over 20 bucks, and he gave me 30!!! so to recap, I didn't wait at LGA, but rather I made 40 bucks in cash without wasting time. This I believe was the primary reason for a good Friday. Add to this it was consistently threatening to rain, and so people throughout the day were waving their hands at potential empty cabs, oh and did I mention no traffic in Manhattan!! I did have one customer in the upper west side (i hate the upper west) who asked me if i was new) I told him that I had been driving for 6 years. I'm sure he was trying to suppress his anxiety about my slow driving, but as I said in tactic #1, some street conditions call for very relaxed driving. By keeping one or more car lengths between yourself and others, you see all the obstacles before you and respond to them quicker. This comes in handy when you know the light sequences and are aware that gunning the gas peddle only you puts you first in line to wait at the next red light. It is better to stay in motion than to stand still at a red light, so I take my time getting there. if I don't come to a full stop, my acceleration can be much better if I so choose to make that happen, which in that previous ride instance, was completely unnecessary.

At the end of my day a driver came up to me at the gas station and told me his cab was available if wanted to drive for him during the days!! Come on now, that's a damn good day, oh and I got a call for a job interview at a health food store as well. I just came back from that interview today however and it didn't pan out, oh well. But still, Friday was good. 


It sucked plainly, but in the long run it was okay. I think what made Saturday suck was small rides, and not enough of them. It would definitely be a good idea to start this day early and head to LGA @ noon.  Whatever happens happens.


What can I not say about Sunday? It was nice. I didn't make a ton of money, but I feel that the weekend should be reserved for having a good time, involving yourself in what you like, having time for yourself. It is good when holding money and exchanging money so much, to focus on your own well being I believe. My interest is photography, and my need is fresh air. this is a great season for taxi driving, and a great season for bike rides and walks and taking pictures. I cannot devote all my time to just one thing, it wouldn't be healthy. 

As is the case with all days that go well, much luck was involved. I wanted to take pictures in Brooklyn with my friends. During my time off, Sunday was my reserved day for photography. I told my garage that I needed at least Sunday, but they wouldn't give any of my preferences. I can't complain, as 5 days a work in a cash cow is worthwhile. I found myself on a constant stream of passengers in the morning from 4am. first fare in Brooklyn goes to the lower east side, I see a guy hail my cab as i drop my other off, but I feel he seems shady, and he knows as a yellow cabbie he doesn't stand much chance of getting me so he ignores me and keeps hailing. I wait there and look back at him as I do my standard check of my back seat to make sure my last passenger didn't leave anything behind. He looks totally fine, he looks back at me and I wave him in. He takes me to Avenue D by the projects and gives me specific directions that involve the most direct route for absolute cheapness. These are good signs, and when he arrives at his destination he gives me a 2 dollar tip, which is fantastic!! I could tell things were going in a good direction at that time. Two rides so far, good tips, good attitudes, good tips, and nice and peaceful and quiet. 

Do you know what I really don't like? College frat boy types, you know, the types who are big and chunky always trying to impress each other with their antics and shouting and stuff, drinking more than they should, I avoid the bar scenes, but avoiding is a bad word. I tell you karma really pays you a bad lesson when you think of avoiding places and people. life is made up of opportunities, and I believe if you don't take most of them, karma instantly provides you with less opportunity. I go to Avenue B and waiting at a light two girls ask if I'm available, they tell me the cabbie before me was nasty, and i'm much nicer. I take them to Orchard Street. She jokes that she'll tip me in bread, and than feels bad for me. she tips 1.20 on the credit card, and then throws me another dollar. Good to me. I go around the block, and presto a ride to Astoria. That ride goes for something around 20 including the tip, it was multiple stops very close to each other. I take a street back to the 59th street bridge, but rather than going to Manhattan I think of heading to Williamsburg for my good coffee that I hadn't purchased yet. I  find a couple in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We go to Elmhurst, Queens, and then the other goes to College Point. the ride was 30 dollars. He feels as though he was too drunk, he maybe thought he didn't provide good enough directions and was very grateful that I found his destination and that i took them there, he tipped me 10 bucks. I shot back to the highway and talked to a prospective passenger who needed to go about 10 blocks or so. He was Chinese and immediately was asking me to quote him a price, but he only specified one street without a corresponding intersecting street. He felt, I believe, that I wouldn't know how to get to his location, and the meter would rip him off, and that the language barrier would be too much. A Chinese car service pulled up behind me and he walked over to talk to him and pretty quickly climbs in there. I feel that he may have missed out on a cheaper ride with me, if only he'd tried harder to tell me where he was going, or perhaps he was going to get really stingy and ask us to compete with prices. I don't play that, he can continue to wait at the bus stop for all I care. It was a beautiful night. I'm still riding around relying on a map, people don't trust the map anymore, and I've kept the map rather than a GPS because I still don't feel that the GPS is up to task of providing understanding a cabbie's destinations quickly and providing the best route by the meter. People don't get that. It was all meant to be, as I went empty to JFK airport and got there in 20 minutes. I waited for 2 hours, but it was a good decision and I stand behind it. Everybody is sleeping in New York City on Sunday morning between the hours of 6am and 8am, there is no better place to be. 

I start finding at about the 10 o'clock hour that I can't find any rides anymore. Everything is made worse by a half marathon blocking off half of Manhattan and making it impossible to access. I'm ready to call my friends and tell them I want to take pictures with them. I did so well with my first 6 hours that I already had made a profit on the day. But of course I got a few rides here and there, and so I old them to head out and take their pictures without me. Just then I get a fare at the Brooklyn Bridge who wants to go to Redhook, Brooklyn!!! What a Godsend!! We even got to talking about how I brought my camera along and was taking pictures out of my camera and posting them on my blog. I didn't give her my blogsite address, she didn't ask. But she brought me to the Fairway market, she worked around the corner. She told me it was a great place to see the Statue of Liberty and all the surrounding lands of the New York Bay, the sunset etc... 

Meh, I thought her descriptions weren't really capturing what I sought in my photos, but it was amazing. I knew about Redhook for a long time. I used to drive out there and take pictures at night before so many people started living out there. I got stopped by the cops once way back when, and they drove on, telling me to be careful. Pshh, please, why do I have to be careful when there is nobody out there?? She was a typical old school New Yorker, however she did tell me how it used to be very dangerous. "You'd take your life in you own hands by walking down this street," she said. Umm my opinion, is that only the streets surrounding the projects were sketchy, but after about 4 or 5 blocks distance from there, the whole neighborhood took on a very passive beautiful vibe where the land can still speak to you despite all the cumbersome urban landscape. I was a little bummed that she didn't completely understand things the way I did, but she almost did, and that was good enough for me.. no,, no it wasn't. I know of an awesome bar nearby, I told her about this bar that had on old pick-up truck out in front. that truck hadn't been moved in 25 years or more, 50 years? she was clueless about that. I parked my car. I found that bar without even looking. The bar was..... 30 steps behind me, it was around the corner from her work... WTF?? But hey, she told me to look at the revitalized pier, and it was a great place, she told me that the old brooklyn trolleys that my friend shot there before the fairway market got there, were still there. I saw a few other photographers, senior citizen types with zoom lenses, but you know despite that, they knew where to be, in a nice lovely morning stroll, seeing the Statue of Liberty from a Distance through the fog. 

After I took my pictures there, I asked for the bathroom at the market, and then walked through the intentionally confusing maze of that store to purchase a Cliff Bar as thanks for the bathroom. I called up my friends and drove over to Kensignton to take pictures with them for an hour. I then drove them back to Manhattan and continued with my day. After all of that great photography time I didn't care what I made. It turned out I made 99 bucks profit, which was more money than I made the day before, and so much more fun!!! 

Well readers, that is all for my update for now. I'll try to give you a very current edition of Shift shots from this Sunday, and You'll see the foggy New York Bay, the old pick-up truck, and the Brooklyn Trolleys. Soon.. Soon.  


Mike - in Vermont said...

I enjoy these types of blogs - it gives us out of state wannabee yellow cab drivers some sort of thrill ride into the real world. I still can't believe you made $34 the other day - I had no idea the potential for such a small profit was so possible.

NYC taxi photo said...

thanks Mike, it was all very off the top of my head writing, so sorry if i may have mis-typed a few words, and grammar and such.

Cloudia said...

"There is no use pushing harder when you are destined to lose."

Yeah. me too.

welcome back, Cabby

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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NYC taxi photo said...

oh jeez, when you call out that specific comment it makes me see what a negative posting this was. It was supposed to be positive, it really was, i swear.

Well some days provided so much gratitude, and so much opportunity. When I wasn't working I barely even made it out of the house to see daylight. but then now that I'm back in the cab, I'm seeing the entire day from sun up almost all the way to sun down, and it feels fantastic... although some days really try to pull all the energy out from you.