Monday, July 23, 2012

Where I started with taxi, and where I am now

Just like every other career, there are quite a few options on what deal to get with a taxi cab lease. For those who don't know, that's how it works: It's a lease, you're not technically employed by the people providing you your taxi. I've started 6 years ago as a driver for a garage in Long Island City, Queens. With them I was a college student in most of my time, so I only came down to the city on the weekends from Boston where I was attending school. After graduating, I moved in to an apartment some friends were already staying at. The rent was phenomenally cheap. My share of the rent for that apartment was only $350 a month. However I could barely spend anytime at the house because it was too inconvenient to get from Staten Island to Queens. Believe this or not, it was pretty much the same commuting time to travel from Boston to Queens, as it was to travel from Staten Island. I was always at my family apartment in Manhattan, and paying rent just for a place I could spend a few off days at.

Eventually all of the people in the apartment followed their mysterious paths away from Staten Island too. The rent moved to $700 a month, still not bad for the city, but it wasn't really the city, and also I wasn't really living there. I moved to a place in Brooklyn for $1,000 per month. This kind of price is hard to find, especially for how nice the apartment is. What was the catch? ahh, it was an hour away from manhattan via subway. Still though, this new apartment, I still live here, is much more convenient than Staten Island.

Upon Moving to Staten Island I switched my schedule to 3 days a week of driving. And one more year pushed me to schedule 4 days per week. After a year of living in Brooklyn I couldn't bare to have this arrangement anymore in Queens. Everyday I missed, the 85 year old boss who is said to have been the inspiration for Louis DePalmer of the hit TV show 'Taxi", Would yell curses at me and threaten to not give me a car anymore. He would also always say that his garage was the best in New York, so it was inevitable that I test the waters and see just how bad the other garages were.

I signed up to work for a garage in Downtown Brooklyn next. The only issue was that I had to sign up for 5 days a week. I figured that it was only a matter of time before I needed 5 days a week anyway. Have I failed to mention that I wasn't really living in Brooklyn as of that moment either? Well yes, it was again, virtually impossible to commute from Brooklyn to Queens every day, and then back again. the time on the train involved 20 minutes of waiting for one train, and then 20 minutes of waiting for another, and that was if both trains were running. I stayed in Manhattan with my family.. up until I started working in Brooklyn. With a house in Brooklyn and a garage in Brooklyn, I was finally living at my own house!!! but it still wasn't great: 20 minutes of waiting for the train to come, and about 45 minutes of travel time, along with a 15 minute walk. I didn't really take this into consideration. the real problem was that I was somehow making on average, 30 to 50 dollars less everyday, less money than where I previously worked. The organization and smoother running system at the garage in Queens, and also a closer more convenient location to the proximity of Manhattan, made many more moneys.

My first week with a 7 day a week taxi partnership car:

So it was a no brainer that I needed to find another arrangement yet again. Now me and another driver are splitting $1466.78 per week for a cab. By sharing the price on this car I save about $120 versus the price I would pay if I came into a garage every morning and requested a car. Basically they are giving a  7th day free every week. But I save so much energy by erasing my morning commute from the entire picture. I get picked up every morning at 2am, and then he drives himself home, and I drive the car back to my house again, and putz around for another 2 hours until I start my shift.

My last Day with the Demon Car:

so today was a trip through no wheres vill. A/C stopped working, and engine overheated. 2 hours later got to the garage with a 15 minute stop over for free water and a bathroom at the park by the brooklyn bridge, and another hour to fix the car. fortunately i met up with a friend ironically, whose friend I'd picked up spontaneously as the first ride of my week with this demon car. I had some coffee, I ate some lunch. I decided to convert my crap day into an opportunity to become a civilized individual. I had a ride after that hour lunch break who was a taxi driver at the garage I started with a few years ago, so he paid me more than double the fare! Upon getting a ride over the bridge to queens, I called it a day early, but of course, luck be ever so not present today.... the entire upper deck of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was closed, which in turn slowed down the highway throughout all of Brooklyn... And so I was just barely on time to give my car to my other driver. We are switching this car for another one tomorrow.... And to that I say good riddance!!!!!!

------other problems: The meter and Gps computer tracking system completely failed one day, and I had to start my day early to get it serviced at a 24hr meter shop. This was caused by the wire that leads from the battery to the system snapping. The garage will reimburse me for this, hazzah. But unfortunately there is a policy in my contract against reimbursing me from the time I lost from repairing today's air conditioning and engine overheating. All of these problems were created by inattention to maintenance. The changing of the oil was all that was necessary, however they switched my fan with another one, but the disorganization of the place lead to the new fan being dysfunctional. They then switched the fans back again, and what do you know?? the A/C worked!!! with the same fan that they removed and then put back, LOL!! I gave them 5 bucks. I've never seen it take an hour to fix a problem like this. I've also never seen people put in a fan that didn't work. And also I've never worked for a garage that doesn't reimburse me for my time lost.

----But this is a new chapter in my taxi career, and I still believe it is the right move. I am eagerly anticipating this next car. If this next car sucks too, then I have to establish a date to get the fuck out of this deal, but if not, then all is good!! I stand to make much more money now by working 7 days rather than 5 days. I have 12 hours shifts, but I have the flexibility of a time frame of 15 hours to complete my 12 hours, and more importantly::-> I get picked up @ my house!!! I hate commuting to the garage to pick up a taxi, so much time wasted!! ---> Why else is this car a demon car?? the rear tires, both of them, are slicks basically. In other words, all the tread is gone. the car can really go vroom vroom in a dry heat, but when it has been raining and you get a highway trip, you put the peddle to 1500 Rpm and just one slip over that mark on a few bumps (of which there are plenty in New York) or if there is a curve, or if you are two deliberate in a lane change -> The entire back end of the car starts twitching, bouncing side to side, threatening to take out the entire highway in one big sideways smash. We aren't sure weather this all based on the tires, or if the problem lay in a more serious history of previous smashes the car has had, which wouldn't be all that improbable. My night driver talks about this other car that we are getting every time we meet, so I should be pretty confident that this will be better... Oh please oh please.

 ---- It still is a little bittersweet to depart from this car, as I always found it to just naturally push passed all the other cars on the road, and the seat seemed tailored towards me, so firm, so high, that it puts me in a very alert commanding position. The other driver hates our seat, he's a bigger guy, and so he'd rather have a softer, deeper bucket seat. :-( well, let's hope for the best eh?


Martin van Duijn said...

This is not a read, this is a life story. Never knew how complicated the logistic arrangements of a taxi driver were. But 12 hour shifts?
But all the best with your new arrangement!

Mike in VT said...

Great read Noah, as I expected it would be. If you *really* want the demon car to live on, you know who is sitting around just itching to get it. I'll take great care of it! And I agree with the other commenter, who knew driving a cab could be such a convoluted goat screw and so damn expensive!

Anonymous said...

Hello ! Good blog, thank you !I'm from St.Petersburg, Russia and I worked as a taxi driver twelve years ago. Good experience for me. It's so interesting to read about taxi driver job in NY and photos is nice. I like photos of strange places and expensive cars. Keep up the good work !

Nathan Smith said...
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