Tuesday, November 20, 2012

part 2 : Hurricane

Let's continue our safe journey through some of New York City in the days following Hurricane Sandy.

Brooklyn, Boro Park
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I casually cruised eastward in Boro park to the next gas station at this time and on this day. My first choice was full of cars. There was a line of 3 cars for one set of pumps, and then when I looked around to the next set, and the next, there were cars waiting after each one. So I found this down tree on my way to the next station. That next gas station was closed, no gas. I started to worry at this point. And then I searched and saw a line at every station. I had come to Boro Park with 2 extra hours of working time on my clock. I figured I'd return the car early, but I wound up spending that time searching for gas and not finding any. I gave the car to my other driver and gave him 40 bucks to find gas when he needed it.


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Here is one example of the gas issue. The trucks however were diesel so they still had gas for them.
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Brooklyn, Bensonhurst -
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Manhattan, Chinatown - November 1st
- Canal Street and Eldridge Street
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- Enter the third day now after the storm.. I figured it'd be best to start my day very early so that i could end it early, and maybe then I could get to the gas station before everyone else!! I was still learning folks. I was still unaware of how serious it all was.

I pulled into Manhattan for the first time before sunrise without power. My past two days were knocked into a different pattern, although honestly I always have a problem getting up to start my day.

Remember for day one after the storm they opened the bridges to Manhattan towards mid-day, nobody was really on the road. On the second day, I got up late, after sunrise, and experienced some of the worst gridlock uptown. And while downtown was still in a state of shock trying to deal with no power, no goods, no service they all needed cabs, but when you got uptown everything was starting to fall back into normal paces. Customers were crabby because they were sheltered from the other half. Having no idea how insane shit was just a few miles away they were already but a nervous tick away from complaining about petty things like traffic and subway service. 

 So with the traffic problems uptown in mind from the day before, day three after the storm, I started driving into Manhattan the minute I got the car - 3am.

I didn't know how different it would feel, how different it would actually be without the aid of electricity, and traffic lights at night. No lights from apartments, and street lights even. It takes a long time for New Yorkers even to adjust to driving on a country road at night, we often forget to use our headlights because we are so used to having everything lit up for us. When you get to an intersection it makes a big difference. And when you make a left turn, all of the sudden you become aware of how reliant you were on all the lights you needed to see around that corner.

Yeah, it was crazy, and crazy fun i must say, I have a video I want to process and put up on youtube by tomorrow, I only grabbed one fare at 3:45am or so and gave it to him for only 5 dollars, despite it being a 12 dollar ride, he seemed really confused. and then after some thinking, i realized it was better to go look for rides in brooklyn, it was not safe in more ways than one to be looking for people at that odd hour in pitch black.

Brooklyn, Williamsburg -
Grand Street and Morgan Avenue
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Brooklyn was back to civilization again. However the trains and busses were still off. Busses maybe, but at that hour? not worth the wait. So I got a steady rotation of people in the cab, 8 bucks more or less and 5 rides or so. I even got a bicycle completely in the trunk. I loved it when I can do that, people are so shocked that when they pop a wheel off their bicycle, it can fit completely in the trunk. It feels like magic when I shut the trunk on it. "Presto, and now your bike is gone, no more bike, but when I open the hood of my car, there is also no engine, it's 100% rabbits," yeah, that's what i wish I said. And that I wish would happen too. A taxi that ran on rabbit power?? oh hell yes, maybe rabbits don't drink gas like these cabs do. Oh by the way, the above is a bunch of cars waiting on line impatiently for a gas station 4 blocks away, or about a half a mile. The police are there near the van with the open door, trying to assess a situation.

I looked on with passengers in my cab, and tried to ignore the information, hoping that by the end of my day, we would all have gas. These lines were not a pleasant place to be, in some neighborhoods, 99% of the time people would behave themselves, but in most places, there was always one car cutting in front of another. Somewhere in Queens a man was arrested for cutting in line and then pulling out a gun when confronted.

Manhattan -
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The Brooklyn run went so well, that I found myself still there, dropping off my 5th passenger at the ends of Bushwick after 5am. I had to make it over the bridge to Manhattan before that hour before facing a high occupancy vehicle restriction. We were included in those morning hours in the restriction set by the mayor. on my way to the bridge I found two more people, they looked well dressed enough to maybe be my ticket into Manhattan, but they had a destination only several blocks closer to the bridge. Flushing Avenue and Broadway, he said in a French accent. After I took them there, I asked him which landing spot he wanted to arrive at, which corner in other words, but he didn't seem keen on landing anytime soon. Still not answering my simple question for one block, I stopped at Sumner, in front of a bus stop. He eventually accepted that this was an okay place to be let out.

only rather than paying me, he thought even longer still and then opened the door, and still didn't leave the car, but the door was wide open. I don't know why, but it the non-paying customer always seems to follow the same stupid rules every time they do this. They take long pauses, always worried about if they should or shouldn't do it, weather I'll stop them, etc.. and then they always open the door all the way, not half way, not a quarter, all the way, and then sit there as if to test the waters, as if this would occur- oooh, the water's too hot, I'm getting back inside, just kidding.

 Anyway, so he does this, and gets out waiting for her, and she goes up and says to me, "Where is he going?"

"Pshhh," my answer, "I have no idea what he's doing."

And I look back at him, she is too, and he's nodding his head trying to be as sly and casual as he can, like he's seen this in a movie once, man they are so drugged out, maybe he thinks he's living in a movie, but he seems with it enough at this point, for me to be pissed off at him, he knows what he's doing, he's being a dickhead. he's trying to tell her without words to get out of my car so they can get back to their cheap glossed over hotel on Flushing Avenue. So she gets out. Funny, I was just talking about bad customers with my last passenger in Bushwick, funny how the circle completes itself always so quickly, it definitely seems like a test to me.

There is a test, a series of tests we get everyday of our lives to push us to the next level of our evolution. We are not tested to make the best of ourselves, to work best with others, to communicate best with the world around us, and to make it all a better place if we can in the process. Yeah, I think I truly believe that, but we have plenty of time so I think the priority is to manage our own needs and fuck the rest of the world. What matters most, is that we have each and everyone treated with respect. Anyway, I knew what I was doing when I picked them up, they didn't look threatening, they looked stupid. So I turned off the engine, took my cash in my pocket, and shut my door, I didn't bother with the passenger door, as it was the international sign for, 'just ran out the cab'. They were slowly walking back towards their hotel, so I first met up with her, and reluctantly pulled her shoulder, though it was his problem. And said "Hey, Asshole, somebody has got to pay me my seven dollars!"

To which he looked at him, and he got out his wallet and asked if I have change, I told him I did. and so he took out a twenty, and i took my wad of cash out, sorted through it to give him 13 bucks. Then he took the twenty back and found exactly 7 dollars. hahaha.. I didn't really care. but seriously, i get more ticked off about shit like this after it occurs. I should have taken his wallet and all his 29 dollars and shown him how to really take something, oh well.

I continued to de well in a non-traditional way. Not having a ride to take me into Manhattan, I saw a group of kids coming out of the diner in Williamsburg, and all 5 of them got into the cab. One guy took the front seat, and he seemed older. I got increasingly nervous about them, feeling more and more like I would get robbed, especially when one of them without notifying me opened his door and got out, then a block later all but the one in the front got out from both sides of the cabs, and even stranger walked out to both the left and the right directions to their separate homes. But then when it was the last guy's stop, he paid me and added a 2 dollar tip even... or i dunno, maybe i made that part up about the tip. either way, good times, hey no threats to my life hooray!! I should let you know that in my 6+ years of driving, not once have I ever been robbed. I suppose the robbing of a cabbie is just a whole other level of commitment to the cause of evil, once your life is put in jeopardy, perhaps a mind that is more in self preservation mode than anything else may just have to take actions of violence just to defend themselves, nobody wants that kind of action taken upon them, especially from a lunatic cab driver who thought it would be fun to drive a big taxi at night in Brooklyn for fun.

And after this I got a ride from downtown Brooklyn to Williamsburg for 23 bucks, the sun had come up, and it didn't stop, at the same drop off point at the Mc Donalds parking lot, I took another back to downtown Brooklyn, for 23 dollars again.

I finally got my fare to Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights, I needed one more passenger to make the journey over the bridge, so I found another cab luckily trying to pick up several hesitant passengers, and beeped the horn trying to get one of my own. After successfully picking her up it was just absolute gravy. She sat in the front and he in the back, so they could both maintain personal space, and me and her had conversation the whole way. Another fantastic thing was their destinations both fit together on 6th Avenue perfectly so I didn't have to work so hard. She even asked me at some point when we saw all these people in Greenwich Village raising their hands, "why aren't you picking anybody else up?" So I asked him in the back if he was okay with one more person, and he accepted. Voila, I got another 6th Avenue rider. She said to me at first that it was a great deal for her to take me all the way to her spot for only ten dollars, but when I said that the first guy pays the meter, she thought that wasn't such a good deal for him. True, true enough, but as the case presented itself he didn't have much choice, as we needed that other passenger for his journey across the bridge anyway. She seemed to imply that she and everyone should give a little extra in tip, but then when she got out she gave me exact change, weird. The guy paid by credit card but added a 2 dollar tip, so far I was at 32 bucks, and the last guy wanted to pay by credit too, so i hooked up the meter for a flat fee of 10 dollars, and he tipped 4 dollars, hmm go figure. He seemed least likely to tip, because the initial pick-seemed strange to him, he was the only Manhattanite, so he might have been able to take any cab, but it could have taken him some time.

Traffic didn't exist that day, the HOV (high occupancy) rule made a hug difference. And more people had to go back to work that day. But then all reality kicked back in when I had to return the cab for gas. I stopped driving my cab at noon. I had 3 hours left to work, but I needed to devote those 3 hours to picking up my sister and bringing her back to my house. My mom's house still didn't have power, or running water. Oh and the gas.

Brooklyn, Sunset Park -
I'm on line here, waiting for gas. the wait was 2 hrs, until the line disassembled and the gas station no longer had gas. This traffic right here was caused by that truck which stopped to make a delivery, and all these cars crammed themselves in. This lady getting out of her yellow car, cleared everything out. she directed the black suv around the truck and then directed everyone else as well. seemed nobody knew how to drive around double parked cars here.

This is me being very sad. The police in my rear-view, taking the orange cones away, not a good sign. The line started moving fast, I didn't know weather to be very happy, or very angry. My sister thought the moment need to be recorded just to hear all my emotions.
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Brooklyn, Boro Park -

So again, I had to return the car to my other driver without filling it with gas. His response: "No, no. I cannot do this. I cannot wait in line for 2 hours."

To which I replied "Well, if you want me to get gas, I have to return the car at 8pm."

him, "EIGHT!! No you cannot give me the car that late, how am I supposed to work."

me- "look I stopped working at noon, it is now 3:30 in the afternoon, I waited for 2 hours and got no gas, I've looked at another gas line that was disorganized, and waited there first, I spent 2 hours here, and it just went empty. if you want gas, it will be at least another 3 hours"

And that was the end of my week.. I'll explain how my time with 9H33, my last yellow taxi ended in part 3, and then I take a walk through where my family lives in Manhattan. see ya-

1 comment:

Mike R. said...

Love all these stories and pics to go along - makes my little journey complete.