Thursday, November 22, 2012

Part 3: Why I quit taxi driving. --Well,-- until I'm broke and then I'll start again.

Where we last left off it was Thursday November 1st. Just so I can memorize the order of things, here's the recap:

I'll put my pictures of a little piece of Manhattan in my next post. this is all words.

week in review:

  • The storm hit on Monday, October 29th. More so, it hit during the night of monday, err, monday night. The car was not driven by me or my partner that day. I thought the storm would be too much, but of course the storm didn't come until later after my shift would already be over. Then my partner had the car only for an hour or so before calling some friends to confirm that he shouldn't drive the car either. The bridges were already scheduled to close at 7pm. If he were to drive that night, he would be stuck in Manhattan with no where to sleep. So he gave me back the car, hence my parking frustrations that night. 
  • Tuesday, the storm had already passed, mind you both before the storm and after the storm the winds were still quite strong. By 11am the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge were re-opened to traffic. Up 'till that point only official vehicles were being let though. I decided to use the car once the bridges were open, if anything, just to experience this once in a lifetime occurrence. When I returned the car to my partner, I believe unable to find gas for the first time. I couldn't find a gas station without a line in front of it.
  • Wednesday my partner gives me the car back at 1am, however he was done with the car by 11am. It took him 2 hours on line to get gas in the car, by waiting on a line for 2 miles. We had just arranged a deal before the storm that he would park the car in my neighborhood and take a car service home se he didn't wake me up in the middle of the night at whatever random hour he returned it, but because of the storm we canceled that deal, figuring transportation was hard enough, and perhaps me starting my shift early would be better since there was much uncertainty about how each day would unfold. He told me it would probably be god to look for gas as I drove the whole day, but of course that didn't work because there are hardly any gas stations in Manhattan. I drove past one when I took people to J.F.K. Airport. It had only 2 or 3 cars waiting in line, but I had passengers in the car so I couldn't do anything about it. From J.F.K. I spent 25 minutes driving to LaGuardia Airport, the first gas station there on the highway had a line of 10 cars that just moved right through it as there was no gas left, i t was just an exit ramp for the accompanying Dunkin' Donuts at that point. Another Crown Victoria taxi had to be rolled in to the empty gas station, it ran out of gas completely. I found no holding lots at the airport worth waiting at for my next ride into Manhattan, that would take 2 maybe 3 hours, so I went to the other gas station at the airport, but that was empty too. I started to worry so I called my friend upstate who oddly enough had more information than the radio. She was giving me updates on gas stations available through new tools on twitter, from her cell phone.. And why wasn't the news telling me anything?? even the news, 1010 Wins was telling me to go to a Twitter feed dedicated solely to finding gas stations??!!!! umm I'm driving my car, hello?? why am I going to my cell phone? She told me that there were some gas stations in Queens near the 59th street bridge that had gas lines, but still had gas. I chose not to heed that advice, because I had already wasted a half an hour going to another airport. I figured I could find that first gas station again, a Shell station at 96th street and 1st Avenue in Manhattan, the one that had only 3 cars. Of course those 3 cars could have just been driving through the station after seeing that there was no gas. Sure enough, there was no gas there either. Long story long, I found no gas that day either, wait, wait I did find gas. This was the day that I took my sister to my house, so she could use the internet, watch tv, and sleep in a heated apartment. Upon returning the car we did find a gas station where we could wait behind 4 cars and eventually get gas. The gas attendant told me he might have only enough gas for another 30 minutes and then kaput, he'd be all empty. 
  • Thursday, I don't think he could find gas either. So we arranged that I just give it back to him half way full, which was fine enough because I only eat that much gas during my work anyway. Of course you know the rest, I couldn't find gas for the car, I explained it at the end of my last blog entry.
So Long story long again, this is where we left off. The car is in his hands thursday night, he has a little less than a quarter of a tank left, I gave him 40 dollars to fill the tank. It took me 2 hours sitting on a line for gas until the station ran out of gas. Before that I waited somewhere else, but that looked hopeless. I told him it would take at least 3 more hours if he wanted me to find gas. So he took the car like that. He offered to drive me and my sister home, but after sitting in a car for 2 hours, and driving it in circles for another hour, I'd rather walk home. 

He called me a little later. "What if I took the car upstate?" he asked

"I dunno, sounds like a good idea, do you know if you'll definitely get gas there?" I asked him back.

"Yeah I will, i will find gas. I'll give you back your 40 dollars," he said

"No, no, you can take 20 bucks, just give me back 20," I told him. This whole gas thing was getting complicated. I mean, "My 40 covers half the tank that I should've filled up anyway, but then you had it a little empty too, so that makes us even.

He paused, as if he was pondering this, like perhaps I was not making a good deal, but on the other hand he was losing way too much money this week. He couldn't drive the car at night. Every shift of his was ruined. No traffic lights, no driving. "Okay," he said

So that whole night was rather sleepless. We already went back to this schedule where he might return the car to me at 10pm, he might return the car to me at 1am, or he may return the car to me at 3am, just whenever he was done, add to this, I don't know weather he will get gas, or weather I will get gas, the stress was building, and now, maybe I was losing money in a gas negotiation? I call him at midnight after I go to the store to buy some food. 

"I saw that my gas station by my house has a line in front of it ten blocks long, they don't have gas yet, but they all think that a delivery will get here at 1am." I tell him. I want him to get here right now so I can get my gas and start driving the car with a full tank again. But i get no answer. 

I finally fall asleep at 2:30 in the morning, I wake at 3am up to the phone ringing.

"Hi Noah it's me, I'm upstate. I can get gas." 

I pause with reluctant disbelief, "You can? You can fill the tank?" 

"Yes, what do you want me to do?"

"Umm, how much do you want me to pay?" I ask him.

To which his reply is... "Or I could just give you the car with it empty."

He what the what?? Mercy of all holy mercies!!! He has gas? and he might give the car to me empty?? what is this? how much do you want for my baby?

"I tell you what man, I'm sleeping right now, we cannot talk this way right now, I'm in the middle of sleeping."

My anger builds, and I text him back asking him why he would be reluctant to get gas when he drove all the way upstate. His reply, none of my business. Ahem, WHAT??!!

My next call is to the garage, "I cannot do this anymore," I tell the dispatcher.

"What, what is the problem?" Picture a heavy Russian accent with a cigarette dangling loosely on the lips over a big flat screen computer. 

I tell him, "Well he told me he would go upstate to get gas, and now he's telling me he might not get gas, I can't deal with it." 

"So this is about gas?" he says

"Well, he can get gas, it's available to him, and he's threatening not to give it to me, I'm practically sleeping and he's playing games with me."

His reply- "Okay, just give the car back on Monday."

A nice short and sweet answer, I like it. but one more thing... "Well he has the car now, so I'll try to tell him to return it then okay?" 

a pause-- "Okay" 

"Okay thank you" 

And like that, with remarkably little drama between me and the garage, the deal was off. I called the other driver back. He picks up and this is the first thing he says:

"It is none of your business, why I am upstate, you want to know why, I am with my girlfriend upstate, but I don't have to tell you that, because it is none of your business."

And I say, "I was asking you how much I owe you for the gas, that is all I asked you, you don't need to tell me why the fuck you are where you are, that is your business. I tell you what, you can keep the 40 dollars I don't really give a damn. And you can have the car tomorrow too, it's over. You have to give the car in on Monday."

He continued to yell again, but I told him what I needed to tell him. So I told him again, because I think his yelling was to prove something, and that period had come and gone already. "It's over, it's over. Just return the car to them by monday, you can keep everything in the car I don't need it."

So it was like a relationship of sorts, and like all relationships, it went too long. And my stuff is gone, and I don't care. I picked up my check yesterday from the garage, it was more money than I thought. I can't figure them out, they do a lot of things right, and they do things wrong too, and they are so convenient to my house. I'm not sure how I feel about them, I may perhaps ask them about renting per shift rather than per week. But I think I'll go to a larger garage next time, one closer to Manhattan, that charges accurately fixes cars completely, and timely, and has a fleet of smaller taxicabs that save on gas. All of these things would be good, but I would need to own a car or a motor scooter to get there. It's something to think on, before all my money runs out.


Star said...

Thank you, again, for insight into your life as a taxi cab driver in NYC. I never knew that you had to partner with another driver like that. Is that usual, or just a feature of that smaller company?

NYC taxi photo said...

a lot of drivers do it this way. most of the time when you get a taxi ride in new york, it is likely the driver has another partner to switch with.

my other deals were just for each 12 hour shift, so I was paying for that piece, and the garage was finding a driver to fill in the other shifts. after you are trusted and drive with them enough, the garage tends to match you and one other driver up with one car, if you drive 5 days a week or more.

but if you just want to drive a few days, without much commitment, you will be given a different car everyday, a car that is driven by another different driver each time.

this last deal was as a special deal to have the car either with me or the other driver and to eliminate the inconvenience of going to the garage to pick it up. it seem difficult to arrange a deal like this however, oddly enough, most of the drivers you'll find have this deal. usually they own the car, but then they lease the medallion on a weekly basis. they try to find a family member or a friend to share the car with.