Thursday, December 29, 2005


I watched a cab get hit by an 18-wheeler tonight. It was around 7:00 p.m. down 2nd Ave in the 60s somewhere and the street was all clogged. This cabbie pulled what would normally be a relatively harmless move when he tried to get over into the next lane. However, the 18-wheeler that was already in that lane didn't stop in time and hit him. I'm assuming the cabbie wasn't too injured because the truck driver jumped out and started screaming at him, and usually you don't scream at dead people, or even at people who are bleeding much. Of course, there's a chance he was hurt, but the trucker was so angry, he didn't really give a shit. He was saying, "How the fuck do you expect me to see you from up there? What the fuck is wrong with you? You fucking idiot!" I kinda felt bad for the cabbie, since it must suck to get chewed out two seconds after almost getting killed by a big fucking truck. Unfortunately I was in the flow of traffic, so I couldn't stick around to see what happened next.

Meanwhile, Times Square was a nightmare tonight. They've already begun setting up for New Year's Eve (part of which is shown above), and then they closed it off entirely so they could seal manholes and remove mailboxes, or whatever it is they have to do there. New Year's is the biggest money night of the year for driving a cab, but I don't even bother with it. It's too crazy, with too much traffic and too many drunk people puking in the cab. I'd much rather get drunk myself and puke in someone else's cab.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Monday night

I never did update about the strike, but it's over now, so it doesn't really matter anymore. But in case you didn't see enough of it, here's a picture of some of the treacherous traffic. This was taken on the Pulaski Bridge, on my way back to the garage at the end of that one day shift I worked last Thursday. I'm happy to be back to nights and back on the meter.

Tonight's shift was pretty boring though. It was the post-Christmas shopping frenzy, and the city mainly consisted of tourists (shown above in, where else, Times Square). I had one girl in my cab who was crying hysterically into her boyfriend's shoulder, but that was pretty much the only thing out of the ordinary. She was talking too low, so I couldn't hear what the problem was. But it reminded me of some passengers I picked up last year just after the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the World Series. A man and a woman got in, and the woman sounded like she was crying, saying, "Oh my god. I can't believe it. I just can't believe it." I was concerned because she really sounded upset, so I asked, "Is everything okay?" She tearfully, yet cheerfully replied, "Oh, yes! We're Red Sox fans."

Friday, December 09, 2005


Sometimes it seems like part of these sightseeing tours include an attraction called "Dead Cabbie." I imagine the tour guide saying something like, "Now, if you'll look to your right, you'll see what happens to a yellow cab when our bus cuts it off and tries to flatten it and kill the driver."

Luckily I swerved and hit my brakes in time when this particular bus got to that part of the tour.

Despite murderous sightseeing buses, the night was uneventful.

Monday, December 05, 2005

195 miles

I drove 195 miles tonight and my fingernails are, as usual, black with dirt from touching all that grubby money. With the snow (shown above in Central Park) came good luck for me. Or, as Diego calls it, "the Diego luck." I got a job to Newark Airport early in the evening, and found no traffic there and back. I'm assuming most people opted against driving into the city tonight because of the weather, even though the worst of it was over by this morning. I heard on the radio that New Jersey registered nearly 600 accidents today alone. Figures.

Later in the night, when business had already gotten slow, I found a fare going to Westchester. Two stops. This pretty much made my night, since out of town fares are the most lucrative. Money-wise, I think this was actually my best shift ever driving a cab.

Friday, December 02, 2005


So the tree was lit Wednesday, as was the big snowflake that hangs over the intersection of 57th and 5th. And with these events came the crowds, which will continue to increase until the end of the year. I have been trying to brace myself for this. So, yeah, traffic was bad tonight, but I actually expected worse. I was able to maintain a relatively calm mental state, until about 7:45, when I got stuck behind the garbage truck you see below.

I was on 22nd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, when it happened. The truck stopped and two sanitation guys got out and began to leisurely haul a huge heap of garbage bags into the back. I had a passenger with me, so we chatted, waiting for them to be done as the meter ticked away it's shitty 40 cents every two minutes. After about 10 minutes, the truck moved up three car lengths and stopped again, this time to collect another 20 or so bags of trash from the other side of the street. But near this pile of bags was a huge empty space in between the parked cars. After continuing to sit there for what seemed like forever, I started to lose it. I got out and asked the guys if it would be possible to pull into this space on the side so me and the 15 cars behind me could pass. They simply smirked at me and said, "Nope," and continued to ever so slowly throw the trash in the truck. Ten more minutes passed, and the truck kept moving a few car lengths and stopping for more trash. The whole ordeal lasted about 30 minutes, and by that time, my cool had evaporated and I was completely drained.

The thing about driving a cab is, I can make it through a 12 hour shift without feeling too tired or sleepy as long as I'm busy and moving. Once I get stuck in a really bad traffic jam, or behind an asshole garbage truck, as the case may be, my energy depletes. It's not driving the cab that exhausts me, it's the sitting still that does it.

Anyway, I finally got the woman home, and she was sweet and gave me a nice tip, despite the extra time and money it took to get her there.

Meanwhile, at one point in the night, I found myself behind a car with this curious license plate. I had some tourists in the back, so I made a little joke and said, "Look! We're behind the mayor of New Jersey!" I think they thought I was serious, though, because, after a pause, they politely corrected me, saying, "Well, it would have to be the mayor of a town in New Jersey. There can't be a mayor of a whole state."

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Since I'm not working tonight, I figured I'd post a brief list of some memorable passengers from recent months:

1. The young suburban couple who were "waiting for the mushrooms to kick in." They offered me $20 to let them smoke weed in the cab, but I wouldn't. Instead I showed them a relatively dark street near Grand Central, where I let them off, so they could smoke up before getting on their train.

2. The British manager of a bunch of bands, including the Pet Shop Boys and Tears for Fears. I took him to the Beacon theater, where Tears for Fears were playing later that night. He had lost his cell phone earlier that day in a taxi, but had managed to retrieve it in time for the show. He ended the trip by offering me free tickets and passes. Unfortunately, I had to decline.

3. The young well-mannered black guys who wanted me to take them on a long round trip, saying they were just meeting a friend for a second and there would be no waiting. Five minutes before we got there, one of the guys made a call from his cell telling their "friend" to be on the corner. When we pulled up, a preppy white guy walked up to the window of the cab. One of my passengers said, "Yeah, you wanted two tickets?" The guy said, "Huh? Oh, yeah." A discreet exchange was made through the window of the cab, and then I took the guys back to where I picked them up.

4. One of my very favorites, as you may have read in the Gothamist thing, was the oddly-mannered late-middle-aged lady who told me she only watched shopping channels on TV. She rattled off all the different shopping networks (QVC, ShopNBC, HSN, etc.) and described the merits and drawbacks of each one. When I asked her how much money she spent on home shopping, she said, “Oh no, I don’t buy anything anymore, I just watch. I used to buy from them. Ten years ago I drained a bank account, and a good bank account, too, but I don’t do that anymore. Now I just watch them.” I guess they warded off loneliness or something. Her husband, after all, was a Bush-voting, NRA-card-carrying Republican.

5. The rich young gay guy who voted for Bush and was dating the son of Decker, of the Black & Decker fortune. I took him to the Four Seasons while he told me all sorts of stories about his boyfriend. He gave me an $8 tip on a $12 fare.

6. Jim and Mim Herr, owners of Herr’s Potato Chips. They were on their way back to Pennsylvania and, since it was right before Christmas, they wanted to see the holiday lights on the ride to Penn Station. Traffic was pretty bad though, so I told them they couldn’t see the tree from the street and just took them through Times Square instead, since it was on the way. They were sweet and gave me a nice tip. Later, passing Rockefeller Center, I felt a twinge of guilt as I caught a spectacular view of the tree and listened to the blasting Christmas music while sitting in a traffic deadlock.

7. The 23-year-old gay guy who had lost his virginity the day before to a much older, self-proclaimed spiritual guru.

8. The middle-aged woman who got in at Lincoln Center and told me she used to be a cab driver in the early '80s. She quit driving because she went back to school and became a doctor.

9. The deaf girl who signaled for me to give her a pen and paper so she could write down her destination.

10. The woman who had just had dental work and was still numb from the novocaine. She got in saying, "Hheventy-Hhhiff and Hhirst," which I finally realized meant, "Seventy-fifth and First."

11. The psychic who didn't read my mind about what kind of tip she was gonna give me.

12. The guy who claimed he produced three Beyonce songs. I took him to Howard Beach and the whole time he was flirting with some girl on the phone. Then he hung up and called his mom and asked her to cook "platanos y huevos" for him.

13. The Japanese diplomat who was working at the UN to try to get Japan into the UN Security Council.

14. The young woman who worked as an oncology nurse, administering chemotherapy to rich people's pets.

15. The two gay guys from Brooklyn Heights, one of whom was planning on coming out to his entire family by way of a note.

Reading it over now, this list seems kind of tame. I suppose one reason for that is because I'm saving some of my better passenger stories for full posts of their own when I get around to it. And another reason is because there are just so many bankers and lawyers taking cabs in New York, and all of them are relatively sane and well-behaved. As one old-time driver from my garage told me once, "Manhattan's so boring these days, the cab drivers are more interesting than the passengers. It's just a jerk store out there."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Quarter back

Apparently I'm not the only one this happens to. I was amused to read this in today's New York Times Metropolitan Diary:

Dear Diary:

As a longtime taxi driver and avid opera buff, I always enjoy driving customers to Lincoln Center. On a recent rainy evening, a fashionably dressed Upper East Side woman hailed my cab and asked to be taken to the Metropolitan Opera. I asked her what opera she was going to see, and we began a lively discussion. This well-heeled passenger asked me if I attended the Met regularly. I informed her that I rarely go any more because the tickets are too pricey on a taxi driver's salary. She replied: "Well, I agree with you about how expensive the tickets have become. Even though I can afford it, I am very discerning about which performances I attend. My box seat is costing me around $300, and a Champagne dinner at the Grand Tier Restaurant will be close to $100."

When we arrived at Lincoln Center, she told me how much she enjoyed the ride and that I was a great cabdriver. The meter read $6.70 and she handed me $8. I thanked her profusely, thinking she intended for me to keep the change.

She then said, "I'd like a quarter back, please."

As I drove away, I wondered if that quarter was going to help pay for that $300 opera ticket!

Davidson Garrett

I always wonder what these people are gonna do with that quarter, make a fucking phone call? I've been considering carrying around pennies and giving them out in 25-cent batches when these rich cheapskates want their precious little quarters back. And it's weird, because it really only ever seems to be people with money who do this. No regular working person would ever be so petty about some change. And if they were, it'd be excusable, because they're NOT RICH. The problem is that rich people probably don't even remember what a penny looks like. I guess it's up to me to remind them.

Monday, November 07, 2005


This is a picture of the trash left behind on McGuiness Blvd in Brooklyn after the big NYC Marathon today. I went to work late in order to miss most of the traffic caused by all the street closures, and I got lucky and was able to stay away from what was left of it after 4:00 p.m. I had no accidents or middle fingers tonight, so I guess it was a pretty uneventful shift.

But back to the aggravation. Sorry the picture's so shitty. I'm a little freaked out about taking pictures of cops because cops are scary. But come on, do they need to be blocking the entire fucking street just so they can chat while sitting in the comfort of their cruisers? What the fuck? This picture is from 14th Street, facing east, just past Broadway. And, in case you can't tell from the photo (try clicking on it to make it bigger), there are two cop cars blocking both lanes of the street, and one is facing the wrong direction, so their driver's sides were closer, making for a better conversation, I'm sure. All eastbound traffic basically had to swerve halfway into the oncoming traffic lane to get around them.

I see cops breaking the law all the time in a variety of ways (and I'm sure everybody has seen the one where a cop abuses his lights and siren by turning them on to get through a red light, just to shut it off again once he's through), but it infuriates me when they needlessly put everyone in danger like this. They clearly think they are above the law. And, you know what? They are. Who's gonna give these guys a fucking ticket? Themselves? Their dangerous, bad behavior has effectively caused me to have zero respect for them. And it sucks, because, as with people's opinions about cab drivers, I realize I am judging the many by the behavior of a few. But still. So if you, or anyone you know is a cop, you can make it all up to me by giving me a PBA card. Thanks.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I got screwed at the airport not once, but twice tonight. It was extra busy in the city with a slight shortage of cabs due to it being the last night of Ramadan, but I was not to benefit from this. At 4:30 p.m., a half hour into my shift, two guys got in and wanted to go to the airport shuttle bus by Grand Central Station. When they realized they missed their bus, they asked if I would take them to JFK. Sucker that I am, I said okay. Traffic, as usual, was a nightmare. I arrived at the airport at 6:00 (not good) and pulled into the taxi lot. At 7:00, I was sent up to the Delta terminal and got a "shorty," which means it's a short-haul ride to anywhere in Queens or Brooklyn from JFK (from Laguardia, it's just Queens). The taxi dispatcher gives out little tickets that allow you to get on a shorter line if you return to the lot within 90 minutes. I was back in 15. My next passengers, luckily, were going to Manhattan, and I was back in business by 8:30, four hours after I left the city.

I had steady fares for the next few hours until I got taken out to deep Bay Ridge around midnight. I was close enough to JFK, so I called the airport taxi hotline to see what was going on in the lot. The message had just been updated to say the lot was at zero percent, so I jumped on the Belt and raced over, figuring I'd get lucky, that JFK owed me something good tonight. When I pulled in, there was one main line in front of me, and two shorty lines. The picture above is of the rest of the lot, gloriously empty.

After about twenty minutes and no movement, all the cabs behind me started leaving. I asked another driver what was going on and he said, "There's only one more flight, we're not gonna make it." I called the hotline and found out the last flight was landing at 1:30 a.m. I didn't know how heavy the flight was, but by then there were three full shorty lines, and more coming in. All the shorties would get out before me. That's about 45 cabs, plus the 15 in the main line in front of me. I said fuck it, and left. Fucked again. But, actually, I found out later, I fucked myself, because when I got back to the garage at the end of my shift, an old-time driver told me that the last flight to JFK is a 300-person Jet Blue plane from California. With 60 cabs in front of me, chances are I still would've gotten a passenger. Oh fucking well.

Meanwhile, this picture is just a continuation of the pissing theme. Some lockers were removed from the parking lot at the garage, and this is what was written on the wall behind them. I wonder if Billy had anything to do with this.

Monday, October 31, 2005

We interrupt this program

One thing I forgot to mention about last night is that, though it was "Mischief Night," or "Hell Night," or whatever you want to call the night before Halloween, I was happy to have absolutely no trouble. I did see a few people in costumes, but my favorite was seeing someone's dog dressed up as a punk, complete with pink mohawk and army shirt. I guess I got in my egging quota a few weeks back.

Meanwhile, a local college radio station rebroadcast the original radio adaptation of "The War of the Worlds" from October 30, 1938. This radio play, performed in honor of Halloween by Orson Welles and his theater company, semi-accidentally convinced people there was an alien invasion in New Jersey (I wish). Since most people missed the disclaimers at the beginning of the broadcast, the program inspired widespread hysteria and panic. Listening to it now, it sounds so completely outlandish, it's hard to believe it had such a real impact. But, from what I've read, America was pretty tense in the days before WWII, and many people thought the aliens were a metaphor for the Germans. I'd never heard it before, so it was good entertainment for one of the slow late hours in the shift.

Aside from that, the oddest moment of the night was when three rabbis -- real rabbis, not Halloweeners -- got in the cab and had me take them to Borough Park, Brooklyn. It was exactly like the beginning of a politically incorrect joke: "Three rabbis get into a cab..." Too bad there was no real punchline to the ride.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here's my card

I had minor surgery yesterday, so I probably won't be working until Thursday night. Meanwhile, I forgot to mention in my last post that I happened to pick up the CEO of a very useful website that I've consulted in the past. It deals with city traffic and it's called We both got so excited about our common interest (traffic, and how to avoid it) that I almost forgot to collect the taxi fare from him. He also gave me his business card so I could give him my opinion about his upcoming site redesign. This card is the newest addition to my business-cards-given-to-me-in-the-taxi collection. At some point along the way, I decided to save them, along with pamphlets and flyers, instead of just chucking them. Here is a list of some of the company names that have appeared on these souvenirs:

Amazing Builder, Inc.
DG2L Technologies
Knowledge Movers
Massage your service, Arturo (photocopied flyer)
Pre-Paid Legal Services: Protection... Security... Peace of Mind (pamphlet)
The Hetrick-Martin Institute, Home of the Harvey Milk High School
The Jewelry Queen, Designer Jewelry
Composer, Bassist, DJ, Multi-Instrumentalist (personal business card)
Moneyworx, Solutions for Today's Financial Needs
Makeup Artist (personal business card)
Flushing Town Hall, Flushing Council of Culture and the Arts
Deutsche Bank
Fountainhead Films
Swiss Effects
The Dead Betties (band flyer)
Affinia Dumont, An Executive Fitness Suite Hotel
Flashdancers Gentlemen's Club (handed to me by the doorman there as I dropped a passenger off in front)
NuTech Integrated Systems
Sly Bar
Guy Carpenter & Company
The Museum of Modern Art
Prudent Protection Service, Inc.

Monday, October 24, 2005

On tipping

Somebody fucked up, but, thankfully, it wasn't me. This piece of work was dragged into the garage this afternoon when I was waiting for my cab.

Overall, it was a boring night. I drove around, picked people up, dropped them off, and sat at traffic lights. Apparently, people weren't in the mood to tip tonight. I guess it's time I addressed this, so here are a few helpful tips on tipping for clueless cabbers:

1. Most basically, tip like you would if you were in a restaurant. This means add about 15 to 20 percent of what's on the meter, or even more for exceptional service. This means if your fare is $15, don't just tack on a single precious dollar. Give at least two, but three or more is preferable and customary.

2. Try not to ask for a quarter back. That's just cheap.

3. If you ask your cab driver a million questions about his or her life, and he or she is nice about answering you and pretends like you're not the millionth person to ask these questions, give a little extra. Remember, most of the time we are just humoring you so that you'll give us more money. We are not necessarily driving around looking to make friends, though, if that happened, it'd be a nice bonus. However, this is a rare occurence. Driving a cab is an exhausting job, made even more so when at least half of our passengers ask us the same tired old questions night after night, expecting some sort of entertainment. A nice friendly conversation is one thing -- and that is certainly welcomed and helps us get through the day -- but being repeatedly grilled about who we are, where we come from, and why we are doing this job, well that's something entirely different. And please don't get offended if your driver doesn't want to answer all the personal questions you may be asking. We might just be too tired and bored with ourselves to be able to force ourselves to answer.

On a related note, do not ask your cab driver about the money he or she makes. We will not tell you the truth. It makes us nervous, mainly because we don't know if you're just innocently asking, or if you're trying to figure out if we're worth robbing.

4. If you need a cab to wait for you, compensate. We do not, by law, have to wait for passengers, since this means we will basically be losing money. Yes, the meter is running, but it is running at a much slower rate than if the cab was actually moving. The meter adds 40 cents for every two minutes of waiting time. This translates into $12 an hour. If we sat with the meter on for the entire 12 hour shift, we would ultimately end up paying out more money in lease fees and gas than we made for the night. Additionally, do not act like it is your god-given right to have a cab wait for you. It is not. If you ask nicely, the driver will probably do it, but don't feel entitled to it.

5. Obviously, overtipping is very welcomed. Just know that when you give even just a dollar or two more than the driver might have expected, it has a huge impact, not only financially, but mentally. I will never forget the people who surprised me with amazingly generous tips. But even just mildly generous tips have helped to revive my ever-fledgling faith in humanity. On the other hand, it's also hard to forget those who leave no tip at all.

6. If you fart in a cab, tip extra.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

First lady

Some asshole driver clipped my mirror tonight. Traffic was heavy going up 6th Ave and he was trying to get over into my lane, which would've been fine and all except I already happened to be there. I had no room to move, but he must've thought my cab would just magically fucking disappear once he decided to move over because he just came straight at me. When my cab didn't dematerialize for him, our mirrors met. Luckily, Ford Crown Victorias are extremely resilient and my mirror just sort of sprang back into position. I got out and checked the doors and fender, but there was no mark that anything happened. Not that it would have mattered since the guy drove away as fast as he could. Still, I was pissed. And the Texan tourists in the backseat seemed a little freaked.

Meanwhile, I have no idea what is wrong with this cab driver. He was driving really weirdly and was kinda pissing me off, fucking up my rhythm. When I pulled up next to him, the problem became obvious: He was counting his money.

The most notable event of the night was when two classy black ladies got in at 5th Ave and 25th. They were making two stops and talked politics the whole way. One was middle-aged, the other was older. After I dropped off the older one, the other lady said, "That was the former first lady of New York City that just got out of the cab." I said, "Really? Wait, what?" And she said, "Do you remember David Dinkins? He was the mayor before Giuliani. He was the good mayor. That was his wife." So, yeah, I had Mrs. Dinkins in my cab. Does she count as a celebrity?

The other thing that sticks in my mind from this shift was when I picked up a young couple and the guy informed me that I had driven him home last week. That's actually happened to me two other times, where I've met the same passenger in the cab more than once. The first time it happened with some old French guy who I didn't remember but who remembered me, and the other time it happened with a young woman who I did remember. More recently, I was approached in a book store by a young man asking, "Excuse me, are you a cab driver?" I had driven him home in a blizzard last winter and, since it took a while, we got to know each other. It's kind of astonishing each time this happens since there are about 13,000 cabs in New York.

Monday, October 17, 2005


One of my predecessors. According to the dictionary, a hack is defined as:
1. A horse used for riding or driving; a hackney.
2. A worn-out horse for hire; a jade.
3. a. One who undertakes unpleasant or distasteful tasks for money or reward; a hireling; b. A writer hired to produce routine or commercial writing.
4. A carriage or hackney for hire.
5. A taxicab.

Tonight I mostly felt like a combination of 2 and 3a. Add to this the fact that my sore throat and cough is back, and I become a stupid play on words, a hack with a hacking cough. Either I got sick again or I never fully recovered from my illness of last week. Whichever it is, it put me in a bad mood for most of the night.

The one really nice thing that happened tonight was when some people I know randomly got in the cab at 42nd and 8th. This is Nico and his friend Nadia.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Some gentle suggestions for drivers and pedestrians

No pictures today as I’m not working, nor will I be around much until next week. So I figured I’d just post this list I’ve been compiling of suggestions for how to walk and drive in New York City. It’s a work in progress, so I will probably add to it as more issues arise.

1. Use your turn signals. I promise you, this is not the hardest thing in the world. Simply locate the little lever to the left of your steering wheel and push it down if you’re turning left, or pull it up if you’re turning right. It takes the most minimal amount of energy, and when you get good at it (after only a few days of practice, or even just minutes if you’re a precocious learner), all you need is a quick flick of the fingers.

2. If you’ve almost missed your turn and are in the middle lane of a busy avenue, do not stop and try to turn from where you are. It’s not worth the accident you will probably cause. Since most of Manhattan is a grid, it is all too easy to drive two more blocks and make that left you were originally after, or simply turn right at the next block and box around (this means, make three rights to get back to the block you wanted), making sure this time around to position yourself in the proper lane for your desired turn.

3. Do not cut off a yellow cab.

4. If you must cut off a yellow cab, at least try to warn the driver by using your turn signal (see number 1 above for instructions). This really does make it better as it gives the car you’re cutting off time to hit the brakes.

5. Additionally, if you cut off a taxi, and the driver honks at you, DO NOT give him or her the finger. Remember, YOU were the one at fault and a good angry honking was only in order.

6. If there is space in front of you and you see a taxi signaling to get over into that space, do not speed up so as to not let it in. I will never understand why people do this, but if you do it, you are an asshole. What, do you really need to be First? Does it affect your ego that much to be driving behind a yellow cab?

7. The speed limit on most New York City Streets is 30 mph. Do not drive slower than this unless you have a good reason. And, no, having an important conversation on your fucking cell phone does not count as a good reason. Which brings us to:

8. Do not talk on your cell phone, hands-free included, while operating a vehicle in New York City. People who do this drive worse than most drunk drivers. I know this sounds hypocritical coming from a taxi driver, since many taxi drivers are on their phones throughout an entire shift, but, perhaps because of the amount of time they spend on the streets, these drivers seem to be able to handle it. Personally, I am not good at talking on the phone while driving, so I avoid doing it. Civilian drivers are not good at it either. They weave and swerve and go too slow. They try to turn from the middle lane of an avenue without using their turn signal because, whoops, their conversation was just too important to think about actually paying attention to how they are driving and where they are going, not to mention what the other cars around them are doing. Either pull over or hang up. Thank you.


1. When waiting to cross the street, wait on the sidewalk, not three feet into the intersection. You never know when a car may have to swerve to avoid something on the other side, which might cause that car to hit you instead.

2. If you see a car coming, do not cross in front of it against the light. It’s just rude.

3. If you are crossing in the middle of the street (i.e. not on a marked crosswalk), do not get angry at a cab for actually driving on the street where you are crossing. Also, do not give the finger or threaten to punch the cab driver in the face for driving on the street where you shouldn’t be crossing. Can you handle that, tough guy? You won’t be so tough when the brakes don’t work or the driver doesn’t see you (because you shouldn’t be there in the first place) and you get hit. Despite what you may believe, cab drivers really don’t want to hit pedestrians, so let’s all work together on preventing that, okay?

4. Do not point or wave to your friends while standing on the edge of the sidewalk. This is the universal signal for “I want a cab.” If you must point or wave while standing on the edge of the sidewalk, do not look disdainfully at the cabs that stop in front of you expecting you to get in.

5. If a car gets stuck in an intersection due to heavy traffic, do not cross in front of it, thus not letting it move safely to the other side. This puts both you and the car you are crossing in front of in danger until the light changes.

6. If you must cross at an intersection against the light (see number 2 for pedestrians above), please hurry the fuck up. Also, do not run halfway across and then slow down to a walk for the rest of the distance. Lackadaisical pedestrians are selfish and stupid and are likely to either get hit or cause an accident.

Like I said, it’s a work in progress. I’ll probably have more to add when I get back next week. In the meantime, study this list carefully and be nice to cabbies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Recession Special

My cab smelled like puke tonight. I actually gagged a little when I first got in. I considered asking for a different one, but I didn't want to deal with the potential wrath of John the crazy Romanian dispatcher. I wiped down the floor and seats with the bleach wipes I usually use to clean the steering wheel and buttons, and pulled out with all the windows down. The whole night, the smell was there, like an annoying passenger that wouldn't get out. On top of that, it was a slow night. This picture is an illustration of what I saw in front of me for most of the shift: empty cabs.

I stopped at Gray's Papaya to eat around midnight. It's crap food, but it's quick and cheap, and there's parking right in front. I usually get the "Recession Special," which consists of two hot dogs and a juice for $2.75.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The blur

This was my view for most of the night: blur. The shift was relatively uneventful, despite my shitty wipers. I did have more drunk passengers than usual, but they were just happy and sloppy and in good spirits, for the most part.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More assholes, and where you shouldn't put them

Take a good look at this cab. I wish I had the daring to have photographed the driver himself, because he is an ASSHOLE. Notice his position in relation to the double-yellow line. This photo was taken on Avenue A. Traffic was a little backed up approaching Houston, and business had just drastically slowed down, so this asshole decided that it was important to drive like, well, an asshole. He tried to pass me on the left, using the oncoming traffic lane as a passing lane, and came within, literally, an inch of hitting me. And the stupidest part of it was that he was gaining zero advantage from doing this as there were about five other empty cabs ahead of us further up the block. This is the worst part of slow business. Cab drivers get desperate, and this makes them vicious and irrational. Perhaps this is why everyone thinks cabs drive like maniacs. Because sometimes they do.

I would like to point out, though, that, contrary to popular belief, cab drivers are actually in the minority when it comes to assholic driving. This guy, for instance, felt that closely cutting me off wasn't enough. No, he had to give me the finger as well. Then, when he saw me taking pictures of his macho truck (and his wimp-ass Florida license plate), he decided to get out and yell at me. Mind you, a cab driver would never do that.

Meanwhile, this sign has always puzzled me.* It's posted in the US Airways taxi lot bathroom (which is unisex, sort of) at Laguardia. I have no idea what the writer was trying to say. Don't get on the toilet? Please sit in the toilet? I'm never quite sure what to do when using this bathroom because, apparently, the rules are different here.

*(Sorry about the blur. I was in a hurry.)

Monday, October 03, 2005


I think this is one of the last checker cabs in the city. From what I've heard, this guy just drives around giving people free rides. I have no idea why he would want to do such a thing. Apparently the TLC (Taxi & Limousine Commission) got after him in the past for accepting tips, which is against the law if you don't have a medallion. Or something like that.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Exhibits A and B

From outside:

From inside:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Off Duty

I was away for a few days and was scheduled to return to work tonight. But I just got a call from the garage that they already have too many drivers for the day, and would I mind not coming in? I never really mind not working, except I am, of course and as usual, desperate for money. So now I'm not scheduled to work until Sunday, though I'm gonna try to get them to give me a cab on Saturday night as well. This means I don't really have any new pictures to post or stories to tell. I'm digging up the dregs here with this picture of the foot bath in the women's bathroom at the JFK holding lot. At least I
think it's a foot bath. The only reason I assume this is because I've seen men washing their feet in a similar contraption in the unisex bathroom at Laguardia's US Airways holding lot. From the looks of it, this foot bath in the separate and pristine women's bathroom at JFK remains unused. Perhaps I'll use it next time I'm there and try to figure out what the point might be.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


This guy was driving a black Jaguar with Pennsylvania plates. He almost hit me when he ran an all-way stop sign on W. 13th and Washington. But it was kind of him to pose so nicely for the camera.

Sometimes Billy, the neighborhood lush, greets me from under the stairs in my building with a loud snore when I arrive home at night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The UN General Assembly opened today, causing major gridlock on the east side, so I wasn't too upset when my second fare was to JFK. It did, however, screw up my entire night. It took an hour to get there, and then I sat in the taxi lot for another two hours. Still, the JFK Central Taxi Hold lot is a pretty awe-inspiring place. It's just one enormous lot, as opposed to Laguardia's separate little lots. At full capacity, it holds about 500 taxis. (Click here to see what it looks like from above when it's about half full. You might want to zoom in to view it better.)

To pass the time, drivers play backgammon and dominos, but mostly they just stand around and shoot the shit. They also buy food in this little building, which is a coffee shop.

And behind the coffee shop, when the weather is warm enough, they lay down mats and pray. In the winter, the praying takes place inside.

This fence is at the far end of the lot. The planes land practically next to us. I was standing here when a cab stopped on the other side on its way to a terminal. There's really no reason for a cab to stop here as it's a roadway and the drivers are usually speeding along it trying to get to the terminals as fast as they can. When I peeked inside this cab to see what was up, I saw the driver pointing his dick into a cup, peeing. Then he dumped the cup on the roadway and drove off.

This is what he left behind.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Car service

In addition to drivers from New Jersey, I also hate car service drivers. This guy refused to let me over and caused me to lose a fare. The thing about car service drivers is, half the time, they're drunk. Seriously. If you take car services regularly enough, you should know this. There's a 24-hour Indian restaurant in Queens that caters primarily to taxi and car service drivers. On a shelf behind the counter are huge jugs of White Horse scotch, which they pour into paper coffee cups and mix with Canada Dry club soda. More than once I've seen a car service driver come in and do a shot with the waiter before taking his little paper-cup cocktail back to his black Lincoln and continuing on his shift.

Airport, again

Traffic was heavy when I got out today. I scraped through two fares in the first hour (the average should be between four and six, depending on the length of the ride) because both were going across town (one east, one west) and each took almost 30 minutes. My third fare, at precisely 5:00 p.m., wanted to go to Laguardia. Leaving the city is treacherous during rush hour, but, miraculously, I managed to get there in the same amount of time as those two stupid crosstown rides: 30 minutes. The guy gave me a nice $10 tip. Then I sat in the Delta taxi lot, which is what you see in these pictures. I got a fare after 30 minutes and made it back to the city in a decent amount of time, dropping off the passengers at a hotel in Times Square. They tipped $6.

I just read recently that Fiorello LaGuardia (mayor of New York from 1934 to 1945) opposed prohibition, supported women's suffrage, developed low-income housing, promoted labor unions, and fought to end child labor. He also unified the city's transit system and significantly expanded the city's infrastructure by building, among many other things, the Triboro Bridge and a nice little airport in Queens. Is it really possible that there was once an actual mayor who did actual good things for the not-rich people of his city?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Make that 11 Most Dangerous Intersections

This sign is posted at the garage. I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but someone wrote 45th Str. and Vernon Blvd. at the top. I think they were trying to be funny by writing the location of the garage, except the garage is located on 45th AVENUE and Vernon Blvd. You'd think a cab driver would know the difference.

Meanwhile, I'd like to add a most dangerous intersection of my own: Ainslie Street and Union Avenue in Brooklyn. Specifically, the location of the restaurant Dumont. This is where I had my birthday dinner on Thursday night. The place was packed and our waitress suggested we order an appetizer because the kitchen was backed up, so we got the scallops. Then we waited another hour for our mediocre dinners. Exactly 24 hours later (I don't know why it took that long, but it did), all four of us were struck with ultra-violent food poisoning. I won't go into details, because I'm sure you can imagine it well enough, but suffice to say it was worse than the food poisoning I got from the veggie wrap I bought at JFK's Jet Blue terminal last year. I am finally just recovering this afternoon, though I wouldn't exactly call myself "well" yet. I am happy, however, to call myself "not puking my guts up anymore."

Needless to say, I will not be visiting that intersection again anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Tonight really sucked. The only thing that was easy was that, when I ended up at Laguardia, I didn't wait longer than 25 minutes to get a fare back to the city (sometimes you can sit there for over an hour, which is just painful). This picture is from the front of the line at the US Airways Shuttle terminal. Eventually I was sent up to the main US Air terminal and took three Germans to the Clarion hotel on Park Ave. South and 30th. They tipped exactly ten percent of the meter, because that's what German people do.

$2.95 a gallon

This was the second thing I saw when I walked into the garage today. The first thing was John the crazy Romanian dispatcher standing outside grabbing his balls at me. Frankly, I was more upset about the gas price.

I hate New Jersey

New Jersey drivers do not know how to drive properly in New York City. They never use their turn signal, they drive like they're sightseeing, they have an incredible sense of entitlement, and they're almost always on the phone. I've figured out that the worst cars on the road are white Mercedes SUVs with New Jersey plates. Each of these characteristics stand alone as a sign that the person will drive like an asshole, but put them together and you get the shittiest drivers ever. These are the ones that will dangerously cut you off, forcing you to slam on the brakes or swerve into oncoming traffic, and then, to add insult to injury, they will give you the finger because you honked. I'm not saying that the driver of the car in the photo did anything wrong (because that might be considered libel), but I'm not saying he didn't either.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ms. Pac Man

A yellow disc speeds around a neon-lit grid while eating white dots and getting chased by ghosts. A taxi garage staple.


This is where cabs go to die or convalesce. A taxi has a lifespan of about three years.

Nothing to be done.

Waiting for the day drivers to bring the cabs back. It's like a little social club, complete with soda, TV, A.C., couches, and Taxitronic.

But Sundays are slow.