Friday, July 07, 2006
Last night was a total bust from beginning to end. I made a number of mistakes and bad decisions, the first of which was showing up to work at all. When I got to the garage, the first thing anybody said to me was "Did you gain weight?" I'm not a big person and I don't think I'll ever manage to be overweight, but still. The question is tough to hear. No one wants to gain weight, even if it's just couple of pounds from too many burritos.
Granted, the question was asked in a well-meaning way, followed by a "No, I mean, you look good!" But the damage was done. I mean, how could someone notice if I gained a few pounds when there are a bunch of fat cabbies hanging out not 10 feet away. Anyway, I just woke up and checked myself out in the mirror but I don't seem any different. A few nights ago I wasn't anorexic enough, and now this.
Anyway, when I pulled out of the garage, something smelled funny. I couldn't tell if it was coming from my cab or just from the area I was in so I continued on over the bridge. When I got to the other side, I knew for sure it was my cab. This time it smelled like some kind of horrible toxic oil was burning. I thought maybe it was something spilled on the engine and that it would burn off after a little while, but it never did.
I checked with a few of my passengers to see if they smelled it to, in order to make sure I wasn't going crazy, and they did. But when I checked under the hood, the smell wasn't there. After about an hour, I realized it was coming from somewhere underneath the car, and it didn't seem to have any plans of going away. Now slightly dizzy, nauseous, and with a small headache, I went back to the garage to get it looked at.
I know nothing about cars, but apparently the "rear end was blown out." Or at least that's what it sounded like Lincoln, the head mechanic, said. Then I think he was playing with me because he said, "You ruined my car!" I said back, "Your car ruined my night!" But my night wasn't ruined enough yet, apparently. Walter, one of the cashiers, set me up with an SBV (stand-by vehicle), which is a back-up cab that borrows the medallions from regular cabs that are being worked on. At that point, I didn't want to work anymore -- my rhythm was gone, my head felt weird, and I had lost heart, but Walter, who is a buddy of mine, had no intention of letting me get away with that. What he did say was that he would give me a hundred dollar discount (which I'm sure he would never really do, but it's worth a try) if I mentioned him on the site. Hi Walter!
I lost over an hour of my shift to that stupid car, and when I finally got back on the streets, it was spotty business. Two hours later, I got a lady going to Queens. When I dropped her off, I got another fare deeper into Queens. And here's where the mistakes really start to stack up. It's almost as if I was a brand new driver last night, because when I finally dropped those last people off, I tried to head over to LaGuardia (mistake), but ended up getting lost and taking a long stupid way there (mistake).
When I got there, I pulled into the Delta lot (big fucking mistake), and sat there for over an hour. When I finally got to the front of the line, bad luck kicked in and I got a fare going to Far fucking Rockaway. It's called "Far Rockaway" for a reason, as it's a million miles from the city, but what it is near is Kennedy Airport. So after I dropped off, I made my biggest mistake of the night and drove into the Central Taxi Hold lot at Kennedy.
By this time it was midnight. The lot looked promising as it was only about 40% full, which is usually a good thing, but not last night. I sat there and waited. And waited. And waited. I got stared at by some disgusting, pervy cab driver, who wouldn't even stop staring after I took his photo (featured above). I sat in my cab and read a book, bought a buttered roll (that lacked much butter), talked on the phone to Allen and Diego, and smoked a ton of cigarettes.
Finally, two and a half hours later, I couldn't take it anymore. When you pull into that lot, you get trapped in a lane, with cabs parked in front of you, next to you, and behind you. But by 2:30, a bunch of the cabs in the lanes around me had given up and reversed out of there empty. The lane next to me was now clear, so, being tired, frustrated, and utterly disgusted with the piece of shit night I had been having, I gave up too.
I pulled out empty and drove straight back to the garage, but, of course, not without having to take the long way, since the Van Wyck was closed for construction. But I guess that was just a little extra bonus for me, courtesy of the Department of Transportation.
The only good thing that happened last night was that when I got back to the garage, I stood around bullshitting for a while with Merrill, Abe, and Allen. In the post-shift delirium, those guys made me laugh so hard, I think I actually may have lost those few extra pounds I had supposedly gained. So maybe the night wasn't a total bust after all.