Thursday, March 27, 2014

Polar and Drunken Vortexes

December and January have come and gone since my last real post, but I wrote that article, so there was that.  But I have been kicking myself in the butt about how little I have written lately.  So, here is my long awaited post.

The holidays were a little bit of a letdown.  The weeks leading up until Christmas are filled with tourists coming into town to look at the tree and visit friends and family.  And for the most part it was good.  I stayed busy, and had lots of fares.

And then the day before Christmas when it should have been super busy, it was almost 70 degrees and NOBODY wanted a taxi.  Everyone was soaking up the summer like temperatures and walking everywhere.  It was pretty brutal.  For me.  The day I was hoping to make a nice little holiday bonus ended up being worse than the average day.  It was pretty sad.

I took off the next week for New Years and the week after that i went to Florida, so I didn't work for two weeks.  And then I came back and things were just as dead as I left them.  For the most part I wouldn't break even until two hours after when I normally would.  I was forced to start days at the airport which isn't awful, but can be boring.  And I would only do okay if I caught a lucky fare or two.  And then the Polar Vortex came along and made things worse.

I do not like snow.  And i have a very hard time driving in snow, especially if its more than just a little bit.  So if I know it will be snowing and its supposed to be more than an inch or two, I don't work.  Well, that meant a lot of not working.  And even on days when it wasn't snowing, the streets hadn't been plowed, everything was covered in ice and the cars at my garage, while awesome for everything else, are not good when it comes to snow and ice.  They just slide everywhere and it is downright dangerous.  One of the other drivers at the garage told me that he was droving his cab on the LIE, hit some black ice and spun into a partition.  This guy has been driving for decades and never had an accident.  But that ice was sneaky.  So, yeah, I didn't work much with the weather.
Amusing street art seen in DUMBO, Brooklyn
Once in a while though, Mother Nature eased off and I was able to work SOME days.  A lot of it was the same old, same old.  Well, most of it was. 

I always check the cab at the end of my shift to see if anyone left anything behind.  The most I had ever found was an umbrella.  One night I was driving around and picked up a girl in the East Village.  She seemed rather flustered but was probably an NYU student or something.  But she got out and went on her way.  I quickly picked up another passenger, a very nice woman.  When she got in she sat down and realized she was sitting on something.  It was a laptop that the girl before had left.  She handed it to me and I knew right away who it belonged to, and where i had dropped her off.  But it was a building, and I didn't know what apartment she had gone into.  After I dropped off the woman, I looked in the laptop case and there was thankfully some papers with the girl's address on them.  So I drove back to the building and rang the doorbell.  The girl's boyfriend came downstairs and told me that he was sorry that they didn't have any sort of reward to give me, but if I gave him my info, he would be sure that they sent something to me.  I gave him my email address and figured I would never hear about it again. 

Almost two months later, I opened my email and found a $50 Amazon gift card had been sent to me!  I couldn't believe it.  I had totally just figured i wouldn't hear from the girl again but was happy I did a good deed.  And she had written a very nice note as well along with the card, and it made me feel very nice.  There was no reply email though, so Kendall, if you read this, THANK YOU!!!!!! 
Lovely note I received with my gift card.

The Polar Vortex wasn't totally awful to me.  Snow is bad, but plain old cold can be great for business.  There were some days where it was otherwise nice out, but so cold that people just didn't want to walk in it.  And some days I was just getting very lucky with my fares.  One evening, I kept trying to head home, but spent another two hours picking up people in Williamsburg and Bushwick.  I wasn't looking for them, they kept finding me!  So that was good.  Another night, I was doing a last minute cruise of Park Slope before calling it a night.  I get hailed down by two young guys and they hop in and tell me we are going to the Bronx!  That was a HUGE fare, and after dropping them off, i headed back down through Manhattan where I caught another two fares.  Some nights, you don't get to pick when your shift ends, your shift decides for you.  And that's not a bad thing.  I was happy for those fares that kept me out later. 

OK, so I know that I don't have too many individual stories to share.  It has been so long since my last post that they all kind of blend together, so it is hard to pick out just a few.  But the one I can really talk about is fresh in my mind.

So, I for some ungodly reason, thought it would be a good idea to work on the night of St. Patricks Day.  I didn't have any other plans and it fell on one of my usual working nights, so I decided to give it a go.  NEVER AGAIN!

I knew it would be a day full of drunks, so I was prepared at the beginning of my shift.  I had a bunch of plastic bags and paper towels and all that stuff.  A little after 7pm, I was on Bleeker st where I picked up a guy.  He gets in and tells me we are going to Coney Island.  "Great!" I thought.  That's a nice fare.  When he got in he was talking, he was coherent.  He told me it was his birthday and his friends had been buying him drinks all day.  I told him that if he should need them, I had plastic bags, but he assured me he was fine.  And he seemed it.  We talked for a little while and he did seem OK.  When we got to Brooklyn and hit the highway, this guy passed out, and he passed out HARD.  When we did get to Coney Island I tried to ask him where exactly we were going.  No response.  I had to pull over, turn around and shake the guy to get an answer out of him.  He finally mumbles to me the cross streets of where I need to bring him.  I drive there and by the time we get there, he is out cold again. I had to turn around again and yell at the guy "Dude!  You gotta pay me and go home!"  He doesn't wake up right away and I shake him again and yell it again.  So, he sort of comes to, and asks how much, and as he is going to take his money out I could see that it was gonna happen.  I tried handing him a plastic bag, but it wasn't fast enough.  He spewed.  Mostly on himself, thank goodness.  He then opened the door to spew some more.  At this point I saw a cop car coming, and i tried waving them down to help me, but they didn't care and just drove past.  Dicks.  I finally get my money off of this guy and send him on his way.  As he stumbled across the street he gave me a "sorry about the *hic* mess".  I drove around the corner to a bar I knew I could park by, and managed to clean up.  Thankfully, most got on him and there wasn't much to clean up, but it was still gross.  It was only 8pm.  At least it was a big fare though, and I did get a nice chunk of change for that, and he in his drunken state still managed to tip me appropriately, although not for the cleaning service.
Coney Island, land of hotdogs and awful drunk dudes.
I managed to avoid any more sickness the rest of the night, but the drunks were everywhere.  But they cleared out early.  I had another big fare into Brooklyn later on.  This guy I picked up from one of the many Irish pubs near times square, he was wearing a kilt and had been a part of the parade.  I was worried it would be a repeat performance, but he wasn't wasted, just wanted to go home and rip the kilt off.  He was really nice and apologized for making me go so far into Brooklyn, but i told him I was happy to take him because it wasn't like my previous fare.  I think he was a little grossed out to learn someone had puked in the car he had just ridden in, but by that point he had already paid and tipped nicely, so oh well.  And he didn't smell it, so i did a good job cleaning.

Moral of the story though, I am not working St. Pats ever again.  Ever.

OK, so I hope this made up a little bit for not writing in FOREVER. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy new year!

Ok. I know. I suck. I am way long overdue for a post. I have stuff a brewin, and have things to share.  But this will have to tide you over for the meantime. 

You may remember I did an interview last summer for Taxi Fare Finder. I was approached not to long ago by them again. Apparently my interview got a lot if great feedback and they asked if I would write an article for them. So, of course, I did. I am pretty stoked about it. You should all take a moment and check it out!!

http://www.taxifarefinder.com/newsroom/2014/01/09/a-rare-sight-a-female-taxi-driver-in-nyc/

New posts soon. Promise. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's All About The Averages

In a continuation from the previous post, last week was a similar story.  I worked on Monday, and it was an okay day.  And then Tuesday, I showed up at the garage where I waited and waited and waited only to go home empty handed after sitting in the cold for 4 hours.

All this waiting gets to be pretty mundane.  And I've been getting to know a couple of the other drivers a little better and we have great conversations.  But still, all the waiting gets frustrating.  I have been saying I was going to do it for a while now, but last week I finally brought a hoop with me to keep me busy while I wait.  It's a custom made taxi hoop, actually.  Made for me by my hooping teacher, Amy.  But I finally busted it out and its been great.

A lot of the guys at the garage got a kick out of it.  It's not every day someone at the garage busts out some moves on a hula hoop.  I made myself get over the embarrassment though, and hooped away.  And it was awesome.  Not only did it kill a LOT of time, but it kept me moving and warm, as well as made me exercise when I would otherwise be sitting on my butt.  So yeah, that's been pretty great.  So glad I decided to bring it to the garage with me.
video 
 I decided this week since I have been having not such great luck getting a car on Tuesdays, that I would work Sunday and Monday instead of Monday and Tuesday.  I had to kick myself in the butt to get myself to the garage on Sunday.  There were other things I wanted to be doing, but I made myself work.  And I was so glad I did!

I made it out of the garage a little early, and headed into the city.  On my way, I got hailed near Grand Army Plaza and the guy needed to go into the East Village.  This was awesome.  I was heading that way anyways, so why not get paid for it!  I could tell it was going to be a busy night.  It was a bit gross out weather wise, so people didn't want to walk.  And being a Sunday evening, people were coming home from their weekends.

As soon as I dropped the first guy off, a woman flagged me down and I took her right back into Brooklyn.  She was just going to Williamsburg though, so thankfully it was easy to get back into Manhattan.  From there, I couldn't stay empty!  It was great.  And everyone was really nice.  At one point, I picked up a couple and they were headed to JFK.  Traffic wasn't too bad getting there, and I didn't have to wait long at the airport before getting a fare back into the city.  And it was pretty funny because the people I picked up at the airport were going to the same block that I had picked up my fare to the airport on.  They weren't as amused, but i thought it was funny.  
Sitting in my taxi, waiting in the JFK taxi lot.
I stayed busy for a while, even had some bigger fares.  Was all over the place.  Brooklyn, Queens, Uptown, Downtown.  It was a good night.  At around midnight, I had just gotten back over the 59th st bridge, and a woman flagged me down.  She was headed to Rego Park.  I brought her home, and decided since I was so close, I would call JFK and see what they were like.  The recording said that as of midnight, the lot was at 40% and busy.  I decided to head over.  

Best move ever!  I got there and they were well below 40%.  There were probably 4 lanes of taxis(the lot has about 45-50 lanes total).  And they were moving.  Cars were being dispatched faster than new cars were coming in.  So I was there for all of 10 minutes before heading off to a terminal.  And I was lucky and got a nice fare right back into Manhattan.  Three JFK fares in one night is awesome.

From there, I kept getting lucky and finding fares, which on a Sunday night after midnight isn't always easy.  But I kept getting them.  Even in Brooklyn.  I picked up a fare in the East Village into Williamsburg.  And then from there, I picked up another fare into Bushwick.  And then from Bushwick, two girls ran down the street after me, and they went back to Williamsburg.  And then in Williamsburg, I got another fare!  I seriously was planning on calling it a night after that first fare to Williamsburg, and just wasn't able to!  I wasn't planning on staying out so late, but I didn't get back to my garage until 3:30am.  And by the end of it, I was thrilled that I worked that night.

Monday was less prosperous.  I got out of the garage a little late because my car for the night needed a new set of brakes.  So by the time I got out, it was a little after 5.  And it really wasn't busy at all.  I had a few okay fares, but for the most part, it was slow, and the few fares I did manage to find were usually small.  
Waiting for a new pair of shoes.
People were nice for the most part, though nobody really talked much to me.  I did have one awful woman with her two daughters.  You could tell these girls were rotten.  Literally one girl forbade her mother from buying a particular apartment...  She must have been about 13-14.  And the mother was a space cadet.  When she finally gave me an address, she would ask every few blocks exactly where we were(rather than, you know, looking out the window) and when I brought them to the exact address that she had given me, she was asking ME if this was such and such restaurant.  I told her I didn't know what restaurant it was, but this was the address.  She then said that the restaurant moved and where was it.  I Told her again, I wasn't sure about the particular restaurant, but this was the address she gave me.  Meanwhile it was a very narrow street and there was a truck and line of cars waiting to get through, and the woman and her daughters took a hundred years getting out.

Because it was so dead, I ended up staying out until 4am just to bring in less than other nights where I stay out til 1:30.  I know you have to look at the big picture, and if you count the success of my previous night, I did okay over all.  But it is still very frustrating when you stay out really late, bust you butt and come home with a lot less than usual.  

But the holidays are coming, so things will pick up much more.  The city is already lit up with a lot of the holiday decorations.  So I am looking forward to the busy season.  I just wish the Taxi TVs weren't playing Christmas music already!

If you are interested in a hoop or hooping classes, check out my teacher Amy Rogers at The Hoop Movement.

                                      video

Imagine You Are Reading This A Week Ago!

The following post was written over a week ago, and I just spaced on posting it.  So pretend you are reading this a week ago.  There will be a newer post coming too.

I have been driving the past few weeks, but getting a cab has not been easy.  My first week back, I got a cab two days in a row, no problem.  The next week, i showed up to work several time only to be told that there was no cab for me those days.  The next week, I showed up on Monday and got a car, but then Tuesday it was the same story and then Wednesday.  Sometimes our dispatch guy would give me the courtesy of telling me flat out when I showed up that I wouldn't be getting a car, but sometimes I would sit there for hours hoping to get a cab only to be waiting for nothing.  This week again, I showed up on Monday and got a cab, but Tuesday it wasn't looking promising.  But after the usual dispatch guy went home for the day, I was about to give up when one of the other guys who works dispatch found a car for me to use.

It is frustrating.  You show up and want to work, and waste a good chunk of your day waiting around for a car that you never get, and don't get to work.  It took a lot of kicking myself in the ass to get back to work, and now that I am trying, its really disappointing to get told I can't.  And it seems more like it is a game that the dispatch guy plays for his own amusement.  Like he gets to show you who is in charge by giving out and not giving out cars.  The last day when the other guy got me a car, a whole bunch of drivers were waiting for hours, and when he left for the day, there were still 10-15 cars he just didn't give out.  Because he does what he wants and tough shit if you don't like it.

Now that little rant is over.  Not anything much happened on the few shifts i was able to work.  I did see something really cool, for me anyways.  I was driving last week around the East Village later at night. I was about to make a turn when I noticed the car in front of me.  It was a KISS Mini Cooper.  For people who know me, this is a big deal for me.  I am a pretty big KISS fan, so I had to get a closer look.  I followed the car down the next block when they pulled into a space.  I pulled up next to them to tell them how much i loved their car.  I ended up taking a few photos of the car and thanked the two guys before getting back in my cab and heading off on my way.
KISS MINI
This past Monday was a mixed bag.  It was busy and i was picking people up left and right, but it wasn't an easy shift.  It was one of those nights that even if the city doesn't have much traffic, no matter what, every time you turn a corner you hit traffic.  It was frustrating.  But overall, I was making money and people were decent.  Until I picked up this one man.

I picked up a man who hailed me, and he told me we were heading to Brooklyn.  It was getting closer to the time when Brooklyn Bridge construction begins, and I know that leads to nothing good.  He asked me what route I was taking, so I told him Manhattan Bridge, unless he would prefer a different route which i would be happy to take.  But he told me that was fine, and then got on his phone which he was on for a good part of the way.  I headed towards the bridge in a similar route to what i normally take.  Normally, it its a pretty quick way, especially at this time of the night.  But on this night, there was new construction at a big intersection.  And this caused us to get stuck for a few minutes.  At this point he started to huff and puff about which way I was going,and I did also at this point apologize for the traffic, as it wasn't there when i had passed by the same spot about 30 minutes prior.  We were only stuck for a few minutes before we were on our way, and flew the rest of the way to his destination.

When we arrived, he berates me, telling me that this was the most expensive trip to there he had ever had and didn't understand why on earth I would take that way.  I, at this point, pointed out to him I did tell him before hand which way I was going to take and he said okay.  In a huff he gave me a "yeah, but still".  He gave me exactly the fare and DEMANDED a receipt, which i happily gave him and being as sickeningly nice as I could be, told him again how sorry I was that he was displeased with his service and told him to have a fantastic night.  Based on his phone conversation where all he did was complain about some other service he had that he was displeased with, i realized he is one of those people who wants to complain about everything.  But I am sorry.  You don't get to agree to a route at the beginning of a trip and then complain about it at the end of the trip because we hit traffic.  This is New  York.  Sometimes you hit traffic you weren't expecting.  Get over it!  He put me in a pretty bad mood after that, but at least i was able to get a fare back into the city.

Tuesday was unexpected.  It was the day I was waiting for a car forever, and was about to give up when I got a car.  I ended up leaving the garage over an hour later than usual, though, so I was sure the night would be awful.  The beginning of a night shift is where you will make most of your money, and if you miss out on it, it can sometimes be hard to recover.  But I got into the city and things stayed busy for a while.  

Just when I thought things were slowing down, I pick up a nice woman with two little white fluffy dogs.  I am always excited to have dogs in the cab, so i was talking with her about the dogs as we were headed to her destination, which wasn't very far.  She asked if I ever went to the Bronx, which i figured she was just making conversation, but then she asked if I would wait for her while she dropped off one of the dogs and then take her and the other dog up to the Bronx.  I told her no problem.  She was so nice.  We chatted the whole way up and the dog was very well behaved.  And super cute.  turns out she was taking care of the dog after the original owner passed away.  So sweet.  She was so great as a passenger, and gave a very nice tip as well.  And after dropping her off, i even had another fare up in the Bronx with two little old ladies who had been working the polls all day for the election.  So picking up this lady and taking her to the Bronx ended up making my night!  seriously, without that fare I don't think my night would have been that good, but it turned it around.

By the end of Tuesday, I had been to 4 out of the 5 Boroughs, and had nice people the whole evening.  And even after getting a late start, I made more than the night before.  So it all worked out.  Why can't every night be like that?

KISS Mini from the back.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Deep Breaths...

Well, it is long long overdue, but I am back.  As I mentioned before, I work at a summer camp during the summer, so while I was there, there was no driving.  Over the summer I learned about some health issues that needed to be taken care of, so when I returned home, I had to deal with that.  And then, with the time away, the longer I didn't drive, the harder it was to go back.  And I kept psyching myself out. 

It was totally silly, really.  I was afraid I was going to forget everything.  Like, where streets were, and how meters worked, and how to drive(uhh, what?).  Silly.  And I would keep telling myself that I was going to go back and then when the time came, I would chicken out. 

Enough was enough, and I decided no more excuses.  I needed to get back behind the wheel.  I had a panic attack the morning I was going, but I forced myself out the door.  I figured at least it would be an easy day since it was Columbus day.  And honestly, once I drove for a little while, I was fine, just like logical Me knew I would be.  I just took a while to get emotional Me to shut up.

I got to the garage, and because it was a holiday a lot of drivers also took the day off.  I had my pick of cabs, and for once, actually picked one that didn't suck.  I decided to head to the airport since I got an early start and I knew a lot of people would be coming back from the holiday weekend.

I didn't have to wait long at the airport and got a nice easy fare into the city.  Once there, things were fairly steady with a lot of people coming home from the weekend.  And it didn't take long for me to be back in the groove.

The night was fairly uneventful.  I did have one nutjob lady.  She was making conversation, and every time she asked a question, i answered it in what I thought was a pretty clear response, but no matter what I said, she didn't understand.  I don't know where she was from.  But it wasn't here.  Maybe something englandish(I know that is not a real word, just go with it)?  She had an odd accent that I had a hard time placing.  She also had no idea how New York City worked.  Like, she thought Sutton Place was near Staten Island.  And when I got her to her destination, she was so befuddled by how the credit card system worked in the back.  Even with me walking her through it step by step.  Very strange woman.  At least when I dropped her off, there was another fare waiting.

It slowed down after about 11.  By that point, people who were traveling were already home, and not many people went out.  It wasn't dead, but it wasn't busy.  I did end up in the Bronx twice which was unusual.  I rarely go to the Bronx. 

At least in my traveling that night, I got to see some of the very hyped up Banksy work over by Cooper Union.  So that was pretty cool.  Drove by it a few times, and usually a group of people there to take a look.  I just wish they didn't choose to stand in the middle of the street where i needed to drive.
Snapped a pic of some Banksy work on E.7th and Bowery
Tuesday was much busier.  I think there was a Muslim holiday, so a lot of drivers didn't work, which meant less competition for fares.  Also, the city was just very busy in general.  I was all over the place. 

My first fare was a very nice man who had a little Jack Russell Terrier who I learned was 14 years old and on his way home from his cancer treatments.  And he was mad at the world for the injections he had to have.  He was barking at every person and car we passed.  I was amazed at how feisty he was.  The man told me he was his best buddy and he was pretty upset about this little guys illness.  It was kinda hard to not cry.  He was very nice, and apologetic about his ferocious companion, but I told him I was a dog lover and was always happy to have a furry passenger.  He ended up leaving me a pretty generous tip for taking him and the dog.  I hope that Bandit gets better.  He's got a lot of life left in him!

After dropping off Bandit and his owner, I didn't stop.  Like I said, it was busy.  I didn't ever go more than a few minutes without a passenger.  And it was a good night in other ways as well.  No nutjobs, no nasty people, and for once, I had people who gave nice tips.  Like, really nice tips.  You would think that would happen more as a female driver, but it doesn't.  So I was pretty happy with Tuesday.  Even got a few fares in Brooklyn after dropping people off there. 

At the end of my second shift, I was back in full swing.  I didn't forget where streets were(at least where I couldn't figure it out with GPS), I didn't forget how to work the meter.  It was a lot of anxiety and stress over nothing.  And I missed it.  I really did.  Even over the summer when I was up in the country at a place I love to be, I was a little missing it.  I really love the city, and being behind the wheel of one of the machines that keeps it moving is the best way to live in it.
More Banksy.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Way Cool!

So, even though i am not driving for the summer, I do have some fun news to share with you guys.  A few weeks ago, I was asked to do an interview with TaxiFareFinder.com.  I didn't know when it would be published.  Found out it was posted on their website today.  They also sent me a package with some Taxi Fare Finder swag.  Pretty awesome, I think.  Anyways, check out the interview(and some of the other neat stuff on their website too! Super excited to be a part of it!

Click HERE for the interview!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

One More for the Road

So this is my last shift related post for a little while.  I work at a summer camp every summer, and this summer is no exception.  Part of the reason I love driving the cab is the flexibility it affords me to do things like run away to camp every summer.

I drove my last shift on Monday night.  It was raining, which seems to be the trend lately.  And of course the cab I had had horrible wipers.  Well, it wasn't so much that the wipers themselves were bad, but the motor for them only had two settings.  On and off.  It was okay most of the time since the rain wasn't too bad for the most part.  But there were a few points in the night that the rain came down really hard and I had a hard time seeing the road and had to pull over and wait it out.  Not so good when time is money.

The night was overall pretty steady, but not a lot of big fares.  I only went out of Manhattan once the whole night which is pretty unusual. 
My one fare out of Manhattan was to Brooklyn Heights, so I stopped for a minute and snapped this photo from the Promenade
I decide that since it was my last shift for the summer, I was going to stay out as late as I could.  Things quieted down for a while and I wasn't getting much business.  I did something that I never do.  I sat in a taxi stand.  I pulled up to the stand in front of Grand Central.  Another cabbie friend of mine had texted me that he got a fare from there to JFK, so I was hopeful I would have the same sort of luck that late at night.  I sat there for about 20 minutes.  A woman had gone up to the taxi ahead of me in line, but the driver was asleep, so she came on over to my cab.  She wasn't going far, but was from out of town and needed to get back to her hotel. 

I figured after that I would head back to the stand, but then things picked up for me again.  After a certain hour, a lot of drivers call it quits for the night around the time a lot of bars are closing.  So with less competition and more customers, I managed to get several more fares in my last hour.

My last fare in Manhattan was a pair of guys who were heading home after a night at a bar.  They were in a pretty jovial mood and were pretty psyched to have a woman driver.  We joked that I was secretly a driver in Fast and Furious.  They were super nice and tipped me twice!  So that's never bad.

I realized how late it was and needed to get back to my garage soon, so I headed over the bridge back to Brooklyn.  As I was headed up Flatbush Ave towards the garage, I was waved down by a couple.  They ended up going pretty close to my garage, so it worked out perfectly.  The last few extra bucks in my pocket for the night.

I finally made it back to my garage a little after 4:30am.  The sun was starting to rise.  I haven;t made it to sunrise in the cab yet, so it was a little surreal.  By the time I settled up with the office and drove home, the sun was all the way up. 
Early morning light in the sky over the gas pumps at my garage.
Well, Folks, that's it for now.  I wont have any new driver stories for a while, but if I come across anything to share, I will.  Until then!
Taxi stand sign at JFK.