Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My taxi wants your soul!

Last night was nothing special.  I was expecting a bigger night but even though things got off to an okay start, after midnight it got dead.

Today was certainly much more interesting(and busier too).  I started out at JFK and got dispatched right away.  I picked up a very nice lady headed to the upper west side.  Things seemed to be normal, and then I tried starting the meter.  For JFK trips, you hit the #3 button twice and then the #1 button to start and it is supposed to show the flat rate on the meter.  But there was something wrong and it didn't work.  I tried again and again.  I had to reboot the whole system(while trying to navigate JFK) but before it rebooted, it printed out a receipt...  It was a receipt for a fare of $666.  So I am now convinced that the taxi was possessed by the devil.  Even after a reboot it gave me some trouble.  But I finally got it to work, and thankfully it cooperated the rest of the night.
The Devil's Receipt
Also, I hate the Van Wyck.  This highway is horrible.  It never fails.  Every time I pick up a fare at JFK I get stuck on the Van Wyck in horrendous traffic.  And it always reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine tries to get some guy to the airport.  I always make that reference to my passengers and they usually look at me like I have three heads.  But one day, I WILL beat the Van Wyck!

Once I got toe the city, I hopped around the Upper East and West sides for a bit before getting a fare to 49th and 7th.  On this trip, I drove past Rockefeller Center and got a sneak peek at the tree before it's lighting on Wednesday.  I haven't actually gone to see the tree since I was much younger, so it was kinda neat.
Behind the trees and scaffolding, you can see the giant, unlit tree.
I picked up a group of older women on Madison and they needed to make three stops.  They spent the ride chatting, but after the second stop there was only one woman left.  We got to talking.  Turns out her husband is also a cab driver.  She was very nice and told me how lovely it was to have someone as cheerful as I was behind the wheel.  Also, how rare it was that a cab driver would actually get out and help load items into the trunk(which I did).  So, that was nice to hear.

I ended up in Brooklyn a few times.  The first time I drove a guy pretty much right across the Manhattan bridge.  From there, I picked up a group of people coming out of the Nets/Knicks game and drove them to Williamsburg.  I also drove a group of younger girls to Flatbush.  One of them was a rapper from LA and she played it cool until we passed the Barclays Center and she got all touristy for a minute.  They did not tip, which was pretty shitty since it was an outer borough fare and not exactly right over the bridge.  The next fare I had when I got back to the city took me back to Brooklyn again, and she DID tip.  Probably enough for both fares.

It was getting late, so the passengers started coming farther and farther apart.  I was on 14th when I saw two guys hail me.  They needed to go to Penn Station, so I headed uptown.  After a moment, I noticed one of their heads "disappear".  I knew what they were up to.  I took the turn onto 34th a little fast and they came flying up.  They also did not tip me(oh wait, they let me keep the 50cents), but that was worth it.  Hilarious.

My last fare of the night is probably one I will remember for a long time.  I was taking one of my last loops through the Village, hoping for that one big fare to end my night.  I was on 8th st and University when a guy hails me.  Before he got into the cab, i knew he would be interesting.  He was wearing a Santa hat, and looked some sort of inebriated.  He hops in and says "i wanna go somewhere fun".  I paused for a second before asking him if he had anywhere in particular in mind.  He did not and told me to just take him somewhere.  Being not far, I figured I would take him to  Macdougal and Bleeker where he would have lots of choices for fun.  As we were driving, he hands me a $20 bill.  He also asked me when I went off duty and if I wanted to go off duty and go hang out with him.  I politely declined.  We get to the area where I was going to drop him off.  I got out the change for the $20, but he got out and told me to keep it.  When he got out, he looked just as lost as he did when he got in.  I don't know if this guy was drunk or high or just mentally deficient, but he was definitely a little off kilter.  He also smelled.  Really bad.  But at least he made up for the tips I got stiffed on earlier.  After that, I was so befuddled, I had to call it a night.

I am debating if I want to work tomorrow night or not.  I am very tired and I also have some errands to run.  I guess I will decide in the morning.  But now, I need sleep.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Calm before the storm

Last week I worked on Sunday and Monday nights.  Both were slow and uneventful.  I tried working on the Tuesday and couldn't get a cab.  I got to the garage around my usual time and waited and waited and there were no cars.  Finally at about 6pm I gave up and went home.
5th Ave holiday lights
So yeah.  Nothing much to report about then and I was away for the weekend so I never got the chance to update anything.  I promise.  You are not missing anything.
Macdougal Street empty late at night
Last week was the calm before the storm, or so I am told.  Starting at Thanksgiving is when alllll  the tourists come into town to see NYC at holiday time and they take lots and lots of taxis.  So, we will see.  Tonight is supposed to be good because everyone is coming home from their Thanksgiving weekends, so that will be good.  I have no firsthand experience of taxi driving this time of year, but I guess I will find out! 
Quiet view of the city coming back over the Williamsburg Bridge

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

High Fashion

Oh my god, guys!  I had no idea i was supposed to wear this uniform!!!!  I feel so silly!  I can't believe that all this time i have been wearing things like jeans and tee shirts and hoodies when I should have been rocking this getup.  Why didn't anyone tell me?  I am so embarrassed.

Woop Woop(That's the sound of the police)

Drove the past two nights and because of the hours I have not had a moment to write.  But I woke up with a pounding headache this morning and didn't go into the garage, so now I have a little time.  It wouldn't be so bad, but you need to get to the garage 2-3 hours before your(12 hour) shift if you want to secure a car for the night.  So between that, and commuting, I basically get home and pass right out only to wake up a few hours later and turn around to do it again.

Sunday night started out good.  I had two trips to Laguardia airport almost back to back.  Things seemed like they were going to keep moving, but pretty early on, it got quiet.  The one thing that kept me going for a while was the couple of outer-borough trips.  By midnight, I had been to every borough except Staten Island, but that never happens anyways. 

Brief rant:  I was driving through Times Square and almost ran over a toddler.  Tourists, if you insist on taking your small children to NYC, keep an eye on them at ALL times!  I know Times Square is exciting and distracting.  I get it.  But when little junior isn't being watched, he is running into the street.  Put a leash on him!  I do not need to scrape him off my grill because you couldn't be bothered to pay attention.  You were lucky this time, but next time you may not be.  Seriously.
Times Square-Where you should PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!
Usually when it gets late, I start looping around the Village looking for a fare because those fares are usually longer.  As I was driving, I made a turn from East 4th street onto Ave B.  This is a turn I must have made a million times.  I noticed a cop car sitting on the corner so I made sure I came to a full stop, used my turn signal and did everything carefully.  But as soon as I turned the corner I see the lights flash behind me.  I pull over and the officers get out and come to my window to ask for my license and registration.  After calling me "sir" before seeing me, the officer seemed caught off guard.  As I was was about to hand him my license, he tells me there are no turns from that corner(a sign which i have NEVER noticed) but he was going to let me go because I am a girl.  I am still not sure if I should be flattered or offended, but either way, I thanked him politely and drove off.  After a slower night, I did NOT need a ticket.

After that incident, I was lucky enough to catch a fare waaaaay uptown.  And then after that as I was headed back downtown I caught one last fare even farther uptown.  And i had a blast on the last ride.  My passenger(Drew, if I remember correctly) was really nice and we had a great conversations the whole way up.  And here is the proof for your friends, Drew!  Girl taxi drivers DO exist!

Last night was a bit better.  I got a cab early and headed right to JFK.  I called the taxi hotline for the airport and they said they had no cabs and needed drivers.  So I got there and didn't have to wait at all.  Drove right up to get dispatched to a terminal.  Ended up with a shortie fare to Brooklyn so I headed right back to the airport where i got another fare, this time to Manhattan.  The two guys I picked up were from Paris and were very sweet.  There was a lot of traffic out of Queens, but they were patient and very pleasant.  When I did get them to their hotel, they gave me a tip in Euros(on top of what they gave me from their credit card)  I thought that was sweet, and now I can save the Euros for whenever I make it across the pond again.

The night was mostly busy.  It seemed like as soon as someone would get out, there would be another person waiting to get in.  It was also interesting.  I had several fun rides.  I picked up two ladies from Montreal who at first wanted to go to Nobu(hip sushi restaurant that lots of celebs frequent).  But after driving halfway there they rethought that and asked about the Meatpacking District and if that was hip and if there were cool places to eat there.  So they made the call that they wanted to go down there instead.  They also wanted to know if I knew where Madonna was hanging out that night or if i could take them to other places where movie stars hang out.  I told them I didn't have a clue where the cool kids hang, but they probably would have some luck around the Meatpacking District area.  They were satisfied with that and very giddy when they got out at 14th and 9th.

I picked up a group of young Brits who thought it was "amazeballs" that I stopped for them.  We got to talking and turns out they are over here working for the same soccer program another friend of mine from across the pond had done a little while back.  Also, one of them said they were going to be teaching soccer at a summer camp near the one I spend my summers at.  I thought that was really neat and told him to come up and party with us during the summer.  They were really nice.

Peaceful Park Avenue at about 3am.  The only other traffic on the street at that time is delivery trucks to the high end hotels.
As they were getting out, a very fabulous drag queen asked if I was available to take her to Brooklyn.  I told her to hop in and off we went.  She had actually just been to see Madonna, so now I knew where Madonna had been hanging out.  Too bad I didn't know earlier, I could have told the ladies from Montreal! 

As usual, as it got a little later, things slowed down a bit.  But since the night up until then had been hopping, I didn't mind so much.  I picked up a guy over near Manitobas on Ave B.  He was drunk, but polite.  I asked him where we were going and instead of giving me a destination he decided he would just navigate the whole way.  At one point we missed a turn and he told me we should have turned as if I would have known where we were going.  But again, he was drunk and just went with it.  We got to his destination finally.  As we were settling up he told me I was cute and gave me a $10 tip(on a $8 fare).  I know he was drunk, but what girl doesn't like to feel cute!  I told him thank you and he stumbled out of the cab.  With my ego boosted, I headed out to make a final round of the Village to catch that one last fare which I got with a ride all the way uptown.  That was a nice ride too.  I decided to call it a night after that and end on a high note.  Especially since it was now a fair bit later than I wanted to stay out.

Overall, there were ups and downs, but as any cab driver will tell you "no accident, no tickets, not bad".

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Sandy Post

As most people know, last week NYC was hit by Hurricane Sandy.  It left a lot of the city and surrounding areas devastated and disabled.  I drove last night for the first time since the storm.  I have a pretty strict "I don't drive in storms" rule, so clearly, the night of the storm was out.  After that It took me a week to get back to driving between temporarily moving to my parents' house until my own place has utility service again, searching for a new car(ours got flooded and destroyed), and generally feeling displaced and depressed about the state of the city.  I'll be honest.  I was a little afraid to go into Manhattan with the power outages and eeriness of the whole situation.  And the gas situation put me off a little too.  I do realize, however, I missed out on amazing money with the subways not running and ride sharing allowed.  I could have made bank, but couldn't face everything.
Tile mosaic on the floor of the dispatch room at my garage.  Not related to anything, but i thought it was cool to share.
I finally made it back to the garage yesterday.  I got a car and headed right to JFK since their lot was pretty empty.  I didn't have to wait there lone before getting dispatched to Terminal 1.  I picked up a guy to go to Sutton Pl. which should have been easy, but holy crap.  There was a lot of traffic on the Van Wyck(like there always is), so I was just going to go a short way to Queens Blvd. to get to the 59th st Bridge.  This guy was so impatient, though he couldn't sit in traffic for more than a few minutes before trying to come up with alternate ideas.  This started as "OK, well just get me to a train station and I will go from there" to "oh, well, maybe you could get to Borough Hall(Brooklyn)" and I can take the train from there to finally "oh, why don't we go over the Brooklyn Bridge instead".  It's a flat rate, so all this extra navigation did nothing for me other than drive me up the wall, but at the end of the day, I was going to Manhattan afterwards anyway so after a certain point, I just gave up and went with the flow.  All told, we probably made it to his destination in the same amount of time that it would have taken if we had stuck with our original route, but we just took a crazy path to get there instead.  It was an adventure, and at least he was very nice about everything.  But, damn.

Once I made it into Manhattan, I managed to stay pretty busy.  Not really any long periods of searching for passengers.  And just when i would feel like it was going to be a long stretch, I would be at a red light and someone would hop in the cab.  So, that was good.  The main horror of the night was the traffic in the Midtown West area.  Because of the storm and flooding, all the tunnels except the Lincoln tunnel are closed.  And because there was some traffic horror in Jersey near the George Washington Bridge, the main way out of the city and into New Jersey was the Lincoln Tunnel.  This created massive delays in all directions around the entrance t the tunnel.  And of course I kept getting stuck in it because people kept wanting to go into that general area.

One of those situations was a young couple who needed to get pretty much right into the middle of the traffic jam.  And I did feel bad about sitting in traffic, but there really wasn't a way out of it.  I did finally see an opening and was able to zoom out of the jam.  I did have to go a few blocks out of the way, but it was either that or sit there for another half hour.  They seemed understanding though and didn't want to sit in the traffic any more than I did.  After all that it was a $24 fare.  Not only did they not tip me after all that(and after getting them OUT of that), they also didn't close their door all the way when they got out.  And so when I got out to close it, my favorite sweatshirt fell out and is somewhere lying on the curb near Port Authority.  I am gutted about the sweatshirt, and angry that it was because of these particular passengers.  Y'all owe me a new hoodie!

With the bad, there comes some good.  I was somewhere in the 50's when a guy hails me.  He asks me to take him to a particular hotel.  I didn't know where it was so before I turned on the meter, I looked it up on my phone.  It was literally around the corner from where we were and i told the guy that but he seemed a little lost and asked me to drive him anyways.  I had to loop around the block to get there, but two minutes later we were there and the $4 fare turned into $15 in my pocket and a very grateful passenger.  Really unexpected, but totally awesome.

The rest of the night was steady and I had a bunch of nice passengers.  Had one young guy from Florida who was debating the possibility of making the move to New York,  but not before his trip to Thailand which I was totally jealous of.  After passing through Times Square and hearing a big cheer from people watching the election coverage, I picked up a woman coming from a celebration.  She was very excited about the results.

I had two trips out to Queens.  One of these ended up being the last fare of my evening.  The guy had a lot to say about the election and the state of the country and what we needed to spend money on instead of bombs and a lot of other things as well.  I could tell that he had a few to drink and his train of thought didn't always make the connection, but it was certainly interesting.  And really, if it weren't for the interesting passengers like this guy, I wouldn't enjoy driving nearly as much as I do.  So to that gentleman, thank you for making my night interesting!

Of course, now that I managed to motivate myself into getting back behind the wheel again, another storm comes through the city.  So no driving for me tonight, but I'll try and get a cab tomorrow after this nor'easter passes through.