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.

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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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

PHEW!

I managed to get all my re-application stuff done and handed into the TLC in time.  I was amazed how quickly I had my new license in my hands.  Less than a week and I had it.  Thank goodness.  I was so stressed about the whole process.

I had taken a little time off for my sisters wedding.  I had planned to hit the road last Thursday, but a migraine struck me and by the time it went away, it was too late for me to get a cab.  I went to the movies instead.

I debated working on Memorial day, and eventually(despite me kicking my feet in protest to my boyfriend) I was convinced to bite the bullet and go to work.  Rent is due soon, so it had to be done.  All day I was sad to not be at the beach with my hula hoop though. 

Working on Memorial Day wasn't bad.  I got to my garage and since most of the drivers took off for the holiday, I got a car right away.  It's always nice to get out of the garage early.  Gives you just that much more time during the day. 

Early on, the city was quiet, although I kept a steady stream of customers.  But the streets had very few drivers, which is nice.  I had a fare to LaGuardia Airport and made it in really good time.  Even on the way back, which I feared would be slammed with end of holiday traffic, it was a smooth ride.

The worst of the traffic I had all night occurred when a particular situation on the Brooklyn Bridge caused the NYPD to close off the ENTIRE bridge.  This meant traffic around the bridge and on the alternate bridges got pretty bad.  I had a fare to Brooklyn around then.  I managed to avoid the worst of it all by taking the Williamsburg Bridge which the radio said was the best option.  But once I got over the bridge into Brooklyn, things on the streets were a little on the slow side because of the closure.

Things got a little busier as the evening progressed and more New Yorkers returned from their holiday weekend.  By the end of my shift, I had a nice chunk of change in my pocket, and very little stress after a nice, laid back, shift.
I played tourist with my Family from Norway who was visiting for my sisters wedding.  We saw this shirt in Little Italy.  It has been suggested that I start selling these/giving them out to my passengers.  Hilarious.
 Last night was not as nice, unfortunately.  It was raining.  Rain is a pain to drive in.  Everyone goes slow, its harder to see(especially with sub-par wipers) and the roads are slippery.  To top it off, the heat in my car didn't work, so when my windows fogged up, I froze to death because the vents blasted icy cold air and because of the rain, I was a little drenched.  Very uncomfortable.

Usually rain can mean good money for a cabbie.  Last night, that was not the case.  It was slow.  After the holiday weekend and with the weather being what it was, people just stayed home.  Also, after taking Monday off, more taxi drivers were out to make up for their lost day.  So competition was stiff.  Usually by about 9pm, I have made enough to pay my lease and gas expenses.  It was much later last night, and my overall take for the night was very low.  The only thing that really put me over the super-duper low mark was my last two fares.

I had been cruising downtown for over an hour looking for a fare when I finally pick up a girl on 14th street.  She was headed to Brooklyn.  After I dropped her off i debated heading back into Manhattan.  But it was late and I probably wouldn't catch another fare in the city.  So after dropping her off, I figured I would head over to Park Slope to maybe find a passenger.  I had gone all the way to the far end of the Slope and back when I was just about to give up and go home.  Then I saw a guy cross the street.  He didn't look like he was going to hail, but I used my Jedi mind tricks on him, and as I was about to pull out from the light, he stuck up his arm.  He was actually going pretty deep into Brooklyn, and not too far from my garage.  So I managed to get that one last fare that pretty much saved my night from being really awful before heading home.

I am glad Monday was decent because SOMETHING had to make up for the crappy night last night.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Frustrated...

I am in the process of renewing my hack license.  It is the biggest pain in the ass.  Part of this blame goes to me because I  misread my renewal forms.  I read the part where my annual drug test has to be within 30 days of my expiration as I had to send in my renewal within the 30 days.  Nope.  It was supposed to be BEFORE 30 days.  So now I am going to have to pay a late fee.  But everything has to get to the TLC before my license expires.  I have 16 days now. 

Earlier this week I went for my drug test.  I don't expect any surprises there.  Yesterday I went in for my required refresher course at the taxi school.  I get that they want to keep drivers educated, but this course is so unnecessary.  Almost as unnecessary as the 10 minute sex trafficking education video I also had to watch online.  Ten minuted of listening to someone read what was being displayed on the screen(all text).  All to tell us to not be pimps and to keep doing our jobs as we were.  Why make a video?  Just put out a form for us to read.  It would have taken me 3 minutes to read and not have felt like I was being condescended to by the TLC having someone read it TO me.  Because that's what us taxi drivers need.  Someone to read us documents.  Literally, he read it word for word as it was displayed on the screen.

Then there is the matter of my address.  I went to the TLC office a week ago so that I could change my address in the system.  I needed to do this just to do it, but mainly, so I could pay for my renewal online.  If your address doesn't match the one they show when you go to pay, then you can't pay.  Well, I went online to pay today.  The address is still my old one!  The woman at the TLC office said she was putting it in the system then.  Why, a week later, is it still not updated!? 

Everything about the TLC is so roundabout, jump through hoops, complicated and ridiculous.  I want to send everything to them.  I really do.  I want to get this renewal over with so I can stop stressing about it for another two years.  They just need to make it as difficult as possible.

Okay, I'm going to stop ranting now.  I just needed to vent a little. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cabbie stresses!!!!

So, I am currently in panic mode.  When I received my license renewal package, I misread the checklist that everything had to be submitted WITHIN 30 days of my expiration.  Well, it turns out that it is supposed to be BEFORE 30 days.  Still am able to submit everything, but I do need to pay a late fee, and it must, must MUST be in before my license expires.  Next week I have my annual drug test scheduled as well as my four hour refresher course.  Once I get those done, I can submit everything and stop worrying and stressing.

Oh, and one of the things I had to do for my renewal is watch this video about taxis and sex trafficking.  It was a ten minute "video" of just text with someone reading out loud what the text said.  And the whole thing basically was just to tell us 'don't be a pimp and keep doing your job'.  Gee, thanks!  Because before that, I was gonna start pimping.  Also, Its a good thing that you made a ten minute video when I could have just read this stuff off a sheet in 3.

IN addition to the stresses of dealing with that stuff, there are also the stresses of being in the drivers seat of a taxi.  A week ago, I had a first for me that I was hoping to keep at bay for as long as humanly possible. 

I had my first puker.

I was working on a Thursday, and things were going as they usually do.  It was later in my shift and I was on 46th st.  A guy waves me down and proceeds to place a pretty intoxicated young lady into my car.  She had a little difficulty telling me where we were going, but I eventually got the address from her and put it into my GPS.

As we headed towards Queens, she was pretty quiet, probably sleeping.  Something going over the bridge must have upset her stomach though.  Once we were over the bridge, she made a noise of discontent.  I looked back in my mirror and saw she didn't look well.  She asked me to pull over.  As soon as I got to the edge of the road she flung open the door and let loose.  I offered her a napkin to wipe her mouth and once she was collected, we pulled off again.  But at the next red light, she flung the door open again and spewed again.  Thankfully that was the last time. 

After I got her back to her home, I got out to check the damage.  I was relieved to find that she had gotten it all out of the car with the exception of a little bit on the edge of the door frame.  I decided it was late enough and I was far enough from the city that I was going to just find a gas station to clean up what was there, then head back home for the night.

So, I got that out of the way.  And I hope its at LEAST another year until I have to deal with that again.  Or never.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When two bloggers meet

So, I know how much I suck. I haven't updated my blog in way way WAY too long. And it hasn't been for lack of material. I'll be honest. I have been busy and when I haven't been busy, I've been lazy. But aside from promising myself and others that I would update soon, I actually had something really really cool happen yesterday.

I was just driving around like I normally do. Had a late start to my day and traffic was brutal at parts of the city. But I had just dropped of someone on 57th and I turned the corner onto 10th. And there was a man with his arm up. He and his family hopped in and we headed to their destination.

We got to chatting. First about my car. Then it comes out that he actually purchased a retired taxi and, what do you know, has a blog about it. And wouldn't you know it, I have actually read his blog and totally dig it. He travels around in his retired cab and actually has some great stories and photos of his out of place relic. Totally cool.

He couldn't believe that I had read it as all the other drivers he had encountered had never done so. He got even more excited when I handed him my card for this blog. This, of course led to a fun conversation about the biz and the cars themselves. And after almost missing their destination being so caught up in conversation, we ended the ride with a photo in the front of the cab.

Totally an awesome bit of kismet! He found me on Facebook this morning and sent me a link to the lovely post he wrote about our encounter. I urge all of my readers to check both the post and the rest of his blog out. He is a wonderful writer and an awesome dude. Thanks Mike for making my day!!

To see his post and blog check out:
http://www.travelsinacab.com/2/post/2013/04/the-girly-cabbie.html

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I want to be friends with this woman!

Strolling through the internet, I found this article.  It's a little old, but this woman is rad.  And I wish there were groups for us lady cab drivers like she had back in the day!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/nyregion/virginia-cedeno-taxi-driver-from-queens.html?_r=0

Go Figure!

I almost didn't go to work today because my head started to hurt and I was also feeling a bit lazy.  But I took some headache tablets and kicked my own ass into gear and made myself go to my garage.  I am expecting a very exciting package in the mail tomorrow and decided that working was going to be a good distraction from that "kid waiting for Santa" feeling.

By the time I got to my garage, my headache was fading and I had a good feeling about the day.  I got a cab right away and headed into the city.  Between Purim and the Oscars tonight, I figured it would be busy.  And it was.  I picked up my first passenger as soon as I got over the Manhattan Bridge and from there it was steady.  Someone would get out and someone else was waiting for me.

I was up on the Upper West Side when I am flagged down by a group of folks headed out to a party.  They get in and one of them says to me "Hey!  It's you again!"  Turns out I had picked up the same guy before and he remembered me.  So bizarre when things like that happen.  I had a feeling of a repeat passenger before, but she dint remember, and I wasn't 100% sure it was the same woman.  But this guy today specifically remembered me.  I only had this group in my cab for a few minutes, but they were a riot.  Definitely in a party mood, and was a lot of fun.

Things stayed steady for a while.  Then it went to hell.  I was driving up 10th Ave when I noticed that when I pressed the gas, the car struggled to accelerate.  I noticed on the dash, the fluid indicator was flashing red and the thermostat was showing the care was all the way overheating.  At this point, the car was barely moving and I almost didn't make it up the block to an open spot before I could pull over.  Once I managed to pull into a safe spot, I gave my garage a call to tell them I had broken down.  They told me they were going to send for a tow truck.  At that point, all I could do was wait.

Over 2 hours later, the tow truck showed up.  I was just thankful to get into the truck where it was warm.  Since the car broke down, I couldn't have it on and running with the heat on.  So I was pretty cold.  The truck driver was super nice, though.  Very friendly and cheerful, despite his crappy night, apparently.  We had to pick up another broken down cab on the East side and drop him off at his garage in Queens before going back to my garage.  That guy had been waiting even longer than I had.
My car up on the tow truck.
Finally, we made it back to my garage.  I thanked the truck driver and after he took my car off the truck, I filled up the tank and went into the office to settle up.  Because I only actually drove for about 3 hours, they didn't charge me for a whole shift, and only for the few hours I did get to work.  So thankfully because it was busy, I made a few bucks and my night, despite it all, wasn't a total wash.  And on the bright side, I got to come home early and snuggle some kitties.  It wasn't the night I had hoped for, especially after the flat I had the other week, but it was okay.  And hopefully the rest of my week will make up for it.  I'll stay optimistic for now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oogie Boogie! We Are Gonna Get You!!

So I mentioned the other day in my last post about a news story that WPIX was doing on cab drivers.  It was a three part story, so I wanted to wait until all three parts had aired before writing a post about it.

Let me start this off by saying that I first heard about this story because of the ads I heard on the radio while driving my cab.  The commercial played all day and on several different stations.  So I know it was playing in taxis across the city.  The commercial was alarmist and sensational and made it seem like all taxi drivers are crooks out to get the people of New York.  Great for a passenger who I am depending on for my pay to hear.  Honestly, the first thing I could compare the sound of this commercial to was when the KFC in the Village had a rat problem and the news sensationalized it.  In this case, I was among the rats.

As much as it pains me to share the links to the story, I don't want to be like the reporter who was very one sided.  So for journalism's sake, I am sharing these links.

Hack Job Part 1
Hack Job Part 2
Hack Job Part 3

Let me start out by saying that I get it.  Cabbies have a bad reputation for not wanting to go to the outer boroughs.  And there are certainly drivers who "cherry pick" for fares so they don't have to go to Brooklyn.  And I know that on certain nights, this is more common.  But this is not news.  I should also say that when I am out driving, I see other drivers who "cherry pick" and it pisses me off.  I don't like it.  I don't agree with it.

What I have the most issue with in these stories is how it makes all drivers out to be bad people, just trying to take advantage of our customers.  It over exaggerates the frequency of these instances making the few who do it some of the time into all of us who do it all the time.  Obviously for the people this happens to, that is what will stick in their mind rather than the dozen other times they get into a cab and have good service.  People don't remember good service in this industry.  They remember the bad because it gives them a story about 'that bad driver that one time who was oh, so awful'.

All these stories do is vilify an entire industry, including the good drivers.  It will make people think twice about taking a taxi.  And all that does is penalize the good drivers.  There are plenty of drivers who will take passengers to any destination without question.  But this story simply ignores us altogether and highlight the few bad apples for the sake of a sensational story.

In the second installment, they show TLC Commissioner David Yassky trying to hail a cab to Brooklyn during the evening rush.  First of all, some of those drivers may legitimately be "off duty" at that time because that is the shift change.  Second, as Commissioner, he should know that you should get in the car before telling the driver your destination.  I tell customers all the time who come to my window to ask me to take them somewhere to get in and THEN tell me where you want to go.  The second you ask me to take you somewhere and you aren't in my cab is the second you give me the opportunity to drive away from you(I won't, but other drivers might).

Thirdly, and this is the biggie, why is he so shocked and bewildered that any of this is going on.  You are the Commissioner!  You should know this is going on!  It is your JOB to know what is going on in the industry you are in charge of!  And honestly, he does know whats going on.  But instead of fixing the problem by doing more stings like the one shown, and catching and penalizing the drivers who are in the wrong, deterring others in the process, he issues policies like the new roof light system. 

I am very skeptical about the new roof lights.  It may make it a little more difficult for the crooked drivers to cherry pick, but I think the ones who are determined will find another way around it and carry on.  Instead, it may end up penalizing the honest drivers who as it stands now, as they are going off duty can pick up a fare if it is on their way home putting those last few dollars in their pocket which can sometimes make a day.  How it will work with the new system is yet to be seen.  Also, they say it is supposed to make it less confusing for passengers, but those who are used to the old system will have to now re-learn the lights, and for those who are on their way home, people will be less likely to stick an arm up to hail them thinking the car already has a passenger.

Honestly, I think it is a band aid on a much bigger wound.  For the sake of the honest drivers, they need to actually do something actively to catch the rule breakers instead of use a small deterrent which in the grand scheme of things, hurts the good driver.

What it all comes down to is the reporter, the Commissioner and the public of New York need to realize and acknowledge the fact that the bad drivers make up only a small portion of the taxi fleet.  There are lots of decent, honest, hard working drivers who are not out to get you.  They keep the city moving.  They put up with the police, rude passengers, traffic, bad drivers, high fees, and a million other variables just to get people where they need to go.  For some, like myself, it is a choice to join the industry.  For some, it isn't.  They may not have other job skills or connections, but they do this job with a smile and put up with all the crap that comes along with it so they can feed their families.  I do wish that the dishonest drivers weren't a fact of life, but in any industry you will have your bad apples.  But then you have lots of other shiny, bright and delicious apples.  They may not be the ones you remember, but they did their job and they did it well.
Not all drivers are bad guys! (photo courtesy of USA Today)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Long TIme Coming

OK.  I know it has been way too long since my last actual post.  Between going out of town for helping with my sister's wedding and catching the plague that has been passed around the city recently, I didn't work so much.  I had myself convinced that I hadn't gotten sick this season because being in the cab with all the different people and all their different germs exposed me just enough to build up resistance and I was immune.  Well, I made it through most of the cold season, but then it hit me.  Hard.  It was bad.  I can't remember the last time I felt so horrible.  It was bad enough that I went to the doctor about it, and anyone who knows me, knows how big of a deal that is.  I almost never go to the doctor unless it's serious.

After making a full recovery, I worked last Sunday evening.  I got a car early on, and that was probably where my luck ended.  This car was a nightmare from the beginning.  Before I even left the garage, I had to bring the car into the shop.  The wipers didn't work and the front tire was flat.  And not just a little flat.  All the way flat.  The guys fixed it up quickly and I was on my way.
My car up on the lift before I even got to leave the garage.  This was how my day started, and how it stayed.
 I started at JFK, ready to get going when I got out of my car in the taxi lot.  The tire they had just fixed was going flat again.  I called my garage and they said they were sending someone out to me with a new tire.  By the time he got to me, I had lost my place in line.  Also, he just brought me a new tire and didn't plan on actually helping me.  So i had to leave the lot, giving up on the airport entirely, and head out with my new tire to try and find a tire shop to fix it for me.  By the time I managed to get it all fixed and make it into the city, it was 7pm.  So not only had I lost out on an airport fare, it was now on the later end of the busy time in the city.

After all of that, the city was dead.  And I mean really dead.  There was still enough snow on the ground from the snowstorm that people didn't go out.  Even with Fashion Week going on, there was nobody out.  I struggled just to be able to pay my lease and gas.  I ended up staying out way later than I normally would just to put a few measly bucks in my pocket.  Between how slow it was, dealing with the un-plowed snow on the ground and the beginnings of a migraine, it was just awful.  I haven't had a day this bad since the first day I worked ever.  It almost wasn't even worth it to work at all!
After heading to Brooklyn on a fare, I stopped in a bar to use the restroom.  They had this old timey phone in the bathroom to go along with the antique style, chain flush toilet(not pictured)
Thankfully, I worked this Sunday and Monday, and it more than made up for last week's horribleness.  Sunday night was great.  It was a holiday weekend, so Sunday was almost a bonus Saturday.  Because a lot of people didn;t have work the next day, there were lots more people out and about later in the evening.  Also working in my favor was the weather.  It was cold and windy.  And I mean really cold.  And that there is a good thing for a taxi driver.  When it is cold, but otherwise nice out, people still go out, but they don't want to walk more than a few blocks.

I found that people were pretty friendly overall the whole night.  Had more than a few who took interest in what I do, which is always cool.  I had an Australian rugby player in my car.  His team had just gotten to go to New Orleans where they had their own float at Mardi Gras before they flew up to NYC for a game.  I thought that was really neat.

At one point in the night, I got a fare out to Brooklyn.  As the guy was getting out of the cab, a small group of folks came running over to get in.  They weren't going far(just to DUMBO), but it was a fun ride.  I was offered french fries and had a good laugh with them.  Also, It's always nice to get another fare when you get taken out of the city on a busy night.
Sunset as I headed towards Times Square.  It was much prettier in person...
Last night was decent too.  Nothing too exciting to report.  It was really busy early on which was good because after 11, it got really dead.  I drove around for two hours empty at one point.  Finally I had gotten a fare to Greenpoint.  After that I didn't think it would be worth going all the way back into the city just to cruise around empty again and then have to head back home, so I drove around Greenpoint and Williamsburg for a little bit before catching a group of guys from Australia to go back to their hotel in the Park Slope area.  I took that as a sign that being that close to my garage meant it was time to head home.  Thankfully, because of how busy it was earlier in the night, the slow down of business didn't hurt me too bad, and I still had an above average night.

I have another post brewing.  While driving around yesterday, there was an ad on the radio which played many many times about a spot on the WPIX11 11 o'clock news about cabbies and basically how we try and get over on people.  I have a lot of issues with this, and will get to that a little later.  But I think that needs it's own post.  So, stay tuned.


Oof!

Okay.  I know it has been forever and a day since my last post.  I just got home from another long night.  I promise promise promise, I am going to write a proper post very soon.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

They Can't ALL Be Winners

I worked this evening.  I got to the garage around my usual time and waited until almost 5pm for my car today.  I guess everyone is back from their vacations.  I wouldn't have minded waiting so much except for the fact of how cold it was.  The waiting room at the garage is warmer than outside, but not by much.  At least one of my fellow driver friends was nice and we waited in his car for a little while with the heat on.

I started out at JFK.  It was a short wait there to get dispatched to a terminal.  Thankfully, I got an easy fare.  It wasn't Manhattan, but it was a part of Brooklyn I am very familiar with, and it put me in good position to shoot into the city after dropping him off.

Once I got into Manhattan, I was headed up 3rd Ave. when I picked up a man going uptown.  We got to talking.  He was originally from Glasgow, so I told him about my time that I spent there.  Basically our conversation covered all things Scottish.  Seriously a delightful trip.  And I told him I had a few friends over there who would be excited to hear I had a Glaswegian in my car.  So, thanks Colin for being awesome!

Later on, I picked up a fellow on the Upper West Side.  He was just a curmudgeon.  From what I gathered from his phone conversation, he had just had a bad game of basketball.  He also complained about how slow this cab ride was to whomever he was speaking with(because the two blocks of construction got in the way).  Then when we were almost at his destination, he tells me how it was taking so long and how I went the bad way, when he had about 70 blocks to tell me whatever way he would like to go.  If you don't speak up and tell me you want a certain route, I am going to take the route I think is best.  And maybe I think that is best because I just was on the other option of a street and it was WORSE!  So, sorry you had a shitty teammate on you basketball team, but don't catch a 'tude with me for you not telling me what you want!  He still gave me a decent tip, but then slammed my door when he got out.  So confusing.

I picked up a girl near Port Authority to go to the Upper East Side.  She was super rad.  We reminisced about the big blackout back in I think, 2002.  We complained about landlords.  And she told me she wasn't expecting heat in her apartment when she got in, so she said she was going to be enjoying a bottle of wine until she was warm.  I hope that worked out for her.

At the end of my night, I was headed back to my garage.  On Flatbush Ave, I see a guy who looked like he was headed in my direction, so I picked him up.  He wanted to go to Bay Ridge.  A bit out of the way for me, but its a good ride, so I took it.  This guy was a little on the tipsy side and obnoxious.  He asked me the same questions multiple times because he forgot he already asked them.  When we arrived at his destination, he then tells me he has no money.  Seriously.  I told him I could take credit, but he didn't have that either.  He told me to come to his restaurant where he worked tomorrow and he would give me $100.  Yeah.  Right, buddy.  I told him to get out and forget it.  Funny, because we just had had a conversation about how karma is a bitch.  It's a shame that I had to end my night on that sour note.  So, if anyone eats at Azalea Ristorante, tell the manager he owes me $100!

Other than that, things were uneventful.  Very few talkers tonight.  At least I had a good night, money wise.  Because of the cold, nobody wanted to walk anywhere, so that means lots of taxi business!  I stayed out pretty late, so now I am pooped.  It is time for me to curl up with a kitty or two and pass out.


Monday, January 21, 2013

You Take The Good, You Take The Bad...........

Between a stomach bug, having my kitchen floors re-done, bachelorette party planning and a million other things, I didn't get to work for longer than I would like.  It had been almost a week and a half since my last shift by the time I got to the garage last Wednesday.  And even then I wasn't feeling 100%, so I pretty much had to force myself to work because, hey, bills need to be paid.
Going into Times Square
Last Wednesday was slow.  And I mean really slow.  I eventually made close to my average, but I had to really work for it, and I stayed out way late.  I think I worked about 14 hours that shift.  It was just rough all around.

I started my shift heading into the city with no intentions of hitting the airports.  But as soon as I made it over the bridge, I get a fare to JFK.  Okay, fine.  I wasn't planning on going there, but I went.  After dropping my passenger off at his terminal, I headed to the taxi lot where I had to wait for about an hour before getting to a terminal and picking up a fare.  I didn't realize until after we pulled away that this guy was just going a little way into Queens and I didn't get my "shorty ticket".  So after waiting there for all that time, I only got a small fare out of it and then had to trek all the way into Manhattan from Forest Hills empty.  By the time I made it into the city, it was almost 7:30(I started at 3:30) and I didn't have much to show for my time.

After killing myself just to make my lease, I was passing by my old store when I see a few of my old co-workers leaving.  I pulled over to say hi and offered them a ride home.  At that point I was annoyed with how slow the night was so I figured why not.  It was awesome to see them!  It really has been a while, so it was great to catch up.  Even if I wasn't making money, I had fun.  And I probably wouldn't have made much if I hadn't stopped for them.
Me with my old co-workers; Laura in the front with me and Mike and Corey in the back.
The rest of the night was just blah.  The city was dead.  All the bars seemed empty and nobody wanted a cab.  I seriously drove around empty for around an hour more than once.  My last fare, I think was my first repeat customer, although neither of us were sure.  But she seemed really familiar, and I have totally dropped the person she reminded me of at the same place in Red Hook.  So it was either a really striking similarity, or she was the same passenger.

After spending a few days relaxing in the woods up in Massachusetts over the weekend, I worked tonight.  What a contrast to last week!  This was my biggest night money-wise that I have had yet.  Over double my usual average.  The whole night was busy.  Between the football games, hockey and the fact that it's the Sunday before a holiday Monday, people were out and about and going places all night.
Gorgeous sunset over the JFK taxi lot
Once again, I didn't plan on going to the airport.  I had a short fare in Brooklyn before heading over the bridge to Manhattan.  My first fare in Manhattan took me to JFK.  I am starting to notice a trend! After dropping her off at the terminal, I headed to the taxi lot.  Even thought the lot was pretty full, the line moved quickly.  I was out of there in about 40 minutes.  I had a shorty fare first to just outside the airport, and was back in just a few minutes.  Easy money.  Because I had my shorty ticket, I didn't have to wait in the lot again, so I went right to my next terminal where I picked up a couple going to Manhattan.
Things were moving all night.  And then I picked up a pretty unassuming guy. Oh boy, I had no idea the character I had in my car.  He was very nice and told me I was a good driver and I was very laid back.  I said thanks and as he was about to get out of the car, he asked me if I would show him my "front porch".  For those of you who don't know, and I didn't until I had him clarify, "front porch" means boobs.  He wanted me to flash him.  I told him no, and thankfully he was considerate of my denial and laughed it off saying, "well, if you don't ask, it won't happen".  Very strange man.  But, after all that, he gave me a pretty generous tip.

Even though the night was super busy, people didn;t seem too chatty.  So other than Front Porch guy, I dont have much else to talk about.  It was a long shift, and I am pooped.  Its time for sleep. 

Oh!  and also, my Girly Cabbie business cards came in the mail.  Now I can share this blog with people without having to scribble the address on a piece of scrap paper.  Woo!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Other Side of the Partition

Earlier today I had a thing I was attending in Manhattan.  It was all the way over by the East River, so instead of walking a million blocks or changing trains and buses a million times, I decided to take the subway to Union Square and then hop a taxi. 

I forgot what time of day it was, but it was 4pm, aka shift change.  So I was rather pleased when I  crossed Park Ave and a empty taxi was there at the light.  I hopped in and was delighted to have such an awesome driver.  First off, he knew where I had to go(which I will be honest, if someone got in my cab and gave me this address, I wouldn't have).  But this guy was a character!  Totally old school New York.  And he was also an actor, complete with his head shot taped to the back of the partition.  Totally fantastic. 

I confessed to also being a driver and we had a nice chat about driving.  The good and the bad.  Like me, he only drove part time.  He said he only worked a double shift on Sundays.  Neither of us have the energy or the ability to drive 6 12 hour shifts a week like a lot of drivers do. 

I am kicking myself now.  I wish I could remember this guys name(and if you are reading this, please!  tell me your name!) and I wish I had gotten a photo.  Seriously, dude.  Keep doing what you are doing!  You are what this city needs.

Sadly, my taxi on the way back to the train wasn't as cool.  He talked on his phone the whole time.  Eh, I guess not everyone can be as rad as myself or my new friend.

 • • •

In other news, I ordered some business cards today for the site.  I don't often tell my customers about the blog, but some of the awesome ones I do.  And I always end up scribbling the address on a piece of scrap paper.  Every single one of them says I should get cards.  So I did.  Can't wait for them to get here!
The new card!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Drivers Wanted

 I just watched a really interesting documentary about NYC Taxi drivers.  It follows a brand new driver and some very old timer drivers.  I relate to the new guy.  I remember my first day and not knowing how to work a meter.  Its scary, but you move on and figure it out!  And before you know it, its no biggie!  So, check it out!  It's only about an hour long and I really enjoyed it.

New Year, New Adventures!

So at this point, I am already three shifts into the new year.  I worked the day after New Years Day(I needed the one day to recover from New Years Eve).  It was an okay shift.  Nothing too exciting happened.  The next day I worked as well.
New year and ready to take on new adventures(or, the short version, "me behind the wheel")
I called up the JFK taxi hotline at the beginning of my shift to see if it was worth heading over there.  I didn't think it was, so I headed into the city.  I had started working early enough so I figured I would get a lot of the business other drivers missed when they went off duty around that time.  I managed to get into Manhattan and all the way up to around the 60's before I caught my first fare.  And wouldn't you know it, they wanted to go to JFK!  Somehow, in rush hour, we made it to the airport in pretty decent time.  Under an hour, for sure.  My passengers complimented me on getting them there so quickly(both verbally and with a nice tip).  So since I didn't waste a lot of time in traffic, my trip out to the airport was a pretty good thing.  Once I got out there, i took a look at the taxi lot.  It was pretty full, but looked like it was moving, so I got on the line.  I waited for about an hour, maybe a little less.  Which for as full as the lot was, really isn't too bad.  I finally got dispatched to Terminal 2.  I had never picked up there before, so navigating my way there was a little odd.

Once I got to the terminal, I had a passenger right away.  We didn't make it into the city quite as quickly as I had made it to the airport, but it wasn't too bad.  And we had a wonderful discussion the whole way.  He was a volunteer for the Red Cross from, I think he said, Kansas.  This was his second trip to the area since the hurricane.  He told me about all the work he had been doing and about all the others who came from all over the country to help out with the recovery.  It really warmed my heart to know that there are these kind people out there who drop their lives to come help out one of the countries' toughest areas when we actually need help.  When I dropped him off at his hotel, I made sure to thank him for the work that he does.

I gotta say, after that, nothing really interesting.  The city was pretty dead as a lot of tourists had left and a lot of New Yorkers hadn't returned from their vacations or were lying low recovering from the holidays.

I worked again this Sunday.  Much more interesting.  By this time, most people were back from the holidays, so there was more activity in the city.
Giant suspended snowflake on the intersection of 57th and 5th.  I love this thing and finally got close enough to it for a photo.
The shift started out pretty average.  I had quite a few fares early on, but they were all on the small side of things.  I was cruising Amsterdam when I picked up a woman to go farther uptown.  She was so nice!  We had a really nice conversation the whole way up about cabbie-ing.  She was genuinely interested in what I do so that was nice.  I told her about the blog too, so if you are reading, HELLO!  It was great to have you in the cab!  Seriously, even though I don't have many rude or mean customers, the ones who are genuinely interested and kind are pretty rare too.  After that, I was feeling a little more optimistic about the evening.

Things started picking up a little more as the night went on.  I ended up picking up a group of college aged kids who were so into themselves it made me laugh.  Seriously.  The extent of their conversation was which one of them had more "likes" on Instagram.  They also wanted to take the most ass-backwards way to their destination and only after tremendous traffic on their selected route would they listen to reason and let me take the proper way.  And after all their stupid requests, sitting in unnecessary traffic and having to listen to their vapid conversation, they gave me a measly $1 tip(on a $20 fare, which is 5% and crappy for those of you less mathematically inclined).  Because clearly none of them know what it was like to have to work for a living or put up with people like them for any amount of time.  I bet they went to my high school.

I picked up a guy to go to Queens after that.  Nothing really too interesting to say about that except this guy had an amazing voice.  He should do radio or something.  Maybe he does.  But it was one of those thick New York old school accents and a really deep and gruff voice.  Kinda hot, actually.  I also never saw the guy's face, which added to it I think. 

Later on, I was cruising around the village.  I was driving up University when I see someone hailing me in front of the bowling alley.  I pull over and so does another car behind me.  I see someone getting into the other cab and, annoyed, said something like "Or NOT!" out the window as I was about to pull away.  But then someone else came and grabbed me before I sped off.  She needed to go to Brooklyn and to an area I was very familiar with.  So our conversation didn't have to involve step by step directions.  Instead it went towards weddings.  She had mentioned her upcoming wedding, and her experience at Kleinfeld.  My little sister is a bride to be, so I had lots to discuss with her.  Before you knew it, we were at her destination.  I even managed to get another fare in Brooklyn before getting back to Manhattan.

As I was on St. Marks, I get stopped outside Crif Dogs by a young couple.  They wanted to go to Hoboken, NJ.  I looked up the fare in my little flat rate book(first time I got to use this thing!) and told them the rate.  They agreed and hopped in.  They were super friendly and we chatted the whole way into Jersey.  And as they directed me to their hotel, I got to see the sights of Hoboken, which is actually a much cuter area than I expected.  Also, lots of night life.  Seriously, a bar on every corner.  Who knew!?  I am not allowed to pick up any fares in Jersey, so as soon as I dropped them off I rushed back into the city.  And i got really lucky too.  Almost as soon as I got out of the tunnel in Manhattan, I caught a fare to way up on the Upper West Side.

On my way back downtown, I was at a red light on Broadway somewhere in the 80's.  A cop car pulled up next to me.  The cops did a double take before rolling down their window to tell me what a rare sight I was.  We all had a chuckle and I waved at them before they took off at the green light.

It was late and I caught that one last fare I wanted to Queens(Brooklyn would have been good too).  Two guys who had just closed up their restaurant in Alphabet City and were too tired to take the subway.  One got out just over the bridge.  After he got out, the remaining fellow and I had a nice conversation and I told him about a restaurant I liked that was just around the corner from his place.  And he, unlike the spoiled brats from before, gave me a nice tip.  People who work in the service industry know how to tip because they know what its like to NOT get a tip when you bust your butt!

It was late and I decided to head back to the garage.  I hopped on the BQE and headed into Brooklyn.  When I was headed up Flatbush ave in Park Slope, a guy had his arm out for a cab.  He looked like he was headed in my general direction, so I pulled over and he got in.  Turned out, he needed to go only a few blocks from my garage and was super nice and thankful that I stopped.  I don't always grab fares when I am on my way back to the garage, but i was in a good mood and figured why the heck not.  It was one of those cab rides that end with a handshake.  Those don;t happen often, but sometimes when you have a good rapport with a passenger, its the only way to end things.

After dropping him off, it was only a hop, skip and a jump to my garage where I called it a night.  What started out as just a mediocre night ended up being a really good shift, both monetarily and people wise.  Totally made up for some of the slower shifts I had last week.  I am glad I kicked my own ass into going to work that night.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

My last shift driving for 2012 sucked.  I drove the day after Christmas.  I got to my garage and I guess everyone else took the day off because most of the cabs were there waiting.  So I was out of the garage by 2:15.

I figured since i had a nice early start I would head over to JFK to pick up some of the post-xmas travelers.  I ended up picking up two women from Kew Gardens who had just gotten back from Japan.  We had a friendly ride, but the weather was crap and it was a busy traffic day to begin with, so it took forever.  And after our friendly ride and putting up with those crappy conditions and helping them with their bags, they gave me a whopping $1 tip.  Awesome.

After the excessively long ride of a very short distance, i figured going back to the airport wouldn't be worth it because i would just get stuck in traffic again, and the guy at the terminal forgot to give me a shorty ticket(allows you to cut the line if you don't get a fare to Manhattan the first time).  So i headed up Queens Blvd. to get back to Manhattan. 

As I am driving up Queens Blvd. the weather conditions are getting worse and it had started sleeting.  So I try to drive cautiously.  I see the light changing, so I come to a stop.  The van behind me did not see it changing as quickly so when he had to slam on his brakes to stop, he went skidding and slammed right into the back of my car.  I saw it coming, too, and braced myself for impact.  After the slam, I got out to check the damage.  Thankfully the van hit me fat, so there wasn't any damage.  Our bumpers met perfectly and did what they were supposed to.  This didn't stop me from yelling at the guy who gave me a dumbface shrug.  After this little impact though, I did have a sore neck and shoulders for a few days.  Nothing serious, but it did make my hooping class a little more difficult.

By the time I got into the city I had to pee so bad that I had to go off duty and find a place to park and a business establishment to use.  And this was unfortunate because there were people trying to hail me, but I was at critical mass and had to stop.  Also, it was sleeting really bad at this point so driving conditions sucked.

With all the traffic, weather and other holdups, but the time I had my second fare of the day it was almost 6pm(remember, i left my garage at 2:15).  After only a few little fares in the city, I get hailed about a block from the midtown tunnel and the guy wants to go all the way out to Kew Gardens.  Second time of the day headed out there.  Thankfully, as I was on my way back into the city, I was at a red light with my "off duty" lights on when a guy came up tot he car and asked if I could take him to the East Village.  So I was lucky and got a hard to get fare back into the city. 

The rest of the night was slow.  Slower than I thought it would be for there being so few cabs out, but I think with the weather being so bad and people recovering from Christmas the night before, people just didn't go out.  Except for people from Queens.  Because I went to Queens several more times over the course of the evening.

The worst trip to queens came a little later in the night.  I was taking a guy to Long Island City and we hopped on the bridge.  Of course once we got onto the bridge(which had been clear not long before), things stopped moving.  It took us about 30 minutes to get over the bridge, all because of an accident(one of many I saw that night) at the far end of the bridge blocking one of the two lanes completely.  Good times.

While all of this awful driving was going on, my rear defroster wasn't working.  It was very hard to see out of my back window most the night.  And there I was thinking I got a good car, but I didn't find out until much later after leaving the garage that it was not working.  Then there was traffic everywhere and the NYPD kept blocking off streets on me.  So on top of my crappy night I had that to deal with too.
Not the big tree.  Couldn't get a shot of it.  But got Radio City as we were headed towards Rockefeller.
The one and only redeeming thing that happened was actually really sweet.  I picked up what seemed like a woman, her son and his daughter.  The little girl was probably about 7 or 8 and was really cute.  They picked me up on 50th street and our route was going to take us right past Rockefeller Center.  The little girl had never seen the big tree and she was very excited that we were able to drive right by it.  She was so happy and excited.  Her father thanked me at the end of the ride for making her day.  That was nice, and a fun ride.  And to top it off, I got to see the tree too, which i hadn't seen lit up for years.

Despite a crappy last shift for the year, overall, this year has been great as far as this new career goes.  I mean, it was the first year, so I don;t have much else to compare it to.  But it was good enough that I will continue into this new year!  Lets hope my first shift of the new year is a better start than my last shift of the last year!