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!