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.