Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Topless in South Beach

November 8th, 2011 was a Tuesday Night. It's been a long time since I've posted any entries here at Craziest NYC Taxi Stories blog and I'll take tonight's blog to describe some of my activities outside of taxi driving since I've lately been busy with other things – I have quite a different background than the typical taxi driver, perhaps I can use this blog to describe it. A few months ago, I was offered a temporary job for a  manufacturing company in Manhattan to do some programming and design on databases (this is what I was educated in) and mostly my primary area of expertise. Because of this contract I returned to a 9-5 type of job in an office setting, really none too exciting as compared to this line of work. This project lasted about 12 weeks full-time. Office work you will find is less tiring than driving a cab, but it might also be considered less interesting. On the downside, its also a bit annoying because you need to wake up on time in the morning like a real adult – I much prefer to wake up late and go in to work in the afternoon, granted the level of respect you receive is lower. Working the night shift feels like you are out partying all night. So there are pluses and minuses to each career. After completing this IT project I had another little side detour, flying down to South Beach/Miami area for a week-long vacation at the beach. This was quite a good time and a detour from my usual routine. South Florida is warm year-round and this October it was in the 80s and humid. I took a flight from La Guardia to Fort Lauderdale airport, rented a car and drove to a hotel in Hollywood, Florida, a budget place to fit in with my relatively limited income. The car rental agency gave me a convertible, a Mitsubishi Spyder, quite a hot car for being a budget rental!
Topless Spyder
South Florida is so pristine and laid back, as compared to busy and crowded New York. Its more of a suburban area, but it does have a few things in common with New York. I stayed in Hollywood, Florida, but spent most of my time down in my Miami (about a 20 minute drive). Hollywood is more of an Old Florida type of place, if you will, for American tourists and old south types like myself to visit on vacation. What I like about it is there is a boardwalk along with a lot of old school bars and restuarants facing the beach, its pretty laid back.
Hollywood, Florida
On the other hand, Miami is a pretty flashy city. Miami and South Beach are much more cosmopolitan and international, not unlike Manhattan. This area is filled with vacationers from New York, and other parts of the north, as well as South Americans, and many Europeans. It is quite different from the rest of the American south. Another unique aspect of Miami is that it is mostly Hispanic and Spanish speaking, with immigrants from mostly Cuba, Colombia, and other parts of South America. The beaches of Miami and points further south and very pretty with white sand and clear aqua colored water, so much nicer than the beaches in New York City.
South Beach, Miami, Florida
In addition to being much nicer this is the place to go to the beach, its also much warmer than New York metro area beaches and that is why I love it like many other “snowbirds.” I've actually considered moving to south Florida a number of times before because of the weather, although its difficult to find a job down there. My vacation consisted of nothing more than enjoying the weather, the beach, sand, scenery, and the ladies of south Florida. I had some reservations about the weather because it looked like a showery forecast, but luckily things cleared up – only the first day was showery with temps in the 80's all week. One other benefit of south Florida, is that not unlike NYC, there is quite a selection of hot ladies around to date.  The girls I actually met over the course of the week were from Brazil, Cuba, or Russia. Other than pursuing the ladies, getting a little R and R, and enjoying the sun, sand and sea, there isn't much of a taxi driving story here this time.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Typical Night of Taxi Driving

Welcome to another chapter of Craziest NYC taxi stories. Instead of detailing tonight’s shift, I thought it’d it be kind of interesting to list out some typical things that might be considered to happen on a typical night of taxi driving. What I find totally interesting is that certain events tend to repeat themselves on a typical night of taxi driving that would otherwise seem to be completely random to the outside of observer, for example, the customers, the traffic, the locations that we drive to and so on. What surprised me to a great extent is that these types of things are, in my opinion predictable events; VERY PREDICTABLE, this includes the behavior of my passengers. While at times, other events are less predictable or random that may never happen to you again in a night of taxi driving. Tonight, I’ll be detailing some of a night’s predictable events/people/places. In terms of traffic, one who is behind the wheel of a yellow cab will notice that in the late afternoon traffic in Manhattan will build from say 3PM to 5PM and will remain heavy until about 7PM on a weeknight. This includes midtown and the tunnel and bridge entrances where most of the worst traffic is located. Midtown from about the 30s Streets to the 50s at the end of Central Park will be the most heavily trafficked areas of Manhattan and of New York City especially during the daytime. This is for various reasons. For one, this is where most people are going during the day, because of the amount of high-rises within midtown. It is also where there are a large number of destinations such as Penn Station, Grand Central Station, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and so on are located. 7th Avenue at 42nd street area Times Square is one of the most heavily trafficked areas of Manhattan in terms of both vehicle traffic and pedestrians. There seem to be many more destinations located in midtown than in downtown. Other problem areas for traffic are the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels to New Jersey, located in the West 40s, and on Canal Street in the Tribeca area in lower Manhattan, respectively. Other entrances and exits out of Manhattan are also traffic tie-ups are the Queensboro Bridge in East Midtown, the Queens Midtown Tunnel in Grammercy, and the Brooklyn Bridge going to Brooklyn. The vehicle traffic in the city tends to follow the same predictable pattern every night. It begins to build on a weekday afternoon until about 4:30 and remains heavy until about 6:30. Then slowly begins to ebb throughout the night. Later on into the night, Thursday remains fairly busy, out of the weeknight nights, with Sunday through Wednesday the slowest of the week’s nights. Of course Friday and Saturday nights are very busy all the way until 5am shift end time because these are the nights when the majority of people in the city are out partying, with Sunday and Monday night’s being a ghost town after 1AM with little traffic, taxis, and taxi passengers. Daytime traffic tends to be worse in the city all day because of all the civilian vehicles and other commercial vehicles in the city, which makes driving a taxi easier and more lucrative at night. During the daytime and rush hour timeframes the outer boroughs tend to also be much busier than later into the night. Next comes the most interesting and revealing part of taxi driving that I have come to discover. Us taxi drivers get a good sense of the cross-section of citizenry that resides and visits New York City. Here, I’m going to detail some of the types of passengers who get into my taxi on a typical night of taxi driving, but the real revelation about the types of passengers who ride with me is that one might be able to predict their behavior based on the way they look and who they are just by a quick 5 second glance of them standing on the curb. This is a really CREEPY aspect of taxi driving, because this means that human behavior is predictable, not a very politically correct viewpoint, but still the truth in my opinion.  Anyways, on with my experiences. If you’ve been reading my blog, I’ve detailed a few of the types of passengers that I enjoy picking up and a few of the types that I do not enjoy picking up. One such group is the middle to older aged complainers. I will separate these into the men and women because they do tend to act a bit differently. These types of people tend to be physically slow. In old age they tend to need help getting into and out of the taxi and help with their stuff. They tend to be native New Yorkers, and thus probably less friendly. The men seem to be able to hold it together better than the women do, but not if you do something they don’t like. This type of passenger also is the most likely to make unfriendly comments or complaints towards me. In addition to physical ailments, they also might suffer from paranoia (thinking I’m attempting to take advantage of them when I’m not), rage (becoming angry over little things), and dementia (forgetting where they told me to drive, and then telling me that I refused to drive them to where they forgot to tell me where to drive). Altogether I sometimes choose to drive past the female types of these passengers and pass them or refuse them, because of these types of issues. As stated I usually pick up the men, because they tend to be able to hold it together better than the women. I’ve also heard from other taxi drivers that the older taxi passengers tend to be the most likely to file a 311 complaints against drivers and go to court to pursue it (even if the complaint is not really true). I spoke to a psychologist about this type of behavior and I got some interesting revelations from him. He told me that the older passengers would have grumpy conversations with me simply because they don’t have anyone left to talk to and are fearful of new relationships, so rather than having a friendly conversation with me, asking me to be friends or approaching me like some of the young ladies do, they find anything such as TLC rules or directions to discuss with me rather than that since they have to say something to someone, why not a taxi driver? I was surprised at how irrational and bizarre but yet logical this explanation was. Generally speaking these types of individuals will touch upon the same subjects each time I pick them up for example TLC rules, discussions about my taxi cab (is this a handicap cab? How do you open the door? Can you go to the other curb? Are you sure that you know the directions?). The next type of passenger that is the most major type is the young professional, which is my favorite. A few words to describe these types are youthful, white collar, Caucasian, easygoing, logical, well-dressed, polite, and wealthy. These are the typical types of people who might live in Manhattan and tell me to drive them from one place in Manhattan to another. They never have anything unfriendly or illogical to say to me. These types are also usually dressed in fancier clothes than their outer borough counterparts. Unlike the middle-aged complainers they tend to be completely open to negotiating any type of issue that may arise in our little business relationship, and are usually laid back about it. They tip well. They are usually out to have a good time. The men in this category are usually business-like, ride from A to B, may or may not have a polite conversation with me, pay and leave just as you might expect one to behave inside a taxi. The women usually behave in a similar way, but sometimes they can flirt with me, especially if they are intoxicated, they are friendly for sure. Sometimes it seems as if these women have their mind made up, that they will flirt with me as soon as they see me in the driver’s seat. While not every woman who enters my taxi flirts with me in this way, because I pick up a lot of women it might happen once a night or so. If they are from out of town, it makes this sort of behavior even more likely. European tourists are another distinctive group of passengers that I pick up. They tend to be from countries such as England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, Korea, Japan, and so on, from all corners across the globe. They tend to have some things in common with the young professionals in that they are cooperative. They usually have more trouble speaking English and with directions on where they would like to be driven. Surprisingly, there tend to be a lot of British people who visit NYC its quite interesting to see how many there are. I usually pick up several British people a night. There are a few other distinctive types of passengers that I pick up, who are families, who usually reside in Manhattan. They are mostly forgettable. I’ll be writing a follow-up on a few other distinctive types of passengers, such as gays, blacks, and blue collar types in future posts. Next, I’ll be giving the details on the destinations I travel to at various times of the night…TBD.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Irene in New York City Taxi Land and Other Oddities

August 28, 2011 was a Sunday. Tonight, I drove the night-shift and started in the late afternoon.  Tonight shift was odd for a number of reasons. Due to Hurricane Irene this was quite an interesting weekend for New York City. The city was deserted. First of all, the city’s subways were shutdown, system-wide. This was a historic move by mayor Bloomberg made because of the risk of flooding within the underground subway tunnels during the hurricane. Also, a few areas within Manhattan and other boroughs of New York City were evacuated because they were low-lying and in danger of being flooded. The people who were in these areas were instructed to stay somewhere else, for example, with friends, in a hotel or a shelter that the city had provided. This Sunday afternoon was after Irene had for the most part already passed through the city. It was windy, cloudy, and drizzly. When I showed up at the garage in Park Slope, Brooklyn the neighborhood was completely deserted. The storm had not caused major damage but there were leaves, branches, and trash strewn about like you would find after a thunderstorm. I hoped that there were pedestrians and therefore passengers in the city, this part of the city didn’t look promising. I entered the city the same way that I usually do every afternoon, over the Manhattan Bridge, and turning onto Allen then First Avenue. At least in my favor, there was no subway service and no bus service throughout the city. As I pulled up along First Avenue an ethnic looking man possibly from India hailed me and we headed over to the Upper West Side. The ride was conversation free. We stopped at a store. This store was closed and he proceeded to open the metal shield that covered the storefront. What was particularly odd about the city that never sleeps is that today all of the stores along Amsterdam Avenue had metal shields were drawn down in front. There were also a limited number of pedestrians, the fewest I’ve ever seen, and this was during the middle of the day. It was extremely eerie. What was also odd is that there were fewer taxis on the roads to compete with, so this helped the situation. After this Asian man, I headed north and stopped on the right side of Amsterdam Avenue, picking up a European man with a heavy accent. We turned right and headed to midtown down 9th Avenue to 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. The taxi business tonight was not as good as I had hoped it would be, being that the city was deserted, but it was still about average. I think part of the reason was because many places were closed today due to the storm. It was definitely eerie but I got used to it and did my business. A few fares later I picked up an Asian American couple headed from the East Village to Battery Park City, an area of the city that was evacuated due to flooding from Hurricane Irene. From a bit of research on 1010 AM radio, I knew that the FDR was flooded and closed so I decided to go down Bowery, then Worth Street,  then Broadway, and then make a right and head across West Street into the complex. The flooding that was supposedly there had receded so we had no problem getting in. This very same trip was repeated two more times tonight, the third time was with a young Asian girl who was just hired at JPMorgan Chase as a technology analyst from the University of Michigan. She seemed barely 22 and acted her age. We chatted about New York City for awhile. Then we chatted about her career in IT and my former career in IT. She was a Java programmer or at least she thought that she would be once she began her career at JP Morgan. After my second trip into Batter Park, it had begun to shower a bit. On the way out of Battery Park, I picked up a lesbian couple and took them over to King and 6th Avenue in the West Village.  On my way out of the complex, the 3rd time, I picked up an Italian family from Rome, on the West Side Highway, and took them to 49th and 5th Avenue, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. They were on a site-seeing tour across the US and their flight got canceled today as all of the airports in the New York City metro area were closed. We discussed how the city was deserted today and how the winds were really whipping up now with the back end of the hurricane. Also among my list of fares later on in the afternoon were a young ethnic-looking girl headed to Park and 18th Street. She asked me where a Duane Reade’s drug store might be open since many stores were closed today. After her I picked an odd-looking young couple headed to a restaurant also on Park Avenue, a black man headed to work at a hospital at 135th and Lenox in Harlem from the Upper West Side, and a black girl who was heading from the Times Square area to Harlem. She asked a bunch of annoying questions a taxi driver does not really want to hear, like “how much does this usually cost? Can you provide me with a handwritten receipt? Are you going up Madison?”  ………
…..During the late afternoon, there was more of a lull between my fares and I noticed that many other taxis that I was in competition with were vacant. I had to be nimble, quick, and aggressive when it came to hunting for fares tonight which was odd considering there was no subway……
……Later on towards 8PM after the sun set, two athletic-looking Latin males, one of them wearing a tank top, saddled up. As soon as they got in they began practicing wrestling moves inside my cab, one of them got the other into some sort of a headlock claiming “look, there is no way for you to get out of it,” while the other guy tried to escape claiming he would hurt em by poking him in the eyes. “I don’t want to have to hurt you” he proclaimed in a casual tone. Wrestling inside the cab was a first for me.  Then we discussed how the subways were not supposed to be operational again until late Monday. I told them about how I had to hire another taxi driver to take me to get my cab. One of them lived on Carmine Street in the Village, the other on 7th Avenue, while the 3rd passenger I presume was a relative visiting from out of town. They got off in West Midtown.  Next in a series of taxi riders were a family going from the Upper West Side to a hotel in midtown; a mixed white-collar couple, headed to York and 72nd, and another in a series of endless sets of European tourists headed to a restaurant on 3rd Avenue and 65th or so. All of these people were going out to clubs, parties, events, bars, and the like which separates them from the day passenger types. I prefer to categorize my rides into several different types, but one distinctive type is of course, people who are headed out to party for the night, or coming home from a bar or club, or private party. These are distinctive fares from those during the day because usually they are a bit crazier and out of control, and of course intoxicated or on drugs. Among the more business-like fares that night were two foreign men, I did not bother to ask from what country, who were headed to Jersey City, New Jersey. They offered me $50 for a 20 minute ride. We went south through the Holland Tunnel then I made a left and headed south for a bit, based on my review of a handy map. They paid me $61, then I returned to the city back through the deserted Holland Tunnel. Next were two young men who were intoxicated but friendly, they were headed upto 3rd and 31st to an all-night restaurant. I also picked up a mixed group of girls/guys headed to 75 West Street on the other side of Battery Park from the West Village. 
As time went on past midnight to 2AM or 3AM, the more colorful and crazier the people who got into my cab became. Maybe the hours of between 1AM and 5AM should be considered the crazy time in taxi driving. Tonight, one memorable fare consisted of two young attractive women heading to the Upper West Side. I was coming north on Hudson Street in the West Village when these two girls stopped me, one of them smoking a cigarette. They were both wearing tight shorts and I might consider them to be Williamsburg, Brooklyn type of girls but they were residing in Manhattan. These two girls were going to 83rd and Amsterdam but might possibly want to stop along the way to get ice cream. One of them was from upstate New York and the other was from Boston. One of the girls was wearing a tight tanktop and very short shorts. Sometime during the conversation I heard of them talking about this boy who was in the city today. This boy was in the city to see the new Broadway play, Spiderman Turn off the Dark. They stated that he was not impressed by the play. One of them stated that “every time he comes into the city he wants me to suck his dick.” Then there was some more conversation that was drowned out by the bumps in the road and the shaking of the taxi, but, I took it to also be of a sexual nature. Then they switched to a conversation about their other roomie who they said “was probably fcking her bf on the couch in the living room since “she thought we’d be gone all night.” They laughed, “No maybe they are doing it on top of the microwave in the kitchen, hehehehehe!” After they mentioned this, I started some small talk about who they were and where they were from thinking maybe they were lesbians.  “When I’m dating a man I prefer to stick with the man” she stated, but when I’m dating her I prefer to keep her to myself.”  The conversation did not seem to progress much beyond this then she paid, left me, and wished me well, tipping generously.  
…..  Later on I went by this club called 1Oak on 17th Street and 10th Avenue, I parked in front of 1Oak and waited for a fare to come out of the door. Now 1Oak usually has some very beautiful people when it’s open and crowded. There are also quite a lot of Europeans, affluent partygoers, and other exotic types of people. Tonight was no exception. A few minutes later, a couple approached the door. It was an Italian couple. I could tell because they were speaking Italian. The woman was exotic looking and more fair skinned than most Italians so I assumed they were from northern Italy. A few weeks ago, I had picked up this beautiful Italian woman from Milan; she was as exotic as they come with a sweet sexy accent that was a bit different than that of southern Italians. Now this Italian man opened the front door and told me where to take the young lady. The young lady stumbled into the back and the man went back inside the club. She was wearing a formal party dress that was a bit revealing. She wanted go to a hotel, the Best Western Presidential on 7th Avenue and 48th Street in Times Square. The Italian girl in the back was sleepy and slumped over in the seat. I tried to start some chit chat with her but she was passed out and a bit drowsy and mumbling. We drove from 17th and 10th up 10th Avenue and then took a right on about 50th Street. This girl was in and out of consciousness. She spoke very broken English and we didn’t have much of a conversation. We turned down 7th Avenue, and headed south a bit, with my trying to find this Best Western. Nowhere did I see a sign that said Best Western and I wasn’t familiar with this hotel, so I turned to her and said miss, where’s your hotel? There was no response. I stepped out of the taxi and went around to the back, opening the door and approaching her, she responded, “the Best Western Presidential, over there she pointed sleepily, take me to the right, take me to the right, it’s over there.” So I thought we will have to go around again, since I missed the turn. That’s odd since I had never seen a Best Western around here in Times Square, it must be new. We go around the block again, I drove down the street she claims is where her hotel is located, but nowhere can I find a Best Western. So we stop again, “I ask her, can you just walk over there to where your hotel is?” She said, no she wants to be driven “over there to the right!” she moans with her head slumped a bit in the seat then she tells me that her hotel is located at 49th Street and 9th Avenue not 7th. Oh great I think, I’m just wasting time now. Again we drive around in a circle, with my cruising over to 9th Avenue, but yet again I cannot seem to locate this woman’s hotel. “Mamma Mia!” She moaned. I go back over towards 7th Avenue but this time a garbage truck is blocking our way. I turn to her and ask her again if she would just mind walking back to her hotel from this corner at 8th Avenue and she finally agreed, with my not knowing exactly where she was trying to go. Now this is an unusual event, I rarely have a fare where I could not find the exact building they want to go to. Because of this I charged her $10 even though the meter was at $13 and then headed back down to the meatpacking district to get some more fares…
… Next up, more drunks and let me tell you, the later it gets the crazier these people seem to become, although I don’t usually mind it. I pulled down 9th Avenue then I made a right onto 13th, into the Meatpacking District. I picked up 5 young white men who were of the scruffy looking variety coming out of a bar, probably some place like Hogs and Heffers. These men had a serious BO problem. Obviously they were on vacation here. The more docile of the men sat up from with me. One of the other men sat leaning up with his tattooed arm draped over the front of the front seat. These men spoke with an odd Midwestern sounding accent. They were from Alberta, Canada. Now one of the more aggressive drunks and the apparent leader of the group started off by saying “Let me tell you that girl in the cardigan was a real c*ckblock! I was trying to pick up her friend and she was a total c*ckblock! I know that chick would've totally gone home with me! The girl in the cardigan was judging me all night!” We are heading west, going towards the West Side Highway. He continued on a rant. Then he looks at this other Indian taxi driver who is parked waiting to make a right turn in front of us, and the light is green but he’s not moving. The aggressive scruffy leader yells “hey man, we’re trying to drive here dude, move it!” out the window. LOL. I pulled around him and gave my horn a bit of a honk. The Indian driver winced a bit and then started moving. Then the aggressive drunk started mouthing off more about the women they had encountered. “Did you see that girl in that Mercedes convertible? That was an $80,000 car. She wanted to do some slumming tonight! She totally wanted to pick us up. All you need is a tattoo and a small c*ck and there you go!“ Love it. Then he mumbled something about the woman in the cardigan being a total c*ckblock for a repeat of the same story he told us the first time around “I tell you she was a total c*ckblock! I think she liked it when I tried to eat her cardigan!” We are moving up 10th Avenue right about 23rd Street after going off the West Side Highway. We come up beside a white sedan driven by a black lady and the aggressive guy goes “Hey man, I know you can take this lady go for it!!”I revved my Toyota engine some and then took off at the green. Only, the red lights up ahead were hindering my aggressive driving and we were about even. Then we are making a right turn towards Times Square and another slow poke taxi driver is parked letting someone off. As we pull beside him, the aggressive guy again yells out the window “Hey man, we’re trying to drive here, move it!” in a half way joking tone! Love it! Of course I usually drive pretty aggressively anyway and I didn’t mind his coaching. I dropped these crazy, smelly guys off at a hotel on 7th Avenue and 52nd or so, then I went back yet again to the meatpacking district. My night ended by picking up a few more ladies, one American girl I took home to Riverside Blvd into Trumps complex on the west side and then two more girls from Costa Rica I took to Broadway on the Upper West Side to conclude another night of driving in NYC’s Craziest Taxi Stories!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kelly Rutherford, Leonardio Dicaprio, and Amanda Hearst (and other celebrity taxi passengers)

Leonardo Dicaprio: I picked Leonardo Dicaprio in the Meatpacking District and took him back to his place at Battery Park. He owns a penthouse in the Riverhouse complex. I personally don't like Battery Park because its too barren of an area but whatever floats your boat. I have also picked up a few of his friends from the club 1Oak on 17th and 10th Avenue in Meatpacking. He's pretty often seen around town when he's not working.
Leonardo Dicaprio
Katerina Ivanoska: Just recently while I was cruising the Meatpacking District, I picked up Katerina Ivanovska from Macedonia, the model who is the face is Victorias Secret. I told her that I thought she looked familar and she looked tall and skinny like a model so I assumed. She sat up front with me while her Macedonian girlfriends sat in the back. They were not as tall as her but were just as hot. As is typical with most pretty girls she asked me if she could break the rules by smoking in the car. This time I was able to say no, since there were a lot of cops out tonight. We had a conversation a bit of smalltalk. I let her out at 17th and 10th Avenue at a restaurant called Cafeteria.

Katerina Ivanoska
Lenka Dayrit: I picked up Lenka Dayrit from a club in the Meatpacking District. She's a model that was featured on America's Next Top Model. She's from the Czech Republic. Her pants were sexy black leather.
Lenka Dayrit
Michele Kleier: I picked up Michele Kleier, head of Kleier Residential. That is a real estate firm that is featured on the TV show "Selling New York" on HGTV. I recognized her and heard her discussing real estate transactions this year in 2013. They mostly do properties on the UES.She explained that things have not slowed down this summer as they normally do in the summertime in NYC (since everyone leaves). The economy in NYC is improving at least for the wealthy.
Michele Kleier
Irving Kahn: I picked up Irving Khan on 3rd Avenue in midtown around rush hour. He was in a wheelchair. Irving Khan is the oldest living investment manager and one of the oldest living men out there. He is 108 years old. He started his investments career in 1929. I spoke mostly with his caregiver since he was in the back in a wheelchair. I dropped him off on a street between Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue which happens to be an area where many older wealthy types live.

System of A Down Band: I picked up the band, System of a Down on Park Avenue South late one night on a weeknight. They seemed interesting and gave off a West Coast vibe so I asked them what they were doing here in NYC. They told me they had a band and had just finished doing a show. The guy from the picture below on the left sat up front with me. They told me they wanted to go to a "Tappas" place open late nights, but for a second I thought they said Topless place not Tappas place. A girlfriend with them corrected me and said no Tappas, and if not some place open late on weeknights that serves food, considering it was 2:30am or so on a weeknight. We drove around and I recommended we go to some place in the West Village/Meatpacking area as that was just about the only part of town with restaurants open this late. The city was basically a ghost town at this point in the night. They asked me some basic questions about hoods in NYC, the usual tourist talk. We stopped at a popular place on 14th Street and 9th Avenue, but it closed. So instead we settled for a 24-hour a day pizza place further east on 14th Street.
System Of A Down
Kelly Rutherford: On Monday, June 20, 2011 it was a pleasure to pick up Kelly Rutherford from Gossip Girls and Melrose Place fame. I have had quite a few of celebrities in the taxi that I've been driving part-time for the past year, and as you can see for some reason, most of them are blonde bombshells. I did not recognize Kelly  but she looked familiar. I thought maybe I had picked her up before or met her at some type of social event. When I turned around to collect the money, she giggled at me. Then I asked her where I had seen her before, and she said that she works in television. She currently plays Lily van der Woodsen on Gossip Girls. I picked Kelly up on Madison Avenue with her son, Hermes and dropped her at another location on Madison Avenue.

Kelley Rutherford
Amanda Hearst: Another blonde bombshell who was my passenger is Amanda Hearst. Amanda is known for her work in modeling, being listed as one of Forbes Richest Billionaire Heiresses, and being the great grand-daughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst. She is now "global ambassador" for Tommy Hilfiger. I picked her up at 77th and Madison. During the ride, her friend monopolized most of the conversation, so I could not have a very in depth conversation with her. However, I could not help but wonder getting to know this beautiful young lady at this level of society. I dropped her and her friend at an art gallery on 11th Avenue and 21st Street in the Meatpacking District.
Amanda Hearst
Elisabeth Moss: Yes, it seems as though my taxi cab is a magnet for these attractive blonde celebrities, but I assure that I do not drive around the city looking for them. I picked up Elisabeth Moss from Madmen in front of a bar on 46th Street and 9th Avenue late one night with her friend who works behind the scenes at AMC. Elisabeth Moss is an actress who plays the character Peggy Olson on the show Madmen. I dropped her off in the East Village and took her friend who works for the American Movie Channel to Brooklyn.
Elisabeth Moss
Lauren Santo Domingo: I've also had the pleasure of picking up Lauren Santo Domingo in my taxi. Which she entered the cab, she asked me if I was American, then she complained that she never got the American taxi drivers. Lauren is another well-known young heiress from the New York metro area. Her father founded Perrier. Her husband is Colombian billionaire Andres Santo Domingo. She works at Vogue as a contributing editor with Anna Wintour (aka the devil in The Devil Wears Prada). I picked her up from 20th and 6th Avenue and took her to meet her friend on Park Avenue and 65th Street.
Lauren Santo Domingo
Laure-Anne Baillon:  Not too long ago, I picked a young blonde model from France, her name is Laure Anne Baillon. She has a sweet French accent and has appeared in some well known print ads for labels such as Calvin Klein. She asked for my number! Here is her photo:
Laure-Anne Baillon
Kristin Thorne: Most recently, I was on the Upper West Side of Manhattan about 3AM and I saw a young lady looking for a taxi. When she got in, it appeared that she was dressed for work and I thought she may be headed to the aiport, but instead we drove to CBS headquarters on 57th Street.This prompted a conversation about her work, and it turns out that she's Kristin Thorne, reporter from the CBS local New York channel. I couldn't imagine waking up for work every morning at 3AM (very few people do).
Kristin Thorne
Rhylee Richards: This young lady I picked up 3rd Avenue and took her back to her hotel, the Park Central in midtown in the 50's on 7th Avenue. I knew she was a pro when I saw her, and we started to talk about her work during the ride. She tipped me very well. Her name is Rhylee Richards. She is a porn star. In a related story, Scarlett Johansson got her nude cell phone pics hacked. Can't wait to see those.
Rhylee Richards
Al Roker: A few months ago, I picked up Al Roker, the weatherman from NBC's Today show. He got in on 10th Avenue heading north. I asked him if he was an actor on TV because for some reason he looked familiar but I couldn't remember where I had seen him. He said "No" and that ended the conversation, LOL! The correct answer was actually, Yes. I dropped him on Lexington and 80th Street on the Upper East Side.
Al Roker
Bryant Gumbel: For some reason, in addition to blonde bombshells, my taxi tends to attract black male newscasters from NBC's Today show. I picked up Bryant Gumbel and his white wife on the Upper West Side and took them for a short ride to another location on the Upper West Side.
Bryant Gumbel
Jerry Seinfeld: Also a few months ago, I passed Jerry Seinfeld driving his Porsche south on the West Side Highway. We raced for a little while, pulling away from a stoplight near the World Trade Center construction site. Attached is a photo:

Jerry Seinfeld
Gabriel Byrne: And last but not list, Gabriel Byrne, an Irish actor who has been in "tons of films." I don't think he liked me, he left early...
Gabriel Byrne
A few new additions!!!

Justin Ross Lee: I picked him up from the club scene in the Meatpacking District. He's more of a local New York City celebrity and probably not widely known outside it. He's known for being a socialite : Rumor has it that his parents founded Lee Jeans Company. After he got in, he had a lot to say. He didn't realize that I recognized him from New York Post/Facebook, etc! First he and his friend/girlfriend accused me of not being a real cab driver and I got the usually questions about being a white guy driving a cab in NYC etc. He seemed like a real smart guy. I drove him to 34th Street and 1st/2nd Ave.
Justin Ross Lee

Timothy Sykes, Hedge fund manager, penny stock trader: Tim Sykes got in from the club scene in Meat Packing as well. He's another guy who probably doesn't know I recognized him. Tim came out of the club with a special friend. We drove to Central Park South. Awesome trader and good teacher.

Timothy Sykes

Nikki Benz: I picked up Nikki Benz, a porn star from one of the clubs in Midtown, with her ex-boyfriend. She's also been in Penthouse. Not my thing, more of a West Coast thing, but too each her/his own. Here she is:
Nikki Benz
Richie Rich and Ross Higgins: I picked up Richie Rich known as a club kid, and his boyfriend and/or ex-boyofriend Ross Higgins both fashion designer types from the club scene in meat-packing about 3:30 AM one night. They were telling me about a reality TV show they were filming about fashion. Both very androgynous looking men. Dropped them off in the East Village, 2nd Ave and 6th Street or something like that.
Ross Higgins
Richie Rich and Ross Higgins: I picked up Richie Rich known as a club kid, and his boyfriend and/or ex-boyofriend Ross Higgins both fashion designer types from the club scene in meat-packing about 3:30 AM one night. They were telling me about a reality TV show they were filming about fashion. Both very androgynous looking men. Dropped them off in the East Village, 2nd Ave and 6th Street or something like that.
Chris Wragge
Chris Wragge: I picked up Chris Wragge, a news anchor from the CBS news headquarters on about 57th and took him upto the UWS. When I saw him I knew he was on air talent. He was a very professional acting taxi passenger. I drove him home, he paid, then went on his way, that was it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

a Latin Nightcap

Welcome to another chapter of Craziest NYC taxi stories. Tonight was a Sunday night, the first day of May. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and there were plenty of people outside enjoying the spring weather in Brooklyn. My shift started with my picking up taxi # 5GXX from the garage in downtown Brooklyn. It is a van taxi and it was the same one I drove two days ago, on a Friday night. I picked the vehicle up from inside the taxi garage. The taxi mechanics had been doing some work on it, working on the alignment of the wheels in order to improve its handling. As I would come to discover, the mechanics had failed to fix the door open alarm, as I would experience an intermittent chiming noise throughout the night tonight, despite the doors being closed. On tonight’s shift, afternoon, turning into twilight, then night, and late night in New York City, I would pick up 42 fares. The day started by picking up a few passengers in Brooklyn, intra-Brooklyn trips, which are not really my favorites because my knowledge of Brooklyn streets is only fair. My first was a young foreign man who I took, with his luggage from 4th Avenue to Sterling Place in the Prospect Heights neighborhood which is near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Next, I picked an Australian couple who had been shopping near Atlantic terminal in downtown Brooklyn and took them back towards Prospect Park in a similar trip. After heading back up Flatbush, I picked up yet another shopping trip; two “large” women who I helped with their groceries, about 10 blocks towards the Brooklyn Bridge from Flatbush Avenue. After dropping them off, I made it over the Brooklyn Bridge and ended up in a minor traffic jam in southern Manhattan. The time was about 5PM. Here, I picked up a group of 4 British Indian people. They were i-bankers headed to the Standard Hotel on West 13th Street and Washington Street in the Meat Packing District. We proceeded to chat about the traffic in London and how it was to take taxis there. The man up front stated that the traffic was worse in London and taxis were almost not worth the time, money, and aggravation. I could not imagine traffic worse than New York City.  A couple of fares later I picked up two drunken girls from 9th Avenue and 55th, who, I got the impression, were coworkers. One of them had a weirdish British accent. They chatted about their love interests. “Would I fancy this guy, would I fancy that guy?” Then they made a few jokish phone calls to their friend’s voicemails, about frivolous subjects. The British girl was relatively attractive, wearing a white shortish dress. We ended up at Rivington and Ludlow in the East Village, without exchanging any conversation. Among the next couple of fares this early evening were an actress headed to the Spotted Pig in the West Village from midtown, a group of older vacationers from Maine headed to a club called “Lips” on East 56th Street, an affluent black lady headed to the Archstone apartment complex in Times Square, a group of Estonian drug dealers from Staten Island, as well as a long list of polite, say-nothing young professional types, going to various destinations within the borough of Manhattan. Predictably, late night is a time when things get relatively interesting, tonight was no different. Later on into the night, I picked up a yuppie couple from West 48th Street headed to the East Side on 50th and 2nd Avenue. They just seemed bit out of it. The man seemed in his late 30s and had a grayish hair and stubble on his face. He was standing in the street and appeared as if he didn’t know if he wanted a cab. I stopped, and he opened the door. His girlfriend was a blonde lady who appeared to be in her 30s, both of them completely tanked. They got in and then could not figure out how to shut the door. I had to explain to them how to shut a car door. After we got that issue resolved, we proceeded to 50th, across town. I looked in my rearview and I could see the woman was sitting facing backwards on top of the man’s lap, LOL. I heard some mumblings about sex and some moving around. This continued for most of the ride, but honestly I don’t think that this couple was sober enough to get the deed done tonight. At the end of this short ride, I turn around and they are all back in the right positions sitting facing forward. Once we reach 50th they then have a problem opening the doors, so I proceed to get out and help them with the doors. Then, I tell the man he owes me $9.20. He drops his money in the street with cars whizzing by him. Finally, he hands me a $20 and asks for $8 back. I hand him $5, and predictably, he and his girl walk away before I could hand him another $3 in $1s. Next! From here, I go back towards the Times Square area. The Times Square area is really busy tonight because of the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. There must also be some sporting events occurring tonight. I stop in front of a sports bar on 7th Avenue where a lot of people have congregated outside, milling around. Not too long after, a young Latina lady says goodbye to her friends and hops into my cab. She’s drunk and she tells me 75th Street and Ditmars. For a minute, I am thinking is this Queens or Brooklyn? Queensboro Bridge or Manhattan Bridge? I flip out my map and find it’s in Queens (without the girl in the back noticing). We proceed across town to hit the 59th Street/Queensboro Bridge from 3rd Avenue, Upper Level. The Latina girl’s head disappears below the seat. She’s sleeping. I proceed across the bridge, loop underneath it, and take a right and head up 21st Street in Queens, Then, right on Astoria Blvd, and then to Ditmars near La Guardia airport, in about 20 minutes time. I stop, and the drunken Latina girl is fast asleep. I need to get this girl out of the car so that I can proceed back to the city again. I go around to the back, open the door, and touch her arm. She awakes and stumbles about, saying “was I asleep?” Of course, I tell her that we are at her destination and she needs to go home. Now, we are holding hands at the door, as she tries to regain her balance. I ask her how she will pay the fare, cash or credit? She says “credit.” I say, “Where is your credit card?” She says “I don’t have a credit card, I only have cash.” I thought, oh boy, this girl doesn’t have either, I bet. Then I ask,” Where is your cash?” She says “in my wallet.” We are still holding hands. Where is your wallet? “It’s here in my purse somewhere.” She gets a $50 out. I grab the $50. Before I can give her change, she proceeds to put her arms around my waist.  After a few minutes she turns around and attempts to tell her imaginary friends goodbye, let’s go of me, the she stumbles away to her place. Back to the city, I proceed via the BQE, looking for my next passenger! The city is more and more deserted on a late Sunday. It’s about 3AM or so but surprisingly, I am still able to find fares to pick up, especially since I know the best places to look at this time. There are some clubs in the West Village that are still open. My last series of fares consisted of a native blonde NYer male (I could tell by his accent) and his blonde two female friends dressed in sexy clubware, headed to East Midtown, a black Caribbean man wearing a suit headed to a club called Greenhouse on Varick down 7th, and finally a cute college-aged girl headed home from Greenhouse to her apartment on West 34th Street. About 4:15AM, I head back down 7th Avenue, cut across Canal Street, and hit the Manhattan Bridge back into Brooklyn. The city is deserted. I stop by the gas station on 4th Avenue and gas up the vehicle with $54 worth of gas (not that big of an expense as compared to other nights. Then I return the vehicle back to the taxi garage and tell them about the broken door alarm, return to the keys and make my way home on the subway.