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.