Thursday, July 11, 2013

Top 10 Weirdest Sights Seen While Driving a Taxi

Hello again, from John Doe at New York City's Craziest Taxi Stories! Summertime has rolled around in NYC and just as in years past, many Manhattanite dwellers have left for the Hamptons and other jetset spots for vacation. Some of these are replaced by out of state tourists but the city is generally quiet and a bit slower than in the normal time of year. I have continued to put in a few shifts a week while also doing other part-time jobs and I've continued to enjoy the series of random, weird, sexual, and ridiculous events and people that are streaming into and out of my taxi cab while at the same time bringing in the $.  Lately, I've been thinking of writing a bit more about some of the strangest things I've seen while driving a taxi around New York City for 12 hours a day or night - that is, things I've seen outside the taxi, including fights, accidents, freaks, weird coincidences flashers, transsexuals and so on. Here are a few I have come up with off the top of my head:

 1. Taunting the police. One afternoon as I was headed south on Columbus Avenue below 96th Street and I saw a man with a knife taunting police. He was gyrating and swinging the knife wildly, grabbing his crotch. It's not often you see these kinds of confrontations in Manhattan, especially in the middle of the afternoon. I drove on south looking for passengers while the police were still dealing with the man.

2. Snowed Under. Late one night, I was headed south on 9th Avenue in the West 30's. It was snowing on a weeknight with under an inch on the ground and hardly anyone was out. A club on the west side over near Marquee had just let out and there were quite a few African Americans waiting for a taxi but none of the yellow cabs driving south would pick them up. Some of them were even waving money in the air. I thought that was pretty surreal and quite embarrassing for all of these blacks. The reason was probably that the other cab drivers did not want to get stuck in an outer borough area with deep snow or icy hills.

3. Head Injury. Late one night, I saw a young man who was sitting in the road on 2nd Avenue in the East Village with his hair all messed up and blood on his head. A car nearby had a smashed windshield. The car had apparently struck the young man and was now stopped with the police nearby. Hopefully he was alright.

4. Drugs on the FDR.  Late one night I was coming back from Harlem down the FDR (the highway on the east side of Manhattan). As usual, nobody was on the road at that time of night, save me and a few other night owl cabbies. A car had crashed and in the back of the car I could see huge bundles of cocaine in the trunk, as it was smashed open. The NYPD was surrounding the car. The car with the drugs had apparently been involved in a chase and lost control and crashed.

5. Crazy Bicycle Rider.  Unfortunately, bicycle riders can be a nuisance to taxi drivers because they do not often follow the rules. The bike lanes can also be an extra nuisance to watch out for. One afternoon, I was going to make a turn from 2nd Avenue onto 9th Street, and then I saw a pedestrian hailing me. I stopped my taxi mid-turn. At that same moment I see a cyclist coming down the bike lane. My cab was partially in the bike lane so I just stopped and waited for the cyclist to pass me. Instead he hits my wheel well on my cab with a thud. Then he becomes angry and punches my windshield leaving a crack. I saw so shocked I didn’t even respond. Eventually he just moved his bike and rides on. I did not want to get cited for an accident so I just let him go. The passenger gets in and I drive him from A to B. It’s a possibility that the cyclist had rammed my taxi on purpose since he had plenty of room to see me in front of him! Really strange I thought.

6. Topless Parades.  I have seen two topless parades. One was in the West Village and was part of a small gay pride protest. The second was at a bar called Bowery Electric. Standing outside late one night were several groups of people, the closest consisted of two young ladies and a taller male companion. They were smoking cigarettes and talking with one another which is often the case with potential passengers outside of bars. This went on for another couple of minutes. The thinner girl then took off her jacket and held it by her side. She then lifted up her shirt for a second and turned towards me. I could see her black bra. She was very thin. Now what’s going on? I was wondering. She turned back then continued to talk with her friends. A minute later, this young lady took off her shirt and her bra and began walking along the sidewalk topless, with her clothes in her hand. This continued for about 6-8 blocks south on Bowery.

7. Knockout.  Violence isn't really my thing personally so I despise fights but I've witnessed a lot over the several years I've been driving. One night late night I was driving on 11th Avenue near midtown in the 50s. There are a few clubs around this area and of course the drunks follow the clubs. I witnessed this confrontation. This thuggish guy approached this preppy looking bald man and argued with him. The thug then punched the preppy looking man and he fell into the street knocked out. His friends tried to wake him up but he just laid there. The thuggish man walked away. A few minutes later the bald man awoke and they hailed a cab and went on their way.

8. A “Big” Cross Dresser.  If you spend any time in NYC you will find there is a theme of tolerance for gays, lesbians, transsexuals, cross dressers, and anything else under the sun. There’s a club called Lips in midtown on East 56th Street. Lips is a drag club where men dress up as women in a show in front of diners. One afternoon I picked up a “big” cross dresser in front of Lips. By big, I mean really big, a man who must’ve been at least 6’6’’ tall or so and big enough to be a football player with his blue wig he must've topped out at 7 feet, quite a site to see. I drove him to the East Village and let him out on East 14th. I did not say a word to him.

9. Airport Rewind.  One afternoon I picked up two metrosexual wealthy type men in the East Village. I drove them to JFK Airport but traffic was pretty bad. We didn't make it in time for their flight at Delta Airlines, Terminal 2. It was probably because they were too relaxed about leaving in time. I drop them off anyway, and then go to the holding lot at JFK Airport. I spent about 30 minutes at the holding lot, get dispatched to Terminal 2, wait in line. About 10 minutes later I pull into the #1 position to pick up a passenger and it's the same two guys who missed their flight. One of them shakes his head “oh no, not this guy again.”

10. A “big” woman for sale.  Prostitution is actually not that common in NYC as it was in the olden days. One night, late night, I was driving through the Meatpacking/West Village area in the western part of Manhattan. However, tonight I drove by a “big” black woman who was for sale on the street corner. As I looked her way she undid her fur coat exposing her entire “big” completely nude body. No thanks, next.