Friday, October 18, 2013

Reaching Too Far Down on a Saturday night taxi shift

     This Saturday night was a night shift that started in the afternoon since I was able to get a cab before 5pm, as is the case with most weekend nights. Because it was a weekend I knew it would be a busy night filled with lots of action, good and bad, and lots of traffic. Because it’s October, it’s the fall season in New York City and this means more traffic, more people, and more money for us drivers. The afternoon was a bit slow but during the night I knew things would heat up. After I went into the city over the Manhattan Bridge I had a passenger take me to the ever popular Williamsburg. From there, I found a pretty young girl going to Greenpoint, about 10 blocks or so from Williamsburg. From here, because of some backups on the W-burg Bridge I decided to go into Manhattan via the Queens Midtown tunnel and pay the toll of $4.55 myself because I really do not enjoy sitting in traffic.

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     Back in Manhattan I got two preppy whiteys going to Penn Station from 34th. Traffic was bad. Next I got an Italian blondie going to Rockefeller Center to do some shopping. Then I got two teenagers going to a store in the Soho section of Broadway. They didn’t know how to pay.  Later I found a suave couple going from the East Village to the Upper East Side. They were foreigners from Austria and were speaking to each other in a throaty, sexy German accent. The girl was a hot brunette and the guy was a scruffy looking blonde, tallish with a short beard. The girl was kissing the man as we headed up First Avenue. We got stuck in some traffic because of some construction, and I heard the Austrian man speaking to some work client in a clean American English accent on the phone. He must’ve been an MD and was discussing some recommendation for bleeding gums for somebody who was probably a hemophiliac, asking “when was the last time the patient had a platelet transfusion?” We stopped at the hospital at York Avenue and 68th Street. Then he asked me if I would wait until he came back with a package and take them to JFK. Definitely I would. He said “I’ll leave her as collateral” He grinned I said alright, but just so you know, JFK is a separate fare. He said okay. While he was gone I asked the Austrian woman, “are you guys here visiting New York? “No she said” He’s working here for past 13 years, and I’m visiting him” I said “you must’ve known each other for a long time – that’s dedication. “ Are you married to each other? I asked. She said “no.” With that she gave me a flirty grin. Then she asked about my taxi driving career. “It’s not usual to have an American driver. Is it hard to get a job in NYC?” I explained to her my situation and my part-time career as a driver. A discussion I would repeat another 2 more times tonight. Next the man comes back and we put in her suitcase, he pays the $25 fare and then we restart with $52 on the meter. She would be returning to Austria. I recommended we go over the Triboro Bridge by heading north on the FDR, then hit the Grand Central Parkway and then the Van Wyck to JFK Airport. We entered terminal 8 and I discharged them and then went to the holding lot.
    After I exited the holding lot, I picked up a Scottish family headed to a hotel in Times Square, the Novotel on west 52nd. Darkness began to set on Gotham. As we drove I asked them some questions about life Scotland, because I, myself, am part ethnically Scottish. Some branches of my tree immigrated to the United States in the 1800’s from Ireland and Scotland. These Scotsman foot the bill with a Britishy accent, and the stereotypical fair skinned complexion and blond hair. The guy up front told me that Scotland was a rolling country with a good amount of sheep farms, the more north you go, the less crowded it gets. The climate in Scotland is moderate to wet and cool. As I asked questions about Scotland, I tried to give them a tour of the different neighborhoods and the skyline of Manhattan. After we arrived at the hotel they paid me $80 for a $57 fare.
    Later on into the shift I had a REALLY strange encounter with a young blond lady. I had just finished dropping off these two eccentric men with strange accents near the ice cream shop at 7th Avenue and Christopher Street so I keep driving west into the West Village looking for my next passenger. The street was crowded with pedestrians but nobody looked my way. Then I pulled closer to the NJ Path train entrance in the village I spot this young blonde lady walking down the street in black tights and a tanktop with a bag. She turns and then walks a few more paces before hailing me. She’s cute. So I pull closer and after some indecision she gets up front with me by herself. That’s a bit forward.  Once inside the vehicle, she tells me to drive to Debrosses Street and the West Side highway. That’s a luxury apartment building down in Tribeca below Canal Street. She proceeds to tell me that she suffers from a heart condition and that her hands are a bit numb and I asked her if she has any medication? She says she does at home. I asked her to explain a bit more about her condition. She said it had something to with a valve in her heart. That sounds dangerous, poor girl. Then we drive on.  She makes some more small talk and then we talk about cab driving. Then she tells me she thinks that I must have a graduate degree and I tell her yes, that's right. Then she rats me out as a finance guy. Right on the money, but just part-time. That was a shocker because NOBODY EVVVVVER says something like this!  Then she makes an excuse for me "well you have to do what you have to do." Then I make some excuses about my career as a part-time cabbie.  She then asks me if I’m married or have a girlfriend. I said no. Again a bit forward, but I’m not complaining – she’s cute. Her name was Lina/Lena she was from Philadelphia and/or Texas and was youngish probably around 25. I gathered her entire life story during the ride. She was a graduate of Upenn. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that she was acting a bit “drunk” or “high” but she was not. Perhaps her heart condition was causing her to act like this or perhaps she was just crazy. It just seemed like a weird vibe. We go down Washington Street in the West Village. Washington doesn’t go straight past Canal Street so we swing around right on Canal left on West Side, then we continue south on Washington, then make a right on Debrosses. I am creeping along because I’m just curious what else this young lady will say to me.  We arrive at her place then she says something really weird. She wants to go upstairs to get me cash instead of just paying with her credit card. She is holding a bag and she tells me she does not want to reach all the way down into her bag because she says “it would be reaching too far down” Huh? I thought? So it’s easier to go all the way upstairs on the elevator to get cash rather than reaching all the way down into her bag? That’s weird. Now I thought this cute girl was going to try to rob me of $10. I’m like; can you leave something inside the taxi so I know you will return? She says “I will leave something of value, my phone or something.” Then she’s like “something like this never happened to you before?” Huh? I respond. I offer no response but just shake my head uhh okay? Then she proceeds to ask me if I’m attempting to videotape her with my cellphone. I tell her no I’m just playing with my phone What is that weird light on the top of my phone? It’s just the charger connection I tell her.  Then she undoes her key for her Range Rover.  Now that’s a first - leaving your key to your Range Rover so you can go back to your apt to get $20.  This is one of those "I'm not crazy, but everyone else is kind of conversations." A few minutes later, she comes back down and she appears to have changed her clothes in addition to getting the money, wearing a white sweatshirt advertising Saint Anne’s boarding school. The meter ticked upto to $13, she hands me $20 - claiming earlier she would pay twice the meter, I then ask her name again so that I can perhaps add her on Facebook or get her #. Then she looks oddly at me, cuts me off and asks, me why I keep asking what her name is? Oops I asked that twice. She tells me that I am beginning to creep her out –you don’t say I thought (the feeling was mutual). Then she asked me for her change, stiffing me on the tip and leaves. Really strange I thought!

   Later on is when you pick up people who are headed out for the night and even later is when you pick them up coming home – mostly drunk. This is not something that I enjoy a great deal because they tend to be a bit more riled up and out of control. This list included an arguing multiethnic couple, and a rich couple headed back to the Upper West Side from a dinner after a wedding. The male told me I was an anomaly in cab driving because I’m American/white. Then I re-explained my situation as a part-time driver and freelance IT professional. The wife was working in medical device sales. The husband was working in philanthropy so I assumed they were probably very wealthy. They were a dapper couple, wearing formal wear, like a tuxedo and formal dress, with the man being bald and the woman cute. I picked them up from some hip restaurant in Tribeca near West Broadway. At the end of the ride I waved them goodbye and drove on.

 Well after dark, I had an interesting conversation with a sound technician/paramedic/livery driver who was married. I picked him up in Times Square. He was a bigger man with a beard and a wiry afro haircut. We discussed some things I had seen behind the wheel of a yellow cab, I told him about the weird sexual stuff, the drunks, the druggies, and the fights, and the freaks inside my cab. He told me about how as a livery driver, he picked up mostly corporate types going to meetings and the airport and it was boring. I told him he should totally get behind the wheel of a yellow cab for a nightshift and feel the burn. We got stuck in traffic, going down 2nd Avenue due to the Queensboro tunnel. So I made a left and went down the FDR, towards W burg bridge. We got stuck in traffic near the exit at Grand Street for some reason it was extra brutal tonight. He then proceeded to tell me some of the weird things he saw as a paramedic. He told me a whacked story about a call he went to where an old man was buck naked and called for an ambulance. He showed up and the guy had an erection. At first I thought this dude might’ve been trying to come onto me, but then he proceeded to tell me the rest of the story which was pretty cool. He said the man said “my wife won’t stop cumming, what should I do? My wife won’t stop cumming what should I do?” That’s weird. It turns out his wife was having a seizure during sex and the man had an erection he couldn't get rid of. It was their 50th wedding anniversary and the guy had taken her out and then popped a couple of Viagra to have sex. They had to take the old lady to the hospital. He also had seen a lot of stuff like gory subway accidents, car accidents, gunshots and stabbings in the Bronx. Then we discussed the fact that he was married and his marriage is like a business agreement – with sex and a business partnership of both people working. Not sure that I agree with this totally, perhaps my views were a little too serious for a casual conversation like this so I didn't bother to broach them I just said "uh ok yes that has virtues for sure."  I dropped him after a 1 hour ride, in W burg with apologies for such a run-up on the fare, then I picked up a group of older hipster types going to the movies and then another 2 girls headed into Manhattan to Alphabet City. After that I had a Danish model who was a very tall girl with bleached out white hair and a cute accent. The streets were crowded tonight.

    Towards the end of the night it began to get more crowded and crazier as is usually the case with a Saturday night as people began fighting for cabs on their way back home. I picked up these two Australian girls from the club Greenhouse. This was about 4am. One of them was a skinny blonde wearing black stretch pants while the other girl was a bit taller/bigger, wearing super-high black heels and an outfit covered by a trench coat. They were rip roaring having a good time and tanked like most people at this time. We made a left and went up 6th Avenue and the girl with the trench coat said “maybe I should text this guy, I haven’t had dick in over 2 days” I laughed, then I started talking to them and they started trying to get to know me, but I could tell they were kind of trashed because they would sometimes ignore what I said and then suddenly ask the same question as a few seconds ago. They asked me the standard list of questions, where I’m from etc. She didn’t want me to think she was a totally whore because this was a guy she already knew. I asked if she had a boyfriend. She said “well yes but my situation is kind of odd because I’ve got this boyfriend who likes me but he kind of screwed up –we have some technical problems.” “What kind of problems? I asked. She responded “he’s too jealous. And I have this other guy who’s super cool that I like. I love Austrailian accents - they are cute. I laughed, this was in reference to what she said earlier. Then she goes into a discussion of this booty call guy who I thought was the other guy she mentioned above.  I made a turn towards Park Avenue instead of 3rd so I could stretch out the ride a bit while the conversation got progressively dirtier. Then a few minutes later she asked me the same question again, she leaned over the partition and in a joking manner said which guy should I go with "What type of girls do you go for?" I responded, just average skinny white girls. "What are your hobbies?" She asked. "Well I like the outdoors."   Her friend was skinny and cute but was too busy trying to stick her head out the window yelling at some other guy on the street.  We stopped and exchanged #s in the neighborhood of Gramercy. That was it. Enough hookers for tonight I’m going to bed.