Archive for July, 2012


Are You Smarter Than A Cabbie?

I can understand the concerns of passengers when it comes to directions.  Some cab drivers (who ruin it for everyone else) have no problem taking their customers for a ride, squeezing extra money out of them.  Personally, I want the passenger out of my cab as quickly as possible (without being reckless of course).  But some passengers have an obsession with certain roads which are unnecessary.

Example 1: Pick up a couple of black dudes on Flatbush Avenue and they want to go to 5th avenue and 39th street in Manhattan.  It was around 2am at the time so there’s no chance that I’m gonna end up getting stuck in traffic on the local.  What I would usually do is take the Manhattan Bridge, go up Bowery to 6th street, then go up 4th avenue (turns into Park Avenue South), turn left on 27th street to go up Madison Ave to 39th street and make that left.  Yeah I know it sounds like a lot, but it wouldn’t take me that much time late at night.  I could also take Canal Street all the way down to 6th avenue, take that to 40th street and come around to 5th.  Either way it makes more sense than them telling me to get onto the FDR.

You sure??  They tell me yes like I’m the one that has 3 heads.  You DO realize that now, I’ll have to go east on Houston Street all the way towards the water…take that overrated highway to 34th street, STILL have to go up 5 blocks and then go BACK across town.  It’s a complete waste of time and effort.  More money in my pocket yes (it came out to $28 when it should have been no more than $24, IMO)…but took a good 10-15 minutes more than it should have.  They don’t tip either, so it was even more worthless (fortunately they paid in cash so I don’t get jerked out of an additional 5%). 

Example 2: Heading east on West 4th street, I pick up a spanish dude and he’s trying to head to 102nd street and Central Park West.  Now, I’ll be heading up 6th avenue and the standard procedure is to take that all the way to 59th street, make a left and go straight til you hit Central Park West, and take that bad boy to the finish line.  

“You’re gonna take the West Side Highway right??” 
No.  Gonna take 6th all the way up.
(wait…wtf ha?  that shit has lights until 57th street)
You realize that I’d have to go crosstown twice right?  And it’s gonna cost you more money and it won’t be as quick trust me.
“I don’t care about the cost I’ve done this before it’s faster.”
(laughs) Well then…if you say so….
“No no, go whichever way you wanna go”

I was riled up because I’m trying to help this dude out but he thinks because he’s always gone one particular direction that I’m steering him the wrong way.  It was more heated than you’d think.  I actually bumped into another cab because I was tight…but no damage.  Flying up 6th avenue he tries to get smart with me…or was he?

“We would’ve BEEN THERE if we took the highway.”
(I laugh incessantly)
(He laughs nervously) “What’s so funny?!”
Yeah, no we would have been nowhere close right now.
“No I was just fucking with you, this way is pretty good.”

Oh.  Then he tried making small talk because he shares the same middle name as my last name…but I wasn’t having any of that ha.  He’d later apologize, surprised how quickly he got home.

And so on.


Harlem Hustled.

As you know, this industry giveth and taketh away.  99% of your fares will pay you…some will tip smaller than others yes, but they will at least pay.  You do have that asshole 1% though that will take you for a ride and make you take a L.  And no, these percentages have nothing to do with Occupy Wall Street.  Where the hell are those clowns these days anyway?  Nevermind, no one cares and I need to get back on topic here.

Fresh off of picking up a couple of dudes from the East Village and sending them to Bushwick, I was having a relatively decent Friday night.  Business wasn’t as good for me as I had hoped, since I started my night fairly late…but I was bouncing back nicely.  It was 3am and the plan was for me to troll around Williamsburg for a little while longer to find fares before deciding if it was worth my time to return to Manhattan or to just end my shift.  Heading up Bushwick Avenue I spot a black dude rockin a Yankee fitted (in other terms, a fare that most cabbies would find “undesirable” since he looked hood) and a few cabbies skipped him.  I ultimately picked him up but I did have some reservations that crept in as he was entering the cab.  First, I didn’t notice right away, but he looked high as shit.  Secondly, I was afraid that he was gonna take me to an undesirable neighborhood…but I was assuming somewhere in Brooklyn.  Nevertheless, being black myself, it’s not the best look when you don’t pick up your own people so reservations aside he tells me he’s going to 150th and 8th avenue (Frederick Douglass Blvd)  in Harlem.

Yup…certainly not a place I wanna drive to at 3am.  My partition was mostly closed, which it usually is around that time since I have a sense of paranoia.  Who takes a cab from Bushwick to Harlem?  Although I’ve picked up people in the past in Brooklyn who have gone to Harlem or Washington Heights, this was the first such case someone rode by themselves up there.  He was eerily quiet, probably because he was high as shit.  As I was heading towards the BQE he bitches “Yooo, hop on the highway G!” Dude, relax, I’m getting there.  Obviously I gotta hop on the highway, but don’t act like the highway was a block from where you were at.  G.

So whatever, once I get on the BQE I fly down that shit towards the Triboro (or RFK) Bridge.  I don’t typically gun it at 70-75 but I didn’t feel comfortable with this dude in here so all bets were off.  Got off the bridge, gunned it down the empty Harlem River Drive and exited off the sketchy as fuck 8th avenue & 155th street exit.  It’s never a good look when you see those NYPD towers located in your hood so I gunned it down to his corner and he goes “Right over here G.”  I turn off the meter and the dude…simply opens the door and walks out.

YO, YOU GOTTA PAY FOR THE RIDE.  He simply walks, back turned to me as if he didn’t hear me.  $33.10 fare (which included toll)…unpaid for.

This ungrateful bitchass nigga.  Maybe he knew what he was doing to hitch a free ride.  Maybe he was too high to even realize that he had to pay.  Nah, I’m going with the former…the fuckin faggot knew.  And this retard (myself) was the one to not listen to his first instincts.  I was HEATED, screaming and cussing at myself aloud in the cab like I needed to be sent to Creedmor.  “Why did I pick that fuck boy up?”  “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!”  Not only wasn’t I paid, but now I’m in taxi no-mans land where I would be nowhere close to picking up a fare.  I was also highly disappointed, because I always hear black people complain about being discriminated against when it comes to fares but I pick up just about everyone.  These are the kind of fuck boy niggas who ruin it for us because you get a bad experience like this, it makes you weary moving forward that it’ll happen again.  Up until that point, I had never had someone simply hop out of the cab.  And the 3-4 times that someone hadn’t paid, they were all white (Kanye Shrug).  Mentally though, I was so enraged that even after taking 5 minutes to compose myself on Columbus Avenue, I felt the need to kick a news-stand and head on home.  I didn’t even want to entertain another passenger, because it was now 330am and everyone would appear to be 10x more obnoxious.  Can’t work with customers in a pissy mood.  Nope.  

Looking back at the whole ordeal, of course it could have been worse.  I could have been stupid and try to chase him down.  But he’s in his hood, his element, and ultimately there’s no justification in making someone pay you $33 when you could lose your life over that.  Would I had rather have taken a smaller L, if anything?  Certainly.  Was I more pissed at the fact that it was that much, PLUS a toll?  Yep.  But for every fuck boy, you WILL occasionally have that passenger who fucks up in your favor and does this: Image

And so on, G.


The Proposed Fare Hike.

For the past seven years, cab drivers in New York City haven’t received a raise (aka a fare increase).  If anything, they have began losing money in that time period.  From gas prices going up over a $1/gallon in that time frame, to the introduction of credit card machines taking away 5% of each fare, to the MTA tax which was a “fare hike” that only benefitted the MTA, cab drivers have been getting the short end of the stick for quite some time.  Owner-drivers like myself feel the pinch, but it’s nowhere near as bad for me as it is for the guys who work at the garages, hustling their asses off for 12 hours at a time and not knowing how much money they will pocket in a given night.  This industry is volatile, as you’re always one accident away from being out of work.  Combine that with no health insurance for drivers since the taxi union broke up years ago and you can see why cabbies are raving mad.

Just to give an example of how much fares have increased for the MTA in that same 7 year period:
Single Ride Tickets in 2005: $2.  Currently: $2.50
7-Day Metrocard in 2005: $24.  Currently: $29
Express Bus in 2005: $4.  Currently: $5.50
30-Day Metrocard in 2005: $76.  Currently: $104

Yet, they’re crying broke.  LMFAOOOOO.

Anyhow, the proposed rules that cab drivers want to see are a 17% fare increase, a healthcare system, and the elimination of the 5% credit card fee.  Now, the every day person sees 17% and immediately thinks that that is a significant jump.  But as you can see from my MTA comparisons, 17% really isn’t that much.  If this goes through, I’m not sure how they’ll go about it, but assuming they implement the hike on each time the meter clicks, that will be about 7 cents extra (from 40 cents to 47 cents).  Or, if added onto the starting price when you enter the cab, an extra 50 cents.  It isn’t a lot, but in an industry where every cent counts, cab drivers like myself will take it and run with it.  The people most opposed to it?  The garages and medallion brokers.  They don’t mind the fare hike so much, they are raving mad that they won’t be getting that piece of the pie.  Cabbies will have a better chance of paying off their leases (even on slower days), hence garages & brokers won’t be able to take as much advantage on those unable to make payments (ie- raping them with interest).

In addition to the fare increase, an additional 6 cents will be added to every fare and will be collected by cab drivers towards a industry-wide health care system.  Cabbies as of now have to purchase their own health care- and approximately 52% of drivers do not have it, nor a pension.  Yes there is workers compensation that I pay in 3 payments per year, but that’s meager change especially if you’re unable to work anymore.  The human body isn’t made to remain seated, much less for 12 hour periods 6-7 days a week.  Back, neck, leg and kidney pain result from this and takes a significant toll on their bodies.  You can tell the guys that have been working for decades all have developed that dangerous pot belly as a result.  I have vision & dental insurance as of now (from Healthplex), but not health care.

This last bit though is gonna be interesting.  I have mentioned time and time again about the 5% taken from the credit card machines each time someone pays with CC.  Over a 12-hour shift, that could be up to $10 that a driver will never see.  If the 5% gets eliminated, this will be replaced with garages charging $9 extra per shift but 100% of the fares being paid out to the driver (minus the 50 cent MTA tax).  Cash will be the same as credit.  This comes out as a wash for the garages & the drivers that work for them.  Meanwhile for the owner-driver, this is great because we’ll keep everything now.  For the customer, this will mean that yall won’t get yelled at as much for using credit cards, or drivers forcing you to go to an ATM machine to pay cash, or drivers claiming that their machine isn’t working etc.  For the $1 tip nation, your $1 tips won’t piss me off anymore so $1 tip away.  I still won’t give you acknowledgement if you’re a penny-pincher, but I can now laugh that your attempts to give Verifone some of my hard-earned cash will be futile.

The vote goes down tomorrow.  If it passes (which all 3 should), then these rules will go into effect sometime in September.  And so on.