Archive for the 'Taxi Episodes' Category

17
Jan
13

A Bronx Tale.

Sorry for the wait…I hadn’t felt like blogging…plus I have tried extra hard to keep my tales as unentertaining as possible.  It comes with experience.  Don’t get mad yo.  But hey, every now and then some shit like this will happen:

A Friday night in December, my night has been chill up to this point.  Almost too chill.  There’s a catch to everything, as you’ve been taught to think about.  I wasn’t buying it and 99% of the time that I go across 13rh street from 2nd avenue & make the left on 3rd avenue, there is no one waiting at Bar None.  I love Bar None as my personal bar but picking people up there can be a hot mess.  This dude hails me down so I figure why not.  He tells me he needs the cab but to wait a minute.  Aight cool, I’m expecting that he’s just waiting for his friends to come through and hop in with him.

NO.

I see that 3 people are trying to carry one of their female friends up (she’d been puking I’m sure) and trying to drag her into my cab.  So I speed off because I don’t have to take home anyone incapacitated in my cab.  Or at least tried to.  The dude though opened one of my doors (since I wasn’t smart enough to lock my doors after the fact) so I had to put the breaks on.  He immediately hops in…then to add insult to injury, FIVE of them hop in my cab and he is barking at me to take them all to the Bronx.  I am beyond livid barking back at him.  He’s not giving in and neither am I.  I didn’t want to take 5 NOR did I want a drunk passenger in my cab.  He said she could throw up on his jacket he didn’t care.  Granted, I’m not getting Catfished…but cot damn man.  Anyhow…

I’m speeding towards the BX and I am not comfortable with any of this.  It was the most awkward situation because there was still hella tension in the cab.  Going up to Grand Concourse is a journey, especially north of Yankee Stadium.  So I drop off the hella drunk chick off.  She surprisingly didn’t puke or anything.  The dude that argued with me paid up and actually tipped 25%.  Whilst he was paying, I decided to make peace with him & that was the first thing on his mind as well.  Nothing was personal, we were both looking out for each other’s best interests.  He wanted to take the girl home by any means (which I totally understand) but for me I told him I didn’t want to compromise my business not only by illegally having 5 in my cab, but a sick passenger fucks up the night.  To be fair, it’s not often that two brothas can quell peace in such a manner and I’m glad we did.

He helps drop her off with some of their other female friends…but out of nowhere, this dude runs up behind him and jumps him.  Punches him from behind which drops him and kicks him a little bit before the dude recovers.  The dude that jumps him scurries off.  I am NOT digging this, as I have someone up front whom I also gotta drop off.  I wanted to get out of that bitch in 2.2 seconds but this chick really wants to call the police in this situation.  Quite frankly, I hear ya but nothing is gonna happen in that kinda situation.  The dude runs up to the cab and tells me to take her home (which is my initial reaction anyway, as I don’t trust the Bronx one iota)…but the chick is being stubborn and wants to wait for the cops to come.  A back and forth of “I’M AIGHT I’M AIGHT!!!” vs. “NO U NOTTTT THAT WAS FUCKED UP!” occurs. SMFH.  The cops come and really all they can do is take some information.

Ultimately I drop both of them off and even though I made a combined $75 (including tips) in that full hour…that was THE most stressful situation I can recall being in for 2012.  And so on.

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01
Sep
12

DK’s Rare Geography Fail.

As the self-proclaimed “Best Cab Driver in the World”, I take pride in knowing that I am getting someone to their destination as quickly & efficiently as possible.  But man…I tried to outsmart my GPS on this one and that is never a good idea.

Last night was a fairly slow night (particularly for a Friday) so I spent a majority of the time at JFK.  I picked up an Asian girl at Terminal 4 and she asked me if I had GPS to take her to her location out in Rego Park.  I did, so I typed the address onto my iPhone (like I always do these days when I’m not 100% sure where I’m going) and took off.  I trust my iPhone GPS as much if not more than my regular Garmin one but there are times in which I feel like the GPS takes a longer route…so thinking I knew my way better, I got out an exit early.

NOT A GOOD MOVE DK.  I ended up going north of my destination as opposed to south so there goes U-Turn #1.  I wasn’t far at all from where I had to go, but why I did that was beyond me.  My GPS told me to get out at Woodhaven Blvd but I got out at Queens Blvd because she did say she was behind Queens Center Mall.  She actually wasn’t though but I thought getting off at Queens Blvd would get me closer.  FOR WHATEVER REASON.  Maybe I spent a few seconds too long smelling fumes that fucked with my head, I dunno.

I rectify the situation though and I’m on Woodhaven.  It tells me to not stay there too long and to make a U-Turn at Eliot Avenue.  Alright cool, make the U-Turn, make a quick right and then you’re basically there.  What does DK do?  Makes the U-Turn and misses the avenue that he was supposed to turn on.  Now to be fair, my GPS told me I was supposed to make the U-Turn sooner…but you can’t make it from there.  Hence the confusion.  But damn it, as a former Geography Bee champion I should be able to read a map!

“U missed de avenue”
AGHHHHH.

Lemme make this U-Turn and get back to making that U-Turn.  Makes sense?  No?  Yeah that’s what I thought.  It’s bad enough when you get lost somewhere but it’s even more embarrassing when you’re lost but you know how close you are to where you’re actually supposed to be.  I think what had me even more flustered though was that I KNEW I wasn’t lost, but in fact driving incompetent in my own borough.  Not in Las Vegas or in Dallas or in Shanghai…but in QUEENS!  DAMN IT DK GET IT TOGETHER!

Alright, so in take 2 in fear of fucking up again, I actually make a left instead of a U-Turn.  FAIL AGAIN!  Now I have to go around to 63rd road, make a left, make another left 2 lights later, make a right and then another right.  WHAT IN GOD’S NAME AM I DOING?  Man, if this chick had any sense of direction I would’ve been chewed and spat out.  She didn’t really though.  I still feel bad but it’s primarily because if I just knew my role, I would’ve dropped her off already and been on my way back to JFK.  Now I’m just wasting time doing my faux Carmen SanDiego bullshit.  After my forearms worked themselves out more than they should have (turning the wheel you potential sickos), I got to the house.  She tipped me $3.33.  I honestly deserved $0.00 ha.  My personal pride took a hit.

The Struggle Part 2: My next fare finally took me into the city…and this chick gave me $52.
Her- The fare’s $45 right?
Me- Yep.  I had to take a toll though (because she was staying at 45th street btw 5th and 6th.  Took the Midtown Tunnel).
Her- Oh…well I was gonna give you a $7 tip but this is all I have cash-wise.
Me- I see.  Okay then.
DK’s Brain (mocking voice)- Oh…well I was gonna be cheap but at least now I can be cheaper HOLLA!
Her- Well thank you.
Me- (looks more defeated than in a best abs competition).

And so on.

11
Jul
12

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.

25
May
12

No Chill.

I know, it’s been a while  since I’ve last graced my presence on here.  Lately, my shifts have been mostly uneventful.  I will catch you up on my situation with my new cab in future posts, though.

We all hate traffic.  I get it.  But, if you’re going from JFK to Forest Hills and I have to take the Van Wyck at 7pm…do you really think I’m NOT gonna get caught up in traffic?  If you think I’m just gonna fly up that highway, then I got Lawrence Taylor’s Super Bowl ring to sell you.  I pick up this Indian dude and you can hear him sighing in the back wondering why there’s so much traffic.  “Was there an accident?”  No.  It’s simply this way from Rockaway Blvd until Main Street (a good 3 miles of moving at 10mph or so).  Now, I’m not gonna front, I wound up getting stuck at the same left turn light for at least 5 minutes because people we sleeping behind the wheel (I had to make a U-Turn to get to where the guy was going) but I can’t control that.  “You should turn from the local way and then make your U-Turn.  On Queens Blvd, I’m gonna do that?  First, no.  Secondly, it’s illegal.  Thirdly, no.  Otherwise do you really think I would be at that light?  With that being said, the fare was $24.80 and the rain started coming down heavily.  I help him get his luggage out of the car, he gives me two 20s and tells me to give him 15 back.  NAH son.  I give him his money and turn my back to him immediately.  Ungrateful piece of shit, acting like it was gonna be a smooth magic carpet ride to your damn apartment.  The Genie and Aladdin were NOT walking through that door.

I chilled though.  This French dude I pick up next must have coughed a good 55-60 times during the 40 minute trip from JFK to the *cough cough* city *cough cough cough* when *cough* I was once *cough cough* again stuck in *cough cough cough cough* Van Wyck traffic.  (In actuality the coughs weren’t too bad but they made for decent sound effects whilst listening to the radio).

I picked up another dude around 38th and 2nd avenue and he told me whilst we were discussing cab drivers that I sound “very…white.”  Were you expecting me to sound ratchet or have some kind of international accent?  I see what you did there.  It’s okay for me to sound like I can articulate to my customers in a language/voice they can understand.

The same way that bars have minimums for when you use a credit card, they should establish that for people paying with credit card.  It’s criminal to be allowed on a $4.70 fare to be able to use CC.  The minimum (after tip) should be at least $8 due to the 5% the CCs take.
(Sidenote- the NY Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) is trying to lobby to get rid of that 5% amongst other things.  Here’s why.  I’m gonna use a $9.90 fare as the example:
-If paid in cash and the passenger gives you $11, you come out with $10.50 (the other 50 cents remember is collected for the MTA quarterly tax)
-If paid in card and the tip is $2, the fare is $11.90 but  you come out with $10.83.  if they tip $1 then it’ll be $10.90 but you only come out with $9.88
-If paid in card and the customer tips you the $2 in cash, the fare is $11.90 but you come out with $10.93…or 10 cents more than if the tip was on the card.  The 10 cents doesn’t sound like a big deal but for some drivers, every penny counts)

You ever had a chick who felt like she was a know-it-all AND was arrogant…yet the reality of the situation was she had NO idea what she was talking about?  That happened when I picked her and a friend of hers up around 7th and 47th…which may be the worst corner in the city to try and pick someone up.  She wanted to go to Tao on 58th between Madison and Park and there were points where if I were Chris Brown I would have punched her in the face.
“We need to get to the East Side babe.  Where are we?  Between 5th and Broadway?  We gotta go the other way babe.”
I’m well aware of this.  We’re on the West Side, but I can’t make lefts on 46th or 44th street so I have to do so on 42nd. Relax.
“Do you need me to google map this for you or you know where you’re going?  I’m from New York City.”
Cool story babe, guess who also lives here?  MEEEEEE.  Let’s make a toast.  And yes, I know where I’m going and you don’t have to google map shit.  She’d later mention to her friend that she’s been living here for 12 years.  Yawn.  I’m falling asleep as I’m typin….g…this…
“What avenue are we going up?  6th?  Ugh I hate 6th avenue, not my scene babe.  Go up Park it’s better and more my scene.”
My head actually began hurting here.  Firstly, I’m 6 blocks away from 58th street and making the right.  Secondly, what scene are you talking about?  Park Avenue is nothing but a bunch of ritzy apartment buildings and stuffy corporate buildings.   Plus, if I take Park up I actually would be passing your club so if anything, I have to take the even duller Madison Avenue up.  Oh, did I mention the lights on Park aren’t even synchronized?  For a 12 year veteran who wanted to google map a club for me, you sound worse than a tourist.
Yet when it was all said and done, her friend paid and that same lady flipped the switch…and was…nice.  Thanking me and everything.  Meds and alcohol do NOT mix.

As much as you may be tempted to report a cab driver for passing you…if you appear intoxicated, the cab driver is permitted to not pick you up.  It’s in the TLC rulebook.  Why risk having some fuck puke in your cab or become highly disoriented?  But anyhow, I picked up this dude on the corner of 1st and 28th.  I didn’t really understand what he was trying to say and he wanted to go to the Grand Hyatt.  He looked like he had some saliva on his face and yes he was wasted.  Reluctantly because the place wasn’t all THAT far, I picked him up.  Watching him from the mirror, he was drifting in and out of sleep, mouth agape and all that.  I roll down both back windows as a precaution and alert him that we are close by.  “Yeah huhhuhyeah yeah” he replies.  Aight bet, just making sure.  Granted, I’ve had a strange day to this point so I wasn’t in the best of moods.  I drop him off in front of the hotel.  We are here.  “Yeah…k..” he replies.  Honestly, I felt like he was gonna be a difficult one to handle to I had to crank up the dickhead mode.  He starts mentioning that he’s hungry…dude where the fuck are you?  The fare is $6 and he only hands me a $5.
“What did I give you?”
Me: $5…but frankly you just need to get out now.  You have no clue where you are, just get out.
“You know what?  You’re a fucking cunt.  Yaaa a cunt, I get in your cab and….(I don’t even know what he says afterwards a bunch of mumbo jumbo)”
Me: Bitch ass faggot (after he slams the door).

Listen you British fairy, I didn’t have to pick you up in the first place.  I did YOU the favor.  I even let you slide and pay a dollar less than what it was and I’m the cunt?  Nah.  Go suck on Queen Elizabeth’s.  All. Night. Long.

 

Then I had to tell myself to chill and remember that I am the sober one.

And so on.

15
Feb
12

Partition vs. No Partition.

These past couple of weeks of work have been fairly uninteresting.  Super Bowl Sunday was a great day of work, as I made more money that day than I did on Friday.  That will likely never happen again.  I did just come back from my very first excursion to Vegas however.  I certainly understand the hype and I will say that only losing $85 gambling over a course of 4 days can be considered a “success”.

Anyhow, I was waiting at the JFK Taxi Hold last night for about an hour and a half when I began thinking if having a partition in the cab is worth it.  NYC is the only place that I know in which they have partitions separating the cabbie from the passengers & it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Driving at night, I personally feel safer knowing that there is a divide between myself and the passenger(s) in the back of the cab.  I’m leery of strangers in general so knowing that I have this sense of privacy makes me feel comfortable.  Plus, the passenger(s) want their privacy also so we have our separate spaces…they don’t necessarily care what I do up front while I don’t necessarily care what they’re up to in the back.

On the other hand- particularly in a smaller cab, the partition restricts the passenger’s leg space in the back.  In my Volkswagen cab for example, if there were no partition, there’d be at least 6 more inches of leg space for the passenger(s) and they’d be much less bitching that I’d have to deal with.  Safety is still a concern for two reasons.  One- if some jackass still wanted to rob/attack you, he or she will find a way.  I could have my partition window completely closed, but if they wanted to hop out and do the “pay you up front” trick, they’ll at least try.  Quite frankly, very few cabbies are gonna leave their partition window 100% closed; I keep mine about 60% closed or so, but you’ll have passengers try to open it up further when they have a passenger seated up front and they want to converse with them also.  Two- in case of an accident or sudden braking, the passenger has more of a likelihood of injuring themselves with their heads smacking the partition.  Whereas with no partition, unless it’s a high-speed collision not much would happen.  Let’s face it, most cab accidents are NOT high-speed at least here.

If you’re an introverted cab driver like myself, having the partition is cool because you feel like you have that sense of privacy & having your own space.  A more extroverted cab driver however is not a fan because they feel like they cannot communicate with their passengers as well with one as without one.  I feel like you can easily have meaningful conversations with passengers with or without a partition & still get the same amount of tips so I think in that aspect it’s a wash.   Safety-wise, I don’t think having a partition necessarily deters that rare chance that you may get robbed/attacked.   Having a camera installed in the cab will be more beneficial in catching the attacker than simply having a GPS that can track where the attack happened.  What good does that do?

If you ask me, I am a fan of the partition.  However, I feel that the majority of cab drivers do not like it.  As far as passengers are concerned- I’d say that they’d rather have no partition…but ultimately their chief concern is getting to their destination as safely as possible.  What are your thoughts?

29
Jan
12

You Need To Pick Up More Black MEN.

But why?  Just kidding.

I just found this to be hella ironic for the fact that I had just dropped off 4 black dudes who I picked up from 103rd and Columbus and took to some joint on 30th between 7th and 8th aves.  In case you’re wondering, their fare was $13.50 and they told me to keep $15 which for my kin feels like 20% (obviously it’s not but hell I will take it).

Now I’m going down 7th avenue and I pick up another black dude (with auburn hair tho) around Chelsea.  He’s quite thankful as he explains to me that cabs have repeatedly passed him by & had been waiting for a cab for 45 minutes.  Yeah that can happen when it’s 1230am on a Saturday night to anyone, but especially us.  By now you know the deal as to the possible reasons but since I have to remember this is the first (and usually only) time that I’m meeting this person I have to break it down like I always do.

Him: Thank you sooo much for stopping I greatly appreciate it.
Me: Not a problem.
Him: You need to pick up more black MEN.
DK’s Brain: Dude, I’m black.  Why wouldn’t I to try and at least give some of us some hope out there?
Me: Actually I just did the fare before you.
DK’s Brain: Why so much emphasis on men?  Wait nevermind he is gay, let him live.
Him: Why is it so hard for black MEN to get cabs?
DK’s Brain: There he goes again.
Me: For black PEOPLE in general, cabbies feel like either we’re gonna hop out (which actually has never happened to me with a black person), take them way out of their way and not tip, or simply not tip.  Not just men, but women too.

He stopped speaking once I mentioned the tipping aspect tho.

Anyhow I was supposed to take him to 121st and Broadway so I’m attempting to shoot up 10th avenue like a boss.  One problem.  Hella traffic near the Lincoln Tunnel for some strange reason.  He tells me to take the West Side Highway, but I cannot because between 39th and 41st streets there is no entry to the “highway”.  On 40th street crawling in traffic, I’m about to make a detour.

Him: How far are we from 30th and Lexington?
Me: Hmm…maybe 10 minutes to the south and east from here.
Him: How far is it from where I live to get down there?
DK’s Brain: Why in God’s name would you pay for 3 cabs?
Me: From over there if you don’t get stuck in traffic, should be no longer than 15-20 minutes.  You’re gonna go home and go right back out?
Him: Yeah that probably doesn’t make much sense.  What about 38 West 38th street how far is that from where we are?
Me: 5 minutes.  If that.
Him: How far are the two aforementioned places?
DK’s Brain: Rockstar.
Me: Maybe 5 minutes apart from each other via cab.  You must be Mr. Popular tonight.
Him: I’m anything but popular.  I just don’t know where to go.
DK’s Brain: Way to shoot yourself down.
Him: Matter of fact, let’s go to 30th and Lexington.

Done.  We get there and it’s time to pay up.  The fare is $13.90.  Here comes the credit card.  Transmitting Information…….(drumroll)

Tip: $0.00

DK- 1.  Customer- 0.

He thanks me profusely again and I give him the thumbs up signal.  I hysterically laugh when he gets out.  I ain’t even mad, I really didn’t want to be proven right in this situation but I was.  Whatever.

And so on.

28
Jan
12

Chester.

No this isn’t the name of a person, but rather a street name in Brooklyn.

I started off my night at JFK & got a short-haul trip to Astoria.  Seeing that it was around 715p, I had a couple of options.  I could have went straight to Manhattan which is always busy at that time.  I could try to contend with traffic to get back to JFK.  Or the third option, take my chances at an empty LGA.  I chose the third option and picked up my fare at 730p.

I picked up this older couple and they told me they were going to 71 Chester Street.  As I plug it into the GPS, I’m given three options.  Chester Street, Chester Court and Chester Avenue.  The lady is telling me something about how I need to take the Prospect Expressway to get there seeing that it’s near the Greenwood Cemetery.  Cool.  But Chester Street doesn’t take me anywhere near a cemetery.

Me: Yall sure it’s not Chester AVENUE?
Lady: No no it’s Chester STREET.
Me: Umm..Chester STREET isn’t pointing me anywhere near a cemetery tho.
Lady: You sure you typed it in right?  It should be near the Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Me: Well to get to Chester STREET I have to take the Jackie Robinson Parkway.  You probably mean AVENUE.
Lady: No it’s STREET.

Okay.

I know damn well that they do not live in East New York yet they are adamant about this Chester Street shit.

Lady: This is definitely not the way to Chester STREET.
Me: Yes it is.
Lady: You needed to take the Prospect Expressway and it’s near Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Me: That’s why I asked if it was Chester AVENUE.

Her husband gets on the phone with whoever it was and they confirm that it was Chester AVENUE, which is a good 6 miles away from where I was (Atlantic Avenue & Eastern Parkway).

I told you so, but you don’t listen.  Now instead of a $30 fare, you now have to pay $37.  They were nice people with good intentions, just a bit stubborn.  More money in my pocket, albeit more aggravation.  It set the tone for a mainly aggravating night.  And so on.