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I drove a NYC taxi-night shift -for about 10 years. It was fascinating. The city and its inhabitants exude energy in all its forms, including; perverts living out their fantasy, hedonists revelling in self satisfaction, the working class struggling-successfully-to make ends meet, the greedy accumulating-yet never enough, youths in search of mates, junkies looking to roll a cabbie, towering edifices reconditioning their environment and ablaze with lights, gourmands on route to a new restaurant in hopes of a truly great meal, steam spewing from the sewer gratings-as if the city itself cooks, hustlers and more hustlers-in NYC even the "bums" hustle. A throng exists Lincoln Center, another from the Garden, another from the Public Theater, twelve hundred insiders in black tie from the Waldorf, dozens of throngs spread out onto Broadway and Eighth Avenues all in search of that often belittled but now prized and invaluable yellow cab. It's good to feel wanted, to be needed. But the cabby must be wary and discerningly eye over the hailers, to separate the New Yorkers from those from the boroughs. Hey, I'm from Brooklyn (and formerly the Bronx), but money is made by turning 'em over quickly and in this town everyone is a hustler.
I spent two years in New York as Mormon missionary.
Myself and another Mormon missionary were late getting home to our apartment one night. So we hailed a cab at about 56th Street and Columbus.
We asked the driver to get us to 94th and Lexington as fast as he could. He just tore outta there.
The cabbie asked us who we were. We told him "Mormon missionaries". He then turned around with a wry look in his eyes and asked if he could smoke.
We explained to him that Mormons didn't smoke tobacco. We politely told him that we would appreciate it if he wouldn't either.
He then smiled, showed us the lighted marijuana joint and said, "Don't worry. I'm not smoking cigarettes."
I know that he just loved the look on our faces as we sat in the back stunned and speechless for the rest of the ride.
Ah...gotta love New York cabbies.
Jim from Dublin, Ireland
At the moment there is a sort of peace on the streets of Belfast, but, as most would know, it wasn't always that way. The Nationalist areas of Belfast have been serviced by Black Cabs for many years now. The cabs, much the same as London's Black Cabs, are organised along routes, waiting for a full cab before setting off on its run through the city. To get to their destinations many of the routes crossed through dodgy areas, risking attack from stone throwing Loyalists youths to gun attacks from Loyalist Paramilitaries and the harassment from the British Army. Over the last 30 years a number of these cabbie have lost their lives. As a frequent visitor to Belfast and user of their service I very much admire their attempts to earn a few bob in the face of such hardships duing the conflict.
Bob from New York
I drove for over 33 years, my wife for over 10 years. my two daughters for over 7 years each, my son for 4 years too, we are all glad to be retired.....good luck to all who still have to work the n.y. streets.
John from Scotland
Hi folks and yes, I am about to share the secret to life with you. I will start with a story for you which is still fresh in my mind as it happened tonight. Yes it is true and yes it is exactly the way it happend.
I am a taxi driver from Fife in Scotland. I work the back and nightshift and this story is of what happend to me a few weeks ago.
I had started work at around 6pm. I it was a pretty quiet night tonight and any and all conversation was greeted with extreme enthousiasm. The night passed well and it came to around 4am. I was thinking about coming home and getting some sleep. I was sent for a local hire a few miles away from base. I picked up two you females and proceeded to take them to their destination. I had the usual short journey conversation with them, "How's your night been", "Oh, not bad, could have been busier" etc etc. I dropped the first female of at her home and the remaining female asked me to take her a few streets further on. As I started driving the girl started to speak to me. Broken sentances, "Not my fault"........"I didn't mean it"......"I don't know why their not speaking to me"......... at this point I stopped her and told her I didn't follow a word she was saying. We got to her door and I offered her a cigarette. She accepted and we proceeded to chat. Normaly I would close the conversation off and get my fare but it was the end of my shift and I had this strong feeling that this girl just really wanted someone to talk to. She continued to tell me how she had had a misscariage three weeks previous and she just HAD to speak to someone. Her boyfriend had left her, her friends didn't understand, she couldn't talk to her family and she didn't know where to turn. ( One of those places that we all get to where we just have to share something or we will burst ) I listened, told her what I thought and then listend to what she had to say. The actual words which we exchanged are irrelivant. She thanked me for listening and then left the car.
Whats the point ?
She left smiling !!!
I am a qualified computer programmer and engineer and I know I could be making a lot lot more money than I am presently doing. When I speak with hires and the subject comes up the first thing I am told is "Why don't you just make the money ?"
money is not ANYTHING in life. If I had a million pounds in my pocket would that have mattered to this girl last night. I never even got her name, she didn't ask mine. Could I have changed anything for this girl with money. What mattered was I listened. People put too much value in what they have in life.
Do you do it ?
I do !
Just look at your life at the moment and place money, honestly, on your list of importances. We all do it.
In that brief moment tonight it didn't matter. I changed someones night. She might wake up depressed tomorrow, she might get hit by a car next week.......who knows what will happen to her. What does matter is that when she walked away from me she felt that bit better within herself. This made me feel so much better too. That's why I don't work with computers. Would I get the chance to do that if I was in an office. no.
Please carry this final thought with you throught today. If you meet someone who isn't smiling then please tell them a joke, if someone isn't happy cheer them up, if someone is sad, listen to their story. take a few minutes from your day to make someone smile. Its worth it. Who knows, that person who you make smile could go home in a good mood and finaly propose to their woman, may not snap at the kids........the possablities are endless. The one thing that is guarenteed is that nothing bad will happen when someone is smiling. You will feel better, they will feel better and you will have found a purpose to your day.
Well, there you go. I have shared the secret of life. Make others happy, listen and help when you can. Do this and you will be the happiest people on earth. Trust me.
Me and an old boyfriend went on vacation to Nova Scotia from Toronto Ontario. We rented a car and I found out that, not only what I knew already, he drank constantly, but that he also drank constantly while driving. After a few days had gone past we got into an arguement while on a highway through some sort of woods and I figured as we parked to yell louder at a whare house that had an office attached ( who knows where this building came from i hadnt seen anything for hours) that since it was getting dark and there seemed to be a storm brewing I might as well bail out of the car now rather than getting in an accident later.
The security guard wouldnt let me in so i hedded off down a turn off ramp figuring this is how the warehouse workers got there. Then the strom hit. Shit, I had never seen a storm like this. I think I wouldnt have got out of the car. No jacket, not hat, and not really spring yet. Hail, rain, and a wind that I could hold myself up with. I kept on going down the road onto a hiway and found a gas station/varity store. Greatfully they had lots of pop because the salt rain made me looking like some sort of desert scene that was pathetic enough to be in a black and white Bob Hope movie.
Fourtunately, I wasnt too far from Halifaxand cabs did come to this area frequently, especially on Friday night after the bars close. So he did come. First off the words were "You cant be from around here" He wouldnt tell me how he knew. I told him what had got me to where I was but that I needed to find the guy becuase he had all of my clothes. The driver took me to all of the motels from where ever he picked me up to halifax and waited for me to check out the parking lots. Then, when we got to the city, took me to the 2 bars that were still open. (this is one time where a persons drinking extravagance is of extreme convience to others) The cab driver was extremely kind to me at 19 years old offerring to escort me to look in the bars at 2 am or so but i declined his offer saying that if i get myself into this kind of trouble that i can handel any bar. To this helet out a roaring laugh.
The guy was at the 2nd one which i had thought because we had been there earlier. The cab ride came to $153.00 which i had but the driver wouldnt take the money. He said that this wasnt a cab ride and if he had a daughter she would get into messes like this one for sure so this was a family thing. I forgot to send him the christmas card i promised - i was still with the guy and still needed the drivers help - but remember him and his face and the way I thought he would look that night if i gave him the hug i would have liked to.
I was driving a cab in a suburb of Boston and times were a little slow. No one was making much money and the lines at the cabstand were long. But this particular cabstand was my favorite, because I grew up right down the street. I was sitting there for almost an eternity, getting more and more angry at my lack of income. After all, we only made money when the meter was running. When I finally got to the front of the line I was hoping for a good, long fare. After about fifteen minutes I got a call to pick up at the local supermarket. I was so angry, knowing that this fare would only be a couple of dollars. I was cursing everyone and everything from the cabstand to the supermarket! When I got to the market I saw her, a little old lady with four or five bags. She asked me to put them in the trunk, which annoyed me even more. Something about her voice was familiar but I was too mad to think about it. When she got in, I noticed that she closed the door not with her arm that was closest to the door but with her other arm, reaching across her body. Then I said in a rather gruff voice, "Where to?" I think she could tell I was upset. When she gave me her address a flood of memories came rushing back. This house was only four or five houses down from my old house, and I knew exactly which house it was and who she was. Twenty-five years earlier, when I was in grade school, my friends and I would always stop at her house on the way home from school for cookies. We could always count on Mrs. Lynch. She always had something nice to say and good to eat. Her husband was one of those guys who was always home but you never saw him. She was in her fifties back then so she had to be in her late 70's or early 80's now. Still spry, and still in that perpetually happy mood. With my tail between my legs I asked her if she remembered me. Well, not only did she remember me, she asked about my brother and sisters, by name, and how my mother was doing, and where did everyone live now, and what was I studying in college, and how many children did everyone have, and a hundred other questions. She told me that her husband passed away five years earlier, and that she lost an arm to cancer. She and her husband never had children and she had a sister in a nursing home. She lived alone. Well, when I finally had her groceries in her house, unpacked, and put away she thanked me and paid me for the fare. I put the best two bucks I ever made in my pocket, said goodbye, and went back to the cabstand to the end of a very long line.
Pete from Manhattan
One night a while back I found myself stumbling out of a bar in the early hours of the morning on the lower east side. Being that this is a somewhat regular occurance, I always struggle with myself as to whether I should elect for the economical way home ( the subway), or just spend the money and get home more quickly in a cab. This particular night I was particularly inebriated so I elected for the easy way home and caught a cab. I had broken up with my girlfriend recently, or had been broken up with that is, and was feeling a little down on my luck...one might even say a bit self destructive. I was looking for a little adventure. I picked the right cabbie. The first red light we hit was down around 14th street. Now on a usual night it takes at least two or three lights to go up park ave to around 86th street but since I was in a special kind of a mood I leaned forward through the plexiglass and offered the cabbie an extra ten dollar tip if he coul make it up to 86th street without stopping for one more light. I was expecting a, "sorry man, can't risk my license" or something like that which I would have understood completely but instead he turned around, smiled and said, " you got it man!" I thought holy shit he's actually gonna go for this and I took a deep breath. What followed was the most thrilling car ride I've ever taken. There was really nobody else on the road heading up park at that hour so we flew...literally. We were going over a hundred miles an hour and catching air as we went over little bumps. The few times we did have to pass other cars the cabbie managed it like a nascar driver. I laughed out of shear terror the whole way up, not expecting to live to see 86th street. We finally made it and I geave the guy a huge tip. I love New York!
Well it was a Saturday night in Lismore, Australia, where I was spending the time on rank two of the 6 ranks that the town block had. Nothing really excting rarely happen here in town but this night was about to change. About 1am a couple of girls happen to hop in and I said g'day where too?? They replied Byron I said no worries as that was a $75 fare I was smiling anyway 1 hour latter I arrived in Byron. They ask me to take them to the other side of town. I did not complain as the meter was running when we arrived to the address they told me that they want to go out of the town to another address where there is abandoned quary. I started to worry but they said they were working girls and I new that working girls always had money and were my best fares so I proceed to do so when I arrived. One said to me this a stick up and the other one proceed to hit me with a high heel shoe. I was bleeding from the head at this time and really thought I was going to die so I hit the gas and travel about 180 mph to the nearest town bleed more and more. They ask me two slow down I kept going faster and I hit town the girls where looking green and thought they were going to die with me. I told them if I was going to die you will come with me. A sort of taxis ride to heaven with a drop off at hell. I hit the kerb out front of the Police station at about 80mph the front end neally rip out from underneath and hit the horn at this stage the girls got out and start to proceed into the police station they were going to get me on dangerous driving charge. I could not believe this as they were smart enought to plan such a crime but are this stupit to do hand themselves in. The police came running out and proceed to arrest them they went off screaming out they I try to kill them. They went ot court and got off on a 12month bond and I received $2000 victim of a crime compersation and everyone was sweet. I still drive in Lismore and lived to tell this tale but to ones that have not may they rest in peace in taxi heaven. John
Dave from La La Land
Stopped at a red lite or stop sign, on Mulholland, close to the I-405 freeway, near that giant Jewish School up there.
This guy with no shirt on comes up close to my cab; next thing I know, he's opened the door, and is inside.
Notably, he's stark, buck, nude. He's Caucasian, about 50 years old, trim, but not thin, lean and somewhat muscular.
Now, the cabbie calculus begins. I'm out of my territory, but he's gotten in, which means that it's okay, rules or no rules.. This is a wierd situation, but the guy has no concealed weapons. If I boot him, I'll go back to "The Valley" empty-handed. Plus, it's a nasty, cold night out, too; the guy's obviously very cold, his teeth are chattering. I've already turned up the heat, and rolled up the windows. I only ended up here because I dropped a fare who had called for me in my home territory. LA cabbies are jealous of territories, like pit bull dogs.
So, I did the natural thing: Put my baseball cap on straight, looked him in the eye and said, "where to, buddy?"
And he said, in a rich, mellow English voice, right out of Mahsterpiece Theatre, "Encino." It came out, En-shee-know.
I said that I won't ask for a pre-pay because he appeared to have lost his wallet. He just smiled.
We're on the 405, headed back the Valley, of Valley Girls, Gallerias and recent secession manias, and he finally says, "well, I suppose you want an explanation." Yeah, I sure do, almost as much as life itself.
He tells me how he was in, uh, mid-whoopie with his girlfriend of 30-odd years, when, to the shock and amazement of both, her husband comes home, up the stairs of her Mulholland Drive mansion, like he owned the place. Which he did, at least in part. He wanted to continue their liaison, so, she stuffed his duds under the bed, while he dove out the window, in the nude, of course. the image of this dignified, graying gentleman, diving out a bedroom window, nude, was really funny to me, so I started to laugh.
He just smiled.
Then we get to talking. Like me, he loves voice impersonations, especially animal noises. We compare notes. He does this superb elephant, trumpeting with rage: you can hear him getting ready to trample native villages, and villagers. I like dogs getting their nuts chopped off, or pigs protesting ill-treatment. A real managerie. He also knew the late Paul Lynde, whose voice I can impersonate, if anyone cares. He did, then said that Paul used to smoke six packs of cigarettes a day.
Then he asked me, do I have a cigarette? No, I don't smoke, I said. Cigar? Nope. Pipe? Huh-uh. Red-man chewing tobacco? No. Dammit.
We're driving along Ventura Boulevard by this time. If anyone at school could see me now, doing animal noises, with a naked Englishman in the back seat of my taxicab, I think they'd pee themselves with laughter. I know I almost did.
I dropped him off at his place, a magnificent Tudor mansion, and he gave me $30.00 for a $15.00 fare. By this time he had run into the house, put on a David Niven high-necked sweater and jeans.
And he thanked me, for being so nice. Of course, all in a night's work. The tip was great, but the thanks was better.
Sue from New York
NYC Cabbies are the BEST! They care, believe it or not. Only last week was a cabbie commended for returning a bag to a wedding reception, saving the day. The last cabbie I rode with was just as nice in a different context. I was smashed! The (guy from Kentucky, can you believe it?) cabbie got out of the cab, walked me to the door, helped me with my keys so I could get in, pushed the button on the elevator, waited until the doors closed and I guess left. God Bless Him!
Thanks to you dear cabbie whoever you are.
David from Australia
Hi from a cabbie down under - thats Melbourne Australia, the home of the Olympics in 1956. I was taken there for my 11th birthday present. I ply the streets of this city of 3 and a bit million people. On Saturday nights I think the whole lot of them are drunk. The vomit shift is the worst, but the pay is good. I work tues - thurs sort of day shift, fri is my big day - about 18 hours, then sat night. Rest up sun and mon. Part time writer, trying to get a book published about my experiences. Lots of laughs, a few tears, some funny stories. You blokes would be tickled at the time I got a call to pick up a fare including an animal (real one - not a funny name for a human passenger). Turned out to be a kangaroo. No bull, a real live kangaroo. If you blokes watch TV you might have seen that kangaroos have pockets. Thats where they pay you from. I don't know where to stick the change, as some of our coins are a bit big. Anyhow, must be off, get the car ready for another shift. ps Most of the cabs in this city run on Liquid Petrolium Gas, lot cheaper than the stuff you call gas, that we call petrol. Regards - David.
Woody from New York
When you order a Bud and at bar and the tab is $2.00 because its happy hour, you probably leave the bartender a $1.00 since its kind of like the minimum tip if you don't want to appear cheap. You spend approximately 10 seconds with this bartender to get your beer. Yet you give him a $1.00. You spend at least 5 minutes in a taxi at a minimum. Why not give cabbies at least a buck as a tip unless they are absolutely the worst driver you have ever encountered or are rude. Remember, the Mayor has decided to give huge fines to people trying to make a hard living earning about $100 for 12 hours of work if they lease from a fleet.
One day I was driving and I let in this very large women. My suspension in my cab needed fixing and she weighed down the back enough to cause the muffler to drag. We started down the road to Central Park when this man in the cab in front of us threw out his cigarette. There was a big puddle of gas that had leaked out of my car and the sparks from the cigarette caused a small fire while we were at the red light. The fire crawled up my leak and into my gas well. Causing the backseat to ignite. And the large women clothes began to catch on fire. She leaped out of the car and into the fountain. In the park. I yelled out the window and said "This rides on me." and pulled away.
Bob from Albuquerque
I had decided to take up taxi driving in Denver. Well, after all the training and check rides, I was ready to solo. I got my cab and headed out into the world and took the first fare I could. He was a nicely dressed older man going downtown. We started off, and a couple of minutes later, he suddenly started having a seizure of some sort. Talk about getting scared out of your wits on your first fare! Fortunately, the emergency code was fresh in my mind from the training and he was taken to a hospital. Having your first fare start to froth at the mouth was not a good way to start a new career.
It was 1944 and I was in the Navy assigned to the Naval Armed Guard. We were gunners, radiomen and signalmen assigned to duty aboard merchant ships. We were in every battle and in every theater of operations, fighting off enemy submarines and aircraft determined to sink our ships. I had just returned to New York from a 14 month trip. I had lost my partial pay card and the rest of the crew supported me for the entire trip. When we returned to Brooklyn I was paid more than $1700 and was determined to spend it all in one night in New York as a pay back to the rest of the crew.
There were 28 of us and we covered New York that night like the dew on Dixie. We visited bars in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Harlem, Queens, The Bronx, Richmond and Manhattan. Then it was 4 AM and much past time to return to the Brooklyn Armed Guard Center. We went to Grand Central and with the help of a friendly Cabbie we managed to round up 28 cabs, all with openings in the roof. We had a procession from Manhattan to Brooklyn (1st Avenue and 52nd Street). We were all standing up and making sure our presence did not go unnoticed.
We arrived safely in Brooklyn and I paid all the Cabbies, along with a generous tip. I still had more than a hundred dollars left and gave it to the last cabby I paid off. I went to the entrance of the Armed Guard Center and a new and rosy cheeked Ensign was on duty. I walked up to him and told him how cute he was and gave him a big kiss on the lips. The Ensign was enraged and told the Master of Arms to lock me up. The Master of Arms marched me to the basement and when we were out of sight of the Ensign he cracked up laughing, then told me to "run, swabbie, run!"
I often think of that cab procession and the young Ensign. I am 76 now and know better.
Paul from England
Well a big hello to you all from a cab driver in York, England. Last year we had the pleasure of having the very talented Violinist Vanessa Maye playing in our City. A colleague of mine had the pleasure of going to pick her up from the hotel that she was staying at. He had picked her up and was making his way to the station, the occupants were very quiet in the car and my colleague was not wanting to miss the opportunity to chat with this star. He drove along trying to think of a suitable conversation to have with her, he could not think of anything so decided to make idle chat. Unfortunately he was very aware of her Nationality and instead of asking her if she was staying in York long, he managed to come out with are you staying in Lork yong. There was silence from the Oriental violinist and her two bouncers.
-- Several of the night shift drivers with the yellow cab co. I drove for carried scanners to monitor police and public safety radio transmissions. For two weeks there were repeated armed robberies at different locations of the same convenience store around town and it was obvious it was the same robber because each clerk that handed over the small amount of money said he carried a little knife... not much more than a butter knife:)
The robber hit the store right across the street from the cab company and that store's parking lot was a regular parking for cabs vacant and waiting for dispatched calls. Also the dispatcher while at the desk has full view of the parking lot. The robber seemed to leave and disappear(probably to some place right behind the store)without anyone tracking his direction.
Then the next night he robbed the same store and got away!The police asked for all the cabs to not park there at the store so as to make it even more appealing to the robber to hit again and no more reports of his chronic amateur crimes had been reported for a few days.
Then one night I was way off in the west side of town driving the cab and I heard on the scanner. . "attention all units... armed robbery just occured at.. (the same store again!) "Time delay 2 minutes". So there was a two minute delay from the time he left the store and the report radioed out... I quickly grabbed the radio mic and said to the dispatcher,"Quick! the store was hit again!Look out or go and follow his path! Then all the cabs hear,"Dispatch is out for a bit".
Well nothing was seen again and the clerk said it was the same robber. About a week later I was on the afternoon shift and a restaurant was robbed across the street from a mall and on the scanner I heard the search and talk about the good possibility that it was the same guy hitting the stores. The police gave up their search yet continued to share the description of the guy amongst the fleet. An hour later I was dispatched to the mall to pick up a fare that called,and as I approached what looked like the waiting passenger I was sure it was the robber from the description I heard,which was somewhat unique in appearance so I stalled and drove down an extra row in the lot like I was searching while telling the cab dispatch that I'm almost sure I am about to pick up the suspect in all these robberies. The dispatcher was starting to say to not get him but as he was talking I was already stopped and the suspect was at the cab door. I said on the radio(like a routine)"#32 has picked up".... "shhhh". I asked the guy what his destination is like we always do and called it in to dispatch and continued to drive there.
When I arrived at the destination,surprised that I did not get robbed,the county police were already there with guns aimed at my cab ready to apprehend the suspect!. . and yes it was the same guy that hit all the stores!!!Ten counts of armed robbery with a butter knife for a total loot of about only 2-3 hundred dollars. .... :)
Having a scanner receiver in the cab accounts for many interesting stories and coincidental occurences. . . . even some humor!.
I'm just watching my own butt by not sharing any stories about monitoring cordless phones while on shift. . . but I will say that if you're a cab driver and the fare opens the door at their home to wave acknowledgement and has a cordless phone to their ear. . . it can be amazing what they are talking about that will concern you as their driver!:)
Jim from New York
If it were not for one taxi driver a few months ago I would not be married. You see, my wedding was scheduled for high noon, and the limo service we had hand picked for reliability was not coming through. While waiting at the church on 33rd and 2nd, I got word that my bride to be was stranded in mid-town because the limo was a no show. However, within a few minutes a taxi pulled up and out form within came the smiling, beautiful bride to be, radiant with the ride. In her eyes no limo compared. As I found out latter, the cabbie saw her on the curb, stopped and asked if he could help. Excited that he was heading to a wedding, he quickly through on a tie (why he had one in the cab is mystery), and sped off to the church. He could not have been more helpful and excited. In fact the pictures taken of my wife exiting the taxi, with him helping her to the curb, are the highlights off our wedding photos. Apparently, she was the first bride he had carried in his long career as a cabbie in NYC after coming over from Italy thirty years prior. A truly authentic New York experience.
Hi Fellow Taxi Drivers:
Over one million miles as Taxi Driver here in Honolulu since 1980. See "Stories page of my web site.
Weirdest fare I ever had? Mark Chapman before he killed John Lennon. Guy flags me down in Wakiki in October of 1980, around 3 a.m. First thing he says to me is "I've got to kill John Lennon." Well all I can say is "Uh-Where to buddy?" He told lots of other people here in Honolulu before he really did shoot Lennon in Dec. 1980.
In 21 years of driving I've been robbed at gun point three times, lucky I guess- never got hurt.
Taxi driving is wide open here. $50 per year gets you a Taxi business license. No limit to the number of Taxis. It's survival of the toughest and best. Crusing public streets for business is legal but all the hotels and shopping centers as well as the airport have contracts with big Taxi companys. You can drop off on their property but you can't pick up.
$2.00 flag drop and $2.00 per mile is the legal fare. If you lease a cab it is between $350 to $500 per 24/7. That includes everything except gas.