Taxi Cab Confessions: An NYC Girl’s Take on NYC Cabs

In NYC, there are 4 main types of transportation to consider: 1) the subway – definitely the primary source of getting around the city for most people, though not the safest option after 11pm while wearing 5 inch heels and a skirt someone referred to as a belt. 2) the bus, but no self-respecting NYC girl rides the bus. Ew. 3) walking – ideal for those times you’re feeling particularly emo/ pensive/ like your life is like a movie and walking around with your headphones on quietly pondering your life would make for a great montage scene. 4) cabs.  It’s this final mode of transportation that has inspired an entire post. Behold: the love/hate relationship with New York City cabs and the people who drive them.

Hailing cabs (or people who have no idea what they’re doing) – Few things enrage me more for no reason than watching people hail off-duty or passenger-full cabs. Repeat after me: Middle light on – cab on. Before you visit NYC and ESPECIALLY before you move here, learn that one rule. Otherwise, you’ll spend half your time chasing down vehicles that will never stop for you and your arm will likely go numb while you’re standing there flailing over every yellow car that passes your street corner.

Cabbies who take the scenic route – Dear cabbies, never, under ANY circumstances, take me through Times Square. Never drive by Penn Station or Grand Central unless that’s my final destination. Never take 2nd Avenue from the UES to Murray Hill or lower. Are you kidding me? Hey there, I live here. I don’t need to see 4 Elmos staked out on each corner of 42nd and 7th. It’s creepy.  I don’t need to see views of the Empire State Building. I’m a local. I’m unimpressed. Just get me where I’m going and get me there as fast as humanly possible.

Expecting the tip – this is like expecting to get laid after a first date. You think that just because you go through the motions, you’ll come to the ending and get the reward. Not so with cab rides. In this case, the journey really is more important than the destination, so you better make it fucking great, otherwise you get no tip. Last summer, I remember one particularly frustrating ride. I was running late to join my friends for $10 unlimited happy hour. I hailed a cab, only to end up in the backseat of a vehicle with a man who stopped at every yellow light to fill out a crossword or go through his receipts or complete his immigration papers. I’m not sure what he was doing, but it easily doubled my journey from midtown west to the UES. I was fuming, as this was seriously cutting into the 3 hours of open bar I was already late for. When I arrived at my destination, I didn’t want the cabbie to think I forgot to tip him. So I gave him one cent. He then followed me for a block, shouting obscenities out the window until I ducked into a random real estate office.

Denying me a ride – Cab drivers are not allowed to deny you a trip to your destination once you’ve already gotten in the car. When it comes to scoring a ride to the airport, I’ve learned to not tell the driver where I’m going until my bags are in and the door is securely shut behind me. They legally can’t tell you to get out (pull the “I’m going to report you” – I did this a few weeks ago en route to JFK and I got my ride, though with an angry driver (but during rush hour, an angry driver is better than no driver)). Sometimes though, you get a douchebag of a driver who pulls over, locks the doors and asks where you’re going BEFORE deciding if your cab fare is worth their time. I hate these assholes.

Reckless driving – I’ll admit it, I’m a terrible driver. My city driving skills are much better than my highway skills, but overall, my MetroCard was the safest thing to happen to the fine residents of New York State. However, as dangerous as I am behind the wheel, it pales in comparison to most cab drivers. I was once nursing a particularly epic hangover, en route to a conference I was speaking at, and I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I stepped out of my apartment to find a cab with its light on just waiting for me. And the driver was in a sailor hat. It spoke to my soul. It was going to be a good morning. Then we got rear-ended. And then hit a car ourselves. Mr. Cabbie simply glanced over his shoulder, asked, “you ok?” and proceed to get me to 10th Avenue.

How do you get there? – I have a horrendous sense of direction. Without Google maps and Hop Stop, I would be lost ALL THE TIME. So getting in a cab is a sure fire way that I’ll get where I need to go without ever having to know where I’m going. So it’s particularly confounding when I get in a cab and they ask “Where is that?” Umm… I gave you the address, isn’t that your job? Doubly troubling is when they program an address into their GPS. Just get out and find another ride. It’ll be faster. But don’t take the bus.


Posted on October 26, 2011, in new york city and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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