Cabbies are helpful. They’ll take you anyplace they want to go.
Driving a cab requires a test. You’re quizzed on, “Can you determine the shortest distance between two points?” If the answer’s no, you are instantly licensed to own your own fleet.
Want to frustrate your driver? Tell him to take you to his garage.
Great innovative ideas have hit NYC’s taxi industry. None include driving lessons. Or destination orientation — like, for example, locating remote out-of-the way hidden places such as the UN, Empire State Building, St. Pat’s.
I went to a fortuneteller. She predicted I’d take a long trip. She was right. I left her and grabbed a cab going crosstown.
One afternoon on 86th and Fifth I’m headed to the Plaza. Even Mister Magoo could chart that course. My driver, an obvious foreigner in 97.8 percent of the world, asked: “Where?” I said: “Not a real stretch, pal. It’s 59th and Fifth.” He nodded and immediately turned left.
However, the man was skillful at the wheel. As he explained, “No good to hit a pedestrian. Because then you must to fill out report.”
This extensive conversation was conducted via what once was see-through plastic and shouted over his CD, which was heavy on cymbals.
Our fleet of yellows is iconic. I love New York. I love our drivers to whom English is a fourth language. I love our hack industry. I’m a New Yorker. I’m used to aggravation.
The industry is now going high-tech. Like innovative rooftop advertising that doesn’t help any passenger in the rain who’s not exactly hot for shots from “Bonnie & Clyde,” which closed four months ago.
Credit cards. TV. Soon, paying with smartphones. And installing chargers so no running out of juice. And communicating with the driver by iPad. Next up video games, so they’ll be able to throw out Alec Baldwin.
They’re becoming full-service operations. I suggest replacing the driver’s license that you can never read anyhow and was printed by Berlitz. Instead, how about sticking up recipes? Or 8-by-10 glossies of Newt Gingrich? Anything to view besides springs poking from your seat or that half-eaten jelly doughnut on the floor leaning against your fawn suede Manolos.
Another thing the industry’s full of is safety stickers. So many on the windshield that if not for a GPS, the hackie couldn’t see where to go.
Hollywood wants to install movies. Bad idea. Even with my route from 86th and Fifth to the Plaza, hard to cram in two hours of “The Hunger Games.” Also discussed? A vending machine on the passengers’ side. Good idea. If the movie’s lousy, you can still get popcorn. They once recorded certain locals — for instance, me — to chat and introduce tourists to New York. Brilliant idea. But the constant babble drove drivers mad. They preferred clanging belly-dancer music.
And can we discuss crabby cabbies who complain, “Don’t tell me how to go. I’m driving a cab 20 years.” Yeah — but wrong.
1. Never a straight line going downtown if you’re heading west. To beat the lights, it’s two blocks down, one block west.
2. Emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel for the Upper East Side, you turn west. Take 10th Avenue. Less traffic.
Even Albanians without green cards know that.
I want it known I am only joking. We all depend on cabs. We love cab drivers even though, instinctively sensing when you’re late for work, is when they pass you by.
Also you have to do what they want. Grab a cigarette? He’s allergic. Want change? He has none. Eating your sandwich? Not allowed. Carrying your dog? The driver, who hasn’t showered since leaving his own country, says: “No. They’re dirty.” And the ride’s expensive. Cheaper to be mugged and wait for an ambulance.
Well-known is that I am a saintly human being and not one to complain. But can we just mention wet weather makes flowers appear and taxis disappear? All things come to those who wait on a rainy day — except a taxi. Their off-duty signs are wired to light at the first drop of drizzle.
Let’s discuss the newest model cab. Anyone but me notice that, clutching a large tote bag, brown paper takeout bag, discount dress shopping bag, computer and your coat — digging into that small door handle and summoning the heft to release the catch, you can break a fingernail? These days a manicure costs more than a medallion.
Drivers have computers, phones, CDs, two-way radios, aromatic curry in their front seats. Black cars offer water, mints, ride-sharing apps. Cabs have seat belts, movies and rules. Next up, stewardesses or roadesses offering frequent-rider bonus points. Another 20 minutes, they’ll stick a fitting room in the trunk.
P.S. Why is it that the only souls who really know how to run this country are driving cabs?