My Cab Ride
I don’t use cabs much, for a bunch of reasons: the subway works pretty well, my slightly unhinged griping notwithstanding, they’re really not all that much faster, I’m kind of a man of the people sort and cabs seem a little fancy to me, and I might, possibly, be a little cheap–they’re really expensive!
But in the last week I’ve hailed a taxi three times. My second ride was quiet and uneventful, but the first and third were, while still uneventful, were highly entertaining as both drivers were very chatty. They were both older Jewish drivers from Brooklyn, though one grew up in Belmont, and we all agreed that things were better in the olden days. Though all this was expressed with little to no bitterness.
With the first, a woman named Toby, we lamented the disappearance and likely extinction of the kosher deli. I asked her if she knew the Mill Basin Deli, which I’ve never been to but the Daily News recently rated their pastrami the best in the City. She was not a fan, but she assured me that if I went to the much better Jay and Lloyds on Avenue U and told them that I was a friend of Toby I’d be treated well.
I haven’t had a chance to make it out there yet, Al, you in?
Gary was my second cabby. He took a few blocks to warm up, but once he did he wouldn’t stop. Like Toby, he had a nice, classic New York accent, but this guy didn’t have a serious bone in his body. He’d been driving a cab since the 70s, despite his cousin telling him he’d never make enough money and his generous offer to set him up in the drug trade–think van and large fishing tackle box. Back then and into the 80s he would not go south of 14th or north of 86th and the best fares were the drug runs. A guy would get into the cab and say, “I need to make 15 stops” and then would pay like $30! That’s when $30 was real money.
Then there was the time when he was a kid and his parents were away, so he sent his brother an anonymous note that threatened to blow up his car. So, of course, he called the cops. Problem was, the brother had a pound of pot sitting on the dining room table. So while the street was crawling with cops and firemen he grabbed his brother and with great seriousness ordered Gary to not let the police into the house or near the windows.
And once, when on vacation in Hawaii, somebody offered him some Hawaiin Gold, but he decided to say no because “with my luck…” and then airport security went through his bag!
And so on…
I like a good cabby.