Get out

Where ejected fares go to die

“Hey there, where to?”

“York and East End.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“York and East End Ave.”

“Sir, that’s impossible. Those streets are parallel.”

“Okay, just give me one second.”

So I did. I remember making the turn off of Broadway to start heading uptown shortly after taking this fare in. As usual, throngs of amateurs were out on that Saturday night, desperately waving for a ride in a vehicle such as mine while I had to make sense of a person who apparently had none of his own.

“Any idea where you’re going sir?”

“York and East End.”

“Maybe ya didn’t understand me the first time. I need a real address, or a building name, or a street number, or something I can pinpoint.”

‘Please, just give me a few more moments.”

Which the next red right gave me. Once I made the left turn past The Alamo it was time to straighten this out:

“Last time – where am I taking ya?”

“I know it’s on York and East End…”

“Get out.”

“What?”

“Ya heard me.”

“What about the meter? I owe you money.”

“I don’t care. It’s obvious that you’re on something and ya don’t know where in the hell you’re going. Just get out.”

“But…”

“GET OUT!”

And so he went…

I’m a nice guy. Really. I am. For all the crap we put up with week in and week out, it takes a lot of to get me red in the face. I don’t even like kicking people out of my cab and it can be incredibly difficult to do, given that we cannot physically pull anyone out of the back seat and that it’s easy for a passenger to file a complaint against a rude or uncourteous driver. There have been countless instances where I’ve had to deal with rich bitches, oblivious hipsters, clueless tourists, and those who pull the average IQ of an American down a notch or two but one thing I have to remind myself over and over again is that “All this too shall pass” and the high turnover rate of a typical shift will soon render an ignominious fare into a memory.

Then there are a few fares which continue to stick out for the wrong reasons. With apologies to Emma Lazarus, the city has continued to give me it’s tired, poor, heartless, strung-out, moronic, and just plain stupid, all in an attempt to get somewhere while ultimately going nowhere in the end:

“Hey there, where to?”

“Penn Station.”

“Alrighty. We’ll jump onto the Henry Hudson and get off somewhere in the 30’s. Do you have a preference as to which entrance you want me to drop ya off at?”

“I’m not sure, I’m supposed to meet someone down there.”

“Oh, is it a friend?”

“Yeah, he has the money I need.”

“What?”

“I was in a cab before and ended up here. I didn’t have enough to pay the driver so he kicked me out here on 125 St.”

“So you’re not taking a train from Penn Station?”

“Yes.”

“And you don’t know where your friend is down there?”

“Yes.”

“And let me get this straight, you got into a cab and expected the driver to take you all the way down to Penn Station but you don’t have any money to pay him with?”

“Actually, could you help a brother out and spare me a dollar? I don’t have…”

“Get out.”

“Just…”

“GET OUT! For God’s sake, PLEASE don’t pull something like this on your driver again…”

“Okay!”

And off I went back downtown…

It’s incredibly difficult at times to figure out which fares have “disaster” written on them before they come into my Taxi. There are parts of town and times of the the day that lend themselves to finding characters that are more shady, but some of the best people I’ve ever picked up were standing all alone in the most desolate and forlorn areas of the city, grateful that someone had come out of nowhere and stopped to take them home at the most forsaken hours of the night. What bothers me is that many of the people that I regretted picking up were in the midst of others who were hailing at the time, beating them out for the privilege of testing my patience.

Thankfully, that’s the only saving grace from these horror stories. As so many people do with the dating scene in New York, it’s easy to dump someone and move onto the next one when it comes to fares. For every person I’ve wanted to toss, there have been scores that I’ve wanted to have for an extended period of time. There’s nothing like talking economics with a financial whiz, current events with a city government employee, or hearing a designer, planner, or scientist talk about what he or she is working on and when the project will be complete. It’s hard enough to concentrate on the street ahead of me sometimes but it just be just as difficult to find out as much as possible from a fascinating passenger in a 5-minute span, choosing what I want to ask and soaking up as much as I can from what the person is saying. If Einstein was a cabdriver, even he’d be amazed at how quick most fares went while the few stinkers seemed to take up a disproportionally long time to resolve.

When I first started, I had no idea that so many New Yorkers would brighten up my day week in and week out. I figured that half would be decent to take to their destination and that I’d be able to stomach the rest. Two weeks in, I knew that 85% of them were a pleasure to deal with, 10% were rough, but bearable, and that 5% needed a real good smack where it counted. All these months later, that ratio hasn’t changed; only the way I’ve dealt with them has.

Last Saturday was one that seemed relatively typical for the summer. The air was on most of the night, lots of locals were out on vacation, and tourists could be found everywhere until the wee hours of the morning. If you consider the bridge and tunnel type to be one of them, then this is how one of them proceeded to treat me:

“Hey there, where to?”

“Yo, I’m going back to New Jersey. I just saw the new Batman movie!”

“Okay, where in Jersey?”

“I’ll give you $100, look my name is even Bruce Wayne! Hold my Red Bull for me…”

“Um…”

“I’m serious! Where’s the light in this thing?”

“Where in New Jersey are you heading home to? I have to enter it in before we pull out…”

“I’m Bruce Wayne, you have to take me!”

“Here, take your drink and…”

“I’ll give you $200, just take me home.”

“Sorry Bruce.”

“What?”

“Get out.”

“But I…”

“GET OUT!”

“Okay, okay!”

Needless to say, I never figured out if Bruce, his Red Bull, or his teenage friends ever successfully made it out of Gotham. The real hero of the night had other people to help home, even if his crusade was only for sanity in a maddening city.

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2 thoughts on “Get out

  1. Captain Black Turban says:

    OMG! As a cab driver first rule is you NEVER (unless if certain deadlock traffic awaits you) refuse a Jersey fare. They’re painless (even if the passenger isn’t); and if you treat them like Jersey Shore they’ll tip over the Jersey rated fare (which isn’t bad.)

    SEND THEM TO ME!!!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      That was the first one I rejected and trust me, I don’t turn them down. Some of my best nights involved a fare back to my home state but my b.s. detector had a feeling that this kid didn’t have the money and was too drunk to pay the amount he promised me.

      Suicide is painless too but that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of it. One thing I’ve learned from this job is to trust my gut and I’ll take that over any potential windfall, no matter the cost.

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