So, I was in The Big Apple over the weekend for the annual Book Expo, and I made the lethal mistake of trying to get a cab in front of the Javits Convention Center on a Friday at 4:30 in the afternoon.
My feet were killing me from walking 3,000 miles up and down the aisles making sure I saw every exhibitor and scoffing up every freebie giveaway book and book bag in the joint. So it was with a sinking heart as I watched the first of 2,000 cabs fly by me at 60m.p.h…without so much as a glance my way. I tried waving with one hand, then flapping both hands, then changing corners, then risking my life by stepping off the curb dangerously close to oncoming traffic—all for naught. I briefly entertained the idea of stripping down to nothing but my thong and high heels but then quickly realized that at my age, I’d have to wait at least a month…maybe forever.
After 40 minutes, success! A cab crossed four lanes narrowly missing two bikers on city rentals, a pedi-cycle, a sanitation truck, and four other cabs all jockeying for a head start at the stoplight. I skipped happily over to the cabbie’s open window, but my elation was quickly dashed when I saw the look on his face—he had the look of a man who had been sitting on severe hemorrhoids all day on a 112 degree pleather seat. When I inquired if he could take me to 58th and 1st, his pained expression got much worse–like his hemorrhoids had spontaneously expanded 4 inches in diameter. Also, little did I realize that I had to be pre-qualified before he accepted me as a fare. Here’s the deal:
#1. You must have cash. Credit cards are about as welcome in this city as bedbugs.
#2. Your destination must not be too close or too far away and positively not in streets where there’s major construction going on. Fugghedaboudit—that means no place.
I might just as well of said I needed to be driven to Whitefish, Montana, because he refused to take me citing various issues like traffic implosion, hazardous construction, ethnic street parades, pot-holes, heartburn, and one way streets. My first reaction was to say “Excuuuse me, but isn’t your job driving fares to where they want to go?” But judging from the look on his face, I chose a more dignified way of dealing with the situation… begging. “Puleeze, my feet are on fire and I can’t carry these bags of book booty one step more before I collapse.”
But that didn’t work so I tried plea bargaining. “Okay, how about if you let me off on 3rd and 56th to avoid the U-turn and the bridge construction?” He thought for a minute, then said, “Okay, get in.”
We sped across town, me holding on to the strap by the window for dear life, as we lurched and careened like a bucking bronco for the next 30 blocks. I closed my eyes down to slits as I tried not to watch the impending massacre of any one of a dozen guys on bicycles and skateboards darting around us navigating through traffic. My knuckles were whiter than they’d get on a cross country flight where I’m forced to sit next to a guy with a suspicious looking briefcase on his lap the whole way. But in spite of it all, I was very grateful to be off my feet. In fact, I was so beholden to the cabbie that at the end of the ride as I forked over the $25 highway robbery fare, I considered throwing in my IRA as the tip.