February 19, 2007

Taxi Ride

I've taken a lot of taxi's in my life. I lived in Brooklyn for 7 years on the G train, and at only four cars long and an infrequent schedule, the train that doesn't even run into Manhattan dictated a cab home late at night (at least, once I made enough money to remotely afford it). Besides, I got tired of falling asleep on the L train.

Before that, I lived in Syracuse with a mother who had a lot of doctor's appointments, and not being a driver herself until I was a teenager (and my father working all day and night at two jobs), my mother hauled my sister and me around in a lot of taxis (the kind you have to call for). Even during my semester abroad in London, I gave in to the calls of "taxi, minicab" on the street after clubbing it now and then, when I was too tired or too drunk for the night bus. Sometimes it was more of an adventure than a double decker bus careening through crooked streets - I took a minicab once when I was lost, despite the fact that the driver chugged a bottle of beer before getting behind the wheel.

Lately I've taken to cabbing it to work nearly every day - I figure getting a little extra sleep is worth the $8 it costs me. Imagine if you could buy sleep.

On Friday I actually tried to avoid a cab in the snowstorm aftermath, but I couldn't get to the Airtrain because of a disruption in service on the E train, so I eventually caught one that was brave enough to drive me to Kennedy. As I mentioned in my previous blog, it was a strange miracle because Leonidas, the cab driver I got, has revealed himself as some kind of Taxi & Limousine Commission Guardian Angel to me - not only rescuing me on Friday, but also once before.

When I was living in Greenpoint, I would often make my way to the corner of Delancey and Essex on the Lower East Side because it was the closest point to the Williamsburg Bridge to catch a cab (and because there's an all night pizza place and McDonald's there). One late night years ago, I was standing on that corner in the middle of an unmitigated blizzard, no cabs, no B39 bus. Finally, one lone cab pulled slowly up and took me all the way home - across the Manhattan Bridge, with Willy B unpassable from snow, and through a million back roads I would've never been able to navigate myself.

My trip with Leonidas to JFK this weekend was similar - he took Queensborough Bridge which is common enough, and then he snaked his way through the Queens streets to Woodhaven which he took practically the entire way to the airport. Along the way we discovered that we had indeed shared a cab ride before, both recalling details of it. I particularly remembered him because during our first ride, he kept asking me, "Are you sure you are not Greek?!"

Of course, getting the same cab driver twice (or the same passenger who actually remembers you) never happens in New York. It seems like the kind of thing that would make you say, "Only in New York..." but it's not true. And the anomaly of it all makes me love taking cabs even more. It makes up for all the drivers who have gotten me lost on the way to Greenpoint, refused to take me to Greenpoint, and generally harrassed me and yelled at me for falling asleep.

Tori Amos - "Taxi Ride"

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