Everyone who has ever lived in New York, and most who have ever spent a weekend here, have some sort of crazy cab story. Twice in two weeks this past year I had cab drivers knowingly drive the wrong way down one way streets; a cab driver once told me how great I smelled and then went on to tell me that driving a cab was something he did to supplement his income as some sort of business owner and then told me again how great I smelled; and once I was in a cab that hopped the curb on the west side highway after I suggested maybe the driver wanted to drive closer to the speed limit. The day a good friend told me she almost lost it trying to get a cab in the rain, I thought I had heard the craziest of cab stories. As the story goes, a woman was about to be the fifth person to take a cab that was rightfully for my friend* and my friend ran up to her and said “If you take this cab, I will effing hurt you.” My friend got the cab and we all got a good laugh (I am sure the other woman is still shaking, but this is how serious things can get in the rain when people steal cabs). I didn’t think it could get any more ridiculous. And then I took a cab to JFK very early on a Saturday morning in October.
Somehow, the driver managed to get completely lost and, because I have never had to drive to the airport in NYC, I was unable to help him find the way (but I did know he was lost). By the time we got to the airport, I was cutting it close to making my flight, even with all the extra time I always leave myself. When the total fare amount came up on the screen, I selected credit card as my payment of choice (as my friends know all too well, I never carry cash and this has only become worse now that cabs have to accept credit). And then the screen went blank and I couldn’t do anything. When I asked the cab driver to reset the machine, he told me the machine was fine and my card was broken. I tried another card and the same thing happened. The cab driver then started yelling at me telling me I had to pay. I told him I would happily pay but I didn’t have any cash and was about to miss my flight. He called another driver over and this other driver confirmed the machine did not work, but my driver was not convinced and continued yelling. I calmly asked for his contact information in order to send him the money and offered to give him my business card, but he was having none of it and continued to scream at me. I said “Sir, I am willing to pay you, but your machine is not working and you won’t give me your information so I am going to get out of the cab and get my flight.” I then started getting out of the cab and the driver yelled some more. He was yelling so much that a traffic cop came over and I felt relieved that someone was going to help me (I am not being a wimp here, this guy was really screaming at me and it was frightening). It turned out the traffic cop was just coming for entertainment purposes. Apparently he only got involved in traffic related business of which there was none, so he was free to watch the show that is my life. After enjoying a few minutes of the yelling, the traffic cop told me there was an ATM just inside the sliding doors. I told the driver he could come with me and I would get cash to pay for the cab. He then tried to block my way as I tried to go to the ATM and, of course, continued to scream at me as we walked together to the ATM. The screaming continued while I was at the ATM and I figured it was making me nervous because I was having trouble getting it to work. The yelling was so intense that the handsome Australian man in line behind me twice told the driver to stop talking to a lady** like that. After three attempts, I asked the handsome Australian man to try the machine and he had no luck either. At this point, I was fairly certain I was missing my flight and maybe going to get arrested (I did tell the driver at some point to “go ahead and call the cops, but I am getting on that plane!”). Then the strangest thing happened, the handsome Australian man took out the largest roll of cash ever*** and asked me how much money I needed. I thanked him profusely, told him how much I needed and insisted he take my business card (even though he said repeatedly he did not want repayment). He then gave the cab driver the money (and I then put it all together to realize this guy did not need the ATM but had come over to help me). After witnessing this act of kindness, one might think the cab driver’s heart would soften or he would at least go on his way. One would be wrong. The cab driver told the handsome Australian he still owed fifty cents, as if the handsome Australian were actually responsible for paying the fare. The Australian gave him one more dollar and then started giving him the what-for about talking to a lady like that. After noticing the Australian was wearing a wedding ring and could not be my future husband, I ran to security and made my flight.**** The plane took off with my faith in New Yorkers (or handsome Australian men in New York) restored.
And this is why I took the subway home this Sunday night after a family dinner, even though I was carrying a big bag with my workout clothes and a large box of wine glasses. I knew the subway would take my card, know the way to my destination and only yell at me to announce the next stop.
*I am withholding her name to protect her.
**Me, a lady!
***Probably not "ever", but you get the point.
****Of course, a bunch of other things went close to wrong – the security line was miles long, my gate had changed without me knowing it and so when I got to the empty gate I assumed I had missed the flight that was actually boarding twenty minutes late three gates down – but I made the flight and including all these details would make the story too long/boring. You are welcome.