After questioning just two days ago my frequent posts about the weather, I will try very hard today not to write about, well, the weather. Suffice it to say, as all NYers already know, it has been precipitating all day. I say precipitating, because I cannot seem to make up my mind as to whether to call it snow or rain. Neither, it appears, have the storm clouds.
I will talk instead about cabs. Cabs are an iconic New York image, so much so, that their bright yellow forms have been sneaking their way into several of my recent images (see The Corner, or Cafeteria– in both those cases this was not by accident, I specifically waited for the car going by to be a cab). Cabs are one of those conveniences that are so taken for granted, all we talk about is their flaws: they could be cheaper, safer, smell less, there whenever we need them, not try to run me down as a pedestrian, learn to drive in the snow (an apt choice for today..oops there I go again!), etc…. Anyone who has lived in a community with less cabs, or even none, however, will appreciate the abundance, relative affordability and extreme convenience of the NY taxi cab. They are not just a way to get around, they are a way of life. Knowing you can always find a cab (pretty much), influences how I spend and plan my nights. Recently, while on vacation, I was out and drinking happily when I remembered I had to get home. We had taken the car, and me and the other potential driver were in no shape to drive it. In New York I never think about how I’m going to get home, just when, and this is a wonderful thing.
Since I have lived here long enough to be somewhat of a NYer, please note the “somewhat” you long-time residents, I have learned a thing or two about cabs. I also know there are quite a few non NYers reading this, and so I will impart some of this wisdom to you.
1- Cab 101- the cab is available only if the light on the dome on top is on. Yes, this may seem basic, but I have seen more tourists go into screaming conniption fits at occupied cabs, than I can count. If only the two outside lights on the dome are lit, the cab is off duty (maybe). I say maybe because sometimes they will stop for you if 1- you look nice, 2- you look like you are going somewhere on their route home, and 3- they really weren’t off-duty and are lying about this for a number of possible reasons.
2-Yes, you are safe. The cabs will drive aggressively, but 99% of the time they know what they are doing. One exception to this is in snow, which is infrequent enough in NY that the drivers never seem to learn how to handle it. Also, if the cab does something extremely terrifying just before it gets to you, don’t get in. I once entered a cab, which had pulled an illegal and insane U-turn to pick me up, this was a mistake.
3- Yes, there are female drivers. In my two and a half years here, and several cab rides, I have had 2.
4- Don’t count on getting a cab at 5pm in rush hour. Once, after recently arriving in the city, I decided to take a cab right at 5pm from Union Square. I was exhausted, could barely walk, but decided to pop into Pet-Co, buy a 40lb bag of cat litter, and then just jump in a cab. The cab never came. Every single corner was several people deep, all ready to fight to the death should an available cab appear. I dragged the litter several blocks, hoping for better luck, and was about to ditch it, when a cab came along. He explained to me that most cabs go off duty at 5pm. I was lucky, he was just starting his shift and I was his first fare. It was now 5.40.
5- Technology is both good and bad. All cabs are now equipped with the credit card devices and most of them work. Drivers are required to tell you if it’s not working and they are now less likely to yell at you for actually using it. The little TV, however, is the devil. Turn it off, and everyone involved will be happier.
Today’s photo was taken from my building this morning, when the precipitation was definitely rain and the cabs were plowing through it. Today will be a Reminder Run only in the sense that it will remind me of how much I hate treadmills- sadly.