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Park Slope Taxi Tales, Part Three

Image via Flickr/JGNYThis is the third and final installment of a three-part series on my time driving a taxi out of the garage on 4th Avenue in Park Slope. READ PART ONE HERE and PART TWO HERE.

When you tell people you drove a cab for six months, they all pretty much want to know the same things. Here's a rundown of the most frequently asked questions (I promise I won’t mention urinating this time):

1)     How much of the fare do you get to keep? All of it. Most guys lease the car for 12 hour shifts. So you pay one big fee at the beginning or end of day. Roughly $100. Then anything you make in the car is yours.

2)     How much money a day do you make? Cab drivers hate this question. It varies wildly. You could make up to $200 profit on your day. The number could be a lot lower though. I made $50 one day. That’s $4 an hour.

3)     What’s the deal with medallions? Every NYC Taxi yellow cab needs a medallion in the hood. People own these medallions. Sometimes actual drivers. However, they are worth over a million dollars now. So they are usually part of large fleets. 11,000 were issued in the 1930’s and that number didn’t change until 2004. When a car breaks down the medallion is taken out and put in a new one.

4)     Why don’t cars go to Brooklyn? Cars don’t go to outer boroughs for three reasons. First, they aren’t as densely populated as Manhattan. So it’s harder to find a new fare. Second, the lower income neighborhoods are in the outer boroughs. They generally don’t tip as well or sometimes at all. Finally, almost all violence against cab drivers happen in the outer boroughs. There is a neighborhood in the Bronx they tell you in taxi school never to go to. “It’s not worth dying over.”

5)     Grossest thing you’ve ever had to clean up in your cab? I have no sense of smell and one day a person’s jungle juice jug tipped over in my back seat. They didn’t tell me. All the guys at the garage had a good laugh because my car smelled so bad when I came back.

6)     Did anybody ever throw up in your car? Nope. I worked day shifts. One guy almost did, but I got him out just in time.

7)     Anybody ever bang in your car? Again, day shift. Although sometimes I’d start around 4:30 so I’d get fares leaving bars. A guy got blown in the back seat once. No idea if he finished though.

8)     Why do you drive like such assholes? I think that so many yellow cabs are on the road that you’re bound to see a few driving crazy. Then it’s easy to assume they all do. For the ones that are out of control though I addressed it in Part 2. There are almost no consequences for getting into an accident while working.

9)     What’s the best experience you ever had driving? I drove a guy past the McGraw Hill building and I told him I had interned there. And he said “Cab drivers have to intern?” That was silly but with up to 30 strangers a day getting in a car with me I had a lot of interesting conversations. It was an unpleasant 6 months, but when I think about all the stories I heard, I look back on the experience fondly. 

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