There is a traitor in my house. And not just your run of the mill cookie cutter traitor either, this one is also a racist. Yes, dear friends, my poor old taxi 8D69 is the victim of a hate crime. Well, not really a crime, but it has been spoken ill of, and all because of it's color. Shameful. Let me explain. You see, this past weekend, I was planning on driving the taxi on a road trip through Boston and then to the southern tip of Rhode Island to complete Stage 1 of 8D69's travels, by rolling through all of New England. My plans were initially foiled by an alarming pop pop popping noise emanating from my left rear wheel, which always followed with a nasty black puddle of fluid wherever the car parked. A closer examination revealed my axle shaft, after having made over 800 zillion revolutions decided to say enough is enough. In a nutshell, my rear wheel bearing and seal failed. BUT - I was able to purchase an offset bearing, and after re-filling the rear end with 3 quarts of fresh smelly gear lube oil (at $24 a quart), my trusty friend was back on the streets. So - good to go, right? Wrong *que in reality show shocked sound while focusing on picture of an evil looking woman*.....that is to say - my darling fiance.
So....car is fixed - and it is off to Boston I say - and inform my darling and dear wife to be, Orianna, that the taxi would be the transportation of choice. Now, you know the noise a balloon makes when you blow it up and then let it go as it zig zags, straddles and strafes imaginary walls in a room until it runs out of air? Well - that is what one would have heard if they were around when I informed Orianna of my plan. Orianna is not a fan of my cab. Nope. Not at all. In fact, I think it is safe to say she absolutely despises it. Orianna is Dominican. She was born in Santo Domingo but moved to Harlem in NYC when she was seven. She came here not knowing a lick of English and had a tough time integrating into school when she was young. Now that she lives in Vermont, which is statistically the "whitest" state in the U.S., the odds of running into another individual of Dominican descent is, well, low. Because of this, we have discussed that the cab's life shares many similar hardships with her own.
For instance, since my cab's owner and list of drivers were from Pakistan, it stands to reason it has been cursed at in Punjabi and Urdu it's whole life - so when I say 'come on baby start', I mind as well as be talking in Klingon; so if you're into the whole talking to your car bit, well, 8D69's first language is not English, just like Orianna, whose first language is Spanish. Other similarities to Orianna:...it emigrated here from another country (Canada) to live in New York; it moved to a new town with no friends; as a minority it is always stared at and judged because of it's color, AND....when people are up close they are nice and politically correct to it's grille, but stab it in the taillights when not around. So knowing this....you would think Orianna would have a little more in depth feeling of identity for my cab. But alas, she doesn't. Since she grew up in New York, a yellow cab means nothing to her. Well, wait. Actually that isn't true, it does mean something - but it isn't positive. To her, a yellow cab is just some random meaningless blob of metal that doesn't stop for her unless she is wearing high heels. These stories of hers trying to get home from work in mid-town Manhattan have always perplexed me, as I never seem to have a problem hailing a cab. Plus, in my blog links, my NYC cabbie friend, Noah, who also is the author of a great blog - www.nyctaxiphoto.com, recently shared the other day that after working a 12 hour shift, and paying for his daily lease rate for the cab plus gas, he made a profit of $34. $34 in 12 hours. And people expect these guys/gals to kiss our ass when we demand rides in New York?! Ha! Anyways, despite the abysmal pay he received that day, his love of his job, the few interesting people he might meet or things he might see plus pride in his chosen profession keeps him doing what he does. But back to Orianna. I know she will be reading this, and the last thing I want is for her to think for one minute I am going to segue this blog post from her to something else. Oh no no no my sweet Orianna. It is time to pay the piper and let the world know of your traitorous ways.
Now, the day I bought this cab and made the trek home, I stopped at her work with it. She knew I was beyond elated, so she was happy for me; a little surprised to see a NYC Taxi in front of her, but all in all - totally embarrassed. Within the first week of my having the old cab, Orianna announced at 5 pm one evening that she needed a ride to a conference in Burlington, VT, which is well over 2 hours away. My personal car was having issues, so 8D69 swept her off her feet and drove her there without a hitch. One week later, she needed a ride to another conference in Lake Morey. Same situation applied with same successful results. Now, when Orianna NEEDS a ride, it would seem my old cab is good enough for the Obsecrating Obsequious Orianna. But if there are other modes of transportation available, well, lets just say the balloon hissing noises can sometimes turn to POPS and BANGS. Each time I have ever dropped Orianna off someplace in the taxi, it has to be someplace no one can see her get out of it; she is that embarrassed by it.
So anyways, when it came to a trip to Boston, she just wasn't going to have any part of it, at least if I felt like having a functioning agreeable human being to accompany me with for the day that is. I say this half wittingly, but I have been around Orianna enough to know the volatile volcano that can erupt in her Dominican head. It is sort of like Mount St. Helens. Peace, calm and blue skies one minute, and the next....sizzle, crack, KaaaaBOOM - as curious repetitive sounds erupt from her mouth like "Cono Diablo" and "Ay Dios Mio". I choose my battles carefully with her. It's tricky really; unlike my European roots, you can see my face turn red when angry; not so with Orianna - its just rainbows, sprinkles and unicorns one second, and Poltergeist the next. Gotta be on your toes around here. Could I have gotten her into the taxi for a trip to Boston? Sure - I am a master of manipulation. But when I go into battle, it is for life or death, and this battle did not meet that criteria. In this particular Boston scenario, it would have been a battle that could only result in wounds. The kind of wounds you WANT to die from, but in the end, it's prognosis would be a full and complete recovery. I initially told her Boston had plenty of cabs roaming around, so in reality, not many people would even bother to look. People are not driving into Boston to look at cabs (not even me) so since she wasn't a celebrity, no one would bother or care. I told her even if someone did notice, and looked her square in the eyes, she would be forgotten about in roughly 15 seconds. But, I could see the face frown developing, where not just the mouth turns upside down, but the whole face including the jet black hairline. And like a see saw on the playground of death, while the face starts to frown down, the shoulders start to go up.....there is no fight OR flight....it is fight (her) AND flight (me). So, I said bag it and we took my other car. She may have won the battle, but I will win the war.
But there is GOOD news! Once we were there, we drove by Fenway Park. Seeing it for the first time for her up close, she decided indeed it would be a good opportunity to take a photograph of a NYC Taxi in front of Fenway. Sort of stir the chowder pot so to speak, or to tickle the lion's whiskers and then escape before the sneeze turns into a roar. I'm no dummy though. I know why she would agree to this - and it isn't to fuel or otherwise partake in some baseball rivalry. And it isn't to appease her Marvelously Mabsoot Michael either. I think she *likes* the idea of a city rivalry, but has trouble deciding if she is too smart for that, or if it somehow keeps her connected to her "beloved" city of New York. Orianna loves loves loves New York, that is, right up to the minute we get off the 2 miles in 2 hours Cross Bronx "Expressway" into Harlem - then...like Sylvester Stallone in that arm wrestling movie where a switch of the hat equates with the switch of personality; she turns HOOD. It takes approximately 5 seconds at the first stop light to transform this new found sweet country gal into this hard nosed TMZ video. From the banged up gypsy cabs cutting us off, to the guy selling his stolen oranges and Dominican flags in the middle of the road to the chimmichurri trucks slowly sinking into the pavement on Amsterdam Avenue; it just sort of turns the key for a face frown to the "on" position.
Bottom line is this - after having been a prisoner of war this weekend, having poor 8D69 locked in the garage and grounded by the traitorous Orianna, I vow I will no longer back down from her aggressions. This I PROMISE. Read my lips. NO. NEW. TAXES! Seriously though - 8D69 will be hitting Boston and Rhode Island on my next day off. After that, I am rolling south to the land of the sun, where coconuts fall. There is nothing more inspiring to me then to take something that is an underdog, and make it shine like a diamond in the end. Come hell or highwater, after New England is through, I will be starting on Stage 2, which is the entire east coast. I think a good first leg to this end will be a leisurely stroll to Washington D.C. and let it enjoy the green grass of the National Mall for the day while I jet about the Smithsonian. Gas prices are nuts; they are really really really irritating me, as are all the parts I have to buy for this car, so my east coast goal will be in bits and pieces, but I'm not going to stop. Just not going to happen. Unless the engine blows up, that.....might actually make me stop. But not for long. And it will never be the end.
Not so interesting facts:
* Mileage at the moment: 332,000 miles.
* In 94,000 miles, if there was a road to the moon, 8D69 would be arriving back from a round trip.
* If the equator of the earth was paved, 8D69 would have circumvented the globe a few miles shy of 13 times.
* With an average MPG of 14 mpg, my car has burned approximately 23,700 gallons of gas, which equates to
approximately 4.5 tanker trucks of gas.
* With oil change intervals at 3,000 miles, 8D69 has undergone 107 oil changes, which at 5 quarts each is 536 quarts
of oil, which equals 134 gallons. Medium price for a quart of oil is $5.00, which equals $2,683 paid for motor oil.
* If the medium price for gas during it's five years of use was $3.50 a gallon, then roughly $83,000 has been spent on fuel.
* States 8D69 has grazed thus far:
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut,
Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Canada. 1/5 of the country. Baby steps......baby steps.
Stay Tuned for more exciting travels ---------