This blog is not one of my travel ones as found below - I’m planning on another trip in a couple of weeks to Cape Cod and Rhode Island, but in the meantime, I thought I would write a top 5 list of FAQ/Considerations as applied to owning a former NYC Taxi.
Now, IF….and I am sure that is a very BIG IF, for some reason my little website inspires you to take that leap of faith into the waiting clutches of a retired NYC Taxi, there are a few things you should know, based on my experience. And....if you do - welcome to the club….a greasy thumb club for gentlemen and gentlewomen. It is an exclusive club reserved for only those with astute tastes and a love of being comfortable with themselves, as ownership comes with certain perils. In this club, when we roll up to a stoplight and ask people for mustard, we ask for French‘s, not Grey Poupon. In this club, we drink tap water from lead pipes and eat goldfish instead of haddock. So, without further ado, here are the perils. You ready for them? Okay:
1.) People think you’re weird as hell if you own one. Like out of your mind weird. And even more weird if you have a website about it. People love to mock and express some pseudo humor about it; unfortunately, it is the kind of humor that isn't very clever. For such individuals, they either think the cars are nasty disgusting germ pits, or that they are simply a symbol of the downtrodden and poor. People who do not understand modern day NYC likely conjure up images of 1970’s/80’s burned out Harlem, which simply doesn’t exist anymore. Personally, I don’t really care what anyone thinks, but if you’re the ilk that does, this ‘issue’ of ownership takes spot #1 in the ‘things to consider’. I’ve had people say right to my face they wouldn’t even want to sit in it, which is weird, because they would be the first ones to hail a NYC Taxi if they were in NYC. Just because it is retired doesn’t mean they shovel human feces into it or have hot dog burping contests in it before kicking it out of service. But…be prepared for snootiness. I get it’s not for everyone, I really do, but, well….what to do. Even the fact I have a website about it some people sort of scoff at. I don’t know why - it’s just a minor blip in my day as a form of expression in which I spend some spare time on - creating websites in 2012 is really not an unusual thing. Maybe people think I should watch football instead? I don’t know.
2.) Like I’ve mentioned above with people thinking they are nasty, disgusting germ pits, well.....actually......they ARE! There is filth, grime, scrapes and discarded fingernails in every crevice of it’s interior (I jest….I did not find any fingernails in my car…but it WAS as dirty as a beggar‘s teeth). I thought at one point I would need a belt sander to scrape the cemented sinus excretions off the partition. Sure, they get a weekly application of armor all when in service, but - well, I think you know what I mean. Thousands of people ride in these things and not everyone who uses cabs works on Wall Street or live in the Dakota on Central Park West. The average fare in NYC is roughly 2.7 miles. At 310,000 miles (the mileage of my car at retirement), you can do the mental math to understand how many people sat in my car. Underneath the back seat of my car were numerous candy wrappers, notes, receipts, plane tickets, a jack knife, two cell phones, personal items and enough spare change to buy a tank of gas. If you end up buying one, expect to spend a considerable amount of time with some elbow grease in cleaning. As an aside, inside of the cab was a ton of old fare receipts. One of the nice things about the old fare receipts, is the driver's hack license number, which is searchable on the NYC TL&C site, Naturally, I did so, got a name....and after a little internet sleuthing, learned he was interviewed by Corey Kilgannon of the NY Times in July of 2011 about driving through Central Park, in which an attached video was included (I'll respect the driver's privacy by keeping his name out of it). I watched the video -
(http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/the-guilty-pleasure-of-a-drive-through-central-park/?scp=1&sq=driving%20a%20car%20in%20central%20park&st=cse) and well well well.....what do you know, there is 8D69. The same four "sunny citrus" trees positioned on the partition, the wire to the license holder behind the head and the wrinkles on the seat belt. Out of ALL the cabs in NYC....I actually got a video of mine from the NY Times. Here is the short clip of 8D69 at second .33 :
A comparison pic of my cockpit
3.) They are high and hard miles. Yes, they are inspected every three months. But, by the time they are retired, they are TIRED. Mechanical issues become chronic at times and without much warning. One day, you might hear a squeak or rattle. By the next day, it will be a shriek and a gallon of gear lube pouring out of it. Little things go on this car....like for instance, I’ve never had to replace a body bushing on a car….I mean really….who does that? Well, NYC Taxi’s suffer from this requirement at times…lots of bouncing and jouncing on those streets create a lot of metal fatigue and stress. These are vehicles that for the most part, have never really had an ‘owner’ per se. They are money makers - no more, no less; they mean nothing to the owners of them. Once their careers are over in the Big Apple, they go from money makers, to money wasters - unless of course the vehicle is bought by a nutcase like me. I've had to do a lot of work to this car - and there is no doubt in my mind given the mileage and history, I am very likely the ONLY one who would invest the time and money into it. From bushings, to seals, to rear axle bearings....you name it, my hands have touched it. And if they haven't touched it, my checkbook has. Gotta be dedicated and certifiable to be in this club - seriously.
4.) If you live in a place anything like where I live, you probably know there are some people out there who are uh….how do I say…..?….not too bright. I have heard NUMEROUS times, and have even been asked once, that/if my car is an ‘undercover’ police car. Obviously, anyone who thinks driving a bright yellow NYC Taxi around in Vermont or any other place other than NYC is an effective ‘go like the wind’ undercover car, is an idiot. But alas, it is true, you may experience such paranoia and dum dummery in your particular locale. However, if you’re an attention whore, this kind of car might be for you. Staring, waves, picture taking, parking lot conversations and the occasional road raged person who hates that you are driving an old cab, are all things you will experience if you choose to drive an old NYC Taxi. I’ve also had the local taxi guy in my town giving me prying evil eyes as we pass each other. He called our local police chief and complained a NYC Taxi company was illegally taking fares and taking food out of his mouth. I did end up speaking with the local taxi owner at one point, and made peace with him with the assurance that I was not taking fares at anytime.
5.) Besides “Why” being the number one asked question of ownership, the second most asked question is “Why don’t you paint it?”. Maybe if you join this exclusive club and end up owning one you will - and that is okay. But me? I won’t. I like it the way it is - that is what makes it unique. It is a NYC Taxi, why on earth would I change it’s entire personality and make it look like one of the other 50 old police cruisers roaming around my town. No thanks. I’ll stick to yellow, but of course, I always appreciate the rude remarks from others. It is important to note, that the design on this cab, is not the design that is used any longer - from the checkering to the door decal. No different than an antique Checker that still retains it's original design. Another segue regarding paint color, is….”isn’t it illegal to have those markings on it?”. Quick answer is “No”. There are no regulations in the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission codes that requires decal removal upon sale, at least that I could find in the 800,000 pages of rules and regs. And even if there were, as stated, this design is no longer even used. It’s not an emergency vehicle (like a police car). It’s just an old cab. In fact, I met someone who said he was one of the deputy commissioners of the NYC TL & C here in Vermont a month or so ago. He followed me into the parking lot of the VT Country Store Outlet on his way home from leaving a ski resort, and was thrilled to death to see the car. Even had his wife take his picture next to the car with a covered bridge in the background. She didn't seem as impressed or enthusiastic as he was. Nice guy though.
So - while I realize most people I personally know locally would not consider EVER having one of these exquisite automobiles, I do know of many others who DO actually like the idea of it. And for those that do, well, thus concludes the five to things to consider if you have ever thought of buying and driving an old NYC Taxi.