I was talking the other day to an acquaintance of mine at a local market, after I wheeled into a parking spot in my taxi. After the usual back and forth check up on each others families, he started asking questions about my car as he softly kicked my front bumper. Besides the kick, he said a few things that I purposefully neglected to tell him pissed me off. More often than not, most people pass off my choice to drive around in this old retired New York City cab as either interesting or eclectic at best. Deep down, it doesn't really matter to me and I know it doesn’t really matter to anyone else; I drive it because I love it – not because I expect others to love it. However, every now and then, some people say some of the dumbest things to me about the car, which no matter how it comes out, means one thing – which is that they think it’s a great big piece of harvested dog dung. So okay, I get it, the car isn’t for everyone. But acoustic guitars aren’t for me. Neither is football. Nor do I particularly care for escargot – I also hate sand in my toes and, lately - people in general. BUT, if it is something you very clearly like, I am not going to turn the switch to the "gonna tell it like it is" and state to your face that I don't think you should them. I might think it, but – I’m not going to judge you for it.
So – besides the offensive brush of foot to bumper - a common theme here was mentioned by him…..the first thing he said, was the color was atrocious, and asked why I don't paint it (heard that one already a THOUSAND times). Next, was the mileage was so high that why don’t I sell it for parts (okay that was a new one). Third, it must be disgusting to sit in - and I couldn't pay him enough to sit in it (heard it a few times, and know it has been thought of a lot).
I’ve touched on these points before in my write-up http://www.travelsinacab.com/1/post/2012/03/top-5-perils-of-owning-a-retired-nyc-taxi.html. In short, 1.) I like the yellow and the markings. It is the car’s identity. Without them, it is just another unmarked looking cop car, albeit a tad longer. I have a brand new unmarked cruiser for work in the garage – so no fun there (at least for me). 2.) The mileage is high indeed, but it runs great and I don’t care if the engine blows sky high – I’ll rebuild it if I have to – I am never ever going to give up on this car – and the more people verbally bitch slap it, the more I love it. What type of fool would buy a car, register and title it only to sell it for parts? LOL. Idiot. And disgusting? It is no more disgusting than a park bench, or a booth at McDonalds – it’s just a car and it was no more filthy than any family minivan I’ve poked my head into through the years. I’ve ridden in a lot of NYC Taxi’s, and don’t recall ever being in one that was offensively gross. I wanted to tell this friend of mine his breath and personality offended me, but – since I have COUTH, I didn’t.
Let me put it this way. In the world of automobile enthusiasts, it is true my car is not yet old enough to be categorized as anything remarkably amazing. That is fine with me; I’m not looking to display it anywhere (although some places do, like the store in Times Square, Forever 21 has one in the downstairs floor. I don’t see any Subaru Outbacks on display anywhere).
But what it does have, that no other car on the planet has, is STREET CRED. That’s right – it has respect, and I know it. When you pass a NYC Taxi outside of its home in New York, you know this is a car that has done, seen and heard it all. If cars could talk….. There cannot possibly be another car on this planet that has a harder life than a taxi - especially a NYC Taxi. Hard starts – hard stops – hard corners - all piloted by overworked, underpaid and irritable drivers. All day, every day. Every week, month and year…..year after year (although police cruisers do share some of the same work ethic as it's taxi brethren). My taxi has a very distinct honor that is bestowed upon it. According to the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission records, 8D69 was the oldest taxi in New York City from September to October in 2011. It is the last 2006 model year to ever operate as a taxi in New York City. 8D69 was a taxi from February of 2006 until October of 2011 – almost 6 years total, which is past the limitations of NYC TLC’s rules of 5 years or less if owner operated (an extension was filed and granted for it).
I am quite certain in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, that any person who owned a former Checker went through the same litany of remarks I go through. Very likely, most people ended up deep sixing the cars after due time. Now – here it is in 2012 – somebody count how many NYC Checker’s are around. Not very many – and the one’s that are, grace magazines and are a hit at auctions. Here is another challenge – somebody find me a 1994 Chevy Caprice NYC Taxi. How about one of the thousands of Dodge Diplomats/Plymouth Gran Fury’s from the 80’s. How about just a plain old 10 year old 2002 Crown Victoria stretched NYC Taxi. GOOD LUCK.
The bottom line is this. I love my car. I loved it the minute I saw it for sale. I’ve traveled to a lot of places in it that I am 100% sure it would not have cruised into if I had not bought it. I don’t buy things I don’t like. I also don’t make websites or write blogs about things I don’t like. And likewise, I don't insult others for things THEY like. So here is my deal. You let me like the things I like and I'll to do the same. Deal? PERFECT.
True Story. A little pointless to anyone but myself....but true nonetheless. You see, I met another taxi. My taxi. No, not the one and only 8D69 that I have now, but one I will have in the future; my own personal taxi of tomorrow. It’s fate. It’s Kismet. It’s…..it’s……BEAUTIFUL. This past weekend, I walked down 157th Street in Harlem to the no man’s land portion of Broadway to hail a cab to take me all the way down to Pier 36 on the lower east side. As I crossed Broadway to align myself with southbound traffic for a hail, I noticed a rather shiny looking Crown Victoria waiting at the stop light. I think it winked at me….you know, like when digital editors place a twinkle on someone’s teeth as they smile with thumbs up with the little pling type noise. As I turned myself to hail this cab, I noticed the driver was already preparing himself to cut off the car to his right and pick me up. As it did, I did as I usually do, and made a mental note of its medallion number, 7H22. My son and I climbed in and I told the driver where we needed to go. Unlike most assholes that probably climb into his car, I didn’t expect him to be a computer program and know exactly where Pier 36 and Montgomery Street was, so after some messing around on his GPS, he found his route, gave her the gun and off we went.
Sitting in the back of the cab, I noticed it appeared to be brand new. I chummed up to the driver and asked him if the car was the last of the 2011 Crown Vic’s to which he stated it was. We chatted for some time and I explained to him my affinity for old NYC Taxi Cabs, to which he politely laughed at, and expressed either feigned or genuine interest. He asked me to write down my website’s address so he could check it out in a little book he had with other tidbits of info that was important to him. Anyhow, I asked him how many miles were on the car and he told me nearly 110,000 miles. He told me he was leasing the medallion and owned the car himself and leases it to another driver so it is constantly on the go 24/7. I asked him what he would do with the car at the end of its taxi life and he said either junk it or sell it, and apologized that he didn’t hold the same emotional value towards them that I did. I joked with the driver his plans to junk it didn’t set well with me, but that the selling part did. I told him he absolutely MUST sell me the car when he would be through with it and reiterated I was dead serious. Like rotting, festering, oozing in the ground dead body serious. He told me he would and started to warm up to the idea that his car could retire in style with a psycho in Vermont and conceded it would be sort of neat in later years to know it was still in existence and maybe see it again. We continued yakking away as he absolutely flew down the FDR – yeehaw! When we arrived at my destination, he asked for my contact info and said he would definitely keep my info in his little book he had for the future. After I paid my fare and tip, I told him I wanted to take a snap of his cab, to which he heartily agreed to, and actually made a new fare that got in after me wait until I gave him a thumbs up. Nice guy – I was psyched!
Now….could it have been a line of bullshit? Maybe. Did he even remember me by the end of the day? Probably not. But….get this. Later on in the day, my son Max and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art off 5th Avenue for something to do. When we were through, we went outside and were hanging around. As I was messing around on my phone, my son proclaimed “Hey dad…look, its 7H22!” ß--(what an awesome son). I looked up, and there before us, glimmering under the sun with its shiny lava yellow paint, was indeed, 7H22. Of all the roads and streets, and of all the 13,287 cabs roaming around, there before us was the taxi we road in earlier. MY taxi. Like a scene out of American Graffiti, where Richard Dreyfuss goes after Suzanne Somers in the always elusive white Ford Thunderbird, I ran to the light to give the guy a wave; unfortunately, the light turned green and he hammered the gas. I was able to snap a photo real quick of it driving away.
Now uh, excuuuuuse me, but – that is pretty cool. If you click on the pic, it should enlarge enough to see the plate. Now...if I have to camp out at this guy’s house and stalk him, I will own this car! It will be MY Taxi of Tomorrow. Of course, 8D69 takes precedence in my life and always will, but it can’t hurt to have a garage mate can it?
This weekend I actually met quite a few really neat cab drivers. There was one in particular, Amr Masoud, an Egyptian fellow that my son misheard to mean that his name was Jepson...not "Egyptian". This guy….lol – what a trip. I didn’t want the cab ride to end; he was that fantastic. Just a real honest to goodness hardworking father of two little ones, bombing around NYC 12 hours a day trying to keep his head above water. I can’t explain it any further than to simply say he was a super nice guy – and, naturally, I liked him even more that he thought my travels in 8D69 was neat.
Then there was another older guy in what I thought was a 2011 Crown Victoria; however, it was a 2008 – it was just superdee duper clean. Nice guy - and quite a careful driver. He is the only driver I have been with that actually drives at a reasonable speed. Many times I have had conversations about taxi's with drivers, and every one of them complain how it costs $50 to fill up a crown vic versus $25 to fill up a hybrid. These same drivers are the ones when the light turns green, floor it to race to the next red light 100 feet away - all day, all night.....vroom brake. Vroom brake. Vroom brake. Or, when dropping me off, floor it to merge back onto the street. It is NO WONDER you spend so much on fuel! Anyhow - it is none of my beeswax, so....blabbity blah, below is the 2008 car - looks like new. The guy said it had to retire in a few months and would be painting it and using it as a personal car. Kudos my good sir!.
On Sunday, I was riding my bike up the Avenue of America’s, when my heart wept for a fellow Crown Victoria, medallion 5N96, as it sat with its underwear down/hood up and on display for all the muckety mucks to point and laugh at. I rolled up to it on my bike, and asked the driver if I could help. He told me he thought it was electrical, as he went to start it and it wouldn’t even turn over and told me I could take a look see if I wanted. If I wanted? Are you kidding me? I almost jumped up on a building and did a swan dive into this thing. I reefed around in its nasty oily engine compartment and determined there were two issues with this old Ford. First, its battery terminals were loose and second, a loose wire to the starter relay. A twist here, a bang there – and R R R R R VarOOOOM…..my roadside surgery was a success! I didn’t even mind having the dingy grease all over my fingers….I was proud to wear the bloody residue of a fellow NYC Taxi Crown Victoria. Happy Motoring my new friend! Happy Motoring.
On Friday night, I took a cab and wow....this guy was whacked out of his mind. I don’t think he realized I had a young man (my 16 year old son) with me, as he talked for 50 streets about the size of his dick and how many women he has stuck it in. I was shocked when at one point, he turned onto Christopher Street and stopped his cab in front of two woman hailing cabs – when he rolled down his window and yelled “heya baby, you a wanta my bigga sausage?!”…before spinning his tires and racing down the street. Yeah…uh…that was different. I did NOT tell him about my website! Lol.
Lastly, I stopped at one of my fav shops in Queens and another in the Bronx to say hello to the assorted pieces and parts of cabs that once plied the streets of New York. Always a good time here and nice folks that seem to find me interesting enough to wander around as I need/want!
What was the point of this blog? None. Absolutely none - except to document the fact that 7H22 WILL be in my stable someday. That is pretty much it. Thanks for reading - !
This section of the site is not specific to my taxi travels. They are not really rants either. It is more of a space for me to simply raise awareness to topics that either inspire or frustrate me as an individual.