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.
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.