I was taking a black cab from Park Slope to Greenpoint (both neighborhoods in Brooklyn but a pain in the a** to get to via subway, and I was in a hurry) with my friend Deborah.
The taxi driver was a middle aged, white guy, not the usual demo. We got on the BQU (a highway that connects Brooklyn to Queens) and as we approached Williamsburg (just below Greenpoint) he asked me how to go, as he had no idea.
“Uh, get off at Metropolitan,” I told him. I get confused getting off the highway in Greenpoint but I know it on backroads.
As he exited, I remarked that it would be so much easier if I were driving, as it’s hard to give people directions when you’re not rock-solid sure yourself.
“You wanna drive?” he asked.
“Seriously?” I answered.
He was serious. I got in his seat, Deborah got in the passenger seat, and he got in the back.
“You ladies mind if I smoke?” he asked.
“Not if you don’t mind if we do,” I told him (Smoking is illegal in taxis and hired cars. Strike two, should we be pulled over).
I got us up to Greenpoint – it turned out he’d only been driving a cab for two weeks (“Do you like it? “Nnnnnnope.”).
As we got out of the car he squinted up at the buildings – Greenpoint is a rapidly gentrifying Polish neighborhood – and murmured, “A lotta deadbeats made a pile of money in this neighborhood.” Nice!
The punchline: He charged me full fare, (twenty bucks!) and I, because I’m congenitally incapable of fighting unless sorely provoked and of withholding a tip, paid and tipped him.
And that’s how I became a taxi driver for 15 minutes.
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