Home / Blog / Into the Driver’s Seat: What a Difference an “E” Makes

Into the Driver’s Seat: What a Difference an “E” Makes

Warning: The following is a rant, but the profanity is only implied.

Five years ago, a teenage Gypsy caught me with my guard down and lifted my wallet – and every identifying document I owned – in the Madrid subway. Eventually, I replaced all that was missing, but my name somehow ended up misspelled on my Social Security card. Instead of Layne Lee Ann Mosler, I was now Layne Le Ann Mosler.

Laziness prevailed, and I let the vowel go, even though it meant that the name on the SS card didn’t match the one on my birth certificate.

No one seemed to mind the missing “e.” Not the U.S. State Department, which replaced my stolen passport lickety-split. None of my subsequent employers cared. Even the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles looked the other way and issued me a new driver’s license a few weeks ago.

But the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) is a different animal. When I bounced over to their Long Island City office on Friday morning to file the application for my yellow cab license, the man behind the intake counter pounced on my missing “e” and sent me packing.

So instead of spending the morning getting finger printed and photographed and walking away with a ticket to taxi school, I took the E train (no joke – God loves poetry) to the Social Security Administration in the far reaches of Queens, where I tried to convince the woman behind the glass to give me back my vowel.

She spent a good fifteen minutes looking back and forth between my birth certificate, my passport and my now defective Social Security card before she agreed to issue me a new one, which will arrive in the mail in 7-10 days. Then – and only then – can I return to the TLC for a second application filing attempt.

In the meantime, I’ll brush up on my New York geography and be mystified about the fact that the New York City TLC seems to have stricter requirements than the U.S. State Department. The absurdities of bureaucracy know no boundaries. Or is the TLC just being extra strict in light of the record number of cabbie applications coming in during these days of recession?

Whatever the reason, I can only bow before the man behind the intake counter and the woman on the other side of the glass, where standard operating procedures trump logical exceptions, where a missing “e” is enough to call my identity into question and make me wait a few weeks longer before I go behind the wheel.

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  1. Hey La[y]ne, I’m the cabbie who gave you too fives and ten singles for your Andrew Jackson at the end of my shift, and the beginning of yours. I was wondering what such a gentle refined lady such as yourself was doing driving a hack, so I asked dispatcher Mike Katz what your story was, and he told me you were a writer for GOURMET, cruising for material.

    Well, I am a writer as well, have been a music journalist for 3o years in NYC, writing for all the sundry publications, doing various stints in various aspects of the music biz.

    If you Google “Cabbie says nix congestion pricing” or “Get this obnoxious TV screen out of my cab” you’ll find some pieces I penned for the SUNDAY DAILY NEWS.

    And while I have accumulated plenty of material over time, I am not cruising for material or for a blog (sleep beckons) but for the material means to sustain existence.

    I found your entry on TAXIHACK and conclued that 2+2 = Layne Lee Ann.

    Now thatI’ve found you I will visit anew.

    Oh, food.

    Much debate on Pizza, but the best in my estimation is the classic Neopolitan Slice you can get at SAL & CARMINE’s, a fixture on the Upper West Side since 1959, located at Broadway between 101st and 102nd Street on the downtown side…their pizza is competitive with certain acts of intimacy. Real yeasty bread harmonizes with a creamy, whole milk mozzerella. Some found it salty back in the day, but since one of the principles passed (my friend Sal died last year) his brother and grandsons have dialed back on the salt in the dough a bit. Some comment on how expensive it is…they are dimwits…rent is 15K a month and the price of REAL CHEESE keeps escalating.

    What else? Charles’ Southern Style Kitchen at 152nd and Eight Avenue. All of the best southern picnic-style food and fixings, and when fresh out of the cauldron, some of the best batter style fried chicken extent. Also, for $13.99, an all you can eat buffet, with sweet iced tea/lemonade and desert…book a cab in advance to carry you home to nap.

    Up in my neihborhood in Washington Heights, KISMAT, one of the best Indian eateries in the city, at 187th and Fort Washington. They don’t use ghee, only yogurt, and have Bombay Chicken (tanoori cornish hen, stuffed wih basamti rice, sweet spices, raising, almonds, peas and lamb) to die for. Also, check out JOE’s DINER, a much-lloved Indian joint around 78th Street and Broadway in Queens (I forget the exact location)

    There’s also, on a far less elevated note, a little Chinese buffett on the downtown side of Grand between Bowery and Chrystie, where for $3.75, you get a take out styrofoam contrivance, with five large ladels from your choice of five different entrees, plus a soup…

    Anyway…good luck out on the streeta, and be careful. And I look forward to delving deeper into your blog when I am again ambulatory (I was pounced on by predatory traffic cops on the way home last night, and am suffering from rage, agita and lack of sleep…

    Peace, Layne.

  2. I’m a Taxi driver in the UK and spend a lot of time giving people tours of the local vinyards and farm shops.

    Taxi’s and food, a match made in heaven.

    well done Layne, I’m loving your blog. ;0)

    • Thanks, Nick. Coming from a cabbie, I take that as a great compliment.
      What you do sounds really lovely.
      Best Wishes,