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Into the Driver’s Seat: Taxi School & Street Meat


Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
– Arthur Schopenhauer (quoted on the N train to Queens)

First, the good news: the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) accepted my yellow cab application today and gave me a ticket to taxi school. But not before Tulip, the school administrator, asked me “why exactly do you want to be a yellow cab driver?”

I explained about the blog, telling her in so many words that I’m trying to expand my field of vision. She grinned and started typing my information into the computer.

Tomorrow I kick off taxi school with eight hours of instruction on driver/passenger relations, courtesy of the one and only Andrew Vollo (You might remember Andrew – the painter who moonlighted as a cabbie, turned into a Tai Chi expert and eventually became head of La Guardia Community College’s taxi driver institute – from this summertime post).

Unfortunately, I have to wait until December 11 to take the exam I need to pass to get my hack license (The state of the economy has given birth to a glut of wanna-be taxi drivers, and all of us have to wait our turn to take the test).

Even if I score 70 or higher on the exam, it doesn’t look like I’ll land behind the wheel of a cab until January.

Still, I’m getting closer to the driver’s seat: I already have my hack number – though I can’t use it just yet – and my soon to be official title is ‘New Medallion Driver.’

I thought the title in process was reason enough for some celebratory street meat from the Famous Halal Guys on 53rd & 6th, where they make one of the finest $6 lamb and chicken over rice platters around and dress it with harissa so hot it sends fire to your feet.

Eating on the sidewalk with the street cart’s other fans (“This is the best food in Manhattan,” a man in line gushed in my direction), I had visions of pulling up to this aromatic intersection in my big yellow taxi, idling bumper to bumper with other hungry hacks, waiting my turn for cheap and delicious – and maybe (dare I dream it?) bringing a famished passenger along for the meal.

Note: According to Zach Brooks at Midtownlunch.com, The Famous Halal Guys cart operates from 7:30pm-5am on the southwest corner of 53rd and 6th. During the day, an imposter cart sets up shop in the same spot – don’t be fooled. If you must eat this combo platter during the day, the carts at the southeast corner of 53rd & 6th and the southwest corner of 53rd and 7th are also owned and operated by the Famous Halal Guys. When in doubt, look for the yellow and red bags.

Taxi photo courtesy of vivirlatino.com

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