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A Year in Rear View

No, I’m not going to write another top 10 list. But this was too rich a year not to dish out some highlights.

2010 was the year I got a license to drive a New York cab, the year I realized how closely Buenos Aires was following me (empanada crawl, anyone?), and the year – thanks to a group of rocking readers who supported the journey – I fell in love with Berlin.

In the name of taking stock and in the spirit of microblogging, here are 2010’s funniest, tastiest, scariest, most humiliating and most enlightening moments from taxicabs on two continents.

Scariest passenger: The Bride I picked up at the Waldorf-Astoria who forced me to drive on the pedestrian only walkway through Central Park (“I have a permit!”), ordered me to run over everyone in our path (“I’m late!”), and prompted 2 sets of negotiations with the NYPD (“I’m going to faint!”).

Best quote from the NYPD: “Stop driving like an a**hole.”

Most insulting assessment of my driving: “I took a cab instead of a train. Unfortunately I don’t have the right cab driver.”

Most patient passenger: The man who was nothing but gracious when I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge by mistake.

Passenger I will never forget: Bella, the three year old who told me she loved me after I made her sit in traffic for 46 minutes.

Constance Marie Barnes

Most prophetic observation from a NY cab driver: “Thank God for grace, ‘cuz you’re gonna need it.” – Constance Marie Barnes

Best passenger-recommended snack: Truffle macaroni and cheese ($3) from Dogmatic Gourmet Sausage System

Most tempting passenger-recommended restaurant I have yet to try: La Mirabelle on Columbus Ave. and 86th St. Take it from a Frenchman from Toulouse – they serve the best duck in Manhattan.

Best NY cabbie-recommended dish that was even better the second time around: Oxtail stew at The Door.

Best on-duty eating discovery: Fried okra at Rockaway West Indian Roti Shop.

Worst cabbie-recommended dish in New York: Friday couscous at Little Morocco. Go here for merguez (sausage) – this is what they do best.

Best poem I read while waiting at a taxi stand: Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”:

These are the days that
must happen to you.
You shall not heap up
what is called riches,
You shall scatter with
lavish hand all that
you earn or achieve…

Best 30 seconds in the passenger seat: Driving past the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall with Zille Quitmann as she told me why there should be more lady cab drivers in the world. (Here’s a little video)

Kofte sandwich

Best cabbie-recommended dish in Berlin: Kofte (veal sausage) at Gel Gör in Kreuzberg. It’s 5 Euros. It’s perfect.

Worst cabbie-recommended dish in Berlin: Stir-fry at a sad Chinese snack bar in Charlottenburg in West Berlin.

Best reminder of Buenos Aires in Berlin: An East Berlin steak house called La Bandida, where they play everything but tango music.

Best reminder of New York in Berlin: The journey to Vietnamese red curry with a cab driving painter who winters in Brazil.

Wisest and truest thought from a Berlin cab driver: “Ever since I drive a taxi there is hardly anything that I cannot believe.” – TaxiBerlin

Did you have any taxi adventures in 2010 that are burned on your brain? Please feel free share your story – good, bad, or ugly, or even if it’s just a moment – in the comments.

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