40 New York City cabbies gathered recently to discuss their life stories. The goal of the public forum was to discuss:
“[W]ho cabbies are, their backgrounds, stresses on the road, identity issues, and their suggestions on how to improve the industry.”
But the cabbies wanted something different:
The cabbies mostly wanted to talk about the various ways in which they are getting screwed. …. The drivers had lots of beefs: with the fifty-cent M.T.A. tax; with cab technologies, and lack thereof; with black cars taking street hails; with malfunctioning credit-card readers; etc.
Another outcome: never say to a New York City taxi driver “Where are you from?”
I find myself often fairly wrapped up in conversations with taxi drivers. So much so that more often than not, in a ride of any length, he or she (although there’s a noticable deficit of she) tends to feel inclined to give me something at the end of the ride. A phone number. A card. A gift. A personal exchange. I do too. We’ve traveled so long together, in a certain manner. An emotional exchange has occurred, and a slam of the door seems so oddly final, that I find in my hand upon leaving a card, a number, a something, each time. I have a collection. I can’t part with it.