As checkered a history as I have with taxi drivers, I still consider them to be amongst the hardest-working people out there. Not to sound like a broken record, because I know I've written this sentence more than once, but if you think my stories are bad, spend a day walking (or sitting) in the shoes of a New York City cabbie.
There are people like me, who are pitted against them and are subject to multiple altercations per day, simply because that's just the nature of the beast. Then there are the civilians, some of which are anal about which route they take in fear of them running up the meter, or "taking them for a ride", as New Yorkers call it.
I happen to be one of those people.
Whenever I get in a cab, I ask for a specific route. I know my way around the city, and I know what tricks they use to run up a couple of bucks on the meter. I also usually mention that I'm a doorman in a hotel. This is my way of making small-talk and being friendly, but the translation is really "hey, I'm the last person you want to fuck with."
But I always tip well and am polite. Sometimes, and it's not as often as your would think, I get into it with them while I'm a passenger. It's usually when I'm drunk, and I get paranoid that they've taken liberties. This usually result in me drunkenly barking at them and reiterating that I'm a doorman in a hotel, like they're supposed to give a fuck.
I've regrettably gotten a little nasty with a few them - I can think of three or four times where I've gone overboard with my sultriness and borderline bullying. Though those little moments of admitted ugliness have been spread out over the course of a lifetime of living in New York.
And then there's this guy:
A few days ago- a guest, about my age, I'll call him "Tucker", waited at the bell desk to retrieve his luggage. I prayed that the bellmen who was unfortunate enough to get his ticket wasn't one of my buddies. Tucker, clad with a navy-blue, country-club sports jacket, light khakis, and an angry red face, impatiently stood by. He looked like one of the preppy villains from Animal House, ten years past his glory days with a body that couldn't outrun the booze and drugs that went along with it. He was a short, Napolean-like fucker - maybe 5'4 or 5'5.
I'd been observing him since yesterday. The two times that I saw him outside of holding the door open without so much as a brief glimmer of eye-contact, he was getting into it with a cabbie. And when I say getting into it, I mean getting into it.
The first time, the cab pulled up, and I immediately saw his head violently bobbing up and down with his muffled, slurring screams served as the accompaniment. The cabbie, had both his hands up and was gently waving them back and forth as a peace gesture. I didn't intervene, because, honestly, I really don't care about anything anymore. Whereas a couple of years ago when I'd try to play the hero or mediator, now I have one thing and one thing only on my mind - money. I come to work to make as much money as possible, then I go home and write. Period. Walking over and trying to fix whatever problem these two assholes have with each other shows no promise to make any cabbage, so I stand at the door and enjoy the show.
Tucker crumbles up some money and throws it through the plexiglass window opening that divides the cabbie from the passenger. This sets the cabbie off, and as Tucker climbs out of the vehicle, the he calls after him in a thick, Haitian accent:
Cabbie - "FUCK YOU! FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!
I open the door for Tucker as he steamrolled through. He doesn't say thank you, obviously.
It was a pretty boring and uneventful day, so I just had to know what happened. I walk over to the cabbie, flustered and trying to find the money Tucker fired onto the floor of his front seat.
Doorman - "What happened, buddy?"
Cabbie - "He gets in and tells me the name of the hotel. There are 500 hotels in the city, so I don't know this one! He tells me I should know EVERY hotel in the city! How am I supposed to know?!?"
Doorman - "So he started yelling at you?"
Cabbie - "NO! At the corner, I stopped at yellow light. He tells me I could have made the light before it turns red. I tell him I don't want ticket! So he start screaming at me!"
He finds the bill on the floor. He hold it up. It's a ten.
Cabbie - "Mother fucker!"
Doorman - "What?"
He points to the meter. The fare is $13.54.
I'm not sure why I felt compelled to intervene, but it looked like Tucker really nail him. Plus Tucker hadn't said "thank you" to me for opening the door once, so fuck him.
Cabbie - "No! He's drunk! I don't want no more trouble."
And the cabbie leaves.
Ninety minutes later, I'm aimlessly staring off into space, trying to figure out what song I want to sing for the next three hours.
Another cab pulls up. This time, Tucker jumps right out, and power-walks down the street. After a few beats, the cabbie calls out after him:
Cabbie # 2 - "HEY! ASSHOLE!"
Tucker keeps chugging without looking back.
Once again, I just had to know what happened.
Doorman - "What happened, buddy?"
Cabbie # 2 - "$13 dollar fare! He gives me 10 dollars! He's DRUNK!!!"
And, just like the guy before him, he slumps his shoulders, puts the car into gear, and drives off. He also didn't want to further pursue old Tucker.
In the span of ninety minutes, he's stiffs two different drivers on nearly identical fares. This also means that he must have taken a taxi to that destination as well. Did he do the same thing to those guys?
Jump back to present, where Tucker's waiting at the bell desk to retrieve his luggage:
A bellman who I'm close with comes down from a front, and takes the ticket. Damnit. Not that I think he's going to have an altercation with the guy, I just hate to see any of my friends get stiffed.
After a few minutes, the bellman comes down with a lone carry-on. Tucker slips him a tip, with a smile.
Tucker emerges from the doors, again not bothering to say thank you. I let him get his own taxi, because fuck him. I don't want to be a part of his next round of cabbie slaying.
Taxi pulls up, and he tells the cabbie Penn Station. The cabbie gets out, puts his carry-on in the trunk, and gets back in the car.
Tucker puts one hand on his waist, the other on top of the car. He stands there an waits, his eyes burning at the cabbie.
Finally, after an eternity, the cabbie finally turns around and inquires:
Cabbie # 3 - "You going to get in, or what?"
Tucker squints his eyes, befuddled that the cabbie would ask such an egregious thing.
Tucker - "Aren't you going to open the door for me?!?"
The cabbie stares back, creaking his head to the side, mouth wide-open with his yellow, sleep-deprived eyes popping out of his head.
Cabbie - "Man, either get in the fucking car, or don't. I don't have time for this shit."
Tucker scoffs and rolls his eyes, then begrudgingly flings the door open for himself. He plops in. They drive away.
My guess is this is how those interactions began.
The bellman who helped him comes to me.
Bellman - "That guy take care of you?"
I turn to him.
Doorman - "Who? Napoleon? No. He's a prick. I didn't even bother."
Bellman - "Oh... You probably should have."
He opens his hand to show me Andrew Jackson's green face sitting on his palm.
Bellman - "He was cool. Gave me a twenty for bringing down a carry-on from storage."
Interesting. So, Tucker, who spent his trip terrorizing cabbies and being rude to his doorman, apparently has a affinity for bellhops.
There's really no moral to this story. So, I'll just end it there.
But Tucker's kind of a sick fuck, right?!?