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I am a 26 year old NYC yellow cab driver. Ask me anything

Mar 1st 2013 by NYCHack • 53 Questions • 1922 Points

I'm not the typical New York City cab driver. I'm younger and I was born and raised in the USA. I went to prep school and four year university. I have been moonlighting, sometimes heavily, for 3 years. I'm working full time now until the end of the summer when I'm quitting for good. I work the night shift.

Proof: www.4gp.tw/b011/1362122305729.jpg

FOLLOW ME on instagram: nychack

Tumblr: nychack.tumblr.com

Twitter: @youngnycabbie

I will take ride requests after midnight via twitter for everynight I am driving from now until the end of the summer

Q:

How is your driving record?

A:

I have 4 points


Q:

Have you ever had passengers get it on in the back while you were driving?

A:

Yes many times. Sometimes they even ask. To which I usually just reply really? Because the cars NEVER get cleaned. They're filthy.

I've also had a girl masturbate in the backseat while her friend was very embarrassed.

I usually try to hit as many potholes when I know a blow job is going on in the back. It's always funny then you arrive at the destination and there early was not enough time for completion and the guy gets out of the car with a boner


Q:

How often are you offered something aside from cash as payment? Strangest thing you've been offered?

A:

Not that often. Usually the only thing I've been offered is sexual favors in exchange for rides. It's happened probably 5-6 times. By both guys and girls. I haven't taken anyone up on the offer.

That being said I've been tipped in ways other than cash. Someone invited me into their family house after taking them to westchester and ordered Chinese food. He paid me extra to stay and eat with his family because he also wanted a ride back to the city with me. One night I someone gave me half a Peter Lugers steak. That same night I got another really fancy meal but I don't remember from where. I've gotten CDs from musicians. That happens all the time. And a couple of times a girls phone number


Q:

Hi! I work for a cab company in Australia, how often do you get people evading fares and also how does the system work there? Do you get mainly people hailing you, or is there a booking dispatch system or something?

A:

Strictly street hails. There is no phone numbers or dispatch.

It happens maybe once a month on average if you drove five days a week for example


Q:

do you use gps or do you have the roads memorized?

A:

GPS is actually not allowed by the taxi and limousine commission in New York. Though a lot of people still do use that.

At this point I have the roads mostly memorized. But if the passenger is going somewhere I don't know which is rarely the case I either just ask them and if they don't know I just use google maps on my iPhone


Q:

weird. i thought gps would almost be an industry standard. i know in bc all the cabs ive been in have gps built into the taxi dash computer.

A:

Yeah not in New York. The computer keeps track of the routes the cab takes on each fare but that information isn't available to the driver directly. It's sent to the commission. And it doesn't provide directions either


Q:

why don't they want you using them, it seems like it would make your job easier.

A:

I think they feel like it would cause accidents because drivers would be trying to configure them while driving. Though they aren't that helpful in the city with all the traffic. Turns and stuff come up too quickly and you always have to be shifting lanes etc


Q:

What kind of customer do you hate driving around?

A:

Ghetto customers. They usually treat you like complete shit and try to negotiate the fare down. Or anyone who does that


Q:

Have you ever had to kick someone out of a cab?

A:

Yes a few times. Sometimes people are just too assholish. If they treat me like shit I'll pull over and kick them out. Or if they're too intoxicated.

One time I picked up four really ghetto people in Times Square on a Friday night. The guy sitting in the front had McDonald's and started eating as soon as we took off. His drink didn't have a straw so he took off the lid of the cup and started sipping on it. It was sloshing around and spilling everywhere. Also it started to smell like fast food and grease. I asked him to hold off until he gets home. Then he pulled the black card on me and was saying that I am only contesting due to him being black. I said no it's just that it's making me really uncomfortable and I don't want to deal with the mess. He asks me to pull over. Him and his guy friend in the back get out. The girls stay insisting they won't find another cab. It's true that ghetto people have a hard time getting a cab especially when it's busy. No one wants to deal with them. It really doesn't have much to do with the color of your skin. If you're African American and totally respectable looking it will never be a problem.

Anyways I continue on with the girls. At a red light I hear sounds of puking so I ask them if one of them has puked. She was like no everything is fine. Then I hear it again. I pull over and check out the back seat. There is like all over the floor of the backseat. So I point it out to which the girl replies that was already there when we got in. Expect her blouse is covered with vomit. At this point I'm oissed because now I have to clean this up and these people just lied to me. So I kicked them out and of course they blamed it on themselves being black. I've kicked out white people who've puked as well.


Q:

What's a good average tip?

A:

I guess if you want a percentage 20 percent is cool. But from my standpoint and having been driving around for a bit I think tipping should be based on the the length of time during a ride. Time is much more valuable to a cab driver than the metered fare. Typically as a driver you want to be averaging a dollar a minute. Some rides get 3-4 dollars a minute even more. And some get 50 cents a minute. Then they get 50 cents a minute you're really losing money. So I guess take that into account. Also if you're going to an outerborough or a remote location realise that the cab driver might not get a fare for a while so take that into account as well


Q:

When does your night shift start and end? And who is the most interesting person you've come across in your cab? Btw, get well soon :D

A:

I've had a lot of people in my cab I'd normally never meet. Like the pimp I talked about in an answer to another question and escorts and prostitutes.

But I wouldn't really ever hang out with a lot of those people.

I've met some awesome people who I've exchanged numbers with and ended up hanging out with at some point.

But I've met pretty interesting people from all over the world. I had a guy who toured with bands and photographed them. He's worked with snoop and other famous people. His stories were pretty awesome. Usually people like that are fun to talk to.

And thanks I hope I get better soon too

Also- night shift typically starts at 5pm and you have the car for twelve hours. Technically you can quit whenever you want since you pay for just the rental up front. But I work the full twelve


Q:

Go two questions for you: - What's the most famous guy that sat in your cab? - What's the most valuable belonging that was left behind?

A:

I've had a bunch. Tina Fey, Zach Galifanakas, Alan cumming, two main characters from gossip girl - chuck bass and blaire. And two side characters from that show as well.

Most expensive items would probably be iPad, iPhones and an slr camera. I don't know how much the camera was worth but it was old so probably not much more than an iPhone or iPad.


Q:

What's the procedure on abandoned items?

Put them in your pocket?

A:

Nope. I've never done that. I usually try to return it to the person. I think I've always found a way to get in touch with the person. Otherwise the procedure is to turn it into the garage or the police.

A lot of drivers put it into their pockets. I know this fora fact and I've been a victim of this as well


Q:

Hearing that, I hope the rest of your driving days are safe and profitable.

A:

Thanks !


Q:

What, for you, has been the most interesting conversation you've had with a passenger? I'm wondering because my conversations with cabbies always ends up going the way of the meaning of life or something of that nature. Or maybe its just because I'm usually drunk.

A:

I've had a lot of interesting conversations and met interesting people but I don't think I can single one thing out.

I like food and restaurants a lot. And fashion. So conversations with people regarding that are always good. But these are people I normally associate with in regular life.

However I meet a lot of people I normally do not associate with :

I picked up a pimp in the upper west side around 3 am on a weekday. He paid me 60 bucks to drive him around the Bronx so he could collect money from his girls. And he told his life story. That was pretty interesting.

Also I've picked up a lot of escorts and they're pretty open with me about their business.

I once picked up a kid who was on the phone trying to sell some handguns he was carrying in his backpack. I told the cops who were sitting around the corner from where I dropped him off. I don't know what happened after that.

Also I've had some guy invite me into his house and he made me a burger. Our convo was about burgers and he was insisting he made the best


Q:

Come on, you can't leave us hanging like that! How was the burger?

A:

It was pretty good but def not among the best in the city. If you like burgers you should check out diner in Williamsburg or dumont burger. The lamb burger at Breslin in the ace hotel is phenomenal as well


Q:

which customers are the worst/best?

A:

Depends on what you're looking for...

I usually like good interesting conversation. That's always fun. Big tippers are always good too. Usually people who work in the service industries tip better than average.

The worst kind are the ones who treat you like shit. They also don't tip well.

I once had a passenger that Wanted to go to Starbucks 4 street blocks away. The fare was about 5 bucks. He said he couldn't tip me because he was out of work at the moment. I found that amusing more than anything


Q:

About how much money do you make per year if you don't mind me asking? I have heard that cab drivers actually make a decent amount of money, more than most people think.

A:

On a bad night I make about 250 for myself. On a really good night about 500. On average about 350-400. This is working a full twelve hours. And most drivers don't make this because they're either lazy or don't know what they're doing. Finding the passengers late at night is the real work.


Q:

Do you ever pretend that you're the new host of Cash Cab and then crush their spirits when they find out it's all a sham? I would.

A:

No but a lot of people always think they're on cash cab or something. Maybe I should


Q:

It would keep them entertained for the whole ride if you just started giving trivia and then purposely get the answers wrong. Total mind fuck.

A:

I've had friends right along and my gf used to ride along as well at times. People would get a kick out of that


Q:

How do you get around town when you're not working?

A:

Motorcycle, subway, cabs, or walking


Q:

Is it frustrating to ride in another cab?

A:

No. But you do realise all the subtle things can drivers do to try to rip you off. I also am more conscious of the route cab drivers are taking


Q:

What are some ways drivers might try and rip off passengers?

A:

Usually the route they take. Plus they can change the rate to the double rate on the meter but they'll usually get caught by the tlc


Q:

tlc ?

A:

Taxi and limousine commission of nyc


Q:

Weirdest thing someone has done to flag you down?

A:

Moon me


Q:

What is the best driving hour?

A:

Depends on the day. Rush hour is always good especially when you know your away around traffic. Good for making money that is. There's less traffic later in the night but the rides are much longer. And the passengers more interesting


Q:

can you tell a story about one of those interesting ones?

A:

One of the more interesting stories -

I picked up a guy in TriBeCa which is pretty far downtown. At the bottom of the island. The destination was all the way to dyckman street which is at the top of the city. About a 40 dollar fare. As soon as I get there this guy bolts out the door. Now you can call the cops and file a report but there really is no point because they probably won't find him and you'll waste another hour waiting for the cops to come and get the report done etc. So I start heading back downtown. When I'm in midtown which is about 25 dollars back downtown I hear this guys iPhone start to ring in the backseat. I immediately pull over and get the phone and answer it. He's like hey man I forgot my phone in the car. I said yeah and you forgot to pay the 40 bucks for the fare. He said he'd pay me as soon as I bring him his phone back. And I said its another 25 dollars to get back up there to which he said: don't be an asshole. Yes, I'm the asshole even though he ripped me off. I just hung up on him. And turned it off because he kept calling back. He eventually canceled the phone the next day


Q:

best pizza in nyc??

A:

Di fara in midwood


Q:

How do you give your beard such beautiful volume?

A:

Magic


Q:

what is your stance on people having sex (including oral) in your cab? i used to date a girl from manhattan who claimed she did that all the time, but the one time we tried in a different city the guy immediately pulled over on the highway and threatened to kick us out. She almost pissed herself....just big talk on her part?

A:

I wouldn't have sex in the back of a cab. It's filthy in there. They never get cleaned. Maybe she does who knows. I doubt it. Most drivers would out an end to it. Some will take pics. I don't really care too much. I just drive through potholes


Q:

How much is a medallion?

A:

About 800k. I would never buy one


Q:

What's the most fucked conversation you've ever herd?

A:

Some big huge ghetto chick was like you betta eat ma oussy tonight


Q:

Well... did you?

A:

No


Q:

1) What is the biggest tip you have ever received?

2) What is the farthest destination you had to drive to?

A:

150 on a 650 dollar ride. But I've gotten a 100 bucks on a 18 dollar ride and 40-50 on a ten dollar ride .

Farthest place was Delaware or new haven Connecticut


Q:

I am about your age - I have worked as a musician in New York for some time now, and between late gigs that leave me too tired to take the train, clubs without back lines that require me to bring a ton of gear, or double headers back to back at different locations, I take a lot of cabs.

I know that being a cabbie is not your chosen career path, but I have to take this opportunity to express my love and gratitude for yellow cab drivers. Honestly, dude, I could not do my job without you. Good luck with whatever you do next.

A:

Thanks man ! And good luck to you as well


Q:

Are you sleepy?

A:

No

I'm just sick laying in bed. I go to sleep usually at 5-6 am due to the driving. NYC time


Q:

No question, just an anecdote I would like to share.

First time in New York, my birthday. My flight was super delayed the night before, then in the stupidity of taking a Supershuttle from JFK to Manhattan, some other passenger grabs my bag and I don't realize until I get to my hotel and all I have is her bag. Long night of fighting with Supershuttle to put us in contact with each other and I find out that she's staying in Greenwich Village and I'm over in Murray Hill.

Anyways in the morning I grab a taxi in the rain to her place, we exchange pleasantries and swab bags, and I wait in the rain to get a taxi back to my hotel. I get in the taxi with my bag, guy asks where to, I tell him my hotel name, and he's like hell I don't know where that is. So I give him the address and he's like "cross street?" Fuck if I know man.

"Get the fuck out of my cab! I ain't got time for this shit" and he kicks me out of the cab and I'm flabbergasted. I call my hotel and ask for a cross street and get the next cab and it works out. But what the fuck man?

A:

Hahahaha

Yeah everyone uses cross streets on NYC. That being said- that guy was a dick. He shouldn't of done that and can always turn them in for behaviour like that


Q:

I know your current profession is driving a cab but I have to ask. With a beard like that, do you ever find yourself wishing you had decided to wrestle grizzly bears instead or were you always destined for piloting yellow submarines?

A:

The picture actually misleading. I have a thick stubble. It's just not very good lighting


Q:

Hey, thanks for doing this! Cab drivers have always been some of the easiest for me to talk to and we always have great conversations.

  • Have you done any special request jobs such as following a car for someone or speeding/taking an illegal route for extra cash?

  • What's your favorite/least favorite part of the job?

  • Have you ever gotten into an accident while driving a passenger? Does that happen often? What do you do in that situation?

  • Do you congregate with fellow drivers ever? Are you a minority in cab drivers being a (seems like it from your picture) white dude? Anything ever happen because of that?

A:

I've never followed anyone or done special requests. I guess out of town trips are considered special requests since they're not on the meter and significantly higher in price than what the meter would be.

Favourite part is the people you meet, the places you see, you can more or less keep your own hours and you don't have to work that day if you don't feel like it. The worst part is its tiring and redundant after a while. The hours are long when you do drive. I'd rather kill myself if I knew I was going to do this forever

Yes I have a few times. I've been hit. It's inevitable. I think it's happened twice. Rear ended both times. The one time the passengers were totally fine and the other time this girl hit her had against divider. She said she would be fine but I called an ambulance anyways. I always call the police. Then you have to fill out an accident report back at the garage. Usually the nights over at that point.

I don't congregate with fellow drivers. A lot of them are pretty weird and I wouldn't really get along with any of them. Plus I think hanging out in the middle f the shift is a waste of time and money. A lot of drivers do that though


Q:

What do you plan on doing after you quit?

A:

Career track. Maybe something in fashion or tech. Maybe working at a start up


Q:

How does renting the cab for the night work? How much do you pay for it? Do you get to keep a portion of the meter fare or do you just keep the tips?

A:

You keep 100 percent of the far and tips. Renting the cab costs anywhere from 130-144 dollars per night depending on the day. Sunday - Saturday gets more expensive as you go on. You're responsible for the fuel and 50 cent per ride tax. It amounts to 200-250 usually for the night.


Q:

Have you ever been tempted to fuck with a passenger because they were an asshole to you? Like Bill Murray in Stripes?

A:

No but I'll be an asshole to them or just kick them out of the car. That's def happened


Q:

What is the best place to eat on Curry Hill? I see all the cabs parked along the street for lunch.

A:

They're all disgusting. I would check out masala times for cheap good clean Indian food. It's on bleecker street near 6th ave and open until 3 usually and 5 on Friday and Saturday


Q:

I'll be in NYC tomorrow. Can I get your personal cab number?

A:

I get a different car every time and I'm probably not driving for the next few days since I'm sick


Q:

What's the farthest ride you had to give? How much was your tip? I'm a New Yorker, just curious.

Also how do you compete with the plethora of yellows?

A:

I went to Delaware for a total of 800. I also had new haven Connecticut and bright waters Long Island in one night which I made about a thousand. That was probably my luckiest nights.

Sometimes you don't have to compete when it's super busy like in rush hour or Friday and Saturday nights. Other times you have to be smart about it taking routes that most cabs don't take. And you also have to be aggressive in some situations and be in front of the pack


Q:

Wow, that's crazy. What's your plans after you call it quits?

A:

Find a normal job. Haha in fashion or tech startup maybe.


Q:

Are there times you would prefer driving in silence? (aka: ppl would just shut up) Personally, I would get pretty tired of talking after awhile.

A:

Definitely. When I'm really tired or just not in the mood. It happens just like with anything else


Q:

What sorts of qualifications / prerequisites does one need to have in order to become a cab driver? Do they factor in how well you know the roads?

A:

Basically if you speak fluent English you're golden. You have to take a a 3 day course which includes geography and then a written exam. A defensive driving course and a drug test. I think that's about it


Q:

If someone gets your ID# and threatens to call in and report you for some offense, real or imagined, is that scary? Or are you like, "Go for it, man. Nothing will ever come of it."

A:

This rarely happens. It's happened like twice and I don't think anything eer came of it. The tlc makes it really annoying to file a report. Once you file they send you a letter and form which you have to fill out and return and then there is a hearing scheduled to which you as the peso who filed also have to attend. So yeah it rarely happens


Q:

What's the weirdest stuff people have forgotten in your cab ?

A:

Nothing really that weird to be honest. Mostly phones. Sometimes food. Wallets. A dress


Q:

In DC, the worst (least attentive) drivers invariably seem to be cabbies. In your experience, is it the same in NYC? Can you speculate on why that is?

A:

There are a lot of bad cab drivers out there for sure. They never test ones driving abilities when giving taxi licenses. However the worst drivers are the ones who normally don't drive in the city. They're always trying to make turns from 3 lanes over and can never seem to get into the flow of traffic


Q:

Has New York done anything about that Spider-Man menace I keep reading about on The Daily Bugle website?

A:

No he's still out there


Q:

My question for you:

I've done a fair amount of time in NYC cabs, more in Boston cabs. A large percentage of you scare the living daylights out of me ... e.g. accelerating rapidly into traffic while another cab is pulling into a lane, basically just accelerating really fast.

So the horn, is there some code, like if you beep twice it means to the other cab, hold on, I'm coming through (I guess I'm asking if you talk to each other through your horns)

Another question, in Boston, I used to take cabs during rush hours and they seemed to hate me ... my trip was only a mile and I was going from a place near a major hotel to train station ... a couple of them said they'd rather being driving someone to the airport instead of sitting in traffic to take me a mile.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Cheers.

A:

There isn't some special honking system. In fact honking by anyone in NYC can get you a hefty ticket.

No one likes sitting in traffic. You as the passenger pay more and the driver makes less due to opportunity cost.

Some drivers like going to the airport. I hate doing that. I think short fares are better when there is a lot of demand and not much traffic. It all depends on traffic conditions and demand. Like of its late night at 3 am on a weekday I would love an airport run as opposed to rush hour on a Friday in which we'd be sitting in traffic for an hour and half