Thursday, August 10, 2006

Taxi Tips from NYC

New York City

Getting from Point-A to Point-B in New York is more than a job—it’s an adventure.

I left my suite at the Waldorf Astoria this morning at little after five for the trip to the Financial District to perform my show. I figured with a dozen Yellow Cabs lined up around the corner from the Waldorf’s Park Avenue entrance, getting a ride would be simple.

It wasn’t.

The first cab in line at the Waldorf’s cab stand wasn’t occupied. It’s driver was gone, too.
Two guys standing in the street whistled up a cabbie from around the corner.

“55 Broad Street, Financial District,” I told the guy.
“Where is that?” he asked in an accent thick with origins not from Texas or The Bronx.

It’s 5am in New York and I’m on a deadline. I don’t have time to educate someone who does not understand my native tongue with the nuances of Manhattan geography.

“Next cab, please.”

A little better this time. Sayd Mohammed knew where the Financial District is.
“You wanna take the FDR?” he asked.
“I want the quickest ride at the least expense,” I told him. “You’re the expert.”

Away we went.
The FDR was a good call.
Traffic was light, and the trip took less than 20-minutes.

After the show this morning, I popped back out on the street to find a ride to the Marriott Financial Center. Quite a different landscape from the pre-dawn scene.
People everywhere.
Construction crews performing their tasks, oblivious to the traffic swirling and dodging around them.

I spotted a Yellow Cab mid-block, and whistled him to a stop, much to the consternation of the cars stacked behind him. Hey, the light was red—where’re they going to go? (Am I thinking like a New Yorker here?)

Marriott Financial Center, 85 West, please,” I told the driver.
“Where’s that?” he asked.
I looked at the name card for the driver.
Hassan Mohammed.
Gotta be related to my driver earlier in the morning. Not as graceful in traffic, though.

Hassan proceded to take me at breakneck speed to the closest stop sign. From there our trip descended into a series of hurried waits at lights, stop signs, and near hits by other drivers as inconsiderate as was he. I saw my life pass before me as we doubled up in the intersection of Whitehall and Pearl behind a delivery truck, blocking the path of another truck.

That driver did have a quite colorful command of the English language, which was his native tongue, and he was not reticent to use it.

The amazing thing about all this was I actually arrived at the Marriott Financial Center before our MoneyGame group did, traveling from the Waldorf Astoria.

Turns out their drivers got lost.
I didn’t catch their names.

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