Friday, November 04, 2005

Ramadan


I got screwed at the airport not once, but twice tonight. It was extra busy in the city with a slight shortage of cabs due to it being the last night of Ramadan, but I was not to benefit from this. At 4:30 p.m., a half hour into my shift, two guys got in and wanted to go to the airport shuttle bus by Grand Central Station. When they realized they missed their bus, they asked if I would take them to JFK. Sucker that I am, I said okay. Traffic, as usual, was a nightmare. I arrived at the airport at 6:00 (not good) and pulled into the taxi lot. At 7:00, I was sent up to the Delta terminal and got a "shorty," which means it's a short-haul ride to anywhere in Queens or Brooklyn from JFK (from Laguardia, it's just Queens). The taxi dispatcher gives out little tickets that allow you to get on a shorter line if you return to the lot within 90 minutes. I was back in 15. My next passengers, luckily, were going to Manhattan, and I was back in business by 8:30, four hours after I left the city.

I had steady fares for the next few hours until I got taken out to deep Bay Ridge around midnight. I was close enough to JFK, so I called the airport taxi hotline to see what was going on in the lot. The message had just been updated to say the lot was at zero percent, so I jumped on the Belt and raced over, figuring I'd get lucky, that JFK owed me something good tonight. When I pulled in, there was one main line in front of me, and two shorty lines. The picture above is of the rest of the lot, gloriously empty.

After about twenty minutes and no movement, all the cabs behind me started leaving. I asked another driver what was going on and he said, "There's only one more flight, we're not gonna make it." I called the hotline and found out the last flight was landing at 1:30 a.m. I didn't know how heavy the flight was, but by then there were three full shorty lines, and more coming in. All the shorties would get out before me. That's about 45 cabs, plus the 15 in the main line in front of me. I said fuck it, and left. Fucked again. But, actually, I found out later, I fucked myself, because when I got back to the garage at the end of my shift, an old-time driver told me that the last flight to JFK is a 300-person Jet Blue plane from California. With 60 cabs in front of me, chances are I still would've gotten a passenger. Oh fucking well.


Meanwhile, this picture is just a continuation of the pissing theme. Some lockers were removed from the parking lot at the garage, and this is what was written on the wall behind them. I wonder if Billy had anything to do with this.

5 comments:

Smitty said...

Wow.

I stumbled upon your site through the “clicked” section of MSNBC.com and I have to tell you that you are one hell of a writer. I started by just reading today’s post and ended up reading your entire site. I promise to check your site regularly.

Great work!

UNFJoel said...

I also got here from Clicked by way of MSNBC.com.

I've only been to NYC once, and for a week back in 2003, but I did have the honor of riding in a yellow cab from the airport to our hostel. Quite the experience I must say... drivers and pedestrian's are a little bit different between there and here in Jacksonville, FL. Oh well. (We did give a pretty heavy tip though...)

Anonymous said...

Hi. Great site! I just wanted to comment on what the old timer told you. Looking at the online schedules, I don't see any jetBlue flights from CA to JFK landing anytime near 1:30am. And the larger of jetBlue's two types of planes, the Airbus A320, only has 156 seats.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't do you any good, but I got to be part of the team that re-designed the CVHA (Commercial Vehical Holding Area - taxis and limos) at O'Hare! The 'behind the scenes' world of airports is amazing. Your comment about it being the last day of Ramadan reminded me about how the cabbies in the CVHA had this cool system where they'd help 'shuttle' eachothers cabs up in the lines at prayer time. It was a wacky, cool image to see a bunch of guys with their prayer rugs beyond a sea of cabs and little heads running back and forth 'nudging' eachothers cabs up in line!

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