Friday, May 19, 2006
So tonight was my first night back in the cab. I got into the city around 4:00 and found my first passenger on 50th and 2nd. She wanted to go to 8th St and Broadway and, seeing that 2nd Ave was all backed up, I turned right on 49th. When I hit Lex, I turned left to head downtown. But somehow, I totally overlooked the sign that was posted that said no turns allowed between 10 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday. I mean, I guess I always knew it was there, but I was distracted and rusty and not really thinking. I just didn't see it, and was still clueless as to what I did when I got pulled over by the TLC police.
They were just standing there, actually, waiting for idiots like me to do just what I did. The TLC officer waved me to the side of the street and made my passenger get out and find another cab. When he finally told me what I did wrong, I just felt stupid. I've made this mistake once before, over a year ago, and I got a ticket for it then, too.
I handed over my license and sat there feeling annoyed with myself. After a moment, though, I realized I needed to just roll with it and not let it get to me, so I got out of the cab. I walked up to the TLC police car and started talking to him, saying, "You know, I'm sure you hear this all the time, but I really didn't see the sign. I feel pretty dumb, actually, but I haven't worked in a few weeks and I guess I'm a little out of practice."
At first he was stern and a little cold, but maybe because I was sort of smiling and laughing about the whole stupid ordeal, he seemed to loosen up and all of a sudden we were almost friends. Of course, he still gave me the ticket, but I already knew there was no getting out of it. The worst part of it is the ticket holds a $150 fine.
It needs to be said that the TLC is notorious for being extremely unfriendly and unforgiving to cab drivers. They're our built-in enemies, mainly because their job is to ticket us -- and our job is to get away with what we can without getting caught by them.
My experience this afternoon, however, was actually not that bad. Sure, giving out a $150 ticket is not necessarily a compassionate act, but the officer writing it was at least decent to me when he could've been a total dick, and that makes all the difference. I think he even felt a little bad, since I was being so casual about the whole thing, and eventually he smiled, shrugged his shoulders, and with just the tiniest tinge of guilt in his voice, said, "I'm just doing my job." This I understood, but I was just doing my job, too. Unfortunately my job is one in which I run the risk of starting my shift $150 in the hole.
The rest of the night was fine. But the ticket sort of put a little damper on things.
I guess this was my official welcome back to New York.