Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Heat



Since so many people leave New York for the summer, the taxi business gets slow. Which also means not as many interesting things happen in the cab. Or, at least, not my cab.

Last night, the big event had to do with my air conditioning. After driving for a short while, I noticed it was blowing out a funny smell and I was starting to feel a little lightheaded. I dropped off some tourists at the Apollo Theater on 125th Street and called Allen, an old-time driver, and told him I was having a problem.

Allen is a strange, funny, almost child-like guy. An orthodox Jew from Williamsburg by day and a human global positioning system by night, Allen knows how to get anywhere from anywhere in the five boroughs with block-by-block precision. He also has plenty of answers for any other question a younger, stupider driver like me might have, but his answers to non-directions-related questions can be hit or miss.

I got him on the phone and our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Hey, my A.C. smells weird. It's giving me a headache and making me a little dizzy. Do you know what that could be?"

Allen: "Oh I know what it is -- does it smell like coffee?"

Me: "Uhh, no. It's more chemical like."

Allen: "Okay. Does it smell like crap?"

Me: "No, it just smells sort of toxic, like I'm losing brain cells."

Allen: "Is it blowing warm air?"

Me: "No."

Allen: "Does it smell like plastic?"

Me: "Yeah, sort of. It's in that family."

Allen: "Oh, okay, yeah. It must've been the day driver ran over a plastic bag and it melted onto the pipe. You're fine. It's no big deal."

Me: "Okay. Thanks."

Allen: "I'll call you later to see what's doing."

Allen took the night off yesterday, but calling each other when we're not working is something we can't help but do. If one of us was supposed to work and didn't, we'll check in to find out how business is, to hear what the traffic is like, and basically to see what we missed. If we discover it was a slow night, we feel good for having taken the night off. If it was busy, there's a pang of regret that we missed out on it. I don't know if other cabbies do this, but I do it all the time with Allen and Diego. Last night was nothing special, so Allen should be happy to know he didn't miss much.

In light of that, I felt no regret at quitting only seven hours into the shift as the chemical fumes from the A.C. were starting to turn my head around. I returned the cab and called it a night.


Meanwhile, the driver of this cab clearly had a more eventful night than I did.

Sometimes it's just better for it to be boring.

46 comments:

Twiz said...

ewww, I'm sorry that your cab made you lightheaded.

I totally know slow nights. I work at a porn store and there are days when it just drags on and on... and NOTHING happens.

Kolchak said...

Well, I had a pretty eventful night. I'm coming home to Plaquemine from New Orleans, going down the highway and this dog crosses the highway right in front of my car. I slam on my brakes and fishtail to a stop. I don't see the dog, neither did I hear a thump. I get out to see what's up - there, lying in front of my car, is a sopping wet, muddy from head to tail, purebred golden retriever. He sees me and jumps all over my $99 suit. I see he's not hurt, so I put him in the truck and we go up and down, all over, to see who he belongs to. I mean, he looks like a show-quality golden. Nothing. I take him home, put up signs, do the usual. We'll see if he has a home to go back to. Otherwise, he's got a pretty decent one here.

Anonymous said...

i like toast

Cal Berkeley said...

What exactly happens at a porn store that would ever be interesting

Anonymous said...

toast is yummy

Defenz77 said...

Hey MP, Glad you decided to pack it in early. Wouldn't want your brain cells fucked up not only because I care but, because I can't wait for your book to come out. Well drive safe and keep cool.

veronika said...

Dear kolchak,

maybe it's best not to admit you were wearing a $99 suit....or perhaps the point is that you didn't care about it?

Hope the dog is o.k.

Kristin said...

Gotta love it when you can actually FEEL yourself losing brain cells

Drunken Master said...

One of the coolest things to do is help a friend out by troubleshooting on the phone, just like Allen.

I did exactly the same today, helping my friend with a math problem.

Boring days can be soothing. Every now and then, I love watching the world go by.

catkins said...

maybe you could get Kolchack to call Allen......

jin said...

Hey kolchak:
Is that as in "The Night Stalker"?
Just curious.
If it is: brilliant!
If it isn't: just weird.
Ha!

MJ06 said...

Sounds like the caddieing industry some times.

Learn that Poem said...

Can't help but notice how much litter there is on that street...ewww

Maybe the cop pulled the cab over because someone threw trash out the window. Okay, maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Hey,from way out west in California,some of your story's I read about are kind of funny.....being a mechanic by living,wait till your heater core goes out.....the smell of hot radiator fluid will get you sick.

Later,
California

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like that cab crashed into a pole. Also looks a pretty dingy street, they aren't all like that, but it is a big city.

kigogal said...

I laughed so hard at "Does it smell like coffee?" And now I'm dying to know what engine malfunction smells like coffee. He sounds like a pretty great guy.

Anonymous said...

I had a funny smell in my car once -- it was the wiring harness shorting out. The smell of wire insulation, electrical tape, and plastic clips melting under your dash can melt brain cells, but what really hurts is when your car bursts into flames! Have someone look at the taxi before you drive that heap again! Better safe than crispy!

Chez Bez said...

Too bad boring doesn't pay the bills for some of us. But from time to time, it's exactly what we need.

Be safe.

Anonymous said...

frigifresh, thats the name of the fix, local auto parts store, mabey five bucks, spray it in the vents

Katy said...

slow nights can have their advantages. Like getting home early.

R2K said...

It has been hot : )

annmary said...

I'm sorry but looking at the pictures of New York I have the sentiment that people let saunter a lot of things belonging in a dust-bin and not on the street!!! It's time that one realizes that's the job of everyone to keep towns clean; the public services can't do it alone.

Pat T Hat said...

What's with the crack about a guy's suit? La De Da! Gee Whiz Veronica, not a wee bit pretentious are we? Speaking of crack, sounds like that cab needs put down the pipe and to get into a program!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kolchak, very nice work! Hey MJ don't ride that cab until they find what's burning! I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure it's not a good thing.

meesh said...

Yeah, you NEVER want to be the cabbie with cops standing around your car looking concerned. Boring is better!

Anonymous said...

You see that cab that's all up on the curb word is that the driver smelled something funny and kept on driving it until it was way too late!
Don't get in that cab until it is fixed ......
You wanna end up like that little girl?

lugosi said...

Response to Cal Berkeley: What exactly happens in a porn store that would NOT be interesting!?!?

Anonymous said...

my brother tends to be a genius with diagnosing car problems so i asked him about your air condition problems. he said that you could have frion leaking in to your system (on the coils) which could cause an unusual smell if they've used a tracer chemical in the frion. this also means that your a/c may go out on you. or you could even have a fuel leak in or near your air conditioning system.
either way, don't use your a/c without cracking your windows until you get it checked out by a professional.
i love your blog! i read it every chance i get!

jay walker said...

Did you stand in the street, in front of yellow taxi # 3B40, to take that picture of the Apollo?

Anonymous said...

Oh well....!!! from an old NY hack driver who run his medallion cab from 1980 to 2005 and now lives in Mexico

EverJack1 said...

I'm sure that M.P. told the mad Romanian about the smell when she got back to the garage......... uh....... didn't you, hon? :o)

More good reading and pics.

Good stuff!

EverJack1

Hijackqueen said...

You are lucky as it is not dead dog or cat under your cab!!! Or else it would stink like garbage.

Learn that Poem said...

What's a "medallion cab"?

greg said...

In New York City, a medallion cab is the same thing as a yellow cab. The city government limits the number of yellow cabs by setting a limit on the number of taxi medallions. There is an actual medallion that is securely attached to the hood of the taxi. Not that a stolen physical medallion would be of use to anyone -- the city must keep a registry of medallion owners. I wonder if the TLC cops have ever caught a cabbie using a stolen medallion.

Whenever the limit is increased, the new medallions are sold at auction. Click here for the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission's Web page for medallion sales. (You can see a picture of a physical medallion in the banner at the top of that page.) A medallion goes for well into six figures. There was an auction this month of new medallions for alternative fuel (hybrid or compressed natural gas) taxis and wheelchair accessible taxis. For example, the lowest winning bid for an alternative fuel medallion for independent taxi operators was $390,099.99 and the highest winning bid was $425,101.90. (Apparently, it's a sealed-bid type of auction.) Perhaps medallions for "regular" taxis (i.e., vehicles with internal combustion engines and without wheelchair lifts) have even hit the million-dollar mark in the past.

Existing medallions can also be sold at auction when their owners want to unload them.

Further reading: Wikipedia

greg said...

Omigosh, M.P. has her own Wikipedia entry!

maria soledad said...

Inoticed that you are in the begining of summer season. Never been in summer becouse people say some days, ( most o the summer time)there are 40°C. I imagine the street melting as you smell coffe in your car as a consecuence of an engine malfunction.
when you feel dizzie you must stop the car, go out of it. that´s what I would do.
Take care melissa.

Learn that Poem said...

Thanks, Greg... I guess it makes sense now. :-)

CharterJames said...

Hello there,

I just heard about your blog from one of my fares tonight. She was a young woman who lived in Park Slope. She said she "sometimes does articles" and that she did one where she interviewed you! She brought up the conversation appropos of nothing really, other than that I'd told her that I been driving about a year. So in return I told her about
http://tinyurl.com/zwmnz

Anyway, pleasure to meet you. As a cathartic sort of thing I have sometimes posted little taxi tales in certain newsgroups where I hang out. Members always respond by telling me I should put it in a blog. I even tried doing so camera shots from the cab too. But you are way ahead of me, so I think I will just point them here. Anyway, HP took their camera back when I quit the aisle sales job I had.

Anonymous said...

NIce taxi's there

The Lone Beader said...

Mmmmm...plastic bad melting in the pipe...

june in florida said...

I think your friend diagnosed it correctly. If you drive over plastic, grocery or cleaning bags etc, they stick to the catalitic converter(muffler) and will burn for weeks. Do it one time and your never do it again.

Uncle Butchie said...

I had an 89 Mercury Marquis that had that smell - not cool at all. I'm sure I lost a few brain cells, but yeah I think it's heater core/radiator related....Is there a barely detectable mist or smoke that oozes out slowly?

I hated that car.

Anonymous said...

I wanna eat her pussy next time she's in Calif

Alice F said...

Although air conditioning units can on occasion produce funny smells usually musty, if plastic catches on the exhaust the fumes come in through the air vents but also through the a/c drains in the floor

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