Tuesday, July 11, 2006
So things went a little better tonight. The afternoon consisted of passengers that were eager to talk about the building explosion on the upper east side (photo above of the blocked-off end of 62nd Street at Park Ave). The radio was going on about it over and over, so I was able to give everyone up-to-the-minute updates. It's funny to see so many reactions to a bizarre local news story. It seemed like most people were mildly amused by the whole thing, mainly, I think, because no one died and because the guy was clearly a lunatic.
Anyway, later in the evening I picked up a well-dressed French man going to a hotel in SoHo. We chatted for a bit and, of course, the World Cup came up. I'm not a big soccer fan or anything, but I did happen to see the final game on Sunday. The poor guy, I actually felt a little bad for him. He talked about the game with deep regret, saying, "It would've been better if it was the Germans, not the Italians."
Just to be sure, I clarified. "You mean, you would prefer to lose to Germany than to Italy."
He laughed a tiny bit and said, "Yes. That is correct."
In other World Cup news, near the end of my shift, two girls and a very drunk guy got in at Ludlow and Stanton. The girls entered the cab by the curb, but the guy entered street-side. When he got in, he took one look at me and started yelling, saying, "Oh shit! You look Italian! Are you Italian?"
Then he started singing, but the whole time, his door was wide open and cars were starting to zip by with only inches to spare. A few more seconds like that and I knew the door would be gone. But when I asked him to close it, he refused. He just sat there staring at me and yelling that I was Italian. (I'm not.)
I turned around and threatened to kick him out of the cab if he didn't calm down and close the door, but the girls persuaded me not to. Then they took a turn yelling at him to shut the door, and finally he did.
I was, by that point, considerably annoyed. The two girls were sweet, though, and began apologizing for his behavior. I was ready to let it go, but he continued yelling, and finally went to reach through the partition. As far as I'm concerned, this a big no-no. With one hand on the wheel, I reached back with the other and slammed it shut in his face. He drew his hand back in time but, unfortunately, I could still hear him. He turned to his friends and said, "This is the worst cab experience ever. Isn't it?"
They said, "No, Neil, it isn't. She's just doing her job and you're being an ass."
I was happy that they understood where I was coming from. I was also happy that it was only a short ride. Neil continued acting like a dick, singing Pearl Jam songs and demanding I put on Hot 97, until we finally reached St. Mark's and First Ave. I opened the partition and said, "That'll be $4.60." The girls apologized again, handed me a ten, and told me to keep it.
Then, as they exited on the curb side, Neil, staying true to his asshole form, got out on the street side, flinging the door open on to oncoming cars. Me and the girls yelled, but he ignored us and continued exiting as cars swerved around us up First Ave.
When my next passenger got in, he said, "Do you smoke?"
I said, "Yeah, why do you ask?"
"Oh, someone left a full pack of cigarettes on the seat."
He handed me a brand-new unopened pack of cigarettes. I was sure they were Neil's and felt gratified that he at least paid some small price for his stupidity, and that I got a little something extra out of the deal, in addition to the nice tip.
My gratification turned to disappointment, however, when I noticed the brand: Marlboro Light Menthols. I would've happily smoked just about any brand, especially when it's free, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Of course, it made perfect sense. Only a dick named Neil would buy those -- and then lose them, unopened, in a cab.