Friday, December 15, 2006

The Five-Nine

The 59th Street Bridge was a wreck yesterday. I know this not because I was behind the wheel of a cab sitting in the traffic myself, but because I caught up with a bunch of my old taxi buddies yesterday while they were driving, so I got to hear all about it.

First I called Gary back. We hadn't spoken in maybe six or seven months, ever since he left the garage to do alternating 24-hour shifts with a private taxi owner for a cheap price. Gary is an actor and a playwright, in his mid-to-late fifties, completely bald, and totally sharp and edgy. We became very good friends when we drove out of the same garage but sometimes when people leave a place and you don't see them regularly, it becomes hard to keep in touch, no matter how much you like each other.

Apparently, since the last time we talked, he'd been traveling around, and had settled into teaching English at a Buddhist temple in Thailand. He left me a message telling me he was back, and when I got him on the phone last night he was sitting in a back-up on Crescent Avenue, leading in to the lower level of the bridge, and telling me about how he was saving up to go to Vietnam for four months starting in mid-January.

The entire time we were catching up, he was stuck in this traffic. At one point he said, "I can't believe this. It's so bad, cars are starting to drive on the sidewalk to get up to the front of the line."

I said, "You must be going nuts, huh?"

But Gary replied, "Actually I'm not. If I learned one thing from the monks in Thailand it was this: 'See clearly and you will always act morally.' It sounds a little simple, but I've found it really works. So like right now, I figure, I'll get in to New York when I get there, and I'll make the money I'll make, and the night will be what it is."

So Gary's doing well, getting all Zen and shit, and enjoying his life.

After talking for nearly half an hour, we hung up as he finally made it onto the bridge.

Next I called Elliott back. He picked up on the last ring, right before his voice mail got it, and said, "Hello! Good to hear from you! But I'm driving and the city's a mess. I'll call you later."

When I woke up this morning, there was a message from Elliott at 5:00 am, just getting off his shift, apologizing for not calling me back sooner.

After that, I reached Allen. Allen has a funny, childlike way about him. He's also in his fifties, is an orthodox Jew, and lives with his mother and his brother in Williamsburg. He picked up and we just said "Hello?" back and forth to each other a few times until he realized it was me. Then he said, "Melissa? It's Allen!"

"Hi Allen. I knew it was you -- I called you... How're you doing?"

Allen simply launched in and said, "Yeah, so I was thinking about your book yesterday. I got an idea for you."

"Oh yeah? What were you thinking?" I knew it was gonna be weird, whatever it was.

"You should make some of your characters into cartoons!" He said this with glee in his voice, clearly thinking it a brilliant and clever idea, but also knowing I would never do such a thing.

"What?"

"CARTOONS!"

"Uh, yeah, okay, but I don't think that would work so well with the rest of the story. You always have the weirdest ideas."

Allen didn't say anything because he was laughing too hard at his own bizarre joke.

I changed the subject. "Where are you?"

"Brooklyn. The five-nine is all screwed up. You can't get into the city. I got some jobs and then got taken back out here. Now I'm trying to get back in."

"Traffic's bad, huh?"

"It's terrible."

We talked for a few more minutes and, as we started wrapping up the conversation, Allen assured me that he would come up with some more ideas for the book. I thanked him and wished him a happy Hanukkah.

I had been off this marathon phone session for about two minutes when Diego called. Me and Diego still talk regularly, so it's much more casual with us.

"What's up Diego."

"Nothing. I'm pulling in to LaGuardia. The 59th Street Bridge is all fucked up so I took the tunnel and the second I got through, right across the street at that corner, a woman gets in and takes me to the butt-end of Astoria. I didn't even call the hotline, I just came straight here."

"Yeah, I heard the bridge was bad. Is the airport full?"

"Nah, it's not that bad." He must've parked already because I heard him going up to the coffee shop in the taxi lot and buying a pack of cigarettes. Then he said, "Yo, you ever coming back to work or what?"

"I hope I won't have to, but I might. If I don't find something else, I'll probably come back in February."

Diego said, "Well I miss you, buddy. I wanna see you soon."

We hung up while he was still at the airport.

It's true. I've been working hard on this book (almost done with Draft 2) and I really don't want to go back to the cab, at least until it's finished. If I can avoid it for a while longer, I will. But if my bank account and bills demand it, which may be sooner than I'd like, I'll have to get back behind that wheel.

In the meantime, I'm much happier keeping in touch with the streets vicariously through my cabbie pals.

83 comments:

Jennifer said...

well I am glad your doing alright and we know your still alive too lol. Hope the book well draft is coming along. You need to write more and take more pictures. I miss the pictures. Have a great holiday, and don't work too hard :)

wil said...

Merry Christmukkah!

Thanks for the update.

Andrea said...

Hey MP, Glad to hear from you and happy as can be that the second draft is almost done. I myself feel that you will not have to go back to work as a cab driver, as soon as your book hits the stands. Have a wonderful holiday & hope to hear from you soon. Wow, 2007 is on our heels. So for now stay safe & keep in touch.

rajib said...

I used to intern on the 59th street for two months this summer and it never looked as bad as you have mentioned in this post.

When I was in the big apple, the only time when 59th street was crowded was when the cops came to nab a few felons - the streets were closed for passer-bys(between 58th & 59th; and Lex & 3rd) and there were police copters hovering around which got more attraction from the crowd than anything else. Certain entrances to the 59th Lex Subway station were probably also closed.

I checked the newspapers and the internet next day for what exactly happened but could not get any info - I guess I should have rather checked with some of the shopkeepers on the road where the incident happened.

-----------------------------------
Best of luck with your book :-).

Like millions of online fans of ur blog, I hope that u return to active blogging after finishing ur book and irrespective of your profession.

Gen FYI - My messenger status on both Yahoo and Google are:

"Yippee !! The New York Hack is back :-)"

Anonymous said...

Was glad for the read. For your friend heading to Vietnam make sure he NEVER orders anything that is described as Misc. Food...it will try to be passed as a veggie dish, but there's no way it is....stay away from Misc. Food!

And to the NY hack--Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

A few cartoon illustrations is not such a bad idea ... perhaps on the top of each chapter ?

Brutally Honest said...

Unfortuantely this post is about as exciting as your blog has been in recent months. I will be removing this from my Yahoo home page. Lost interest with the lack of upkeep....just being honest.


P.S. at one time I would have gladly been one of the first people to buy your book...now I wouldn't even consider it without reading some great reviews about it....I think many others would agree with me....how disappointing!

Philip said...

Hey Brutally Honest -
Sure you can make your snide comments if you must. But you don't need to kid yourself by saying "others would agree . . ." Bullshit!

MP: I always appreciate the updates and am patiently awaiting your book.

Anonymous said...

opinions are like assholes..............


glad to see your doing well,happy holidays!

Dan said...

"Brutally Honest"? Wow, no, not even close. Try "Jealous Internet Coward With No Life", pathetically hiding behind your keyboard. It fits perfectly and is actually brutally honest. You failed miserably to learn about simple manners, junior. Congratulations for proving that to everyone else! Bet your family is quite proud of your intellectual short-coming.

MP: We can not wait to see the book. Hope you have a great autograph signing book party somewhere once it comes out!

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back, even if it is vicariously, Can't wait for the book!

Anonymous said...

Wow, good to see you back! I just hope it's not too late. Nothing's harder to regain than a fanbase! Good luck with it, and if I were you, I'd update again real soon.

Anonymous said...

Great to have you back writing. Doesn't have to be about hacking. You somehow have the nack of getting the reader involved with what your talking about. I can totally understand you not wanting to go back in the cab, having been there and done that. In the 5+ years that I drove, there were some great moments, but they were far, and few between. It is a rough way to make a living, and the service you provide is rarely treated as anything more than a nessary evil. Please keep us posted as to your continuing efforts, life wise. And who cares if someone is going to take you off their favorites list because your not keeping them "entertained". When your book is released, I will find a copy! Bob.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thanks for checking in with us. And I'm sure there are a lot of "us" checking in to see if you are checking in. I have to say that what ever you write seems to suck me in, I guess it's just the way you write. I think your a natural born writer. I could care less at this point if it's about cabdriving. And, I can totally relate to you not wanting to go back to driving. Having been there and done that. I am going to buy your book,even if the reviews suck.
Brutlly honest,who cares what you think. MP's talent is apparent, you just don't feel entertained anymore. Go Back to television.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
It's nice to see another blog entry - I've been checking repeatedly and there were days
when I thought you'd never type another entry! I'm glad to hear despite the complete
drought of entertaining entries that you're happy. I know that the book is very important
to you and as a fan, I'm very much looking forward to it's publication - so I'm torn as to
which I want you to focus on too. Reading this entry I must confess it was fun to meet
the people you know vicariously and even w/out pictures it was fun to read. In my
opinion the colorful people are the best part of NYC - the colorful population is the
heartbeat of the Big Apple and you have such a gift for writing you make each person you
spoke to come alive. I just wanted to say thank you for your entry and keep working hard
on the book your most loyal of fans want what ever is best for you! Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year (a little early).

Sincerely,
Janelle Ryleigh

Pat T Hat said...

What a very pleasant suprise finding you here after an evening of Kentucky fried debauchery. Your post caps off a perfect day. Maybe it's begins a new one!
As always an enjoyable nugget.
So happy your work progresses and you are well.
Pay heed to your Zennish friend. I think he may be onto something!!!
And by the way, remember that Fog Horn Leghorn alway's kept his feathers numbered just in case. Cartoons aren't always crazy:)!
Yours till your next madam, PTH.

Tableside Hack said...

Miss your stories but know that you can't subjectyourself to something you don't want to do just to please our need for enertainment- so I guess I just wait fo your book (AUTOGRAPHED please?????)
-Webster

george the atheist said...

Crescent STREET (not "Avenue")leads onto the lower level of the Queensborough Bridge...BTW a great thing to do while stuck waiting on Crescent street is laugh at the fools who bought condos in the building on your left...Purchasers thought they'd get great views of the Manhattan skyline but didn't realize that another condo is being built right in front of them which will block their expensive "view" - this new construction is on the former site of the Greek newspaper, the National Herold.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're back. Let my licese expire in 2003. Been following your blog and am real excited about hitting the streets again. Can't believe you work for Richard, small world wonderful garage. See you on the road in 2007! if TLC permits!! Charlie

Svetlana said...

Thanks for info I found here. Real usefull and helpfull for me. Thamks for your work and keep writing this blog in future.

Ellie said...

I echo Phillip. I was glad to see the update, you are a great writer and I will still be one of those to pick up your book as soon as it comes out.

Ellie

cokeguy101 said...

I agree! I loved this at first, but now once every month you pop on and say oh by the way I am alive! This latest update tops it off, you're to lazy to drive a cab and give us a decent blog YOU CALL YOUR CABBIE FRIENDS, B.S.! You are a good writer and artistic, BUT remember this DO NOT FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM AND HOW YOU GOT THIS BOOK DEAL IN THE FIRST PLACE. It would wise of you to keep this blog updated atleast weekly you will sells millions if you do. People will want to read and hear more and it is a way to contact millions of people a day!

brooklyndude613 said...

welcome home....... hag semeach

Lacey said...

WOW, brutally honest has some issues, I must say I totally disagree.

I am happy to be reading your blog again and want wait for the next one, whether you drive a cab or not!

You have a fantastic writing style and it's fun to see things through your eyes, THANK YOU!

Looking forward to the book!

Oh yeah, and I live in Venice Beach, CA. I haven't seen 'Acid Casuality' around lately, but if I do I will try to get a picture for you.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer is right. One of the reasons I enjoy your blog is that I live way out west and have never been to NYC. It is great to get a tour from a local's viewpoint. Even if you don't get back behind the wheel, I assume you still have to go out to restock food and supplies and such. Take some shots then. Your blog is of interest because you have a unique point of view and you share it, it doesn't matter if that point is from the front seat of a cab or walking down the street.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update...see you in another 5 f'in weeks!

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I have to agree that a blog entry about nothing but various conversations you had with your friends isn't exactly one of your better pieces of work, but you're really busy and it's a one-time occurrence, so people shouldn't be quite so critical.

More importantly is the fact that you're at least checking in with your fans. That lets us know that you still care about us, so thank you for that. Really happy to see you back, hope you don't disappear again, and can't wait for the next entry (which I'm sure will be closer to your usual quality of writing). Do you expect your book to hit Atlantic Canada? And do you have any idea what the price will be? Please answer those questions, I will check back for a response. Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

John MacD mentioned you on WBAI again today - hope to hear more of you on his show in the future! Take care.

BAF said...

Hey Melissa, good to know all is well. Looking forward to your book reaching our shores. Just 'Snap and Post' when you are out and about in NY - you have the Knack.
Best Regards
BAF Auckland NZ

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear from you, MP!

You don't sound too upbeat, hope everything is well. Happy holidays!

J in S.C.

Megan said...

There seems to be some New York Hack addicts! When they can't get a fix, they get all huffy!

I'm lucky... I guess I have a life. I love your blog, Melissa (whatever you write about), but I seeem to check in about as often as you update!

I have a blog too... so I know how difficult it can be to keep it up... I haven't written in mine in months!! Of course, nobody complains about it! :-)

Have a safe New Year.

Look forward to your book.

John said...

Grear to see you back. This must have been like the long sleep of Rip Van Winkle...He changed profession too..He makes beds now. Take care out there.
Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year to you bloggers and customers.

Anonymous said...

Wish you would post your photo's on Flickr. Its a good creative outlet, and your NY stuff will stand out. New York Hack would be a good user name.
~~Mike

Anonymous said...

Btw. You are now the "Time-Person of the Year".

Congratulations!

http://us.cnn.com/2006/US/12/16/time.you.tm/index.html

Tracy said...

OK - so here's my two cents. I do think there is some truth in the thought that keeping us coming back for more will help sell books down the road. But, I also understand that you are under deadlines, etc right now to get the book complete so that is your focus.

Perhaps, there is a balance in giving us some updates and/or antedotes regarding the process of writing the book that could be shared to keep us connected. Maybe a weekly update ...

I'm not mad about your lack of posting or anything, but I do come here less and less often because I know you are so busy and I'm not sure that is good either.

Bottom line, do your thing....if you never drive a cab again I am sure you will do something that you can share with us because as others have said, you are a good writer.

Best of luck.

Dino aka Katy said...

nice to see you are still in touch with the taxi world out there while confined to your book. Keep us in the loop.

Troy Bierkortte said...

Hi Melissa,
Good to hear from you no matter what. I can't wait to buy your book, and I'm glad you are taking the time to write it.
Oh, hell yeah! I'm jealous. Who wouldn't want to be able to quit working for months to write a book? It must beat the hell out of driving tourists all over the city to pay rent.
I'm curious what your next occupation will be. Maybe you could get one of those hot dog carts and write a book about selling food in the city, or perhaps your next project could be called "Manhattan Pretzel Babe".
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed your driving experiences. As a one time visitor to NY, and from a small southern town, it was exciting to read of your adventures. Much success with your book.

Dana said...

Hey MP, Just love the way you put it together! Good Luck MaMa.

Peace from Cali

jusbeinapain said...

The cartoon Idea is intresting
maybe give Ralph Steadman a ring up
hes used to working with authors
that are a little off center.Then call your Zen freind he can help you with that center thing. Good luck with the book.

Anonymous said...

i miss the pictures too :~(

von Wenk said...

Yay, MP, you're back! What a delight it is to hear from you. As for those lame comments above, dripping with a bizarrely unctuous and unearned sense of entitlement - I say, "whatever."

To wit:

"I became your fan, so now I demand frequent updates." "I am threatening to delete your RSS feed because you are not adhering to my schedule." And the punch line: "I will be removing this from my Yahoo home page." (Yeah, and I guess we're going to hear from your attorneys soon. That "brutally honest" comment will be a classic joke in a few days.)

Anonymous said...

I know everyone has been on the attack regarding BRUTALLY HONEST. I'm not here to attack but simply ask, "What makes this post so lacking?" M's telling us about life, NYC, etc. OK, maybe there was no one trying to run her off the road or spit at her, which is always interesting. But that was never the real point of this anyway. Keep up the great work Melissa. Happy Holidays.

Jason said...

Can there be some kind of real update in regards to the book. Are you actually writing DIFFERENT stories than what you have posted on the blog? If the book is just a re-hash of everything on here it is not worth the money to buy it, as well as a waste of time.
www.jasonmulgrew.com

Barbara said...

I must say that I nearly gave up on this page. Hope the writing is going well and that you have a nice holiday. More updates would be great, as I would hate to see you lose any of your fan base, but do what you can. Most of us will still be here, waiting to check out your book!

R2K said...

: )

Maria said...

congratulations on your Draft 2! and have a happy holiday!

Please let us know once you're published, I sure will rush to the nearest bookstor - which in reality is www.amazon.com :)

a fan,
m.e.

EverJack1 said...

I smiled when I clicked on your ws, and saw Dec. listed.

Glad you're doing okay, Melissa. Enjoyed catching up with your life. Keep us informed, and I hope your book is about ready to publish.

Happy holidays! :o)

EverJack1

Kevin said...

I miss your pictures.

Academic Deano said...

Its all well and good being that laid back unless your in the rush for a toilet.

Flatley said...

I cant believe that jerk said that. PFFT! What a creepster. Hi this is your friend beth F. See you around soon.

scrappapervlog said...

Hey! I just stumbled across your blog and I love it! I should have looked for you today, I was just in the city with my fiancee and her family! Take care!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Melissa! You should UPDATE MORE OFTEN! I really enjoy reading your blog....

-Renee' in Temecula, California.

Anonymous said...

how about some christmas pictures of NYC?

John said...

Give her a break.
Theres plenty of other blogs around.If you want pictures look out the window!
Happy 2007

Barbara said...

Happy New Years Melissa! Please update us when you get a chance!

Anonymous said...

Good luck and I hope you make enough money off the book to not have to work for a long time :) I know I'll be doing my part, can't wait to read it!
Amy

wil said...

Happy New Year, Melissa.

I hope you have/had a fun filled and romantic adventure at the stroke of Midnight.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

ingrid said...

Happy New Year!, New Life!
Be yourself! Don`t go back to the street in your car fighting with elementary situation.
You have evolve , Melisa, so go on with writting.
I hope you be happy!



Ingrid fron buenos aires.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year MP, I look forward to read your book but I miss reading your posts, to bad you can't update them as you like, I think yourself and Mad DC Cabbie have the best cab blog out there.

Love & Peace,

Tina.

Anonymous said...

YOU---blew it!

Ron said...

Who should have this but you?

http://www.popgadget.net/2007/01/nyc_taxi_sound.php

Anonymous said...

Any update is an update I enjoy reading. It's always entertaining to me to read about lifes daily happenings in a large city. You tell your stories well, despite the not-so-traditionally entertiaining subject matter. Plus I like to hear that the traffic other places is horrible, that way it makes the traffic here seem less of an issue. Oh, and I'll be buying your book, assuming it makes it out here to Idaho.

Anonymous said...

I'm really not sure why I keep checking for updates, as there aren't any for huge lengths of time. I am definitely falling out of love with this blog. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Not even a New Year's Eve in New York City post. Very sad. You are only hurting yourself by not keeping this blog current. I hope you got a great advance, because your books sales are going to suffer horribly.

Removing this blog from my favorites. Take care and best of luck to you and your book.

Anonymous said...

Someone should publish a book on all the messages to your blog. They are much more entertaining.

Anonymous said...

MP, are you sure you will not update this blog until your book is finished?

Anonymous said...

Second hand cab stories. Interesting. No, wait - the other thing: Tedious.

Anonymous said...

Second hand cab stories. Interesting. No, wait - the other thing: Tedious.

Anonymous said...

Second hand cab stories. Interesting. No, wait - the other thing: Tedious.

Anonymous said...

Second hand cab stories. Interesting. No, wait - the other thing: Tedious.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Wow. Not even a New Year's Eve in New York City post. Very sad. You are only hurting yourself by not keeping this blog current. I hope you got a great advance, because your books sales are going to suffer horribly.

Removing this blog from my favorites. Take care and best of luck to you and your book.

RUDE

Even though you don't update that much anymore I still enjoy dropping by to read past posts. Hope the book thing is going good, can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Melissa. I imagine you might have a love hate relationship with driving cabs, but you might want to just pick up a shift every now and again, not because you have to for income, but because you have to as a person. Try again, just for fun. You might like it!

Anonymous said...

FLUSH....This blog has officially gone down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

As stated by others, very disappointed that you have neglected this blog to focus on "the book deal." What happened to staying loyal to your roots? After all, wasn't this the community that helped to garner your opportunities?!?

Your off my RSS, as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm new here. I bookmarked this site to my favorites sometime around 2003 or 2004, and that was the last time I visited, I think. I never was a big blog person to begin with, and that's why I never came back.

The last time I was here there was never any mention of a book, but that was several years ago. Today people here are concluding that the blogger's absence is due to Melisssa's new found career as a writer. And while that might be true, you can bet that Melissa will be back here blogging once the honeymoon is over. And the honeymoon always ends.

-Anonymous in California-

R2K said...

: )

Anonymous said...

You suck!

Anonymous said...

You're a damn good writer - conversationalist - people enjoy your events and the language you choose to recount and share them with us. Thanks!

autooo said...

very interesting!!!!

Anonymous said...

New site to watch free online tv http://stafex.net

Rob said...

I like your style. I'm a writer/driver too, started a blog awhile back and then came across yours. Sorry to see I missed the peak, at least of your online stuff.

Still, I have a shitload of stories to tell and no audience despite my best efforts to alienate and keep myself completely anonymous. Who knew?

I could use a good word. RollingZeros.Blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

well I am glad your doing alright and we know your still alive too lol. Hope the book well draft is coming along. You need to write more and take more pictures. I miss the pictures. Have a great holiday, and don't work too hard :)