But yesterday morning I had an 8 am meeting at The Cupcake CafÃ© and had to jump into civvies and join the combative hordes smack-dab in the middle of cab-crunch time – that’s when there isn’t an empty taxi in sight and the streets are clogged with people who are sweet as neighbors, but killers as competitive cab-grabbers.
For the first futile 10 minutes I had the corner to myself, then I was joined by two high-school girls late for class and looking for a ride. Their parents had brought these kids up right because instead of doing the New York thing – which is to walk half a block uptown, so that you get a cab before it reaches the corner – they asked if I was taxi hunting and said they’d wait until I nabbed one.
As it turned out, we were all going in the same direction so, agreeing to share a ride, we each waved our hands furiously and finally attracted a “town car”, a car that usually only serves private clients, but might, for a negotiated fee, take a passerby. I opened the door to start my haggling and was so surprised when the driver called out, “Hi Arielle! Hi Johanna!” He knew my new-found wards.
It wasn’t until the kids jumped out that the driver told me that for many years he’d been the security guard at their school and knew them since they were little. It also turned out that the only reason I got the ride this morning was because of them – he wanted to do them a favor.
But the story doesn’t end here. The lovely driver in the spanking clean car (so different from a city cab) took me further downtown, stopped the car, ran around to my side to open my door (a service I’ve never seen performed by a NY cabbie in all my years of living here), helped me out and then wouldn’t take a penny for the ride. “It’s a gorgeous day – enjoy it,” he said.
What a guy! He saved the day for me – I was never going to get to that meeting on time without him – and he renewed my faith in the kindness of strangers. All that and it still wasn’t even 8am!