I don’t take a lot of taxis. Not only am I usually unwilling to pay the initial pick-up fee of $3 when I can travel as far as I want on the subway for $2.25, but I also feel a moral obligation to embargo them because of the awful way so many cabbies drive.
I’ll admit that the idea of quietly relaxing in the back of a taxi really appeals to me some mornings, though. And this morning in particular, I was really dreading my commute to work because of the bag of clothes accompanying me for my trip to Ohio tonight. I could take the bus, which is right outside Kamran’s apartment, but aisle space is limited on those things, and jockeying the bag around at each stop would be a nightmare. I could take the subway, which affords much more aisle space, but it’s a couple of avenue blocks away from Kamran’s, and lugging my bag there in the 90+-degree heat and then sweating it out on the platform sounded almost worse than just walking all the way to work.
from the back of a cab on Manhattanhenge 2011
So I decided to take a taxi. It’s about $20 from Kamran’s apartment in Midtown to my office at the tip of the island, but what won’t I spend $20 on?, and this was a legitimate need. Kamran walked me outside (wearing a sweater vest on a 90+-degree day, because he suffers for fashion), but there weren’t any cabs waiting in front of his building, so I trekked down the street an avenue block and waved down the first guy I saw.
All of his windows were down, which didn’t work for my still-wet curly hair, so I rolled both of the rear ones up immediately. And then traffic stopped, and I sat boiling. I could feel the little sweat droplets bead up on my nose. I could feel a layer of wetness forming between the vinyl seat and my bare arm. I thought about asking the driver to turn on the air conditioning, but I felt guilty. I was going to pay by credit card, which eats into his profit, and then I was going to waste his gas, too?
But I was for-real sweating at that point, and since my best friend, Tracey, is kind enough to let me keep my toiletries at her house throughout the year for use during my visits to Ohio, I didn’t even have any deodorant in my bag. It was then that I realized I would’ve been cooler had I just taken the bus or subway, and here I was, paying $20 for the pleasure of moistening my pants.
So in desperation, I reached down and flipped the little A/C on/off switch on the vent near my feet, figuring there was no way I could turn on the whole system myself. BUT I DID! I could control my own fate! And swamp crotch! The fan started roaring, and hot air blasted my face for a second before becoming sweet, sweet cold air. My sweat dried right up, my cab driver suddenly seemed like an okay guy, and instead of typing 15% into the credit card tip screen like I usually do because all of the preset amounts are 20% and up, I just selected the 20% button like a normal human being.
Still learning, six years in.