Thursday, December 21, 2006

New York Stories

Sorry I’ve been so lazy lately but work has picked up, the holidays are marching in on grim little goose-steps and as it gets closer to the baby due date I have become much more distracted from current events. Also, New York City becomes generally unlivable from Thanksgiving to New Years. There are more tourists in lower Manhattan during the holidays than rats on the Lower East Side or cockroaches in Inwood. It’s even worse this year thanks to the downward slide of the dollar and the steady parade of Englishmen hopping across the pond to buy video cameras and such. You can’t even get near J&R without tripping over groups of Italians haggling over the cost of I-Pods and laptops.

On our way back from baby class last night we had an exceptionally memorable cab ride. The first thing I noticed was that the driver, who’s head I could barely make out in the dim light of the interior couldn’t have been more than 4 feet tall. I gave him a quick once over before getting into the cab, just to make sure he wasn’t a 12 year old out trying to make a few bucks for crack money while his daddy was passed out somewhere in Astoria.

When we get in the cab it took a minute before several things registered. First, the temperature in the cab must have been over 100 degrees. I went from freezing to heatstroke in about 20 seconds. Second, it really smelled. Not like a food smell, more like a person-is-stuffed-under-the-carpet-and-rotting smell, mixed with cheap, obviously foreign tobacco. The driver, and I use the term loosely, headed in the general direction of downtown at a pace somewhere between a walk and a bicycle ride. Once we got on the FDR Drive a steady succession of cars passed us with the usual curses and horn honking. It was then I noticed that the driver was trying to eat some sort of greasy sandwich, WITH BOTH HANDS as he inched down the highway. I was fascinated simply watching his utter disregard for the rules of the road, his passengers, the other drivers and his own health all at the same time. Then I noticed that his hands were shaking. Bad. Like DTs bad. Like I need several drinks or I’m going to fall over bad. To calm the demon voices he turned on talk radio REALLY LOUD. All of this was done in silence. Not a word passed his lips. Mercifully, we got stuck in a massive traffic jam around the Seaport and spent the rest of the trip inching down the road where a collision would have done nothing but interrupt the driver’s dinner. At least he knew where the Ferry terminal was. I haven’t had a ride like that in a while. Kind of made me miss the old school drivers who would argue politics and share a drink with you on late night rides home.

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