On a blistering cold day last week, my two colleagues and I were trying to hail a cab without any luck.
"Show your baby bump!" yelled my supervisor.
"I should, but it's cold!" I replied.
Finally I got an off-duty cab to stop. He rolled down the window and kept the doors locked, which means: tell me where you are going first and I'll decide if I want to take you!
I slowly unzipped my coat in case I needed to let the bump free as I said Park Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. He thought about it for a second and then let us in.
We piled in and I immediately noticed the credit card machine and TV were not on. "Does your credit card machine not work?"
"Cash only! $30 per person!" he yelled back. We figured he was joking, but I was annoyed because we needed to use our corporate card to pay for the ride. "What? So is it broken?" He mumbled something that none of us could understand. My co-workers didn't have cash, but luckily I did.
We got to 49th street and Park Avenue and he stopped. I was annoyed because I didn't want to walk an extra block. "Sir, please go through the light to 50th street." He didn't move.
"Sir! I'm pregnant!"
"What?" Obviously, this guy had selective hearing. I looked at my colleagues who were giggling. They didn't want to get out either, so I repeated: "I'M PREGNANT. PLEASE GET CLOSER TO 50TH!"
He begrudgingly drove to the next block. After I gave him $20.00 the TV and credit card machine lit up.
"So his machine does work!" said my boss. The driver mumbled something about taxes as he gave me $10.00 back.
"What is this?!" I asked annoyed. "I think I am missing some change. How much was this ride? $6.00?" He showed me the receipt, which read a total of $8.00. "So you want a $2.00 tip for lying to us? Okay, fine, whatever!" I jumped out of the cab and my colleagues followed. If it weren't for the fact that I was getting reimbursed for the fare, I would have been more irritated.
Why can't all rides be like the one I just had yesterday? The driver apologized for not noticing me at first, and then told me how inspired he was by Obama's election and re-election (he's a Bangladesh-native whose last name is Hussein): "I called my son in college and said, 'You have a chance!'"
That's what's great about taxi rides: you never know if you're in for a fight, a quiet ride, or a touching glimpse into someone's life.