I love being a cabbie. A lot of jobs are pretty much the same thing day in, day out, but in my line of work, every day brings something new. I’ve been in the business more than 20 years now, and I can tell you from experience that no two shifts are alike. What keeps it interesting? Well, when you drive a taxi for a living, you see all different types of fares.
Each time I get hailed or receive a call from dispatch telling me where to go for my next pickup, I have no idea what sort of fare I’m going to be dealing with. It could be a $5.20 or a $48.65. That feeling, that sense that anything can happen, is what makes this job so unique.
For instance, my first fare this morning barely broke the base rate of $2.50 plus applicable surcharges. That’s the kind of fare that only takes you three measly blocks. What a way to start the day! Usually it’s one of those $26 bridge-and-tunnel fares, or maybe just a completely average one in the $12.25 to $14.80 range. But fares have a way of surprising you when you least expect it.
I’ve handled some fares you wouldn’t believe. Like $9.85. This one time, over on the Upper East Side, I picked up a pregnant woman who suddenly went into labor right there in the backseat. You can imagine how that went: $9.85 plus tip, I kid you not. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Yup, $17.35, $72.50, $4.15—I’ve seen just about all of ’em.
I’ve dealt with so many $6.35s over the years it honestly doesn’t even faze me anymore. When I was first starting out, a fare like that would completely throw me for a loop, but after a while, you start to get desensitized to it.
As anyone who’s ever driven a taxi will tell you, the late-night fares are always the wildest ones. A few years back, this gorgeous brunette got into my car around 3 a.m., and the next thing I know, $13.10. Every cabbie has a few stories like that.
One time, a certain legendary Yankee shortstop hopped into my cab out of nowhere and said, “You gotta get me to the Bronx in 10 minutes or I’m gonna be late for the game!” That one was an even $20. Twenty bucks! I actually took a picture of myself with that fare at the end of the ride, which I know is a little tacky, but otherwise no one would have believed me.
I had two $7.80s in a row once. True story.
Most people aren’t cut out for dealing with so many unpredictable fares every night, but I have to tell you, I love it. I may have been at this for two decades, but I know there are still plenty of interesting fares waiting for me out there. I’ve always wanted to get a $5.55. They say you can drive for 30, 40 years and never see a $5.55.
Of course, not every fare is as exciting as an $83.35 with a 50-cent nighttime surcharge. And the standard $52 fares to JFK can get boring sometimes. But inevitably, just when you’ve resigned yourself to having a slow shift, that’s the moment you get a $7.05, a $13.45, a $26.15, an $18.40, another $13.45, a $9.30, a $32.60, maybe a $21.75, and it reminds you why you got into this kind of work in the first place.
After all, if I wanted to see the same kinds of fares every day, I’d drive a city bus.