Yellow Cab Blues
Meet New York's rookie cabbies - fledgling taxi-drivers trying to earn a living in the most stressful city in the world. Most are immigrants, already grappling with the challenges of a new language and a new culture. Now they have to deal with long hours, short fares, and grumpy passengers in the back. Will they make it?
The new drivers come from all over the world. Not long ago they were leading very different lives in Dhaka, Islamabad or Accra, dreaming of a new life in the US. Now they are in an airless basement below a Tibetan restaurant in Queens learning how to avoid traffic tickets and charm passengers into better tips.
And it is tips they need. Most New York cab-drivers lease rather than own a car. Every morning they pick it up and pay a few hundred dollars for the privilege. They work twelve-hour shifts, seven-days a week driving round and round waiting for a hail. On a bad day they wind up with less money than they started.
In this honest, funny feature, Cathy FitzGerald travels to New York to hear how the taxi immigrants make sense of their new lives. How do they square religious beliefs with passengers wanting to have sex or do drugs during the ride? And how do they stay calm when the guy in the back picks a fight?
(Photo: Sherrin lost and found her cab. Credit: Matt Thompson)