The cab pulls up to get me off of Lafayette. I’ve got my cell phone raised above my head like it’s a rock concert. For those of you who haven’t been to a rock concert in the last ten years, cell phones have replaced lighters as the sentimental luminescent of choice. There’s even an iPhone app that is just a picture of a lighter with flame in full blossom on loop. It exists. I’ve seen it.
I bang on the trunk to have the driver open it. Idiot. I’ve got a roller bag; you should have preemptively popped that sucker open. Anyways. I get in the car and the driver starts rambling on about stopping by a bank and that he doesn’t want me to use my credit card or whatever.
Me: “So you don’t want me to use my credit card?”
Driver: “No. Cash, please. If you do cash please I can go home right after this.”
Me: “I literally have no cash on me. I have to use my credit card.”
Driver: “We can stop at an ATM on the way.”
Me: “You want me to stop at an ATM? Or you want to stop at an ATM?”
He says something indecipherable about five dollars. This leaves me excruciatingly confused. We are heading towards Houston and all I want to know is if I need to get in a cab that can take my damn credit card.
Me: “If your cab can’t take my credit card then I’m going to have to get into another one.”
I motion towards the mountain of cabs to my right.
Driver: “No. No. No. No.”
My driver sees his pretty fifty dollars slipping out of his fingers. I use this as an opportunity to lie.
Me: “I can’t stop at an ATM because I’m late for my flight.”
Driver: “What time is your flight?”
Damn you. I lie and say 9 even though my flight is actually at 10:15.
Driver: “Oh. Well. It will only take us 35 minutes to get there now.”
I hardly believe this. It’s 7:13 PM, which spells rush hour in any language that isn’t Cow Town, USA. So now I am forced to lie again.
Me: “I need to pay for this with a credit card so I can give the receipt to my client and so my client can reimburse me. You get it?”
This is partially true. More true is that I just want to keep everything on my credit card so I can accrue more American Airline Advantage points so that I can fly to New Zealand for free by the end of this year. My driver buys my bullshit and we take off without further mention of stopping by a bank of any sorts. I sort of care that he won’t be able to go home right away, but then again, tough cookies dude. You’re a cab driver. Drive me.
We’re busting down Houston and the lights are changing at the right times and we’re passing cars and we’re going fast and we approach the end of the island and pretty much at this point things get fucked. Red lights. Lots of brake lights telling me that it’s going to take a long time in this cab with a coughing driver and AM radio talking about some shit I just don’t care about.
But Driver has another idea. We head back down south in the direction of my apartment that I should have just picked a cab out in front of instead of walking all the way down to the subway, thinking that I was going to take the subway before changing my mind. This nonevent happened downstairs, while standing in front of the closed doors of the Uptown J train, which I was going to utilize to transfer in one stop to the ACE train. I change my mind when my text message relaying transportation consultation from Colin came through. I have a hard time thinking for myself unless I am trying to be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. Real decisions based on real details are much harder.
One nausea-building, treeless loop later and we’re on the Brooklyn Bridge. Beach House plays on my iPod, trying desperately to drown out Driver who is yelling “JFK! JFK!” flanked by words in Indian that I just don’t understand. Giant fluorescent bulbs dot the bridges connecting Manhattan to the real world and I feel like a rat in a carnival. My peaceful reverie ends soon enough; in about ten minutes I feel like a rat begging for arsenic.
I watch the traffic on the highway we’re supposed to be heading towards stand still. Damn this. I hate cabs. I hate cabs and I regret the decision to have not taken my trustworthy steed “The Subway.” I don’t mind that it’s the equivalent of a modern-day horse and buggy. I don’t even mind that kids pick their buggers and put them under their seats. What I appreciate most is the fact that I have never once wanted to throw up all over the damn place while in its charge. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.
Driver: “I’m going to take you the shortcut.”
The next thirty minutes are spent driving like a bat out of hell through Brooklyn while I try to keep my trail mix down. I feel the water I just chugged five minutes ago rise through up to my esophagus, begging to just be released all over the black vinyl interior of this cab. At one point I look over at a bus we’re passing at a fairly true-to-size Bill Paxton holding the hand of maybe Chloe Sevigny. I’m too sick to look further back at who’s holding his outstretched hand. Oh Bill, I know I’ve said I hate you as an actor in the past, but please, oh please, save me. Driver steps on the gas and Bill vanishes.
It’s like Die Hard 4 and I’m just an innocent bystander who has been caught up in a high-speed chase. I’d be the girl listed in the credits as “Hysterical Girl #8.” I’d show up somewhere in between the gaffer credits and location information and everyone would have already left the theater.
Now, I know how my mom would handle a situation like this. My mom would forgo the pleasantries of passive aggressiveness and shoot straight for, “You’re driving erratically and you need to slow down. RIGHT. NOW.” I’ve seen her in action at moments like these and it never fails to make me think the driver’s just going to slam us right into a divider just to shut her up. I’m presently on the verge of doing something similar out of necessity because there are no paper barf bags from my vantage point and I’m sure this guy doesn’t want to make a trip to the car wash at 10 PM tonight. But I can’t do this because I am a liar.
Driver’s just trying to do me a solid and get me to the airport pronto so that I don’t miss my international American Airlines flight. Driver just wants to take care of me, just wants to do his driverly duties to the maximum. I’ve passed the point of no return; I’m just going to have to ride this sucker out until I’m in front of Terminal 4. I haven’t felt this dedicated to a lie since high school. If there’s a God, he/she is laughing his/her ass off.
I watch Brooklyn fly by at a rate I never thought possible. Random government buildings turn into rundown brick brownstones with boarded up windows, which turn into even more rundown warehouses. The thought crosses my mind that Driver is taking me somewhere to chop me into little pieces, but then I recall his yelling “JFK! JFK!” into his cell phone just twenty minutes earlier and unless he was screaming, “I AM GOING TO CHOP HER UP INTO LITTLE PIECES BUT I TOLD HER I’M TAKING HER TO JFK! YES, JFK!” then I’m in the clear.
Soon enough, I see the green freeway signs to my right announcing airport terminals and instructions for arriving and departing flights. It’s almost over. Even through the airport roads, Driver is busting major taxi ass and I am wondering if I’m responsible if he gets a moving violation.
We screech up to my terminal and he runs to get my bag while the credit card receipt comes through. I watch the little white paper chug chug chug out of the box in the dashboard and I tip him 20% because that seems like the appropriate compensation for nearly killing the both of us for the sake of my lie.
I tell him, “God. Thanks so much for getting me here so quickly.” Driver managed to get us from Manhattan to the airport in thirty minutes flat during the height of rush hour. Just to round out the evening, I finish our experience together with another lie: to emphasize that I am in a grand hurry to make my flight, I run from the taxi to the inside of the terminal, which is less so to get me to my gate and more so to buy some Dramamine. Pronto.