I was in Midtown today when this old guy pushed open the doors of a bank and yelled out, “Taxi!” at a line of cars on East 53rd Street. It was like something out of a movie or a TV show about New York. It’s one of those things, “Taxi!” that you never see in real life, but that’s everywhere in popular culture. You want to hail a cab? Just shout out the word taxi to the skies and hopefully the livery gods will supply you with a ride.
I turned my head, he was old, I already said that, but he seemed to know what he was doing. I’m saying this as opposed to tourists or out-of-towners, because sure, maybe I could expect a group of people waiting on the sidewalk, too nervous to step out into the lane to flag down a cab, and so they’re just kind of yelling out, “Taxi?” totally unsure of themselves.
But this guy was all business. I’m not saying it worked. But it didn’t not work … what I mean is, he walked out of the bank, he yell out “Taxi!” but the line of cars he approached was idling at a red light. And even if it were green, traffic at this time of day was at a standstill. He had his pick of like four or five empty cabs, and so he just walked up to one.
What was he going for? Because I’ve always thought about this, every time I’ve watched the main character in a New York themed TV show scream out “Taxi!” I’m like, do you really think that the driver can hear you? Do you think he’s out listening for fares? No, you have to flag down a ride. There’s so much noise in the city, it’s really hard for me to believe that, regardless of how loud your voice is, you’ll have any luck in penetrating the closed doors of a car just by yelling.
Maybe he was just announcing his intentions to everybody else, a succinct way of warning off any would-be cab-goers, “I’m going to be the one taking a taxi, and so if anybody else was thinking about doing the same thing, that’s fine, but you have to wait until I’m in a cab first.”
What really bugs me is that, even though I don’t think he accomplished anything by shouting it out, I can’t shake the idea that his immediate securing of a car established in his head this idea that “Taxi!” somehow equals a ride. Listen dude, you could have shouted whatever you wanted, you could have just let out a huge, “Bagel!” and then stepped inside that unlocked backseat door, but I’m almost positive that the two events would be unrelated.
It just bothers me, this idea that you can just go through life shouting out your desires in one-word barks. It’s like when I’m waiting tables and I go up to a new group of people, and before I even have a chance to say hello, someone will just throw “Diet Coke!” at me. And what am I going to do? You want a Diet Coke? Great. I guess I’ll go and get you one.
Seriously, I’ve seen people talk to their iPhones with more respect than they do the people serving them food, or shuttling them from point A to point B. It’s like, “Siri, where can I find a good Chinese restaurant around here?” Come on, that should be the only acceptable situation in which you can skip the pleasantries, ignore the pleases and thank yous and verbs.
This guy said “Taxi!” and got into a cab, and it was so early in the morning, I looked around at the rest of the city, hoping I’d meet the confused gaze of at least one other person, we’d lock eyes and we wouldn’t have to say anything, we’d just have that really confused, “Can you believe that guy?” face on, our shoulders shrugged up almost all the way to our foreheads, and even though I said we wouldn’t have to say anything, I’d probably mouth out something, like an exaggerated, “Taxi? Did that guy really just say ‘taxi?’” to which the other person would respond with a silent, “I know, right?”