I like the yellow cabs in New York, the black cabs in London, and the different-colored cabs in Washington. More than riding in taxis, I like watching them and watching people climb in and out. A young London woman dressed for a garden party hopped out onto a sunny sidewalk and used a bank machine while her cab waited. She got back in, and off they rushed.
My fascination with cabs started with The Taxi That Hurried, a book from my earliest memories. A boy and his mother will miss their train if the taxi doesn’t get them to the station in time. It made great listening for a four- or five-year-old budding rail fan.
I remembered the book near birthday time a few years ago, went on Amazon, and found a copy. Re-reading it became a birthday ritual. So this month I’ll listen as Todd reads aloud The Taxi That Hurried. (We sip manhattans during the ritual. Second childhood—especially second early childhood—requires sedation. Incontinence and other indignities, such as death, may be only a step away.)
Not all of life’s taxis in my memory hurried. My friend Huey and I, well lubricated as it was our habit to be, were in the backseat of a New York taxi on our way from Penn Station to Grand Central. Huey, hoping to catch a northbound connection sooner rather than later, advised the driver to avoid the traffic of 42nd Street. The driver had his own agenda, and in the backup on 42nd we sat. Huey growled as the time for the train he’d hoped to catch came and went. “We’ll get out here and walk,” he shouted . He jumped out and flung a handful of currency and coins through the driver’s open window. “You are the dumbest cab driver in all of New York!” he bellowed. In panic I grabbed for a knob or latch that would open the damn door and let me out. I didn’t want to catch the brunt of the cabbie’s counterattack.
“Huey,” I said after I’d sprung myself, “next time we get out of a taxi that way, give me some warning, please.”
(Photo above from theresglassinthepark.tumblr.com)