My husband and I were in NYC yesterday with our family to see the new Christopher Walken play, A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE. Very politically incorrect, but a perfect vehicle for Walken with its very dark but funny theme. Because we were in town for a play and dinner and it was a Saturday night, we were dressed much nicer than usual and this may explain what occurred during our cab ride.
After dinner, our sons and our daughter-in-law took off to find more youthful entertainment and George and I hailed a cab to go across the park to the east side. Our cab driver was a very pleasant man with a heavy accent who spoke in broken English. As the cab turned onto West 64th Street, we saw long lines of people reaching all the way up the block. I asked the cabbie what the crowd was lined up for and he said he didn’t know but that he’d pull over so I could ask someone. He pulled to the curb and I rolled down the window to ask the nearest person but I couldn’t understand what the guy said. I stuck my head back into the taxi and as the driver pulled away from the curb, he asked me what the crowd was doing. I explained that I had no idea and he asked me to try again.
We drove a little further down 64th Street and then the driver stopped so I could open the window and ask someone else. A young man came over to the cab and said they were all waiting to get in to see a play called “Art in Soho” and that the line was so long because the play was free. As you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to find something free on a Saturday night in New York City! Then the young man handed me a newspaper that I didn’t even look at and asked if I’d like a copy. I said, “Sure, thank you.” He held on to the paper and explained that he usually got a dollar donation. I hunted around in my purse and didn’t have any singles and neither did my husband. As I started to tell the gentleman that I wouldn’t be able to take his paper, the cabbie’s hand snaked through the partly opened plexiglass divider waving a dollar bill. I laughed out loud at the absurdity of having a cab driver give ME money, took the dollar and handed it to the young man.
As we started to pull away, I put the newspaper through the opening from the backseat to give to the driver. He looked at it and said, “I’m not a socialist”, and handed it back to me. I looked at it and realized he or we had just purchased the Socialist Worker newspaper. I laughed and explained that we weren’t socialists either which elicited a big grin from our driver.
Since our relationship with the cabbie was warming up and since he wasn't on his cell phone carrying on a long winded conversation in Farsi, I asked where he was from. He replied that he was from Bangladesh. I said, “Very nice, one of our sons recently dated a young lady from Bangladesh.” That was all I needed to say!
Our driver asked if we lived in New York and we replied that no, we live in New Jersey. He said, “I know you are very important people.” He turned around to my husband and said, “You look like Ronald Reagan.” My husband responded, “If I’m Ronald Reagan, where’s my horse?” I’m sure the cabbie couldn’t hear George through the plexiglass. The driver then turned to me and said, “And you, you’re much prettier than Hillary Clinton!” At this point, George and I were cracking up. We explained to our cabbie that we weren’t famous, just average people. He said, “No, I know you, you are famous!”
We had reached the east side at 65th and Fifth Avenue and we told the driver he could let us out on the corner. My husband didn’t have money handy so we got out of the cab and walked to the driver’s window to hand him the fare. With a big smile on his face, the cabbie said, “No, you are very important, you should go to Hollywood, I can’t take your money, it was my honor to drive you!” We were both laughing and trying to tell him that we wanted to pay the fare as he’s trying to drive away. My husband finally managed to get money into the cab window as the cab was rolling (including a very large tip to cover the Socialist Worker) and we said goodnight to the driver.
Only in New York!