I am not a trained and licensed taxi driver, but it was a secret fantasy of mine (until now) to be one.
Taxi culture is integral to life in New York, and to a lesser degree most cities in the United States. Where we can’t go by car, we hail a cab. Yes, in places like Los Angeles where transportation is scattered and there is neither rhyme nor reason to traffic patterns, taxis take a back seat, but are still there for those nights when you can’t otherwise get home.
The New York yellow cab is an icon that has global and wide-reaching impact. It has defined my city as other fads have come and gone. And I’ve always wanted to sit at the helm and deliver people to their destinations. (I do it all the time in test cars, as it stands.) Being a New York cabbie commands a certain kind of rough attitude, and an intimate knowledge of the city’s thoroughfares and secret passages.
I studied the routes from behind the plexiglas barrier for years, and then applied all the taxi drivers’ rules to my own driving. Where the cabbies turn, I turn. The gas stations where they fill up must be the least expensive and quickest. The ramshackle eateries where cabbies from around the world stop to get a quick plate of food are probably the most authentic tastes of home that the city has to offer. I longed to try out a day in this world.
So, when Nissan offered five days driving the new NV Taxi, which had won over the hearts of New York’s bureaucrats to become the Taxi of Tomorrow -- legal implications notwithstanding -- I accepted without hesitation.
Herein, some of the things you learn from an unlikely stint behind the wheel of the most invisible car in Manhattan.