CAPSTONE: Taxi Cab Confession —NOT

By Felix Alarcon —

There are 16,360 cabriolet drivers in the New York/New Jersey metro area. Yellow and white vehicles, some hybrids that cater to the eco-conscious and others resembling the archaic Ford Crown Victorias that function on fossil fuel that most recognize immediately – dominate city life. Little is known of the men and women that sit behind the wheel. Contemporary culture, in particular, Scorsese, have etched in our minds the damaged, chronicler and all-seer of the real city and all “its filth”. The words uttered by the character in “Taxi Driver,” Travis Bickle hum a solemn and dark view of its interlopers.

Culture, society and media tend to rarely go into the front passenger seat and into the lives of such men and women that routinely make the city function. There’s already a barrier set when a passenger enters into the backseat of the cab and usually a clear window slightly ajar, with the state license of the driver and cab info, illegibly, posted; as if to skew and to demur our brief social obligations.

Whether it’s Mohammed, Ortiz, Patel, Oualichi or Smith or whatever song is blasting from the cassette player; a story is told. Our city drivers are mostly made up of immigrants and working lower middle class people. As city’s themselves are cosmopolitan entities and the notion of globalization, Friedman’s misconstrued and hackneyed spread of American capitalism, a person behind that drives from one location to another isn’t your conceptualized version of a Bickle, or your chatty driver from, “Taxi Confessions”; but they’re people whom are struggling and according to the 2009 Government occupational handbook, “tend to hold multiple jobs and work extra shifts”.

I gave him my destination, “New Jersey City University.”

He drove in silence, dodging the rush hour traffic that plagues John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Buses, jaywalkers, and irrepressible high school kids running to and fro the streets, amid the bustle of Jersey City life – he maneuvered the labyrinth, lightly tapping on the brakes, and humming to z100’s latest top billboard hit, whatever cliché garbage the industry dictated.

I hummed in tow.

The yellow Crown Victoria had several badges of courage, nicks and dents along its bumper and abdomen. The outdated meter, didn’t look as fancy as Jersey City’s big brother, New York City. It lacked the common luxuries of paying by credit or the indulgent touch screen that read aloud the current news and mapped your location via-satellite, as one would meander through the city.

This car, with its leather foregoing its strength and cracking at the seams and more; was buttressed by silver duct tape. Multipurpose duct tape.

As the large Gothic structure entered my view on the right, the nuanced and clichéd tower and supposedly haunted, chimed. The black gates separating sacred ground and conventional ground, synthesized.

The meter read $8.50. I ironed out along the supposed plexi-glass window, the ten dollar bill. Hamilton’s wrinkles gone.

Maqsood turned and outstretched his burly arms and demonstrated his blue-collared, calloused palm. He’d have a long life.

I’d meekly say, “Keep the change and thank you for the safe ride.”

We didn’t banter. We didn’t talk about politics.