MP and I are standing on a street cornern last night, on the lookout for a cab that will take me to the train that will then take me home. I'm shivering in the cold and a little annoyed that this usually cab-busy corner is desolate. Finally, we spot a cab stopping abruptly across the intersection. A patron steps out. The cab is now available except it's not moving. MP and I both raise our arms in the universal I-need-a-cab sign but this guy is still just parked in the middle of the street as cars honk angrily and go around him.
We wait an entire minute before he moves, only to have him drive right past us, stop, and reverse, his tires screeching. I say goodbye to MP and jump into the cab, which reeks of cigarettes. It smells like the cabbie has rubbed himself down with cigarette ash. I tell him where I want to go and he starts driving, not any more or less erratically than your regular cabbie and I settle in for the eight minute ride.
First sign that my cabbie's crazy: he hits the car door lock button every few seconds. Second sign that my cabbie's crazy: he's mumbling to himself. But, hey, I'm a city girl. I've had my share of encounters with the strung out, the clinically insane, and those Meat Packing District wankers (shudder). Sure, I've never been chauffered around but who hasn't met a strange cabbie in his or her travels in the city, right? So, I stay in the cab and, pretty soon, am introduced to the third sign that my cabbie is crazy: we're driving down the street when, out of nowhere, he swerves and pulls up to the curb. Trying to remain calm, cool, collected, I ask him what he's doing and he says he's letting the other cabs drive past him. I don't see other cabs.
We drive on.
Fourth sign that my cabbie's crazy: he tells me that he doesn't know where I want to go, so I tell him where I want to go again. Half talking to me but mostly mumbling, he says that the location is off the map. I give him a landmark that's across the street from my destination. He starts mumbling about how he visited the landmark two years ago but who knows what the city could've done to said landmark in two years' time. They could have razed it and put up condos in its place, million dollar condos, MILLION DOLLAR CONDOS. But the landmark is the biggest of his kind, he tells me and the voices in his head. New Jersey surely doesn't have such landmarks.
Afraid for my life now and paralyzed by fear as my crazy cabbie starts telling me that he doesn't want to drive into the median--I don't see any medians and take this as the fifth sign that my cabbie's crazy--I call MP and tell him that he should stay on the phone with me. He asks if my cabbie's annoying me and I tell him not exactly. He asks if he's driving erratically and I say, um, a little. He asks if he's crazy and I say yes. MP says that I should get out of the cab and I tell him---frankly, I don't remember what I tell him. In the meantime, my crazy cabbie is still driving erratically, still hitting the door lock buttons obsessively, and still mumbling semi-incoherently, now about the Brooklyn Bridge and the street that I want to go to not being on the map. He throws back a book and a pen to me and tells me to circle the landmark in a book that seems to list these particular landmarks. This is clearly sign six that my cabbie's crazy. I circle the landmark and return the book to him. He starts mumbling again about the street not being on the map anymore. Then, as he's driving, he hits the car door lock button again, half turns around in the driver's seat to hold a map up to me and explain to me that we're no longer on the map. I tell him that we are. He tells me that no, he has to take me to the Brooklyn Bridge.
And that's the seventh and possibly most frightening sign that my cabbie's crazy. I tell him to pull over, that I'd like to get out of the cab. He argues that no, walking to my destination from where we are will take me longer than an hour. I know, for a fact, that it won't take me that long--this is sign eight of his craziness--so I tell him again to pull over. He tells me that he has to take me to the Brooklyn Bridge, that the walk is too long, I shouldn't get off here. I tell him that it's okay, that I'll just take the subway. But there are no trains around here, he says (there are two subway entrances in sight). I demand that he stop the cab. He stops the cab. I throw money at him and he shakes his head like I'm making such a big mistake. I get out of the cab, shaking.
I walk to the train with MP on the phone with me the entire time. I walk down the street, crying, because, dude, my cabbie was crazy.
Of course, in my terror, I totally failed to note down his medallion number so this crazy cabbie is still out there somewhere on the streets of Manhattan. Shudder.