Thursday, April 1, 2010


Above: Lyle Lovett (not my fare)

Shift #38

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14 -- Hyatt Regency to South of Market -- $4.90

HE IS TALL AND LEAN -- a sort of Lyle Lovett lookalike wearing a snappy dark blue suit (were those pinstripes?) that I’m guessing cost about as much as my entire wardrobe. He folds himself into the back of my cab and in a slow, laconic voice tells me he is headed to an address four blocks away “to visit one of those incorrigible financial institutions that have been giving everyone so much trouble recently.” Then, as though recognizing and disapproving of his own jaded tone, he upgrades toward simple sarcasm: “My firm doesn’t actually take sides, we just ‘supply the weapons.’”

Me: “What weapons?”

“I work for Bloomberg News in New York. Our corporate mission is to supply all these folks all the access to all the information they need to do all the battles they want with each other.”

I mention the name of a friend, a Bloomberg reporter.

“I don't recognize that name, but I do sympathize with anyone writing for Bloomberg... Why? Because they wipe out all traces of creativity. No adjectives, no colorful prose. Show any flair and they’ll beat it out of you.”

For a short, short while my fare and I discuss adjectives and adverbs, and then our short, short $4.90 ride is over and he extends a green American Express credit card toward me. My regular cab was in an accident a few weeks ago, and while it’s being repaired I’ve been driving “spares” that lack swipe terminals, forcing me to resort to that Stone Age backup technology, the “knucklebuster.” Twice this morning I’ve already wrestled the big old clunky thing out of the glove box; employing it requires an awkward process during which I must ask for and write down the customer’s phone number and zip code -- and when I see this man’s credit card, and for such a small fare… Free ride.


I say, “Yeah!

“Hey, this isn’t me. This is corporate…” He’s a big personality who, I’m sure, draws people in quite easily, makes them feel comfortable, amused -- the perfect executive salesman.

“I don’t care. Free ride.”

We’re looking at each other over the backseat now, both smiling broadly. He’s got a large head that matches his outsize personality, a face that’s both wide and tall, and (Warning: two adjectives dead ahead) a completely disarming smile.

He: “Bloomberg -- the richest man in New York? The rich get richer… you want that?”

“Free ride.”

He: “I’m going to tell him.”

“Please do!”

He: “I will!”


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