I was crossing Park and 86th on my way to Panera at 6 a.m. waiting for a cab to pass. At that hour you need to be careful since drivers don’t expect to see you.
After idling a few seconds, I look on the driver’s side and there’s no one there. Did he break down…run out of gas. It was dark so it really didn’t look as if anyone was behind the wheel.
On closer inspection, I see a middle-aged Indian man slumped in his seat. Did he have a heart attack? Was he shot? This is New York folks, everything is a potential headline.
I go up and bang on the window. Like a dummy at a carnival, he sits up shocked but alert, rolls down the window and says, “Where to lady?”
I kid you not.
I become incensed with his casual attitude over falling asleep at the wheel.
“You fell asleep while you were driving…do you know that?”
“I work all night…give me a break lady,” he says like a whiny kid.
“What if you had a passenger…if you’re this tired, you need to at least pull over.”
“Do you need a ride or not?”
“No I do not.” He sped off.
I thought about him as I mainlined coffee like a meth addict. Was this a chronic problem with cab drivers I knew nothing about?
How many times after working late have I jumped into the back of one just like his, never giving thought to his physical condition.
I then softened a bit thinking, he probably has a family…sends money back to India. The poor guy has no choice but to work. But when does responsibility kick in? You’re supposed to be taking care of people, along with yourself. God forbid he drove off the road at full speed with someone in the back. A kid maybe, and you see them in a clusters coming home at the same hour as you’re getting up.
I realized I was beating a dead horse obsessing over something I could do so little about, so I did what I always do under the circumstances.