Friday, August 24, 2007

The Best Cab Driver in the World

A few weekends ago, I went to the Hamptons with Miss M. When we returned via the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station, little did we know what we were in store for when we climbed into an unassuming cab to head back to Miss M's place. As soon as we got in the car, the driver announced that we were very lucky, because we were going to get a ride from "the best cab driver in the world." I'm quite used to jokesters driving cabs at this point in my life, so I didn't really think anything of it.

For about 15 seconds. We were just past a very crowded intersection when, out of nowhere, this guy decides to make a U-Turn and then another quick right turn to start heading down a different street. He couldn't just wait to turn like a normal person at the next block, he had to nearly cause a wreck by wheeling around and disrupting the flow of traffic. So at that point, I thought: OK, he's trying to PROVE that he is the best cab driver in the world by his crazy maneuvering.

But I was mistaken. It wasn't his ability to drive that actually qualified him (in his mind) to be the best cab driver anywhere. It was the fact that he was a genius.

My friend and I were pretty tired and zoned out, but soon our eyes focused on a large, laminated paper hanging in front of us. This plaque of sorts explained that we just so happened to be riding with The Human-Computer, and that if you gave him absolutely ANY date (month, day and year), he would immediately be able to tell you what day of the week it fell on. And apparently he had calendars going back over 100 years to prove it to you if you didn't think he got it right. You must understand that this guy was like the Russian version of Borat - he was very loud, spoke in broken English with an accent, and seemed to revel in his own jokes and personality.

I didn't see anything on the sign about having to pay him for this "day-guessing service," and there was really no getting around it, because after he could tell we had read the sign, he started shouting, "DATE! DATE!!! I NEED A DATE!!!! WHEN WERE YOU BORN!!??!!" He gestured toward me. I mumbled to Miss M that I didn't remember what day of the week I was born on anyway, so I wouldn't even know if he was right. But he insisted, so I told him. He said it was a Monday. That sounded vaguely correct. Then Miss M told him her birthday, and he told her what day that was. Then he passed back an electronic calendar so we could see it with our own eyes. I ended up telling him my husband's and my brother's birthdays (I knew my brother's, and sure enough The Human-Computer was right), as well as the date of my wedding (which should've been easy as most people get married on a weekend).

After guessing the days, he was not done with us. He started making a ton of very lame marriage jokes, such as: "I will tell you the day of your first husband's birthday... and your second husband's... and your third husband's... and your future husband's!!!" He was yelling out the names and numbers of divorce attorneys. And then he passed us back this clipboard that had a laminated article from The New York Times on it (the link to the left contains a picture of him in his cab, too, so you can get the full effect). It was an article about him! He wanted to MAKE SURE we knew we were in the presence of greatness! I admit, it was kind of cool that we just so happened to pick a cab with such a character at the helm.

So I had to know - how does he do it? I asked him.

"I will tell you this - it is three things," the Ukrainian Borat began.

"Astronomy... mathematics... and..... GENIUS." He was dead serious.

I loved it. We were nearly at our destination, and he started scribbling a bunch of things down - I had no idea what he was doing. As it turns out, he was creating little slips of paper commemorating our experience for us - he wrote the date we had told him and the day of the week it was. The slip also had his pre-printed phone number, email address and web site on it (turns out he will make appearances at parties for $50!?!)! The absolute best part about all of this is that his email handle is "mentalmathandcatlover." WHAT?!?! Where did the cat part come in? Anyway, IN ADDITION to the slips he gave us, he handed me a business card (which was hilarious because it had a clip-art type of photo with arms extended in a handshake in the spot where a logo would normally go), AND a larger postcard-size instruction sheet with his picture on it. This sheet told me how to write to his cab company and tell them that he was the "best cab driver that I've ever had in my entire life and that it was the best ride I've ever experienced, and I am moving from my home city to NYC after meeting him." God bless him, I bet his cab company hates him!

The most interesting thing was that after all of this was over and we were getting our luggage out of the trunk, the total fare was $8.40. I had in my head to give him $11 since he was such a goofball. But before I handed him any money, HE said: "If you will give me $14, you will make me very happy. $14." Miss M whispered to me, That's nearly double the fare! But what can I say? I'm a sucker for this type of thing. Here is a guy who is trying to market himself and do the best he can for himself, and three dollars more than I was going to pay him in the first place wasn't going to kill me. So I gave him the $14 and he actually looked a bit surprised! Perhaps most people aren't pushovers like I am! Anyway, we waved good-bye to him and I'm still thinking about it two weeks later.

I checked out his web site, and it definitely captures his spirit. You should read his brief life story underneath the picture on this page. And should you ever need a cab in NYC, perhaps you will come upon him yourself. Although, I'm sure the odds of that are very, very slim. Who would be able to guess those odds? The Human-Computer!

- e


Anonymous said...

wow. that is very weird. and funny.

Anonymous said...

Hi e, that is spooky I went to NY last December and got in his cab! I have the picture of me and him on my wall, it makes me laugh everytime I see it! Our fare was $12 and he said if we pay $20 he will make 'US' very happy! I gave £15! as I'm happy enough! I tell everyone about him but its hard to explain to them how eccentric he is!
Anyway keep up the good work love your sites!
Keep Smilin'

Anonymous said...

guys, this very special cab driver works at the same cab company that i do since 1994 or 93. you may be surprised as over 90 percebt of all drivers hired by this partucular company get fired within months for causing some k9ind of trouble, and omve they fire they never rehire. the rule is you can be anything, look or act however you like it, but you make trouble for the company, like accident or something, you;ll be out in five seconds. the bottom line of this is just don't jump to conclusions, there are no loonies driving cabs in NYC, the last of them being Mr. Roitman.