5. Black Cars
Statue of Liberty. Empire State Building. Yellow taxis. All sights that come to mind when people think of New York City. Taxis are everywhere in New York and are easy to get, especially late at night on a weekday. Investment bankers are intrigued by these yellow objects, but opt to ride in stylish black Lincoln town cars and spend double the money for that ride home.
I could easily leave work at midnight, hop in a cab, watch the meter go up, and pay the $10 in cash or credit card (most cabbies claim the machines are broken or have failed to obey the rules and install the credit card machines, tiss tiss). Why would I ride in these ugly yellow cars when I can instead hop in a car that will take a few minutes longer, be driven by a guy talking on his cell phone the whole time, and pay $20 on my credit card. Easy choice, right?
I am guilty of opting for black cars but I have my reasons. The main reason is a bad experience I had with a cab driver. Soon after cabs installed credit card machines in late 2007, I hopped in a cab at 1am after work and headed home. When I got to my apartment I hit credit card on the TV in the cab, picked a tip, swiped my card when the screen said to, and then the screen told me the transaction was complete and that a receipt was printing. I asked the driver for the receipt and left the cab. The driver then started yelling at me and telling me I didn’t pay. He got out of the cab, called me a cheat and other names, and told me I had to tell him if I was using a credit card so he could hit a button. I obviously did not believe him since the TV told me I had paid and he gave me a receipt even! So I walked into my apartment and told him to piss off.
Fast forward to March 12, 2008 at 3am. After a late night at work all I wanted to do was get home and hop in bed. I get into the first cab I see and immediately relax thinking the stress of the day is over. I tell the driver the cross-streets and he starts chatting, “I remember taking some guy there once. That cheap motherf*cker skipped out on paying me and probably six-figures. I’ll never forget that guy. He lived right beneath that restaurant right there. He kind of looked like you.” Cut to me sweating profusely and fearing for my life. I never thought I would go out like this. I always figured I would die from taking a bullet jumping in front of a woman and her baby, not being murdered by a cab driver at 3am. He continues, “Yeah same kind of build as you, but he had darker hair. If I ever saw that little shit again I don’t know what I would do. I’ll never forget what he looked like. He tried to use the credit card machine but didn’t tell me and so he just skipped out on $10. I could’ve used that money more than him” I’m breathing a bit easier at this point, wishing I had taken a different cab, said a different address, or could be the invisible man. I respond by saying, “That’s awful. I didn’t even know you could pay with credit card. I always take the subway. This is my first cab ride in months. Are these credit card machines any good?” Smooth banker boy, smooth.
Only two minutes to go before I’m home free. He tells me I’m a fool and that even he wouldn’t take a subway so late at night, they’re just unsafe. Little does he know how unsafe being a cab passenger can be! We near the cross-streets and I tell him to drop me off on the opposite corner. I pay with credit card, of course asking him first if that’s ok. He tells me no problem and wishes me a good night. Despite being 3:15am I decide to go to the gym because I’m too wired from the ride. Just another night in the exciting life as a banker.
I’m guessing all i-bankers have had similar situations happen to them and that is why black car usage became so prevalent. No other logical reason to use the black cars unless you think the leather in the cars smells like rich mahogany. It’s science.