Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The rush that is a taxi ride

Before I moved to the city, I would take a cab from wherever I was to Grand Central no problem. But since I've moved down a taxi ride has become an expensive treat.

I dream of taxis during morning rush hour on the 6 train, when the guy behind me is inexplicably bumping into my back every 2 seconds while that lady next to me keeps putting her spiky heels ever closer to my unprotected tootsies. I daydream about a cab ride when I'm carrying groceries from Whole Foods in Union Square back up to the UES or when I've made a bulky purchase in midtown that I now have to finagle through the subway entrance.

Taxis are like a roller coaster ride crossed with a go kart experienced from the gunner seat. You get in, and before you can even get your bearings you're off in a sudden acceleration whoosh. Each ride is an adrenaline-laced mix of slamming on the breaks to avoid hitting any unfortunate vehicle or pedestrian that crosses your path and the rush of flooring it to make a light.

The ride is 10 times better at night. Last night I went out to dinner and when M suggested said she was treating herself to a taxi ride, I was immediately in as well. We had gone to the Outback Steakhouse on 23rd St. Yes, it's a chain, but we had steaks, 22 oz. beers and salads for $70. Anyway, we decided we were happily buzzed and needed to avoid the subway. We flagged a cab, jumped in, and we were off!

I love taking in the sights anytime, but it's especially fun at night. We screamed past the Flatiron building, also seeing killer views of the Empire State Building lit up (though I'm spoiled because I get the same view from work) over Madison Square Park. We also saw 1 Madison Ave., a clock tower which was lit up in orange last night and looked super cool. I was tempted to ask the taxi driver to stop so I could take a picture, but by the time my brain and mouth connected we were already at Lexington.

1 Madison Ave by day...

...and by night.

Then the taxi skipped over 3rd Ave, which was bad news. Certain streets in NYC are "cross-town" streets, regardless of whether you're going uptown, downtown or cross-town. These streets have traffic light patterns designed not to let taxi drivers kill your wallet. 3rd Ave is not a cross-street to my apartment, it's also the nearest cross-town street.

So we asked the taxi driver why he hadn't taken 3rd, and he replied that he thought we'd said 1st. Oh. No problem, he said, and suddenly wheeled a U-turn on 23rd Street! M and I just looked at each other and laughed.

The best part is cruising through midtown. Tall buildings on either side really add to thrill ride experience, and the skyscrapers you blaze by that are lit up almost seem to blend together into a nouveau City of Lights art installation. It's quite amazing, and you feel as though you are going 75 MPH even when you're probably hitting 35 tops. Then all of a sudden lights turn and you're slammed forward as the taxi stops at a red.

When we arrived at my stop I was kind of disappointed. I grudgingly gave M money for half the ride, got out and watched jealously as she sped away for more. I walked into my building, opened my apartment and collapsed on my bed, my head still spinning from the fun ride. Yes, I'm easily amused, but what a thrill!

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