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Sometimes, when I need a good laugh, I go into my inner treasure box of memories. What comes out is hilarious, because it damn well really happened!

I’m 19, just got my hack license ,allowing me to drive a NYC Yellow Cab. A few days into the job I find myself at Kennedy Airport. My turn on the taxi line comes and I wind up taking a fare to Forest Hills, Queens. It’s midsummer on a very warm and sunny blue sky weekday afternoon. The intersection off of Queens Blvd is filled with traffic, and the street is just as filled with pedestrians. The lady passenger had a few pieces of luggage, so I am double parked in front of her building and in a hurry to get the hell out of there. I get paid, rush out of the cab and begin to take her two pieces of luggage from the trunk. As I am about to run them over to her apartment building entranceway I see a city bus pull up by my cab. The passengers get out and the driver closes all the doors and slowly begins to drive on. Well, since I was in a hurry I had my driver’s door open into the street… and it got caught on the bus’s rear exit door! My cab was being pulled along down the street and the driver had not realized it! Like Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy I am running along the bus screaming and banging on the side of the bus to get him to stop! When all the dust settled I had to carefully drive back to the taxi garage in Brooklyn with one hand always on the door release to keep the’ bent like a pretzel’ driver’s door in place.

Actually, my first day on the job I was in Brooklyn dropping off a fare. It was at a quiet intersection off of Ocean Parkway by Avenue S as I sat at the red light. There was this little sports car in front of me. To save time and keep on the alert for fares I was filling out my work card. The Dodge cab I was driving had no power brakes or power steering ( and no radio, and of course NO air conditioning). Without being used to the brakes my foot was not as down on the brake pad as it should have been. My cab rolled right into the sports car and smashed his rear brake light!. We both jumped out to access the damage. The guy was a few years older than me and immediately told me there was no need to exchange insurance  info. He said  just give him 10 bucks and he’d replace the light. Man, was I relieved. I took most of my tips out of my cigar box ( most cabbies kept an empty cigar box next to the driver’s seat), paid the guy and was happy to avoid any problems with my boss. At the end of the shift I was going home on the Nostrand Ave bus, sitting alongside this old cabbie from my garage. I told him my good news and he exploded! ” The first thing you should have done was jump out of the cab yelling at the guy ‘ Look what you did, asshole, you backed into my taxi!’ Are you a moron kid, you’re a cabbie and you’re never wrong!”

Let’s remain at 19 for awhile OK? So, here it is mid July and I’m borrowing my father’s car to go out with Kathleen. She is a my age and absolutely gorgeous. I met Kathleen a month earlier at, funny as it may seem, the same TWA terminal at Kennedy Airport that I frequented with my cab. My pal Eddie and I had gone to the airport to pick up our friend Tommy who was coming home on leave from the Air Force. Eddie had dared me to go and talk to this stunning young lady wearing a real short mini dress who was staring at the flight board. Despite wearing but my bell bottom jeans, white tee shirt with love beads and white buck shoes I took the plunge. She actually bought me a beer ( I had but $5 on me), asked me to walk her to the gate and kissed me goodbye while giving me her grandmother’s phone #. She was flying to LA and then returning in two weeks to live in Valley Stream LI with her grandmother. As an aside, when she was sitting on my lap in the phone booth at the gate she suddenly exclaimed ‘ Now I know who you remind me of.. Joe Namath!’ As she said that while facing me Joe Namath came walking  behind her and boarded the plane. Two stewardesses strolling  behind him confirmed that fact.

Anyhow, she returns two weeks later, I pick her up at Kennedy and drive her to her grandmother’s. Before we said goodnight we parked on a very dark street and Kathleen helped me to lose my virginity, right in my dad’s 1966 Chevy. She told me that she was on her own since the age of 15, was a topless dancer in LA and lost her cherry before her 16th birthday. I literally could not get enough of her. Each night, after my taxi shift and dinner plus a shower, I begged my dad to give me the wheels. He sometimes gave me a hard time, telling me No Tickets, No Accidents and fill up with gas. I rushed out to Kathleen’s and we usually went to a pub or shot pool and then off to one of the Five Towns neighborhoods to park. I usually found a nice dead end street with plenty of big fluffy trees that did not have the same powerfully bright street lights like in Brooklyn. If there was heaven it had to be this: Sharing a beer and a joint with a most beautiful and desirable woman, and then making love to her. Cause that’s how Kathleen always put it: Making love. So, this one night, after the beers and the joint we found a nice quiet residential street with no real lighting. Before you knew it we were both naked, too indifferent to do it in the back seat. She had her torso under the steering wheel, with me on top. Suddenly, we hear a dog barking. There was this guy walking his dog about 10 feet from the car. ‘ Let’s get the hell out of here’ I shouted to her. We were scrambling for our clothes in the dark as my head must of hit the steering wheel. The horn went off and the damn piece of **** wouldn’t turn off! She’s half naked, I have just my underwear on and I turn on the ignition. It’s a dead end so I have to do it in reverse as we notice ALL the houselights go on throughout the street. How we ever got the hell out of there with no accident beats me. This was why the practical ones pay the money and get a motel room. P.S: Kathleen broke up with me two months later when I caught her cheating on me with a local Valley Stream cop. She left me with the reminder that she still loved me, but she could love more than one guy at a time. I couldn’t deal with that.


Now I’m 21 and its summer. I had just been jilted by some girl and was pining for her. My head was not on right. I was still driving the cab P/T for the summer recess and had the luxury of using my brother’s 68 VW Beetle four speed. I had been invited to attend a wedding in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and borrowed his car. I think I had been crying a lot when I arrived a block away from the catering hall and noticed I had a flat tire. I pulled into a nearby gas station that was ready to close. The guys there fixed the flat and put it back on. They wanted $25 and I had maybe $5.00 on me, and I knew that they were ripping me off  with that price. These guys did not look like the kind of people that would give me a pass or trust me to pay them later on. Here I was, still feeling as sad as Job from the Bible, and had to think fast. I told them I needed to get the money out of the glove compartment. As I got into the car I hit the ignition and started to take off. They ran into their pickup truck and were soon right behind me. I started to weave in and out of traffic and these jokers were glued to me. Shit! Now I was going to get my ass kicked at the least if they stopped me! I flew through traffic, made sharp sudden turns down side streets with them in close pursuit. I finally wound up driving through Prospect Park with them not slowing down. As I exited the park and reached Flatbush Ave going as fast as I could I came to a light by a large intersection. They were  two cars behind me at the light, and one guy was jumping out of the truck. Fuck it! I somehow managed to go around the cars in front of me and did a sudden illegal U Turn at the intersection. By the time these guys realized it I was going in the opposite direction. When the guy who jumped out was able to get back into the truck I was long gone and driving down and side streets until I reached my parent’s. It took me months before I would even attempt to return to Bensonhurst… except in my cab.

Since I got my driver’s license at 18 I always secured my license within my wallet, which I always kept in my back pants pocket. Well, driving a taxi for 9 or 10 hour shifts must have caused my license to get wet from all that ass pant’s sweat. One night, I was looking for fares in ( yes) Bensonhurst when I saw this really cut chick across 86st St looking for a cab ( in those days they didn’t have ways to get a cab by phone). She was really hot looking, so I went ahead and made an illegal Huey to pick her up. As she got into the cab a cop flashed his lights and pulled me over. This guy looked like the kind of cop you never wish to run into… for any reason. When I handed over my very moist license to him he took one hard look and said ” I can’t read this rag! All the information is smeared! ” He then told me I was lucky and handed me a ‘ Mutilated license ticket.’ When I got back into the cab my passenger said how sorry she was to cause me this mess. I laughed and told her that I had a folder home full of them. “All that happens is they send me a letter notifying me and warning me to get a new license ASAP. Nothing else happens from that”. Turns out that my passenger and I dated for almost a year.

Most likely this next incident occurred when I had been driving a few years. On a late hot August Tuesday night I found myself about ready to head back to the garage. By this time I had already switched to working the ‘4 PM to whatever’ shift to make better money. I was tired so I parked at the hack stand on the corner of 86 St and 3rd Ave in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. There was really nothing happening at 1 AM and hardly anyone was even walking by. Suddenly the front passenger door opens and this attractive blond begins to get in. ” Miss, passengers can’t sit with the driver… sorry.” She just continued to sit beside me and I could smell the alcohol almost drowning me in its vapors. ” Hey handsome, I’m sitting next to you” as she almost knocked my cigar box off the seat. She got real close to me as I was asking where she wanted to go. ” What’s the matter cutie, you want to run away, ya don’t find me good looking enough?” She then started to place her arms around my shoulders, breathing those flames of booze into my face. ” What’s the matter, you want to fuck me don’t you handsome?” I was aghast! What the hell was going on here? I mean, this was a very sexy looking and drunken chick that was seducing me in my freakin cab! Suddenly she backs off and simultaneously flashes a police badge and reveals her firearm inside of her open jacket . ” I could get you for soliciting prostitution asshole! Maybe I should arrest you and take you in right now!” I immediately used a device those years majoring in Speech and Theater had taught me in improvisation. ” Please officer, I got a wife and two kids home and I really need this job! Please!” She was trying to light up her cigarette with her drunken shaken hands. As quickly as she had entered my cab she now exited. ” I’m gonna let you go asshole!” and she disappeared around the corner… just like that.

Here’s the piece de resistance of my driver stories. Fast forward to the mid 80s and I had hit rock bottom financially. Divorced with two wonderful sons and a shitty teaching job ( shitty as in getting paid peanuts for the hard work teachers have to do) I needed to make extra bread. So, I was driving a limo a few nights a week for my ex partner, who was doing a hell of lot better than me. He gave me the best clients and I was doing well. The other limo driver had asked me if I would be his driver for a big night out for him and his wife, as he was renting the Stretch Limo. They were going out with another couple to Manhattan for dinner at Sammy’s  Romanian Restaurant on the Lower Eastside . I had to pick him up first in Garden City, Long Island and then take them to pick up their friends at their home in Dutchess County NY, a good hour ride from Long Island. We got to their friends’  house and they stayed about 45 minutes, and then off we went to NYC. I noticed that they brought along wine,  cheese and crackers for the trip. It must have been 6:00 when we arrived at Sammys. It was a beautiful late June evening and  they told me to pick them up in two hours. ” Go get a bite to eat for yourself and see you at 8:00.” Well, to me two hours with a stretch limo in Manhattan on a Saturday night meant a chance to make some money. I headed right for Little Italy which was a few blocks away. I would cruise up Mulberry Street and offer the limo to fares. Sure enough, within ten minutes a couple was leaving Luna’s Restaurant and I hawked them into using me instead of a cab. ” Just pay me what you think a cab would charge, Ok?” They agreed and hopped into the back. They had a pretty long ride ahead as they lived uptown on Central Park West. Then, the guy presses the button and closes the divider between us. I laughed, thinking they were looking to make out in the back of a limo. Couldn’t blame them. When I arrived at their address the girl got out and hustled quickly into the building. Were they looking to beat me? I kept my eyes on the guy, ready to take off after him. He came around to the driver’s side and handed me $10 and scurried into the building. Cheap bastard! I should of told them $25 and that would have been that, but I just needed some business, so….I arrived at Sammys about a quarter before 8 PM. I parked up the street so I could see if and when they were coming out. Now I had to straighten up the back of the limo, which I should have done earlier. When I opened the rear limo door the smell almost killed me. It had to be the chick, and she must of thrown up her ENTIRE Italian dinner, cheese and all! Half of the seat was under this puddle of puke! I had to work fast. You lose all dignity when the shit hits your fan. With my bare hands I was scooping up the pukey cheese and pasta, then tossing it onto the street. Thank God the throw up did not touch any of the women’s summer jackets. I used all the paper towels and just kept soaking all that mess up. I took the bottle of tonic water and poured it over the whole seat. I then took whatever  wine was left and poured that on as well. I kept looking down the street and sure enough the four of them were now outside the restaurant waiting for me. I had already taken the cheese they had sitting back there and tossed it. When the four of them got in I immediately told my tale. ” When I was coming back from eating I must of swerved and it seems the soda and wine spilled onto the back seat. Then, as I was cleaning things up I smelled the cheese, which must have been affected by the heat and was obviously going bad… quickly! ” All the way up to Dutchess County I could hear the four of them debating things. My fellow limo driver and his wife seemed to have bought my story. HIs friend was confused, but it was the guy’s wife who insisted that she smelled puke and not just cheese. If my ex partner found out that I was ‘ Horse hiring’ ( Using the limo as an illegal taxicab) he would be really pissed. On the way back to Long Island I could have kissed this fellow driver, because he was adamant that his friend’s wife was ‘ Full of shit’. ” Didn’t she ever see when cheddar cheese goes bad? It smells worse than puke!”  

To Be Continued
PA Farruggio