Odd Taxi Adventures

I took today’s photo from the backseat of a taxi last night on my way home from an excellent photography lecture at ICP (more on that another time).  And, on the topic of taxis, I thought I’d share a funny incident that happened to Adam and me on Sunday night.  First, the photo:

Photo 306 out of 365 – “Grand Central Terminal”

"Grand Central Terminal" - Settings: ISO 1600, f/4.5, 1/30 sec, 50mm lens

So, Adam and I were not exactly invested in the Super Bowl this year, however, we went to watch it with our friends on the Upper West Side.  By the end of the third quarter, the game had become pretty exciting, but it was around nine o’clock on a school night and we were craving our couch.  So, we figured we’d scoot on out of there, grab a cab and head home to catch the second half of the fourth quarter.  Now, we’re riding in the back seat and the taxi driver is driving nicely, nothing out of the ordinary.  We cross town and start heading downtown on 2nd Avenue when all of a sudden, police lights behind us…  we are being pulled over.

We looked at each other… weird.  We weren’t speeding, no reckless lane changes… nothing of the sort.  Maybe our taxi driver is wanted for something?  Scary.  So we’re sitting there all curious as two cops (one on each side) approach our doors, with flashlights stuck in our faces… all intimidating.  It feels to us like they’re checking US out, looking all around the back seat and shining their lights on us.  Then they ask the driver to step out of the car.  Bizarre!  We have no clue what’s happening.

Finally, one of the cops kindly explains to us that the cab driver has his “distress light” on.  The distress light is a small yellow light on the front and the back of taxicabs that a driver can switch on to alert cops he is being robbed by his passenger!  News to me!  Apparently, this driver’s light was broken – and though he saw the light was on at the start of his shift, he didn’t know what it was for and figured it was nothing important.

After the cops lectured the driver about how he had to get to a garage immediately to get his light fixed, they asked us for our IDs, which they still insisted on running through the system.  Just in case we were criminals I suppose.  When they came back to the car with our IDs the cop insisted we get out of the car and grab another taxi.  He said if we had happened to be in a rougher neighborhood or if the cops had been newer, younger or jumpier, they easily could have just yanked us out of the car at gunpoint, assuming the driver was being robbed.  Then the cop assertively waved over another taxi for us – (the taxi driver reluctantly pulled over, probably thinking he was in trouble) and sent us on our way – indeed, to catch the last two minutes of the game.

Definitely an odd NYC first for me.

So – if you ever see a cab with a little circular yellow light on in the front or back – grab a different cab and spare yourself the drama!


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