Cab Graft – God of the Machine
Jun 222002

“Hi, I’m Chris Rock…I’m Paul O’Neill…I’m Beverly Sills…I’m Judge Judy Sheindlin (and I’m Judge Jerry Sheindlin!)…I’m Plaaacido Domiiiingo..” And they all agree on one thing: when you enter a taxicab in New York you’d better buckle up. Two things actually: you should also make sure you have your belongings when you exit. (No Mary Lou Retton, that’s not your gold medal back there.) Passengers are assaulted, twice, at top volume, with these directives, every time they take a cab ride.

I have nothing against seatbelts, they save lives just as the nanny liberals say. But nobody wore a seatbelt in a cab before these recordings started, and nobody wears one now. For whatever reason it just isn’t done. I don’t wear one. I don’t know anybody who wears one. I’m pretty sure I don’t know anybody who knows anybody who wears one.

What’s the point of these recordings? Petty graft. As my driver kindly informed me the other day, if you own a medallion you have to pay 80 bucks for the tapes — every six months. I guess you can keep Joe Torre in heavy rotation for only so long before you start to bore the passengers. Estimate of what celebrities charge to record these “public service” announcements: zero. Total cab medallions in New York: approximately 12,000. Profit margin: fat.

So some ne’er-do-well nephew of a bigshot at the Taxi and Limousine Commission fancies himself a “businessman” for raking in a million plus a year by annoying taxi passengers. Who is this slob, and why should he get rich on the back of poor cab-driving immigrants who have it tough enough already?

  5 Responses to “Cab Graft”

  1. Okay, I confess – I sometimes wear seatbelts in NYC taxicabs. But then I wear seatbelts in anything that has them. I’ve seen the results of not doing it too many times. Plus, in NYC, it gives me some illusion of safety careening about town. Notice I say "illusion".

    OTOH, I wore seatbelts before the recordings, and really I’m more likely not to just out of annoyance with the recordings.

  2. A simple sign (or even a three step diagram–enter, sit, buckle up) would have sufficed.

    Why must I be subjected to Joan Rivers against my will? It’s probably some form of karmic punishment.

    Just you wait–I bet that corporate sponsership is not far behind. You’ll soon be hearing jingles for detergent and sneakers during the *entire* ride!

  3. Aaron,

    You DO know someone who puts on the taxi seatbelts, and I even do so when reminded by the recording.

    Your father (remember–the guy who called Bobby Bonds a bum)

  4. Wow…An almost George-Lucas-caliber revelation!

  5. OK, I know two people who wear seatbelts in cabs. Susanna, meet my father…Dad, Susanna. Now I even know someone who knows someone who wears seatbelts in cabs. But what are we going to do about those infernal recordings?

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