Saturday, June 6, 2009

Story: Taxi driving sucked so badly he only lasted a week

Story: Howard Leibowitz, former cabbie: I was having lunch with a friend of a friend, Howard, when he told me he drove a cab for one week in the 70s.

Really, just one week?

He had hit hard times after sinking all his money into a big music project that went bust. Even worse, when he learned he was broke, he went home to find that his live-in girlfriend had left him and cleaned out their apartment – furniture, TV, everything.

He spent the next couple of days sitting on the middle of his floor feeling sorry for himself, until a friend stopped by and told him to snap out of it. This friend was a cabbie making hundreds of dollars a week. He even told Howard how to make these hundreds of dollars -- illegally – by driving off the meter. Back then, cabbies split their take with the garages. But if they turned off the meter, they would collect all the money from the passengers, with the garages being none the wiser.

The next day, Howard got his hack license. “You could have mold for brains and still pass that test,” he said. He drove a cab from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day for one week. But he felt guilty going off the meter. Also, he kept getting lost and felt guilty about it, so he undercharged almost everyone. At the end of the week, sore and tired, he got his envelope of wages. Inside there was only $5.

His friend called him a nimrod. Howard quit driving taxis. (This photo is of Howard in '72.)

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