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HACK by Melissa Plaut


How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab

by Melissa Plaut

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8129-7739-4
Publisher: Villard

Middle-class college girl from suburbia sees life as a bit humdrum until she leaves her office job for the driver’s seat of a yellow cab.

In a text born of her blog, Plaut explains how she undertook to find herself by driving a taxi around New York City. Before being licensed to join the other 13,000 or so hacks, she had to attend taxi school. Where could South 11th and Berry Street possibly be? She soon learned the geography of Gotham, calling her parents just once for directions. At the garage where she leased a car each shift, she found camaraderie even as she banished the guys from the ladies room. Enclosed nightly in a smelly, battered vehicle with 30 or 40 strangers, she met lawyers and bankers, hipsters, yuppies, druggies and crazies, big tippers and fare beaters, backseat-driving louts and backseat-lubricious lovers. She acquired a few valuable pieces of wisdom. About route choices: Don’t get lost. About rest stopping: Don’t hold it in. About road rage: Don’t engage. Never argue with cops, either; they don’t like cabbies. The worst drivers on the road? They were in “white Mercedes SUVs with Jersey plates.” And there was always the possibility of driving into (or picking up) some serious violence. After almost two years, the hip but beleaguered nice Jewish gay girl started to have nightmares. She still has her license, but drives less now that she’s writing.

Plaut depicts her checkered, un-maidenly career with innate craft, frequently employing a hackie’s pungent vocabulary.