Do You Try to Avoid Drunk Passengers? 

Brian Diedrick

We’ve never actually thrown up in a cab, but we’ve come pretty damn close. So it was with great interest that we asked cabbies their policy on picking up drunks and just how exactly they recognize us on the sidewalk.

Where I hailed him: Midtown East
Where he hails from: India
Years as a cabbie: 4
Previous profession: Student
Are you drunk? Are you ok? Oh. I don’t like to pick up drunk people. If I am driving on the left side of the street and I see some drunk people on the right, then I will probably try to keep driving on the left.

Where I hailed him: Williamsburg
Where he hails from: Brooklyn
Years as a cabbie: 6
Previous profession: Contractor
I don’t give a damn. If you get so drunk you’re gonna get sick in my car, you can walk home. I don’t care. I’ll pay the ticket, lose my license, go to prison, whatever. I’m not cleaning up puke. You’re not getting in the car. I’m too old for that shit. If you weasel your way into my car and you’re stinking drunk, I’m coming around back to kick you out. Simple as that.  

Where I hailed him: Greenpoint
Where he hails from: Queens
Years as a cabbie: 2
Previous profession: City worker
Oh yeah. If you see someone staggering or something, you'll usually try to pass them up. It becomes a liability when you pick up someone that drunk. Someone gets sick in your car, it's expensive to clean it up unless you do it yourself. What happens is they get in the car, they can barely talk, they don't know where they want to go, and they're your responsibility now. The best you can do is take them to a police precinct, but they usually don't want them — they'll just tell you to take them to a hospital or something. One night, these four guys put one guy in my cab who needed to go to Staten Island. He was so drunk I had to pull over on the S.I. Expressway and shake him until he could tell me where he needed to go.
Where I hailed him: Murray Hill
Where he hails from: Ghana
Years as a cabbie: 6
Previous profession: Messenger
If someone is drunk you try not to pick them up — they throw up in your cab, they make a scene — it’s just a lot of trouble. And then sometimes they won’t have any money. And on the weekend nights like that, there are so many people, you can always find someone else. You see a guy stumbling in the street or something, you don’t want to deal with that.

Where I hailed him: Lower East Side
Where he hails from: Russia
Years as a cabbie: 18
Previous profession: Mechanic
If you can avoid them, it’s better, but how do you tell? Sometimes they look fine on the street and then they get into your car and they pass out. You have to wake them up to get the directions. Or they are with a group of friends and the friends all look fine, but then they put the drunk one in the car. Sometimes you can tell, but usually you don’t know. Usually it’s not so bad, though. I tell them, if you feel you are going to be sick, tell me so I can pull over and let you out.

Where I hailed him: Chelsea
Where he hails from: Haiti
Years a cabbie: 10
Previous profession: Waiter
As a cabdriver you’re not supposed to refuse anyone. You have to pick everyone up, it doesn’t matter. Drunk, sober, asleep, awake, you have to take them. But drunk people... they’re bad. Sometimes they’ll throw up in the cab. Sometimes they’re yelling the whole ride. But I have my tricks. If I see a drunk person, sometimes I’ll just keep my eyes glued straight ahead. If I don’t see them, then I don’t have to pick them up, do I? [Said with a big grin and a wink.]


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