Unless they own the medallion — which is to say they own the car and the right to charge people for a ride (see David, below) — cabbies work thankless hours for little pay. And though many do the work because they have to win bread for the family table, most would also prefer to be doing other things…
Felipe Where we hailed him: Chelsea Where he hails from: Dominican Republic Years as a cabbie: 4 Previous profession: Waiter
I’m studying for my series seven exam right now. If I pass it, I’m trading stocks by the summer. I can’t do this much longer, but things haven’t been easy, you know? I have a kid. I send some money home to my parents. But no way I’m driving a cab the rest of my life. You’ve got to have a plan.
David Where we hailed him: Midtown East Where he hails from: Queens Years as a cabbie: 20 Previous profession: Sales
This is it for me. I own the medallion. I saved up 15 years to buy it. Now I make great money, and I drive pretty much when I want. I lease the car out to a guy I trust when I want to take some time off. We’ve got a nice place out in Forest Hills; my kids go to good schools. It’s hard work... It’s a grind. But I was smart about it. Now I work for myself — I couldn’t do this otherwise.
Jakir Where we hailed him: Chelsea Where he hails from: Bangladesh Years as a cabbie: 4 Previous profession: Waiter
Actually, I don’t know what I would do. It is a very tough job driving a cab, and I am trying to do something else. If I could get something else as a job I would quit this job. But right now I am not sure what else it is that I could do.
Roger Where we hailed him: Midtown East Where he hails from: Haiti Years as a cabbie: 6 Previous profession: Musician
I drive the cab because it is a good way to make money. But my music is the real thing to me. That is what I want to do. I just make the money this way. But I am looking for a band right now. I used to have one, but some of the guys moved away, so now I am looking for people to play with. I play the guitar, the drums, horns, sometimes I do singing. You have to keep trying at it. That is what I do.
Akm Where we hailed him: East Village Where he hails from: Bangladesh Years as a cabbie: 8 Previous profession: Worked at wine store
This is a very hard job, so if I got a better job I would do it — some kind of clerical job, you know. Nobody likes doing this job, but you have to survive, that is the important thing. I could work as an interpreter or translator. My own language is Bengali and I also speak English and Urdu and Hindi. So, I could do that. I am looking for work as a translator right now, but I don’t know if I will get it. I will take it if I get it though. Last year the Department of Education was hiring translators and two of my friends got jobs. But I did not even know about it then, I was back home in my country.
Aaron Where we hailed him: West Village Where he hails from: Ghana Years as a cabbie: 3 Previous profession: Student
Right now, I just drive because the money’s pretty good. Before, I studied computer science. I was doing pretty well, but I realized I couldn’t be sitting in front of a computer eight hours a day. I’d rather do anything. Yeah, like drive a cab! Now, I’m saving up money for school. I think I’d like to do nursing, physician’s assistant — something like that. A lot of variety there, and you help people. Also, you can learn the skills, and not really have to re-train every couple years. With the computers, things are always changing.