New Yorkers are used to working long hours. From the thankless toil of the media mines, to the double-shifting drear of the restaurant gig, hours worked are a badge of pride, a measure of your commitment to life in the big city. But can the same be said for the cabbies?
Where we hailed him: Murray Hill Where he hails from: Bangladesh Years as a cabbie: 13 Previous profession: Grocery store
Twelve hours is the longest I’ve done. That is the TLC rules. A lot of drivers will work more than one 12-hour shift, but the TLC regulation is that your shift must be over at 12 hours, not a minute longer. The longest I’ve ever heard is 18 or 19 hours. I know some drivers that will start work Sunday night and they will not stop until very late in the day Monday. Very few drivers can do this, though. It is very hard. Very, very few can do it, but if they can do this they can make for themselves after paying for renting the car maybe 300 dollars.
Jawad Where I hailed him: Midtown West Where he hails from: Pakistan
Previous profession: University student
I’m still pretty young, so once I tried a double shift because there weren’t enough guys for the day shift after I got back to the garage from driving all night. So, basically, I drove a 12-hour night shift, and then went right back out on another 12 hours during the day. It started out pretty good at first: I was in really high spirits. During the rush hour I coasted through on what must have been adrenalin. After the rush hour was over though, I was fading. I had to pull over on the Upper East Side and try to sleep. I got about a half hour of sleep and then just kept on driving. It was hard. I was... [fried] by the time it was done. I am glad I didn’t have an accident. The money was nice. I had a pretty good day that day... or... days. I don’t think I’ll do it again.
Leo Where I Hailed Him: West Village Where he hails from: Senegal Years as a cabbie: 7 Previous profession: Limousine driver
I never drive more than 12 hours. I know myself. I know the law. Towards the end of ten hours I’m starting to get really tired — especially when I’m working a night shift — a lot of times I’ll be up the whole day before with my kid. You know? Family is important. But it wears on you. I can’t work any longer than what I do or I’d kill myself. Either from being tired or from a wreck. You’ve got to be safe. In a lot of ways! You know?
Amrik Where I hailed him: East Village Where he hails from: India Years as a cabbie: 8 Previous profession: Waiter
The longest for me, let me see, is probably 13, 14 hours. It is not that long, but when you are in the car it seems like a very long time. For the first ten hours it is ok, but then you just get tired of being in the car. Twelve hours is the regulation — you are not supposed to work more than that, but it is not so strict, you know. You drink a lot of coffee. In the day it is not so hard because there is so much going on, the streets are so busy, you must be always paying attention. At night, though, you get tired.
George Where I hailed him: Hell’s Kitchen Where he hails from: Ivory Coast Years as a cabbie: 2 Previous profession: Truck driver
Let me tell you, I did 19 hours once. From afternoon then through all night and through to the next day. Not again, though. It is hard to concentrate after so many hours. You get slow, so you are not making as much money anyway. I think maybe 10, 12 hours is best. After that you are not so alert anymore, you know? But it was good for the money. I made 350 dollars. But, still, it isn’t the best that way.