Slowly but surely, all the places a person can enjoy a cigarette are being taken away. For a while now, smoking in taxis has been outlawed (the driver will get a ticket if someone’s caught smoking), but everybody knows if you ask nicely, you’ll probably be able to light up after a night of drinking… Or will you?
HAROLD Where he hails from: Manhattan Where I hailed him: East Village Years as a cabbie: “Oh, a while now” Previous profession: Army
Well, it’s against the law now — these are all non-smoking cabs, but I would let people smoke. I just tell them to sit down low so that the cops don’t see them if they pass by. Now though I don’t want them to smoke because I got asthma from all these years of people smoking in here. I have nothing to do with it, but now I got this shit from all the people smoking in my cab all these years.
Where he hails from: Haiti Where I hailed him: East Village Years as a cabbie: 5 Previous profession: Waiter
It’s against the law. The cab is non-smoking, so I tell the people no. Usually they will only try if they have been drinking anyway. But this is my home, you know. For my shift this is where I have to be. I don’t want it smelling like smoke all night. So I tell them no. And who pays the ticket if the police catch them? I do. Not them. So I say no.
RANBEER Where he hails from: India Where I hailed him: Midtown East Years as a cabbie: 10 Previous profession: Cook
There is no smoking in this cab. I do not smoke. I do not think people should smoke. I have never tried a cigarette. For me, it is the stupidest thing to do. When I drive at night, people will want to smoke. I tell them no. I ask if they are seeing the signs everywhere. I do not know why you would want to smoke in the cab — with the smell. It would make me sick. When passengers smell of smoke, it is awful.
Where he hails from: Turkey Where I hailed him: Downtown Years as a cabbie: 2 Previous profession: Student
Are you alright with me smoking? Yes? In that case I’m going to have one. It’s bad, right? Marlboro Reds. I smoke a pack every day now. I quit for two months, then some things happened. You know... I got stressed. I started back up three weeks ago. Hey, you want one? [Ed. Don’t mind if we do, Akar, we’re stressed too.] Ah, great, we’ll enjoy one of these cancer sticks together. What happened that I got stressed? Why worry about that right now. Let’s just smoke and I’ll drive. We should really quit, right!?
Where he hails from: Queens Where I hailed him: Murray Hill Years as a cabbie: 20 Previous profession: Musician
Sure buddy, go ahead. [Our intrepid correspondent explains that he wasn’t actually asking if he himself could smoke but rather what the driver’s general policy on people smoking in his cab was.] Oh. Yeah. I got no problem with it. Especially late at night like this — I figure no one’s gonna see in and give me a ticket. During the day I don’t like it so much cuz it’s easier for the cops to see in. But usually people only want to smoke in here late at night anyway, coming back from the bars or something after they’ve been out drinking.
Where he hails from: Bangladesh Where I hailed him: Williamsburg Years as a cabbie: 6 Previous profession: Livery driver
The law says you cannot smoke. Me, I do not smoke. However, if you want to roll down the window and smoke, what is it to me? The air I drive in all day — it’s dirty. As long as you respect me and ask to smoke. I will not have a problem. It is the drunk people that have no respect that make me mad. They do not even have enough respect to ask to smoke. Then, I will ask them to put it out, and if they don’t, I will pull over until they do.