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Articles by

<Ryan Vlastica>

10/12/11 4:00am


Frank

Hailed in: Lower East Side

Hails from: Bronx

People love to talk. They need to talk to
someone when they’re upset, and if they’re
alone in the cab when they’re upset they talk
to me. People bitch to me about relationships.
They fight on their cell phones, hang
up, then have me agree that their boyfriend
or girlfriend is an asshole. A few weeks ago
a guy was having a fight with his wife. I had
him call her back and apologize. By the time
I let him out he was thanking me, and I said,
“Give me a quarter of your money because I
just saved you half of it.”


Mike

Hailed in: West Village

Hails from: Florida

Customers figure I know the best pizza places
or whatever kind of restaurant, so I get asked
that a lot. “Take me to this address, and
what’s a good Italian restaurant near there?”
Most of the time I don’t know; I know the
city well but it isn’t like I’ve eaten everywhere.
I have a few places I like, same as you
probably do. Oh, and people like asking me
driving questions. Where’s the cheapest gas,
where near Times Square are there usually
places to park on the street, stuff like that.
I don’t answer those either. If I tell people,
then everyone will go to them.


Yousaf

Hailed at: LaGuardia

Hails from: Pakistan

No, but people like to give me advice. Anytime
I pick a guy up from Wall Street he’ll ask me
about my money. How’s my money doing, is
my money working for me, where do I have
my money? I’m like, “the bank.” They say,
“Oooh, no, you have to have your money in
Apple! In this mutual fund!” I’m like, “I’m
poor. Give me some money and I’ll invest it
anywhere you tell me to.”

04/27/11 4:00am


Khalid

Hailed in: Soho

Hails From: Pakistan

I had bedbugs once, more than ten years ago. It was horrible. I was bitten everywhere. I had to throw out all my clothing, all my stuff. I even moved. I’m very careful now; I had exterminators come in to check things to be safe. Whenever I hear people talking about them in the cabs, I stop and ask if their apartment has them. No one has said so. If they were to admit it I don’t think I would kick them out, but I would wait before I got another passenger so I could check the car.


Pedro

Hailed in: Lower East Side

Hails From: Guatemala

Everyone is scared of bedbugs. When all the cases started coming up, we got all this information about how to check for them in cabs, since you can’t tell who has them just by looking at them, and it’s so easy for people to carry them in and then leave them behind. So I check for them every time I clean my cab.


Harold

Hailed in: Midtown

Hails From: Queens

I’m more worried about them in my house. There’s this plastic on the seats, so I don’t think the cab could really get so bad since I clean it and check my clothes for any sign when I leave my shift. My fear is that somehow something will get on me when I’m just out and about and then I take them back home. I have a mattress cover—everyone should get a mattress cover—but those little fuckers can get anywhere.


Muhammad

Hailed in: Grand Army Plaza

Hails From: Turkey

I don’t really think about it, to be honest with you. I guess they can be spread from person to person, but I don’t know about from passenger to driver. The partition prevents us from touching, for the most part, so I don’t see how I can get them. It’s rare that people sit in the front.

12/20/06 12:00am

Three documentaries make up this collection of Ellen Bruno films on social issues in Asia. They vary in quality but all are subtly poetic and unexpectedly life-affirming.
 
Of the three, Sacrifice is the strongest. Dealing with child prostitution in Thailand, the film is simply a platform for victims to tell their stories, which works precisely because the stories are so riveting. There’s an incredible moment when a woman says she has been forced to have sex with 1,000 men a year, for six years, then says that she doesn’t know what that totals up to, as she has no education to do the math.
 
The biggest flaw is one of placement. Sacrifice should have been shown first, trading places with Sky Burial, which details burial rites in Nepal. The rites are designed to give the deceased a final sign of respect, in the same way that the film is respectful enough towards its subjects to give them a voice and their dignity. Highly recommended.