In the Big City (Testimony of a New York Cab Driver)


It's the sounds that make the big city bearable. The street has a different voice for each part of the day. From the low grumble of the early-morning traffic, to the nervous bustle of the crowds through the mid-afternoon. Then comes evening rush: home and back out to the clubs. And then finally, the night sirens. Wailing and moaning until the break of dawn.

Always sounds. Sounds to distract the mind from the rot and decay, from the soul that torments it. I love the city.

Name's Turner. Eddie Turner. Friends call me Ed. New York's the city, but they're all the same. They may have different locations and different attractions, maybe even different attitudes, but at the heart of every city lies a miserable group of people who are trying desperately to live together in relative peace and harmony despite the fact that deep down inside they all hate each other’s guts.

Sure, some cities claim to foster love and mutual respect, but they're fooling themselves I tell you. Most such cities consist of a large number of people on drugs. And though drugs may temporarily mask the hatred, it continues to exist nonetheless, underneath, boiling and festering. It's not good, I tell you.

I guess I think a lot about the city, about all the hatred. It's hard not to when it's rubbed in your face day after day.

I'm a cab-driver, in case I haven't mentioned it, and I see everything.

I could spend hours telling you about all the sickos and loonies and queers in this two-bit town. I could tell you endless stories about the pure, unabated malice, restlessness, discontent: loathing. Jesus, sometimes I wonder why we even put ourselves through it.

I've never been a religious man. My Mother was known to bend the rosary beads now and again but religion never seemed to make much sense to me in this crazy world. In fact, the only thing that makes any sense at all is that nothing makes sense. Nothing at all. No use trying to make any sense, I found out. It's just not a worthwhile endeavor.

And oddly enough, it was at that point where I found my faith, just exactly where I never would have thought of looking for it —Wham! Up it flies and smacks you square in the forehead.

And suddenly you don't need to worry about all the goddamn shit anymore. None of it matters. It's not what's important. Faith is a good feeling.

Yeah, I've got faith alright, but faith in what I can't exactly say. I've got faith in the treachery and deceit. And I've got faith in stupidity and unrelenting foolishness. But hey, at least I've got faith, and that's more than a lot of guys got.

Twenty-seven years I've driven a cab, ten in Seattle, seventeen in New York. I suppose I like my job. It's just routine enough that I don't have to think too much about it, and it's just interesting enough that I don't go nutso from the monotony. A lot of good men have went nutso in the city.

They say variety is the spice of life Well, there's no lack of spice in this town. In fact there's too much spice. So much spice that it's overpowering. Our palettes have been saturated. Things just don't quite taste the same as they used to. Something has been lost, somewhere. Something you just can't quite put your finger on.

Maybe I'm just a romantic. My old lady Marge always used to tell me so. “Eddie,” she would say, “you're such a romantic!” I always thought she was being sarcastic. But now that I think about it, I really wonder.


© 1998 Bryan Patrick Deno