“Do you know anything about Catching a cab?”
Molly stares back at me as she shifts her large tote on her shoulder, gathers her scarf around her pink cheeks and pulls her roller bag to her side. She stomps her boots on the concrete to warm up her feet and glances around as all of the heavily clothed people are rushing around us. The February wind is cutting between the buildings and stinging our ears as the airport pick up lines become more and more congested with cars. I start scanning the area for transport lines and any indication of where to go.
“No, not really. Oh wait, I see a cab stand over there,” I say.
I point past the crowd, about 20 yards away from us, where people are mindlessly pulling their luggage to wait in the cold. The overstuffed jackets and fluffy hats resemble an awkward herd of exotic beasts huddling for warmth.
Molly and I scamper towards the line hopping over and haphazardly negotiating the delicate wheels of our rolling luggage through rough patches of ice that have been splashed onto the sidewalk by the frequent passing shuttles.
“Do you think anyone is going to be at her apartment yet Anna? I really don’t feel like waiting outside anywhere. It’s fucking cold here!” Molly’s breath surrounds her face as she says this.
She shifts her bag again with a small hop as we finally near the front of the line. They have at least a dozen spots to walk out to; cabs are constantly rounding the corner and pulling in.
“I think we can find somewhere to grab a coffee if we have to wait. Let’s try to call her when we get inside the cab and see what we need to do.” I say.
The typical bright yellow cab pulls up in front of us. It’s engine sputters dark grey smoke against the cold air and I watch it rise up into the overcast sky. I smile as I notice the black and white checkered stripe that runs along the side of the vehicle. This has always been my childhood image of New York, the classic yellow cab. An older gentleman trots around to the trunk of the car and waves us over. His face contorts into a scowl as we approach him.
“OH my GAWD! How many damned bags do you people have?” he exclaims and places his hands on his hips.
Molly reluctantly rolls her purple bag over to him.
“I only have my carry on and a large tote, Mr.,” she states meekly.
I hand off my roller bag to him and walk back to the car with my fully stuffed hobo purse on my shoulder.
Maybe he was trying to welcome us in typical New Yorker style, I think to myself.
His tone had clearly terrified both of us. We clumsily open the door, climb into the back seat and stare ahead in silence hugging our purses to our shivering bodies. In the south we have taken for granted that people are friendly and ask you “how are y’all doing today?” they are usually happy to help and insist on opening the door for you. It was pretty unnerving to have an elderly man speak so harshly, especially to have it as his initial greeting. I sigh and watch the ice slide down the window. I am already homesick and we are only here for a couple days.
Molly nervously rummages through her pink & purple striped tote bag.
“Ugh! I need to find my phone it’s in here somewhere. I’m going to call Shannon or text her. I need to know where we go from here!” she huffs.
The old man slams the trunk and rocks the cab. We see his wool pageboy hat and red scarf float by the foggy window. He opens the door, slides into the driver’s seat and looks into the rearview at both of us, the grey hairs on his ears stick out like antennae.
“Where to?” he asks.
“Uhh, we need to go to Chelsea..” I stammer.
“If you could drop us off in Chelsea near 22nd & 6th… that would be perfect,” Chimes Molly phone in hand as she quickly searches for numbers.
“Yea, yea…” Says the driver.
He places the car in drive, we both sit back and let the heat ease the cold out of our fingers. We pass angry drivers and plenty of buildings that look tall and cold as the snow floats around them. Just as I notice a toll road leading into a tunnel, Molly taps my arm and points to a sign on the back of the seat:
JFK airport Minimum fare $40 cash
I can hear the panic in her voice as Molly whispers…
“Do you have any cash on you??? I only have like ten bucks in my bag! Did we fly into JFK? I can’t remember!” she hisses.
I turn to the cab driver: “Excuse me…”
He holds up his hand and waves it around.
“Don’t talk to me I’m drivin’ here!” he scolds in a thick New Yorker accent.
We both sit back in our seats not really sure how to take his reaction. Molly’s eyes are wide with shock,
“What the FUCK?” she mouths to me.
She starts furiously digging through her purse again. We both had just flown up from New Orleans. This big city with a subway, cabs and tolls was a little much to take in for our first visit to the place. In fact, my sister figured her bachelorette party should be a NYC style extravaganza. So here we were in all our overwhelmed glory, the scared shitless twenty-something southerners, and we hadn’t a clue. And by the way,…New York in the midst of February; it’s cold as hell!
I look in my purse and remember I brought quite a bit of cash just in case and breathe a sigh of relief.
“It’s OK I have some cash,” I say.
Molly smiles and holds up her ticket,I glance at the airline logo on the top, it’s bright blue; I have no idea why she’s so excited to find it. Why is she showing me this?
“It’s Newark not JFK! So maybe it’s won’t be forty bucks!” she smiles.
I shrug, I know nothing will be cheap in this city; silly southerners!