… begins tomorrow : a week that will see the normal strain of knowing something horrible is going on, and not knowing what to do about it.
The very first time I pick up a passenger, I will be waiting for the sound of idle chatter coming from the tv audio in the back seat. Then, and only then, will I be able to ask the passenger(s) (politely) if they would mind “pressing the off button on the tv.”
If I ask too soon, they forget by the time the tv goes on, and I have to ask them once again. If I wait too long, they will be on the phone, and I won’t want to interrupt them, in which case the tv will be on for the whole ride.
This is time wasted.
In the best of scenarios, the instant a passenger gets in his cab a good driver will start thinking about how best to get them where they’re going. This requires him to have been staying aware of the situation he’s in in the immediate sense — what cars are behind, or to either side, of his own car; what are the traffic restrictions on lanes or turns or in other regards; whether there are any bicyclists in the area; what traffic patterns he has noticed up until now; etc., etc.
The purpose of this awareness is to reinforce best what he knows he has to do above all other matters : to get out of the area he is in, and into the area the passenger is going to.
Exact destinations are irrelevant at this point. A driver merely has to know, for example, that he must take his passenger to the Upper East Side from Eighth Avenue and 14th Street. The immediate question now, for him, is to figure the best route to take East and North away from 8th and 14th.
A missed opportunity creates problems down the line : miss a turn-off for the east side at a crucial moment, and the trip could take twenty minutes longer and cost $6 or $7 more.
Let me draw the conclusion :
Time spent worrying about the tv noise is time out of focusing on taking the best route from pick-up to destination. This distraction can quickly translate into lost time and lost money for passenger and driver alike.
Nevertheless, if he wants to drive safely, attentively and efficiently, the driver has got to concentrate on getting the tv off as quickly as possible. If he misses a turn at 23rd Street that could have brought him and his passenger more quickly to the Upper East Side than any option available after 23rd Street is passed — so be it : the tv has to go off : that is essential, it is not something that can be trifled with.
And why not, a skeptic might ask.
My next post will address that question.
NOTE : As I have pointed out in a couple of previous posts (“This Blog Gets Its Name” and “The Story Thus Far …” ) this blog has been a long time coming. I believe I am closing in on a way of making it feasible. Since I can’t include as much material in each post as I have previously tried to (the drafts are all unpublished), I will have to break off in the midst of an issue and come back to it — though, I hope, as quickly as possible. So, the posts will be partial and fragmentary.
The idea of installments, therefore, is an essential feature of this blog at this point. Any given post will cover only part of the subject it addresses.
Any business left unfinished in any post — like this one — will be resumed in a subsequent post, until (presumably) the day arrives when I have said what I had wanted to say, and what I thought the public would find useful or diverting.