I did it. I survived New York City and the National RWA conference. Normally, when I go to a writing conference, I seldom leave the hotel. As a rule, the fear of becoming road kill isn’t part of my conference phobias. Mostly they consist of toe pain, back of the heel blisters, wardrobe malfunctions, and brain farts when talking to editors and readers due to too much wine and staying up late giggling with the roommates. But since this trip, I’ve added the road kill phobia to my list of things to obsess over before attending a conference. You see, this year I had meetings, and parties to attend all over the Big Apple. Which meant, I had to hail a lot of taxicabs.
Now, I’m the type of person who learns by watching others. And not being a complete idiot, I did just that. I went outside and for a good hour, I studied the art of taxi hailing. Problem is that everyone had a slightly different approach. Some people used the two finger approach; some had the one finger technique down. I heard some people whistle. Some people just held out their hand, and continued talking on the phone or chatting with friends and a taxi came running over like a hungry dog at dinner time. Some people just stood on the curbside and those yellow go-mobiles would screech to a halt right in front of them. I mean, they might have wiggled a brow at the driver, but if they did, I missed it.
I know that you city folks are probably laughing at this country bumpkin. But, seriously, I’d never hailed a cab before. I hadn’t ridden in a taxi until I was almost drinking age. In the south, we believe in cars. And if your car is broken down, we believe in calling a cousin. If their car is broken down, we call another one. That’s why we have plenty of cousins in the south.
As a southern lady, I’m not much of a risk taker. And while taxi hailing might not be up there with bull riding or jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, it was pretty darn scary.
When you’re standing on the side of the street in Times Square and the yellow cars are zipping past so fast that all you see is a golden blur, that’s risky. Now consider that you’re short, so you have to actually get on the street to be seen, it doesn’t feel like no small feat. Not that it can’t be done by vertically-challenged individuals, because I watched one of my editors, about my height, get me a cabbie in no time flat. But me . . . ha! After standing there for a good twenty or thirty minutes, knowing I was going to be late for my meeting, this southern, soft-spoken lady, got downright pissy. I mean, when people to the left, and people to right of me were getting carted off like royalty while I stood curbside, my arm muscles aching from all my hailing a cab attempts, I was tempted to go from the two finger technique to the one finger salute.
Seriously, the way those taxi drivers were zipping down 45th and 46th street, it appeared they got points for every tourist they either passed by or ran over. One point for the Jersey people, five points for the tourists from bordering states and a whole-heartedly ten points for tourists who were cab hailing impaired, talked funny and said y’all, and were crazy enough to go out wearing something other than a shade of black. And one look at my poor-hailing capabilities while dressed in my brightly colored wardrobe, and they had me down as a y’all-speaking ten-pointer at first glance. I had several near death experiences and was late for three events.
One of those experiences had a taxi so close that if it had been a man, I could have had him arrested. I’m not blaming anyone here, but I had followed my wonderful agent into the swirl of traffic. Yup, her Jersey-hailing approach was a tad different. She didn’t wait for the crazy yellow vehicles to come to her, she went to them. Not that I don’t appreciate her go-getter attitude; it’s what a writer wants in an agent. I just wouldn’t enjoy admiring her abilities from the underside of a taxi or while standing in the street with my backside kissing a bumper. In her defense, she didn’t tell me to follow her, but considering she had more hailing capabilities, I wasn’t about to let her out of my sight during rush hour.
Ahh, but other than a few near misses, I had a blast. I stayed up too late giggling with my roomies and met up with three of my Killer Fiction gals.
I had the honor to say hello to some of my favorite authors, got to walk out on the balcony of the Flat Iron building, ate fancy hors d’oeuvres and drank some good wine at my publisher parties. I signed books until my hand cramped, learned a few more things to stuff in my educational bank, and met up with some of my own readers.
Yes, I experienced some toe pain, bandaged a few heel blisters, suffered through a few brain farts, but thankfully only had wardrobe malfunctions in the privacy of my hotel room. Life was good in New York City. And I plan to go back the first chance I get. But you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m practicing my taxicab hailing. I wonder if they teach that class at my community college.
So. . . what’s going on with you guys this summer? Are you going on vacation? Do you love the big cities? Are you taxicab hailing impaired? Any hailing advice you’d like to share with me?