Suburban Taxi Services: A Self-Help Guide

by Christine Adams Beckett

There are only few occasions one must call for a taxi in suburbia: when in a rush to get to the City for a meeting, finding yourself out on the town without a ride, or when your lift to the airport doesn’t show.  There are several services in Montclair, and most often you’ll have little or no waiting time, an advantage which will be essential if your scenario happens to be the latter of my short list.  You may want, therefore, to immediately take a motion sickness pill as a preemptive measure against the inevitable.  Wear cool, loose fitting clothing for the non-air conditioned launch and be sure to be in peak physical condition and are able to schlepp your own bags with ample muscle.  You may want to have had some voice training too, as the music will be blaring and if you find yourself sadly lacking in earbuds, you might as well join your not-so-talented driver in a duet.

Any tour with a Newark area taxi driver will likely be driven at a speed of Mach 10.  Be sure to fasten your safety belt and if there is a door handle that remains in tact to clutch it securely.  When you are appropriately white knuckled, be sure to keep your eyes on the horizon, at an even point in the distance, to give your mind the illusion of moving at a much slower velocity.  If the vehicle is overly air-freshened, a scent often mingling disastrously with a men’s cologne of domestic origin, you may want to seek out an air vent and keep your nose in the stream of relatively fresher air, cocker spaniel style.  Be sure to be in the center of the seat rather than on the outskirted, less upholstered area.  As the vehicle lands from the most assured air born flights (mostly resulting in launches from pot holes and debris on Route 78) the return to earth will be much smoother.

Assuming you are a decently prepared conductor of a motor vehicle, you already have working knowledge of jacks, lug nuts and spare tires.  Route 78 launches at times might result in a puncture of the landing gear and may require a replacement en route.  Since your driver will likely not know the first thing about changing a flat tire, this will be a do-it-yourself job. My husband likes to remove his expensive sport coat during such endeavors and to argue reduction in fare at this time, when his imported button down is getting smeared in grease and his previous experience as a cabbie law student will inevitably rise in the conversation.  Note: previous experience as a Newark area taxi driver will get you nowhere when you miss your flight and need to change it retroactively.

Loose fitting clothing will come in handy, not only when you are perspiring in the sweltering summer sticky vinyl seat, but when baking on the hot pavement on the shoulder of aforementioned Route 78, changing that tire or calling another cab after your first breaks down as a result in a faulty radiator working overtime during a Newark triple digit heat wave.  Perhaps the Newark police officer who has pulled over your driver for conducting a motor vehicle at unreasonable speed has finally expended your him of all the allowable points on his license; the man on the beat can’t give you a lift in his patrol car.  Make sure you have a back up number or three programmed into your cell phone, and by all means, that there is a full charge on your portable communications device.

Most Newark area cabbies are conversant, but many want to get lost in their musical world, so therefore ear buds are a must.  If you are sorely lacking in a personal listening device, a background in hip hop is helpful, rhythm and blues seems to be popular, but pop also will rear its ugly head on most occasions.  I have recently found that harmonizing Marvin Gaye with Javier from one of the Oranges was quite popular and perhaps even got me to Newark’s Liberty airport five minutes faster.

You are now ready to be deposited at your terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport.  Here’s where all that agility and weight training will come in quite handy.  The driver will likely slow down to a speed of  no less than 20 miles per hour when leaving you at the curb, a reasonable speed for a dive, drop, and roll.  A tuck over the shoulder (opposite to that which holds your hand bag) and roll similar to the style of “digging” a volleyball works best.  Remain in a defensive stance with your arms outstretched in preparation for catching your luggage.  Packing light will be useful during this maneuver.  If you plan on tipping your pilot, be sure that it is rolled in a ball, useful when launching it shot-put style at your rapidly exiting chauffeur.

Have a pleasant flight.

Post Script: If you are also paying your way through undergraduate studies or law school and reside in the Newark area, and are able to see the subtle differences in shades of red, amber and green you too can qualify to be a taxi driver.  There are numerous chop shops and junk yards in the area in which to procure a vehicle.  Unlike London where hopeful cabbies are required to take a four year course of routes and history of London called “The Knowledge”, in Newark the requirements are relatively easy: walking upright, for one, and in my husband’s case, a good background in constitutional law.