I’ve read so many authors’ accounts of their unusual careers. It’s interesting to learn about life as a…”fill-in-the-blank,” which is often a job I never imagined holding, but experience it vicariously through the writer’s words. One such book is Hack: How I Stopped Worrying about What to do with my Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab, by Melissa Plaut.
Melissa Plaut has a great story-telling style. I learned a lot, not only about what big city taxi drivers experience, but also about life as a female cabbie in a very male-dominated field. She points out that most people who ride in cabs do not consider what their driver’s job is like, and that in fact, often the driver is treated as invisible or simply unimportant. To illustrate this sense of invisibility, consider the customer that runs a ‘delivery service,’ selling cocaine all over the city, using taxis as his main form of transportation. The cabdriver risks legal trouble for the illegal substance in her vehicle. The dealer risks the cabbie witnessing the deals and possibly identifying him. But the deal goes on, as if the driver never saw it.
Plaut interweaves factual information, such as the health dangers hacks face--imagine what repeated 12-hour shifts can do to your kidney health, when you sit so long with few safe opportunities to use the bathroom--and the legal requirements restricting NYC drivers, with stories of what she and her fellow cabbies experienced out on the road.
It was a fascinating read, and I hope Plaut will write more.
Hack : how I stopped worrying about what to do with my life and started driving a yellow cab