One Valentine's Day circa 1999, back when I was living in New York, I found myself single and looking for something entertaining to do. I set up a dinner with three girlfriends, and we embraced the idea of enjoying a girls' night out. We booked reservations at Florent, a cool French diner in the Meatpacking District. (This was before Bungalow 8 made the Meatpacking District into hipster central -- at the time, meat odors of varying freshness still wafted through the neighborhood air.) But this post isn't about the restaurant. It's about the journey. Or rather, the mode of transportation.
My friends and I left work around the same time that V-Day evening and headed down to the taxi stand in front of our office. We were third in line, with two couples in front of us, and cabs were scarce. The way I remember it, the weather was cold and snowy. A cab pulled up for the first couple, and they headed off. Then, the couple right in front of us saw an empty car from a car service (a Town Car for hire) about 10 yards away. The couple got out of line and began negotiating with the car service driver.
Finally, a taxi pulled up in front of us. We opened the door, and out of nowhere, a homeless-looking guy plunged into the taxi ahead of us. He ignored my protests and that of my friends, and told the cab where he wanted to go. As he prepared to shut the door, I called out, "Happy Valentine's Day, ASSHOLE."
Suddenly, the taxi driver asked the guy: "Do you have any money?"
The guy didn't answer -- he just jumped out and ran off. (I assume the answer was no.)
We wasted no time piling into the cab. I can't speak for the other ladies, but I know I was smiling smugly. It wasn't over yet, though.
The couple that had been negotiating with the car service came running back to the cab, claiming it was theirs. I felt no guilt, as they had clearly relinquished their spot in line. AS IF we were going to get out. Someone shut the door. We all waved goodbye to the couple, grinning widely.
And we drove off cheerfully into the snowy, lamplit evening.