A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
Last week, my husband and I experienced what was, without a doubt, the greatest cab ride of both of our lives.
It began inauspiciously. We were headed for the airport, big suitcases in tow, attempting to hail a taxi smack in the middle of the dreaded afternoon shift change. Everybody was off duty, and the few cabs who weren’t took one look at our obvious destination and breezed right on by. We were feeling frustrated, rejected, and slightly panicked.
Finally, a hybrid SUV cab pulled up. We were elated. We loaded our bags into the trunk and hurried inside. Feeling rushed and relieved, it took us a moment to settle in, negotiate our coats and compose ourselves. That’s when we took a look around.
Lining the top of the divider was a garland of all sorts of plastic flowers, dotted with hanging Christmas ball ornaments. And pasted all over the Plexiglas and in the front of the cab were wallet-sized photographs of all sorts of bygone celebrities and public figures, from Malcolm X, MLK Jr. and the Dalai Lama to Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Marlon Brando and most importantly, the King himself. Elvis was definitely in the building. Car. Whatever.
Our host had equal affection for every single one of his permanent passengers, but none so much as Elvis, who was better represented than any of them. He explained that in South Korea, where he grew up, people grew their hair out to look like Elvis, in spite of the fact that it was illegal. He told us that Elvis was not dead, would never be dead, because his musical style and influence will live on beyond that of any other artist. I’d never thought of it that way, but I felt overwhelmingly compelled to agree with everything he said. He said a lot. He talked the whole way to JFK, and there was quite a bit of traffic (around which he took a fantastic shortcut).
Apparently, and I guess not surprisingly, there is a community of people who would pay ungodly sums of money for a cutting of the King’s hair. Our guy is one of them. Or he would be, he said, if he had thousands of dollars to burn. I honestly can’t imagine it, but the idea seemed to make him incredibly happy. So, okay.
Part of me hopes we run into him again. But then part of me feels that we’re better off if experiences like this are rarities, not to be expected or overlooked. Either way, I hope some of you catch his taxi or already have.
If my luck continues in this way, it won’t be long before I hail the Cash Cab! I have got to find that great white whale.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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