Friday, July 08, 2005

The Noir Thing, Part III

I just saw an episode of The Shield on DVD - great show. Anyway, it reminded me of something that used to happen in one of my old neighborhoods in The Bronx. Lots of trucks would pull off of I-95 in the early mornings and with some regularity they'd get robbed -- someone would watch for the trucks, toss a burning garbage can or mattress or sofa, etc into the road and when the truck stopped, the back of the truck would be opened and the merchadise taken -- if the trucker tried to do anything, he'd get dragged out and roughed up -- I often heard of naked truckers asking for help once their entire truck was taken from them. Could never figure out why an eighteen wheeler wouldn't just plow through.

This is not the sort of thing that made the news in NYC in the bad old days. It was simply part of the cost of doing business.

City bus drivers leaving the depots in the early hours faced the same troubles -- they used to carry paper transfer tickets -- you pay your fare, the driver gave you a transfer and you could then get on your next bus for free. Some drivers woudl routinely refuse to pick up passengers in the first couple of stops if they passengers were black or hispanic youths -- too high a risk of having a knife put to their throats -- not that they would hestiate to hand over the transfers (I'm talking about packs of them which could later be resold to rush hour commuters looking to save a little). The trick is that when there's a knife to your throat it isn't really YOUR actions that you worry about -- it's the other guy's actions. Even if you do everything that you're told to do, the guy calling the shots might still stick you.

Shows you the difficulties inherent in traveling through NYC. Here's a statistic that most don't recognize:

You'll remember that Black Day - 9/11/01. 22 NYC police officers (not counting Port Authority police) were murdered that day - 22. That's too many, of course. It's tragic. But, in 2001, more NYC taxi drivers were murdered than police officers. In fact, for several years, killing cabbies (not yellow cab guys; we're talking about what are often refered to as "Gypsy Cab" drivers) killing cabbies was a gang initiation ritual -- you get a cabbie to take you to some bogus address -- an abandoned building for instance, then you shoot him in the back through the driver's seat. Grab his money while you're at it. Over thirty times in 2001. Can't say how often I was refused service. Even in broad daylight.


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