Name: Solomon Neuschatz
Years behind the wheel: 11
Number of breaks: “A few, but they’re always just five or ten minutes.I multitask while I drive.”
Number of pickups in a 12-hour shift: “Ten to 14 when I’m doing airport runs; about 30 if I don’t go to the airport.”
Miles accrued per shift: 150 to 200
Money made before expenses per day: $250 to $300
Money made after expenses per day: $50 to $75 (“My lease is $150 per day; gas is $45”)
Biggest “tip”:$100. “It was on a long trip out to Jersey—the fare was $80 or something. The guy wanted to give me $100 total, and there were two $50 bills stuck together between his five twenties. I didn’t realize till later.”
Why do you drive a cab?
My father drove a cab for 40 years. I was a stockbroker, a dental technician and a salesman before coming to this. I was making other people money and being confined to a cubicle. Now, I’m always on the go. Are there sacrifices? Certainly. I’ll probably be a hunchback by the time I’m 50. [Laughs] But you gotta have fun with it. I consider this a career, not a job.
Do you always talk to your passengers?
I’m a sucker for a good conversation. But I gauge the passenger; if you don’t wanna talk I’m not gonna make you. People from Brooklyn, Queens or out of town are more talkative; old-school Manhattanites never want to talk.
I bet you overhear some good stuff.
Oh my God. I’ve had people get divorced, get engaged, throw up…There have been fights where the wife literally got out while I was driving. I’ve had Uma Thurman, Kevin Bacon, Adam Sandler. I’ve had old ladies ask me out. I’ve heard all kinds of things I don’t want to hear. I’ve had people have sex in the backseat—
And you let it happen?
Sure. Matter fact, I turned my rearview mirror to get a nicer view. [Laughs]
Awesome. Do you tend to remember your passengers?
For about two weeks or so. A couple years ago, I picked [a couple] up from JFK and took ’em to the Hilton on 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue. Two weeks later, I picked the same couple up and took them back to the airport. Total coincidence. In the 11 years I’ve been driving, that’s happened to me three times.
Ever feel unsafe?
All the time. This is a dangerous job. When I was just two weeks in the business, I picked up these four kids from Times Square. They seemed really shady and I could tell I was in danger of getting robbed, but I didn’t want to throw them out of the cab. They wanted to go to the Bronx. I’m running every red light and praying that a police car pulls me over. I make it to the Madison Avenue Bridge and cross over. Suddenly, four paddy wagons pull me over. They frisk the kids; turns out two of them have knives and all of them had a bunch of knickknacks they had robbed.
Yikes. Okay, now tell me a nice story.
I was at the Plaza Hotel and a guy comes up. All I could smell was money. He wants to go to Monticello [New York].Turns out he was going out there for a few races; he owned a horse. As we go, I talk to him about the horse, the race. I had some money on me from the day, so I put like $150 on his horse, and it won. It was a favorite, so I only won like $100. I never told the guy what I’d done, but I knew he was a happy camper because he’d told me he’d had a $2 million purse on that horse. He ended up paying me $700. I wouldn’t have made that in three days of work.
Average trip distance: 2.74 miles
Percentage of total fare paid with credit cards per day: 34
Average tip on trips paid with credit card: 18%
Number of trips per hour: 2.69
Average gross driver income per hour (minus tolls paid):$29.52
Average net driver income per hour: $20
Average shifts per driver per month: 23.72
Number of licensed drivers:48,220
Number of shifts per day citywide:23,658
Total trips per day citywide:503,969
Total fare-box yield per day citywide:$5,555,741.00