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April 26, 2011 6:43 AM   Subscribe

New York to L.A. By taxi. For $5,000. Now they're headed home.
posted by xowie (37 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Another fine example of forward thinking Investment Bankers making sound judgements!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:50 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really, this seems like a big waste of money and a shitty thing to do to the environment. I don't get it.
posted by gman at 6:51 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can understand wanting to drive cross-country; I've done it several times myself. I can understand wanting to take a long cab ride somewhere silly. However, I can't imagine wanting to sit in the back of a cab for the 36+ hours it would take to drive cross-country. It just seems like setting yourself up for discomfort, at a premium.
posted by xingcat at 6:55 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. The plate said "Fresh" and there were dice in the mirror.
posted by zarq at 6:57 AM on April 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


Just the other day I was wondering how much that would cost. The internet truly is majestic in its bounty.
posted by ghharr at 6:59 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


How the hell did they get a cab at 23rd and 6th on a Friday night.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:00 AM on April 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


In the eighties, two guys I knew accepted to take a limo ride home, from outside an NYC club. One thing led to another, and they and the driver headed off to the Grand Canyon that night.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:02 AM on April 26, 2011


One thing led to another, and they and the driver headed off to the Grand Canyon that night.

...Dear Penthouse Forum?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:07 AM on April 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I first heard this joke from Noël Carroll, but I found this version of it here:

Cruising on Fifth Avenue one day, a taxi is hailed by a man standing on the corner. Entering the cab, the man says, "Take me to the Palmer House."

"The Palmer House?" says the cabbie. "That's in Chicago."

"I know," says his fare. "That's where I want to go."

"I'll drive you to Kennedy," says the cabbie. "You can fly."

"I'm afraid of flying."

"Then I'll drive you over to Grand Central and you can take the train."

"No, the train takes too long and besides, then I'd have to get from Union Station to the Palmer House."

"If I drove you all the way to Chicago it would cost a fortune. Twice a fortune, because you'd have to pay me to deadhead back to New York."

"That's okay, I can afford it. Here's a few hundred dollars now. I'll pay the rest when we get there."

With no further argument to make, the cabbie drives out of Manhattan into New Jersey and then connects with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, thence to the Ohio Turnpike, the Indiana Turnpike, and finally the Skyway into Chicago. He takes Stony Island to 57th Street, where he turns onto Lake Shore Drive. He drives north as far as Congress, cuts over to Michigan Avenue, goes north again until he can pull over to Wabash, drives back one block south, and screeches to stop in front of the Wabash entrance to the Palmer House—after two days and one night of non-stop driving.

The passenger peers at the meter, gives the cabbie several hundred dollars to cover the fare and a decent tip, and then opens to door to step onto the sidewalk.

Before anyone can close the door, two women who have been standing at the curb slide into the back seat. Before the startled cabbie can speak, one of the women says, "We want to go to an address on Flatbush Avenue."

"Uh uh, lady," says the cabbie. "I don't go to Brooklyn."
posted by felix grundy at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2011 [45 favorites]


In the mid-90s there was a cabbie who worked in Boston. I forget his name, but whenever I got in his cab, he would give us his S.A.G. card, then ask us if we wanted to go to Pasadena. Always in that order. Haven't seen the guy for years. Maybe he finally found someone who did want to go to Pasadena.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:10 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


"So how two guys flagged down a cab and got the driver to take them all the way to Los Angeles is completely baffling."

$5,000 for a week's work might have had something to do with it.

Belitsky's father is a former cab driver, and he insisted no cabbie would make the trip. "I proved my father wrong."

You sure got your father there. He must feel so pwned.

As for Belitsky, he got loads of attention by tweeting during the 3,000-mile trip. "We smell a book deal, which, oddly enough, smells kind of like the inside of a cab."

HA HA wait that makes no sense whatsoever.
posted by brain_drain at 7:17 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


gman: "Really, this seems like a big waste of money and a shitty thing to do to the environment. I don't get it."

For some perspective, let's say they took a classic NYC cab, a Ford Crown Victoria, which is the most common model used by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Let's guess that it's last year's model and the driver does about 30K miles per year. That's 29,130 lbs CO2 per year. Over 6 days, that's 478.8 lbs of CO2.

Using the same link, a one way flight from JFK to LAX costs 808 lbs CO2.

In comparison, if they had taken a hybrid (there are somewhere between 2-4000 hybrids currently in the NYC taxi fleet plus a few clean diesel cars out of a total of 13,000+,) that would likely be either a Ford Escape, (17,654 lbs CO2 per year which would have been 290.2 lbs of CO2,) or a Toyota Pruis (11,652 lbs CO2 per year = 191.4 lbs of CO2.)

They should have taken the train. Footprint: about 37 lbs of CO2.
posted by zarq at 7:18 AM on April 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dunno, I want to believe but there is something fishy about this. The first guy they hailed agreed? Did they have 5k, or even 2.5k, cash on them, if so why did they have it if this is spur of the moment. An investment banker and a professor can just blow off work? I have a lot of questions.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2011


one way flight from JFK to LAX costs 808 lbs CO2.

Is that per person or for the whole plane?
posted by cereselle at 7:23 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dunno, I want to believe but there is something fishy about this. The first guy they hailed agreed?

It wasn't the first guy. If you google around for more coverage, there's an article that goes into greater detail -- they found a cabbie who was up for it but the owner of the cab said no, so they went off to LaGuardia thinking it'd be easier there to find people who owned the cabs they operated. And while they were talking to one cabbie, Kalam/Alam (different stories report his name differently) overheard and said he was up for taking them -- Brooklyn, was it? And they said, "No, L.A.," and he laughed and then, after some negotiation over the fare, said sure.

Then he tried to back out somewhere between Chicago and the Grand Canyon. It made me a little uncomfortable, imagining how these two guys managed to persuade him to keep going at that point.
posted by artemisia at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooooh. Good point. Whole plane.

So figure if a full flight of about 400 people, 808 lbs of CO2 and we're looking at a little over 2 lbs per person. Much better!
posted by zarq at 7:27 AM on April 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are they all smoking crystal meth or something? What the hell?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the eighties, two guys I knew accepted to take a limo ride home, from outside an NYC club. One thing led to another, and they and the driver headed off to the Grand Canyon that night.

Cocaine is a helluva drug.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


cereselle, because TerraPass actually sells per traveler carbon offsets, it seems most likely that it is for an individual. I found other calculations for air travel in the same general order of magnitude.
posted by dhartung at 7:31 AM on April 26, 2011


dhartung's right. It's on a per passenger basis. So the 808lbs is per passenger.

To get the 808 figure, I put American Airlines, JFK-LAX, Economy into the form.

When you click the "Details" button, here's what comes up:

Air travel emissions: 808 lbs. CO2 from 1 flight
Air travel comparison. Here’s how flying compares to other modes of transportation on a per passenger basis.

Flying: 808 lbs
Driving alone (25 miles per gallon): 1,925 lbs
Carpooling (2 people, 25 miles per gallon): 963 lbs
Train: 1,037 lbs

So my figures seem to have been way, way off on the impact of the train trip.
posted by zarq at 7:35 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'd be much more interested in reading the tweets -- or at least the private text messages -- from the cabbie -- especially if they fall under the "look at these assholes" category.

Consumption, even conspicuous consumption, doesn't really bother me for those who can afford it -- but even when you're paying the third party, bringing somebody along just adds to a whole ick factor that I can't quite nail down.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:39 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, this seems like a big waste of money and a shitty thing to do to the environment.

They apparently had the extra spending money. The money isn't wasted; it goes to the cabdriver, and these guys got an experience they were excited about.

Yes it's bad for the environment. So are road trips in general.

It's easy to single out these guys for criticism. But wouldn't your criticism be more effectively directed against more commonplace activities like unnecessary road trips, rather than attacking this one-time stunt?
posted by John Cohen at 8:05 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are starving children in Africa who would have loved to have taken that cab ride.
posted by crunchland at 8:08 AM on April 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


Well, at least the cab driver makes a lot of money and has a story to tell.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:09 AM on April 26, 2011


John Cohen: It's easy to single out these guys for criticism. But wouldn't your criticism be more effectively directed against more commonplace activities like unnecessary road trips, rather than attacking this one-time stunt?

Sure. Next time I see an FPP about unnecessary road trips, I'll be sure to chime in. Actually, to be honest, I'm not really sure how this "stunt" doesn't fall under the category of "unnecessary".
posted by gman at 8:14 AM on April 26, 2011


> It's easy to single out these guys for criticism. But wouldn't your criticism be more effectively directed against more commonplace activities like unnecessary road trips, rather than attacking this one-time stunt?

Do you do this kind of equivocation every time someone questions the wisdom of the subject of a post? It's tiresome.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:16 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was younger and crazier, I took a limo from NYC to Atlantic City at about 4am after staying out late Saturday night. The negotiations I had to go through with the limo company were not exactly easy seeing as I was three sheets to the wind. Four of us got in the limo outside the bar we were at a bit after four. We brought nothing but a few half empty bottles of liquor we managed to get the bar owner to part with and a case of beer we picked up at Duane Reade. After 3 hours I seriously regretted the entire escapade and the driver was about to murder us. It was a bit over 300 dollars, spit 4 ways it wasn't bad.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:27 AM on April 26, 2011


It's easy to single out these guys for criticism. But wouldn't your criticism be more effectively directed against more commonplace activities like unnecessary road trips, rather than attacking this one-time stunt?

Do you do this kind of equivocation every time someone questions the wisdom of the subject of a post?


I do "this kind of equivocation" (whatever that means) when I see someone focusing on how horrible a one-time stunt is on economic and environmental grounds, when the stunt is a cheap scapegoat that distracts from more pervasive problems that might be more uncomfortable to criticize because they're our friends or they're us.

Obviously, I don't disagree with every criticism of the subject of a Metafilter post. I kind of think you knew that.
posted by John Cohen at 8:49 AM on April 26, 2011


"You walk out of New York City, you hail a cab. They're supposed to take you anywhere, and you want to go to L.A.!" Wuebben told the TV station.

Why in God's name would LA be the first place you chose?

I forget his name, but whenever I got in his cab, he would give us his S.A.G. card, then ask us if we wanted to go to Pasadena.

It's my hometown. It's less of a dump than it used to be.
posted by blucevalo at 9:17 AM on April 26, 2011


I do "this kind of equivocation" (whatever that means) when I see someone focusing on how horrible a one-time stunt is on economic and environmental grounds, when the stunt is a cheap scapegoat that distracts from more pervasive problems that might be more uncomfortable to criticize because they're our friends or they're us.

You mean you criticize something that most people -- let's face it -- do all the time, i.e., one of the "commonplace activities" that you recommended that gman focus on instead?
posted by blucevalo at 9:21 AM on April 26, 2011


It was a bit over 300 dollars, spit 4 ways it wasn't bad.

In 2003 or 2004 a group of us payed an off-duty shuttle driver to take us from JFK to someone's house in northestern Massachusettes (we had just missed the last commuter flight out and someone had to be at work in the morning). We paid him $600 and let him take a detour to pick up his wife as company for the drive back.

I always wondered if the shuttle company checked his mileage or anything - I hope he didn't get fired.
posted by muddgirl at 9:38 AM on April 26, 2011


Really, this seems like a big waste of money and a shitty thing to do to the environment. I don't get it.

The environment? It's not like the cab was just going to be sitting in the garage with the engine turned off that whole time if it wasn't driving to LA, you know. Moreover, it certainly got better gas mileage on the freeway than it would have sitting in traffic idling in NYC.

The waste is that there are millions of people in the world who desperately need money and these jackasses think that, just because they happen to have a lot of it at the moment, it's not really worth anything.
posted by The World Famous at 9:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bah. There is a reason that this is New York to Los Angeles and not Toronto to Vancouver. Highway 61 notwithstanding, I find Canadian cabbies are incredibly reluctant to go anywhere beyond the fields they know. In fact, I have had a Toronto dispatcher refuse to send me a cab to a Toronto intersection because I was calling from my Ottawa cell phone. No amount of reasoning could convince him that someone calling from a 613 number might actually be standing in Toronto. Cell phones exist, people from out of town sometimes need cabs when visiting a different city... where is the problem? "We cannot send a car to Ottawa for you, sir," was his mantra.

"But I am not in Ottawa!"

"We cannot send a car to Ottawa for you, sir."

"Look, I am at the Mimico GO station, on Royal York, just south of the Queensway."

"We cannot send a car to Ottawa for you, sir."

" ... "
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:30 AM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


$5000 actually seems like a bargain-basement price for buying your way into the national attention whore circuit. Next up: Book deal and talk show spots. Profit!

I love how these stories are always presented as, "Two crazy guys had this crazy spur-of-the-moment idea! Isn't that crazy!" And somehow, "then they called all the media outlets they could think of" is always omitted.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:42 AM on April 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, those numbers zarq linked above are per passenger, not per plane. Here's a calculator for road trips. The end result is that yeah, flying a long distance is a little bit more environmentally friendly than driving a long distance, but not enough to get excited about.

Criticizing these guys on environmental grounds just seems disingenuous. Have you really never taken a road trip? Never seen any of that "unnecessary" stuff between New York and LA? That's makes me sad.

If you really want to cut down your footprint, then don't travel as much. When you do, take the bus or train. Also, live in an apartment and walk to work.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:28 PM on April 26, 2011


And the environmental benefits of flying become further hampered if you're taking connecting flights, and definitely if you're flying business class.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:35 PM on April 26, 2011


Here's my favorite part, which only emphasizes the way people think of cab drivers (i.e. temporary slave labor):

They hailed hack Mohammed Alam at La Guardia Airport and instructed him to drive 3,000 miles west. The pair allowed the driver to stop at home, get some clothes, and tell his wife about the trip, however.
posted by RedEmma at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


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