Taxi, March 11, southbound on Broadway, East Village to Greenwich St. between Rector and Carlisle, 11.50 p.m.
BACKSEAT BANTER: THE NEW YORK CITY TAXI DRIVER PROJECT (EXCERPT)
OFFICE OF UNIVERSAL CONSULTATION: "Mr. Li?"
TAXI DRIVER: "Yes?"
OUC: "May I ask you a question?"
OUC: "Do you know what the weather will be like tomorrow?"
TD: "I don't know. I'm sorry but I really don't know."
OUC: "Well, I guess only God knows for sure!"
TD: "God do not exist!"
OUC: "Excuse me?"
TD: (bitterly) "No God!"
OUC: "Why do you believe this?"
TD: "I'm a good man, a very honest man, I do everything the right way, don't lie or steal or cheat ... and still I have no luck in life ... no money, no luck, a bad life."
OUC: "The Lord moves in mysterious ways. Your bad luck doesn't prove there's no God."
TD: "I know it for sure. My mother told me! She was a big leader
in the Buddhist community in Chinatown, very popular lady, everybody
loved her, and when she died hundreds of people came to pay their respects.
Very popular lady! Everybody loved her. And just before she died she
asked me to come close and she told me her secret. I leaned down to her and she said 'There is no God,' so that's how I know."
OUC: "Hmmmm. I see."
TD: "She spent her whole life fooling all the people to get their money! Everybody came to her to get advice and they paid her money and she became very rich! Popular lady!"
OUC "Ah, hmmmm, yes, well. . . . "
TD: "You believe in God?"
OUC: "Oh, yes, yes."
TD: "Where is he? I don't see him. Show me where!"
OUC: "He's right here with us in this taxi."
TD: (twists around in his seat and stares at OUC passengers) "YOU!! I've seen you before! I know you! You're a cannibal! You eat people!"
OUC: "Look, we're almost there. Time to pay our fare."
TD: "Okay. You see, I can say anything I want to you because I'll never see you again, so it doesn't matter if I offend you or not."
OUC: "Don't worry, we're not offended! Quite the contrary; we owe you a big tip! Thank you for sharing the story about your mother."
TD: "Good night."
OUC: "Good night, Mr. Li."