‘Confessions of New York Taxi Driver’: Q&A with Gene Salomon, first-time author and longtime cabbie

gene salomon taxi driver
Gene Salomon’s book “Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver” recounts tales from dozens of cab rides.
Credit Bess Adler/Metro

From celebrities to unabashed lovers, veteran cabbie Gene Salomon has driven all sorts since his first fare in 1977. Salomon talks with Metro about one of his strangest trips, what cabbies fear the most and his memoir “Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver.”

Metro: What do you like about driving a cab?

Salomon: You’re just cruising the streets like a cowboy. I can go anywhere. … In this particular job you also have this incredible window with which to view humanity. Exposure to the human race in New York City is just extraordinary.

What was one of your wildest rides?

I’ll give you one. … This was probably 20 years ago. I was taking a 30-something couple from Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights at midnight. We’re in Brooklyn, they’re a few blocks from their destination, we stopped at a red light, and two cops came running toward the car and got in. One cop in the front with me, one cop in the back with the two people.

They commandeered the cab. There was some crime scene they had to get to immediately. They didn’t know what it was, they were very thankful, ‘sorry, sorry, and run the red lights,’ and we went right past the passenger designation, another 15 blocks or so.

Did you ever find out what happened?

There’s a jail on Atlantic Avenue right over there. … I think somebody escaped.

Did you keep the meter running during the detour?

Yes! Why should I have to suffer?

gene salomon
Gene Salomon says a passenger throwing up in the back of a cab is the worst fear of taxi drivers these days. “It used to be getting shot.”
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

How did you come up with the seven types of passengers you use in the book, like “the Workerbees” and “the American aristocracy”?

I think economics, more than any other category that I can think of, is a good way to divide New Yorkers.

What’s your favorite type of passenger?

It’d be the ‘Gonnabees.’ … That’s people who are most alive, got that ‘I’m gonna to do something with my life, I’m going to accomplish something’ attitude. They’re not living at a higher standard necessarily, but more alive.

You’ve driven around a lot of celebrities, but one you highlight in the book is your trip with Leonardo DiCaprio and his friends to a club.

This was before “Titanic,” so I had never heard of him. … After we get to the club, this is a kid, 17 years old, and he stays in the cab, starts asking me questions about what it’s like to be a taxi driver in New York. … He asked me, ‘Who was the best celebrity tipper you ever had?… I said, ‘John McEnroe gave me double the meter’ and Leonardo DiCaprio says, ‘Well, I’m going to give you triple the meter!’ And he did.

gene salomon
Gene Salomon said he loves driving a cab. “You’re just cruising the streets like a cowboy. I can go anywhere.”
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

You usually ride from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. — why do prefer the night shift?

There’s less traffic. There are more fun passengers. The people during the day are very business-like in New York. At night, you get people going out, enjoying themselves, and of course the drunks at night. What would we do without them?

But then there’s the chance the drunks will throw up.

The possibility of somebody puking in your cab is really the worst fear of a cab driver. It used to be getting shot.

What do you have to do when that happens?

First of all, you have to refrain from harming the person, literally flogging them. Then you got demand he pay for the trouble that he’s caused — which he may or may not do. You got to throw them out of the cab in disgust. Then you got to drive back to your garage and you have the guy clean up after the guy. That means hosing the cab down in the back, taking the seat out, wiping it all down. … This is all of course, lost time.

What about passengers fooling around?

It does happen, not as frequently as it used to, back in the day. It’s awkward and annoying.

What do you usually do if you see someone in what you call the “taxi cab position” — woman straddling a man?

I’ll make left and right turns as strong as I can to knock the girl off. This is the taxi cab driver’s revenge.

Why did you decide to write a book about your experiences?

There’s so much material that comes in the door, virtually every night. It’s a great place to collect stories, so writing a book was a natural thing to do.

“Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver” is on sale Jan. 28 at $14.99. Salomon also blogs at Cabs are for Kissing


Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…


Incubus singer Brandon Boyd on his newest act,…

The rocker is releasing two new passion projects.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.


Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.


Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.


Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…