h&f 0046 Why the Cab Rock Exists

It exists because you stand at an intersection in Harlem on one balmy eve in early fall and raise your hand for Cab #8&*& to stop and he looks at you and passes.

You know the deal, but you stay calm.  Or, to be less skeptical, you imagine why a cab looks at and passes a black man not dressed in bank robber or kid’s clothes, not moving erratically, not doing much apart from raising the cab finger.

Official NYC Cab Rock, front view (NOTE! Strictly NC ...Non-Chunkable art)

You raise your crutch, because you’re on crutches, and not looking for sympathy but rather a bigger profile because you gave the first cab guy the benefit of the doubt even though you know better.  (Give it another chance.)

Cab number 2 to you (you didn’t see his number because he swerved to the middle lane to act as if he did not see you) …passes.

Now you search for your rock. (Stay calm.  Anger throws your aim off.)

You walk down the block.  No rocks – just a nice clean street in Harlem, bordering the Manhattan colorline.  You keep walking, looking for a rock.  Your brother who’s flagging with you finds a brick.  Then your better mind takes over and says, “Dude… You can’t can’t can’t use a full-blown bidonian gargantuan brick.  Situation might multiply to madness on the part of both parties.”

You keep moving.  You spot cabs number 3, and 4, drivers appearing African and Arab respectively.  They pass your waving hand, your crutches, and your yelling.  By now, you’ve found a decent piece of broken concrete – none to happy about using man-made rock, wishing you had the benefit of the density of the real thing.

Cabs 3 and 4 look at you and they speed up and away.   The rock flies, reportedly nails cab 4 …THARK!!! (You used to watch Batman as a kid and thought of BLAP! ZOWIE!! or… Qunckkk?? as dopely onomatopoetic. And you just wish you could complete the vibe with one of those fly exclamation points that used to scream Bauhaus functionalism…)

Gettin Qunckkk Up!

Robin Gettin Qunckkk Up! (credit: Batmania )

The rock bounces back perfectly after reportedly denting the door – ready for #5.

Now you’re for real hot, but you remember, “calm down. keep your aim.”  Plus, you remember a piece from Chris Rock – “quit crying about the cabs passin’ you up.  Back in the day you WERE the cab. ”  You say, “I get it, Chris.  But I’m not complaining.  I’m just doing a different thing about the situation.”  Not gonna dial the city because you been down that road before and know that there really is no level-headed municipal solution to this.  This is just the stasis in the very real social science-fiction called “race” in this modern era.

And you resume your mission, but with an honest respect for those people who were, in fact, the cabs, the cotton gins, the tobacco harvesters, and the strange fruit hanging from poplar trees.  You do recognize this as simply a parallel form and format in which inhumanity, while not so evident in the form of systemic physical violence, continues to perfect its JimCrow sensibility in order to comfortably adapt to the new millennium.  [See: Housing Audits.]

Cab # 5 gets it (reportedly) – while he’s staring at you and speeding away.   You thought he got it!!! But you reportedly miss and the rock skips under and across the street and you thank God that you didn’t bust the window of the car on the other side of the street.  Whew!!  We mighta had problems.  I can’t run on these crutches.  This is when the stupid sets in but you don’t pay full attention to that feeling yet.

You notice an old lady watching as she waits at the bus stop the  whole time as cabs pass, you yell, and the rock flies repeatedly.

Official NYC Cab Rock, dorsal view (nfc - not for chunkin')

Official NYC Cab Rock, dorsal view (NOTE! Strictly NC! ...Non-Chunkable art)

Cab # 6 approaches, “On Duty” like all the others, moves to middle lane.  You move to the middle lane and stand still in a rotten game of Chicken.  Cab stops and driver fronts a bewildered look.  Your brother walks to the side and gets in while you hold the cab still in the middle of the street as traffic now passes on either side.

You get in Cab #6 and this fool (later, you’ll correct this slur) says, “But I’m going to Bronx.”  You say, “Cool.  We just gonna take a shortcut through Bed-Stuy first,” and let him know that for that Bronx move, this $20 ride will be tip-free.

Cab #6 turns out to be an honest man.  His light signaled “On Duty” but for some odd reason you give him a break and just believe that he wasn’t gambling for a fare that happened to be going his way.

You now calm way down and apologize to dude for going off.  You tip $3 on the ride.

You do feel stupid.  Because it is stupid, doing bull-pen warm-up on city cabs..

But you still know why the Cab Rock exists.  Now up to Cab Rock # 39.  If you have #40, it’s a fake.  These are non-chunkables, too pretty to toss, only meant to inspire.

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~ by ericjhenderson on September 18, 2008.

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