The following is a completely true story.
So I walked out of CBS after a great Job Talk radio show and hailed a taxi to Grand Central. After I got in, the driver asked, “You want I take sixty-five street over the Central Park?”
To Grand Central? Now, if you know NYC geography, you get that we’re on 10th and 57th. So, why would he head uptown to go down to 42nd & Vanderbilt? “Why wouldn’t we just go across 57th and take a right on Broadway?” He looks at me like I’m crazy and I realize he’s right—it’s 1pm, and traffic will be insane on 57th.
So I do something you’ll never believe your Auntie Evan did: I let go of my inner control freak. “You’re the professional here, you go the way you want to,” I say as my phone lights up with texts—everyone knows I’m out of our radio show now.
So, off we go. Cabbie driving. Auntie Evan texting.
Ten minutes later I look up and there’s no trees, there’s no Tavern on the Green, there’s just a billboard for some musical that everybody from LA wants to see called “If/Then,” and a lot of white people in sweatpants and Ohio State jerseys. So I’m confused. Why are we on Broadway? I told him to go the way he wanted! Did I get the one taxi driver in New York City actually afraid to disagree with me? But what’s done is done.
Then Arif casually makes a left onto 46th. And a baaaaaaaad feeling descends upon me. You know what I’m talking about if you live here. It’s illegal to turn left onto 46th from practically anywhere midtown–midday!
And there he is. A handsome NYC cop (ah, uniforms) pulls us over. Oh crap. It is 1pm on a Wednesday in Times Square and I am with a Muslim man who has just broken the law—I am never making the train. So I calmly tell Arif I need to pay and walk the rest of the way.
Then Officer Handsome knocks on my window. I roll it down and he asks me what time my train’s at. (Apparently Arif had told him we were headed to Grand Central). I tell the officer, and ask “I’m not making that train, am I?”
“Probably not,” he replies.
So, with a blank look, I calmly say to Officer Handsome, “He’s getting a ticket, right?”
We were all calm, and in the ensuing silence, Arif and I knew what Officer Handsome knew: He was going to run the cabbie’s license, something like an unpaid parking ticket would set off an umber flag, the closest precinct is going to be somewhere not near 46th Street, and Handsome is going to be responsible for taking Arif there.
So I have to ask—while what is probably the entire Big Ten fanbase races past toward Jersey Boys–“For real, Officer? Do you really want to go through all of this?”
Something in my doe eyes must have gotten through, because Handsome returns to Arif, points his license at him and says, “Your passenger just got you out of a ticket. I’m giving you a warning.”
Arif begins to explain himself to the cop, and I reach through the partition and gently place my hand on his shoulder. “No,” I stage whisper. “Don’t speak.” Officer Handsome giggles, and I announce, “We are going to leave now, and this young man is going to take me to Grand Central….” Arif looks at me, and I finish my sentence: “for free.”
I glance at both men and ask “Are we good, boys?”
Officer Handsome looks at Arif and says, “It would be a good time for you to leave.”
Arif is the happiest cabbie in New York City. “How do you want me to go to Grand Central?” he asks.
“It’s all up to you!” I say—making damn sure he heard me this time. “You’re the expert.”
Moral of the story:
Always listen to the professional, be he a cabbie, a tragically not-yet-famous radio show host, a lawyer–or anyone who has or does spend more time than you doing something, anything you rarely, if ever, do. If you hire an adviser or a consultant, if you are a numbers guy and you find yourself working with the PR department, or if you are a parent hiring a college admissions consultant, shut the f*ck up and let the expert do his job! And if you get in his way, it is your responsibility to get him out of a jam.
And also, at the risk of using an overused phrase that originated with people who we shook off like dandruff across the pond in 1776, “Keep calm and carry on.”
Because today, I went from 46th Street and Broadway to Grand Central for free.