No, I’ve never had Donald Trump in my cab. Now that would be an interesting story, of course, because it would be firsthand data for me, secondhand data for you, as opposed to information received via the media. However, since the primaries began in February of this extraordinary election year in the U.S., I have had several passengers in my taxi who told me Donald Trump stories of their own. And that does count for something. It’s source information, unedited.
Here they are, in chronological order, without embellishment:
1. March 8 -- an older gentleman, in his seventies I would say, got in the cab in Midtown and we drove up to his Park Avenue address at 81st Street. ("Park Avenue address" is code, btw, for "old money, very wealthy"). He was on his cell phone for most of the ride, but when he'd ended his call I asked for his opinion about the upcoming election. Without needing any prompting, he told me he'd once had some kind of business deal in progress with Trump (no specifics were given). He said he'd never met him in person but had spoken with him on the phone. He said he should change the name of his book from The Art Of The Deal to The Art Of Changing The Deal At The Last Minute.
The implication here, as I understood it, was that Trump was unscrupulous, not good to his word, sneaky, and that the deal, whatever it was, did not go forward.
As he left the cab his parting words, referring to Trump, were, "He's a bad man."
2. May 3 -- I had a middle-aged woman en route to the News Corp. Building on 47th and 6th, where Fox News is located. She told me that her husband works as an "ad director" there, meaning he arranges which commercials will be shown in which time slots. She said that recently her husband and a colleague were waiting for an elevator to arrive in the building and when the door opened there stood Donald Trump with a couple of security guards beside him. As her husband and his colleague moved forward to join them in the elevator, they were stopped by the security guards. But Trump intervened, allowing them to come in with them. As they rode together in the elevator, however, there was no conversation with Trump because her husband, she said, was "in shock".
3. July 10 -- a middle-aged man in my cab told me he is a construction contractor in Florida. He said that a friend of his had once been in charge of a Trump construction project there and at one point during the operation he pulled all his workers off the job and refused to allow them to continue working until he was paid the money that was owed to him for work already done up to that point. Apparently Trump had a reputation for not paying his contractors and his friend was wise to this. The ploy, my passenger said, was successful. Trump paid him what he was owed, so the project continued.
4. August 7 -- a 30-something woman going from 30 Rock (Rockefeller Center in Midtown) to the Upper West Side. After chatting with her for a few minutes she told me she is a makeup artist at NBC and used to work on the show "The Apprentice". Realizing I had a rare opportunity here, I began quizzing her about what it was like to actually do Donald Trump's makeup and, of course, what about his hair? Here's what I learned (and this is breaking news)...
a) His hair is real. At least, it's not a piece. She couldn't say whether or not he has plugs because she didn't work on his hair and couldn't get in there, but it's definitely not a toupee.
b) Regarding the orange face: Trump has a skin condition known as rosacea (the enlargement of facial blood vessels, giving his cheeks and nose a flushed appearance). She said that when she worked for him she used makeup that gave his face the appearance of a natural skin tone. Now, however, he does his makeup himself and is using a yellow substance which, when applied over the redness of his face, creates an orange tint (yellow + red = orange).
According to my passenger he won't listen to advice that he should change to another cream or ointment.
c) What it was like to be an employee of Donald Trump: she enjoyed working for him, was treated respectfully, and was well paid. She said if she worked only half a day she would still be given a full day's wages.
d) Trump's children: she liked them, too. The only thing she found objectionable about any of them was that Donald Junior is a hunter. Other than that she thought they were fine people.
e) Would she vote for him? No.
For me, stories number 1 and 3 add credence to reports we’ve been hearing for months that Trump has a long history as an unscrupulous businessman, a shark swimming in the shark-infested waters of real estate development, that you cannot believe what he says, and that he is not to be trusted. Stories 2 and 4 lead me to believe that on a personal level he can be a nice guy. Story 4b suggests that reports are true that it is difficult or even impossible for him to accept advice from people who are experts in a field and that he trusts his own instincts above all else.
Ah, the things you can learn driving a taxicab in New York City! Should I come upon further stories from a firsthand or even a secondhand source, I will add them to this list. So check back to this post if you are curious.
For more of my thoughts about this election please click here for the post, "What The Man From The Atomic Energy Commission Told Me".