As a taxi driver I'm constantly looking at people both to avoid running them over and to see if they want my services. And I've found that it's when someone doesn't look the same as everyone else - really stands out in one way or another - that I keep seeing them again and again.
For example, there used to be an old man in the East Village who looked just like Santa Claus. He had a white beard, rosy cheeks, and always wore either a bright red or bright green sweater. I would see him all the time.
There was a bald-headed, sixtyish woman on the Upper East Side who always wore large hoop earrings and a black dress. I would see her all the time.
And then there's this guy whom I call the bicyclist. I finally got a picture of him a couple of months ago.
I have been driving a cab since 1977 and I have been seeing this fellow regularly for all that time! I probably see him once every three weeks or so on the average, usually on the Upper West Side.
His appearance has always been the same for 29 years: long hair that goes all the way down his back, a thick moustache with no beard, no hat, and always on a bicycle. I've never seen him without a bicycle.
I've been watching him age as years go by and almost feel that I know him. I've pointed him out to countless passengers and he's been the subject of countless conversations. People wonder what he does for a living, if he has a personal philosophy - perhaps an environmentalist - that mandates that he should ride a bicycle insead of using motorized transportation, if he's an artist, etc., etc.
I sometimes think I should try to pull up next to him and introduce myself and ask him who the hell he is - it's been driving me crazy for over a quarter of a century! But that would be kind of rude and awkward. Often the mystery surrounding a person is superior to the knowledge of a person, anyway.
I'll probably just let it be.
Just click here to let Pictures From A Taxi be.