Monday, July 23, 2007

The Bicyclist

I have a theory about Manhattan. It's that even though there are something like two and a half million residents on the island and it seems that there's an endless supply of new faces, we keep seeing the same people over and over again. Only we don't realize it because most people look pretty much the same as each other.
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.


Paradise Driver said...

When I started driving cab there was a guy who always did his morning constitutional about 4a. Finally, last year, I slowed down next to him and said "HI".

We've been friends since.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Mike S said...

Good decision. Sometimes the reality is so mundane it ruins the whole thing. Perhaps he's noticed you for as long also:)

John said...

He looks like a knight of the round table.
I found this tonight. A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet.

Or a rapist