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Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab Paperback – June 24, 2008


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Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab + Taxi!: A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver + Taxi!: Cabs and Capitalism in New York City
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812977394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812977394
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Plaut decided to become a New York City cabbie after getting laid off from a job as an advertising copywriter, then began posting about her interactions with patrons on a blog that forms the backbone of this memoir. The anecdotal structure has its weaknesses, repeating the cycle of passengers getting in the cab, engaging in conversation with Plaut, then leaving either a generous tip or a lousy one. There are also a number of scenes set at the garage, where she slowly develops a friendship with a 62-year-old transsexual driver while struggling to avoid another senior cabbie with bladder control problems. Plaut's growing dissatisfaction with the job provides the memoir with an emotional undercurrent. She has trouble shaking off the feeling that she's wasting her potential, and the drain of interacting with abusive passengers and a hostile police force eventually sets her to dreaming of dying in a car crash. In the end, however, she's grown more comfortable with her fate, ready to continue circling the streets looking for fares. Her storytelling technique may be uneven in this debut, but it shows promise. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Getting laid off can be a door opened, even a golden opportunity, as Plaut found when her advertising job ended, freeing her from trying to plan the rest of her days and to concentrate on what would be next, driving a cab in the Big Apple. What with licensing and fingerprinting fees, a medical exam, taxi school, and a test, becoming a hack wasn't easy. Moreover, being a hack meant being, as a woman, part of only 1-percent of her profession, not to mention belonging to a cohort liberally salted with bizarre characters. While not the only woman in her For-Hire-Vehicle Driver class, she was the only U.S.-born citizen. Many other students had fallen from elevated standings in their native lands to a lowly one in a land of opportunity that offered them few options. The three-day course emphasized the basics—hit the streets early and don't get lost, stuck in traffic, ticketed, or in an accident—and the real learning came strictly on the job, as Plaut's sad, funny, enjoyable account reports. Scott, Whitney

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Customer Reviews

I wish the book were longer and I hope she'll write a follow up.
Gina R. Rosich
The author well describes the terrible drivers, the constant hustle, the tense interactions with the police and the lunatic customers that seem to be everywhere.
Frederick S. Goethel
I was reading Melissa's blog for a while before her book came out.
MCS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tina on August 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This memoir about a female cab driver is good. I enjoyed the down to earth writing by the author but I often felt as though I was searching for the thread of continuity. Melissa would start telling an entertaining story then abruptly end it to go on to another story months later.

I also could never quite get a handle on whether she was actually bragging or complaining about the job she was holding down.

This is actually an entertaining read and I would say buy it. You will learn a few things you did not know - as well as get paranoid about tipping from now on.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By MCS on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was reading Melissa's blog for a while before her book came out. The book alone is a good, fast read, chockful of great stories and insight. To further expand your experience from Melissa's viewpoint, read her blog as well. It adds an edge to the stories as a bonus not available with regular books not accompanied by blogs. I'm a native NYer and know the city well, and Melissa tells it like it is. I've also been wanting to drive a taxi for a few years but never had the guts to do it, until now thanks to Melissa (final test is today). What fun! Melissa's experiences are honest and real. Way to go!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Dublin Taxi man on October 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For the public the cab driver is just someone who is never there when you want them and blocking the traffic when you don't.
You sit in you cab and you are an observer on life. No one would ever believe what people tell to or say to a cabby.
The book is an admission of defeat but I feel she had a personal victory in her sights. Through it all the high points and the lows she was learning about mankind and humanity. a valuable lesson which she shared with you.I started my own blog after reading hers [...]

I wish her well in her new career, the lessons learned while driving a taxi help her and you dear readers in the future.
Well done! success in your next career.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gina R. Rosich on September 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Melissa Plaut's disjointed but riveting style of writing takes you by her side, in the moment, through her life on this job. I feel like I've learned so much about Melissa and about taxi driving in NYC. It's alternately adventuresome, sad, frustrating, anger-inducing and definitely eye-opening. I wish the book were longer and I hope she'll write a follow up. [...].
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shelley on January 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This gives a new perspective on the life and experiences of the New York cab driver. Very interesting and fun to read. Ms. Plout tells you what really goes on in the cabbies world
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By helen sampson on September 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
LOVE this book - could not put it down. Melissa Plaut is one of my all time heroes! Just hope she knows how she has elevated the respect I have for cab drivers and humannity in general. Breath of fresh air.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Wolinsky on February 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
In every city I've been, be it NY, Tampa, Chicago, or London, the cab drivers are always racist. After reading this book about a (NON-RACIST) cabbie, I've figured out why; cab drivers see everyone at their very worst. When we get in a cab, we're in a hurry, no patience, no tolerance for anything. If it's during rush hour, the other drivers are equally impatient. Hairdressers, on the other hand, and perhaps the waiters in upscale restaurants, are usually happier. They see everyone at their best; breath smells fresh, clothes are clean, customers are happy to be there. The waitresses in roadside diners probably have an outlook more like that of a cabdriver; the customers are yelling "c'mon, where's my food I'm in a hurry!"

Plaut wasn't slumming, I just want you to know. She needed a well-paid job, and was bored with the office. Driving a cab is work, plain and simple. Perhaps it's not the right job for educated people, but then where else do you want her to work? HACK was written years ago, but since then the economy has crashed. Former stockbrokers are now working in Starbucks. Teachers are delivering pizza.

I bet we'll see more books like this in the next few years.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on March 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book, the author takes the reader on an interesting look at the world of driving a taxi cab in New York City. Having driven a cab myself back in the seventies in Boston, I know what she went through and just how tough the job really is. The author well describes the terrible drivers, the constant hustle, the tense interactions with the police and the lunatic customers that seem to be everywhere.

The author describes the day to day tidbits of driving, interspersed with her own personal demons about the job. It is really one of those jobs you can love and hate at the same time. The only reason many drivers stay is because you can make good money doing it if you don't burn out first. I know it helped pay my way through college, which no minimum wage job could do.

I would recommend this book to everyone, but in particular to those who use cabs often. Read what a driver feels and then examine your behavior while you are in the back seat. It may open your eyes a little.
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