For anyone who doesn't know, here are five easy steps to flagging a taxi...
1. Step into the street. It might sound dangerous, but it's really not: Standing a few feet into the street is the only way cabs will spot you around parked cars, trees and pedestrians.
2. Look for a free cab. To tell if a cab is free, look at the lights on the top of the cab. If the cab is free, the middle light will be on. If the cab is taken, all the lights will be off. If the cab is off-duty, the top side lights will be on (and will spell out "off duty").
3. Raise your hand. Once you see a free cab, just raise your hand. That's it! P.S. If you want to look cool: New Yorkers are hilariously nonchalant about holding up their arms. To look like a local, put up your arm and don't make any facial expression. Look directly at the cab. Once the cab sees you and starts heading your way, put your arm down. You know the cab is coming, the cab knows it's coming. Rest that tired arm. :)
4. When you climb into the cab, give the driver the cross streets of your destination. For example, instead of saying, "I'm going to 88 Second Avenue," you would say, "I'm going to Second Avenue, between 5th and 6th." That makes it much easier for your driver to know exactly where to take you. (Also, feel free to chat with the driver; sometimes they're grouchy, but most of the time, they're awesome and have good stories.)
5. When you arrive at your destination, have your money ready, along with a 15-20% tip. And, for safety, always get out of the door on the sidewalk side of the cab--not on the street side--even if it means sliding over on the backseat.
That's it! Cabs can feel so romantic and cinematic, I love taking them. Any other helpful tips about taxis? Or funny stories? Anyone ever make out in a cab? :)
(Lego photo by the brilliant Christoph Niemann; cab photos by Joseph O. Holmes, the Sartorialist, De Vetpan and Free People)