Friday, May 8, 2015

Review Me Twice: Hack by Melissa Plaut

I really enjoyed this book. I like autobiographies and memoirs because it's like having someone tell you stories over drinks (if it's written well). I can picture Melissa Plaut sitting at a table with me, starting each chapter of this book with, "Oh that reminds me of the time..." or "You wouldn't believe this one thing that happened..."

To be entirely honest, I never thought much about what it's like to be a New York cab driver, because I've only ever met two of them (LaGuardia to my hotel and the return trip when I went to New York Comic Con last October). They were both really nice and I made sure to tip well, and the guy who took me back to the airport showed me the UN building on the way... beyond that, it's not something I've ever dealt with. So not only was this book interesting and funny, but it showed me something new that I hadn't thought about before.

I also feel very much like Melissa Plaut is a real person. You know how sometimes, someone writes from their own point of view and you can just tell that they're molding the story to make themselves sound a certain way (be it more moral or smarter or in the right all the time)? I didn't get that from this book. Even in stories where Plaut clearly feels that she was right, she seems to realize that the reader may disagree. It's like having a friend tell you about a traffic incident they were in, and you may know they did something stupid, but it doesn't matter. I hope that makes sense.

One thing I really didn't expect from this book was to feel emotional connections with some of the other people (it feels weird to refer to them as "characters" because they're real people out in the world somewhere). I want to give meet Helen and give her a hug. I want to hear some of Allie's stories about her own job and life. I want to avoid some of the guys from the garage, or hang out with some of the others.

I picked this book up at this huge discount bookfair that I go to about once a year.  It's about an hour and a half from my house, but I never walk out with less than like four books (and usually more towards ten), and it's always worth it.

I paid a big four dollars for Hack, picked up on the recommendation of a friend.  And oh, what a great one it was.  Hack is surprising for a number of reasons.  One, you wouldn't think driving a taxi would be all that entertaining, but the amount of people that you meet doing the job is unprecedented.

Two, I LOVE the picture that it paints of NYC.  NYC is one that, sometimes, gets such a bad rap, when really, it's such an amazing city.  And I love that there were so many stories, so many experiences in her book that show what a GREAT place it is.  At one point, she talked about the Public Transit strike and this mood the city got, this comradery, that you can only get in NYC, but when you get it (and it's rare), man is it unlike anything you've ever felt.  There are some experiences, I feel that can only happen in New York City.

The part that surprised me the most those was the kind of stress this job takes on you.  I mean, she got to the point that she was angry ALL THE TIME.  It would seep into her very bones, into her being, and the hair trigger of her job was seeping into her very life.  Cabbies are the bottom of the barrel, the lowest of the low in NYC, for no real reason.  So they get hassled the most, and targeted by cops the most, and looked down on by customers the most and really just take the most amount of crap.  Eventually, it all just kind of builds up and explodes.

It's a great memoir and really well written and one you can breeze through pretty easily.  It's really a lesser known book, so I really like to let people know about it as much as possible when I can.

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