On Friday evening, I was making it an early night. After meeting friends for dinner, I was walking to catch the Q train at Union Square, but I faced a red light as I was about to cross 16th Street at the southeast corner of Irving.
I waited on the curb to cross, and my iPhone, which I admittedly sometimes use while walking, was safely stored in my pocket. Surprisingly, there was no one else on this corner. Headlights from an oncoming vehicle flashed in my eye. A yellow SUV taxi headed straight for me. I jumped back, but my chest and shoulder made contact with the vehicle with a loud thud as the driver made a hard right turn from Irving onto 16th.
Yup, the asshole hit me, and continued driving. Just. Like. That.
But I was fine, though was chock full of adrenaline. I felt the spike. Fight or flight mode. I chose both options: I wanted to track down this jerk, so I took off running, down the center of 16th Street, to catch this driver who not only had the nerve to hit me, but also to take off without acknowledging this potentially deadly crime.
I simultaneously ran and screamed for him to stop. He didn't. I cut down the middle of the one-way street at full speed, with cars behind me, to catch the taxi that, fortunately for me, caught a red light. As I ran, I whipped out my iPhone, and caught a clear photo of the license plate: 5Y61B.
Then, I knocked on the taxi's window. There was no passenger inside. I motioned for the driver to roll down the window. He stared at me but didn't budge. I yelled at him to pull over to the side of the road. Repeatedly. I motioned, gestured, and eventually knocked on the glass.
“Apologize! Apologize!!! You just hit me, you just hit me!!”
Once the light turned green, he sped off. Completely ignored me. Left me standing there.
All I wanted was an acknowledgement that he had hit me and an apology.
Though completely uninjured, I was faced with two choices: Call 911, or drop the case and feel lucky that I survived. Whereas I didn't want to waste the city's emergency services resources, I did want to report this completely reckless and rude driver, to ensure the future safety of others.
The 911 dispatcher told me that they legally had to send over an ambulance and police officers. I protested that the former was a waste of resources, but they said it was policy. So I flagged down the ambulance and told them that they could go on their way, that all was okay, and that nothing should be reported.
When the police officers arrived, they told me that unless I was injured, they could not file an incident report. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but despite my protests saying that I wanted to file a report, they would not do anything other than direct me to call 311, the information hotline, where I could file a complaint with the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The cops said to me, repeatedly, that “cabbies are horrible and drive like animals,” and that incidents similar to mine “happen every day.” C'est la vie.
It's nonsense that this incident will never be counted toward hit and run stats by the NYPD (can you say SKEWED DATA?). I made sure to follow through with 311.
I called 311 and spoke at length with a friendly operator who took down all of the incident's details. I was emailed a report that would go to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. I was even given the option to upload photos and/or video from the incident (but when I tried to do this two and a half days later, I was told that the upload period had ended).
I was notified via e-mail that I will be able to testify against the driver at an in-person or over-the-phone hearing. And you're darn right I will.
It is important for anyone who is the victim of even a relatively minor incident such as this one to report it and then follow through by testifying. If you don't file a complaint, and if you don't then testify, you could be keeping a bad driver on the road, who may, at some point, seriously injure or kill others.
You messed with the wrong man, driver with license plate 5Y61B!