"Hospital X? I love that place. You work there?" he said, eyeing my suit.
"No, just interviewing," I replied. "So what's so great about Hospital X?" I figured I might get some first-hand insight into the operations of the emergency room, or an off-service department like ortho or surgery.
The cabbie replied, "It's the best psychiatry unit in the city. I've been there many times. I love it when they take me there."
I try to take things in stride, really. And I try to be conscious of prejudice with mental illness. I read Shrinkette, dammit. But I can't deny my general state of alarm, as visions of "Taxi Driver" danced through my head. So I turned to my trusty smalltalk skills, and asked him why he didn't like the psychiatry at Hospital Y, often reputed to be the best.
"Last time I was there, they had me next to these murderers from Riker's Island. I don't need that. I'm not a criminal, I just get confused sometimes."
OK, I thought. And a nice epitaph, to boot. I'm calming down. But then:
At the conclusion of his tirade, I realized I had stopped breathing. I forced some air out to say "Ha," weakly, as I tried to smile.
"Aww, look at THIS! Traffic on the FDR at this time of day? Of all the @%#((*$ luck to *#%($#(*# me upside the #$%@#* in the *$#$*%. It kills me when we're in traffic. I make #@%&*!* money. It KILLS me. I oughtta drop you off RIGHT HERE for getting me into this *(#%&(*#%."
"Just kidding, buddy. Don't worry, I'm on seroquel."
A finer endorsement, I cannot imagine. The traffic quickly cleared, and as we zoomed along the edge of Manhattan, I knew I could handle the upcoming interviews.