THE BLOG
06/01/2010 02:00 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Manhattan Taxi Driver Discovers Mysterious "Turn Signal" Lever on Cab's Steering Column

Fifty-eight year old hackney carriage operator Quentin Armstrong thought he knew every inch of his taxi's interior like the back of his hand, so when he recently dropped his cell phone on the floor and turned the steering over to his left knee while he bent down to retrieve the device, he got the shock of his life when he spotted an unfamiliar lever located on the steering column. "My initial reaction was, okay, time to stop borrowing other people's prescription eyeglasses because I must have dropped my cell phone on the floor like that at least a hundred times before without noticing the lever. When I realized it closely resembled the one on the other side of the steering wheel that operates the windshield wipers, I was suddenly very impressed by the car designer's decision to add redundancy to the window cleaning system."

Armstrong says he impulsively pushed the lever but quickly regretted the decision. "An ominous, green triangle started flashing and ticking like a clock, so I shut it off immediately and made a perpendicular beeline for a group of double-parked taxis to my right. The other cabbies were in the middle of what we call a 'PAM,' short for 'Preternaturally Aromatic Meal,' but they dropped everything and rushed over to see the strange lever for themselves. Then another taxi pulled up and triple-parked next to my vehicle. It was a guy we call Lazarus because he's got almost six months of driving experience--if he didn't know what the lever was for, nobody would. Lazarus glanced at it, nodded sagely, and said 'Turn signal.' We asked him what 'turn signal' meant, but he just shrugged, returned to his cab, and drove off diagonally into the night."

Nothing daunted, Armstrong looked it up on Wikipedia as soon as he was back on the road. "Supposedly, the lever is for 'indicating' whether you want to turn left or right, but that's Wiki for you--somewhere an eleven-year-old is laughing his ass off for posting that drivel because it makes absolutely no sense to have such a lever. I mean, let's face it--we may think we want to turn right, but halfway into the next lane we usually decide to swerve left and then right again, don't we? And what about all those times we aren't really turning right or left so much as abruptly heading north-northeast or north-northwest? Ridiculous! Anyway, we'll figure it out eventually, and in the meantime it gives us cabbies something to think about when we feel the need to just tune out the road in front of us until forty minutes before our shift actually ends when we can activate our "Off Duty" sign, roll down our windows, and start cherry-picking passengers who happen to be headed in the general direction of Canarsie."