Blaise Herriot, 52

W 33rd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves

Blaise Herriot, 52
Blaise Herriot, 52

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

What are you up to? I'm going to work. I been a cab driver for 21 years.

That's an awfully nice outfit to hide behind a wheel all day. Well, I get out of my cab a lot. When I stop to buy this hat—well, I buy ten hats—I come back and see a good-looking girl laying on my cab. I say, "You need a cab?" She say, "You're not the cab driver!" She was surprised. I don't look like no cab driver.

Are you ever tempted to drive off into the sunset with your customers? Oh, yeah. In this job you meet the most beautiful girls in the world. I'm very, very selective. If I got 50 passengers in the day, like 35 of them were girls.

So you're one of those jerks who drives by certain people? Isn't that illegal? It's illegal, I confess. But listen. You have to protect yourself. When you need a cop, they're never around.

Where are you from? Haiti. I come here 28 years ago. After I drive around New York for so many years, no matter where I go I'm not gong to be surprised. New York is the world capital.

And you have a cross section of it going through your cab—at least the people who can afford taxis. No, everyone! Sometimes when I see people in the street, I say, "You need the cab?" They say "Nah, nah, I don't have no money." I say, "How far you going? Get into the cab and I drop you where you going." It's not what you doing, it's how you do it.

More from Blaise

"I finished school in Haiti and decided to go to university. Then I changed my mind. I said, 'Let me go to New York.' I was going to be an engineer and instead I drop everything. I used to play music, too. I'm a drummer."

"I like to go to S.O.B.'s in Tribeca. Every Friday a Haitian band performs there."

"New York is a civilization shock. Before I land here on February 20, 1981, I never see a highway in my life. When you change your life, when you move somewhere, you learn about the culture, the people, everything. You need to travel. When you stay in your country you have a one-track mind."

—Kate Lowenstein