When navigating my way through Manhattan my two most trusted modes of transportation are on foot or riding the subway. However, whether on walkabout or on my way to the N/R/W trains, I am always on the lookout for the Cash Cab. Ever since I saw my first episode of the Discovery Channel favorite last summer I was hooked, for this show is the marriage of two of my true loves: taxis and trivia. Okay, three of my true loves: taxis, trivia and money.
For those unfamiliar, 'Cash Cab' is a trivia game show that takes place in a taxi. Unsuspecting fares hail the cab and once in, the host Ben Bailey hits a switch that lights up a Saturday Night Fever-looking blinky pad on the ceiling, accompanied by game show music. Bailey explains how the game works and contestants then are asked if they want to play. The rules are basically this: answer trivia questions until your stop, three wrong answers and you're booted out the cab no matter where you are on your journey. As with any trivia show the questions get more difficult as play continues, but they're rarely impossible. Really, it's a win-win situation, for even if you're a complete dumbass and get booted before you reach your destination, at least you didn't have to pay for your ride.
You're also given two chances for help, called shout-outs. One is a call on Ben's mobile, the other is a street shout-out. The SSO is my fave, since it entails shouting out the window of the taxi for people on the street to come to your rescue. Best to pick someone who looks like they showered that morning.
The contestants have come from all walks of life and economic strata. Tourists to natives, sailors to college kids, best friends to first dates, sober and serious to drunk and disorderly. The best part of all is that you can never tell by looking at any of them whether they're going to win or not. I certainly didn't think that the attendees of the Harley Davidson convention were going to get three blocks down the street, let alone win two grand after they double-or-nothing'd their pot on the Video Bonus question. Nor did I think the kids in the NYU garb would be unceremoniously dumped only halfway to their destination. The best was the drunk couple on their way to a Friday night show at the MoMA. I guess the alcohol didn't fog their craniums too much because they fucking cleaned up. I imagine them afterwards stumbling into the MoMA to meet their friends while stinking of bourbon, clutching their Benjamins and laughing uproariously.
I'm looking out for the Cash Cab for a number of reasons. First, I love to answer trivia questions and show off to people the breadth of the useless knowledge I have stored in my noggin. Secondly, one stands to make a crapwad of cash if you have a long way to go and hit a couple red lights (for the Red Light Challenge). Thirdly, Ben Bailey is as cute as a button and I would like to get his number, cash or no cash. Perhaps he could drop me off at my apartment. Perhaps he could park his taxi in my garage. Now there's a Video Bonus!
I recently revealed my fascination with and stalking of Cash Cab to my brother, lamenting that I'm forever looking out for available minivan cabs in case I spot Ben Bailey behind the wheel. He then parried by rattling off the medallion number to look out for. Buddy is like that; just when I think he's not paying attention to anything I'm saying, he'll come up with a Rain Man-esque piece of knowledge that surprises the shit out of me.
Okay Bailey, Ben in medallion number 1G12: I'm watching over you like the TLC...