(Read more after the break)
Before I even got in the cab, I noticed there was something off. The front passengers seat was loaded with boxes, bags, and papers. There also was no partition. Also, the cab had a very strong smell of everything bagels. The man behind the wheel is elated to see me and Brie, and even more excited to see our dog. Without missing a beat, he hands me a photo album and tells me there aren't as many dog pictures in there as there used to be because a child passenger took his original photo album. The photo album he showed me had pictures of his family and SOME dogs.
He began to tell us about how unlikely an experience we were about to have, and I believed him. He introduced himself as Pastor Phil Frabosilo. Apparently, Pastor Phil runs a ministry through his medallion taxi. He is a Christian who condemns organized religion and wants nothing more than to spend his life bringing people where they need to go for whatever they feel comfortable paying him.
I won't lie. I was unsure we were going to arrive safely to our destination, because it was awfully startling to be addressed in this manor by a Brooklyn cabbie. He was friendly and didn't care about the fare. He was more concerned with making sure Brie, Mokey and I were fed, happy and got to where we needed. He even gave us his number so that if we ever needed a ride we could call him, He was completely altruistic. This made me uncomfortable, which is sad.
I did some research when I got home and found out that Pastor Phil is a Brooklyn icon and has been the subject of two different movies, and several newspaper articles. It seems he not only drives around Brooklyn taking people to their destinations and offering them food, counsel and dog toys, but he also shuttles food donations from small businesses to shelters between fares.
This experience was an odd one, and I am not sure it will change how I perceive New Yorkers at first glance. I don't think I can say it's advisable or safe to take people like Pastor Phil at their word, because in New York, you might end up putting yourself in an unsafe situation if you are too trusting and naive. But that is incredibly sad. Because Pastor Phil is genuine, and because of the state of this city, we have to judge even the most kindhearted among us with a suspicious eye.