The cab driver that could have been a millionaire

May 19th, 2014

My girlfriend taught me to talk to my cab drivers. She would tell me stories about her taxi chats, always asking the same questions, “where did you grow up?” and “what are your favorite places eat?”

This morning, I returned to the city after celebrating my (future) sister in law’s med school graduation in Dallas and hopped a cab back to Sunset Park. There were delays on the BQE so my driver and I had plenty of time to get into it.

Meet my new friend.

We’ve known eachother for 39 minutes. He’s an Indian ex-investment banker currently residing in Forest Hills, Queens. He’s lived in New York for over twenty years, and recently ate at my new favorite Dim Sum restaurant, East Harbor Seafood Palace, with his Chinese girlfriend who was actually the old roommate of his ex-girlfriend (drama.)

As traffic eased up, we whizzed by the newly finished Brooklyn Bridge Park and chatted about how quickly BK neighborhoods were changing. In 1995 he had the opportunity to buy a Williamsburg Warehouse on Bedford Ave. and North 5th for $60,000. The owner was itching the get rid of the property, only interested in cutting his responsibilities and moving back to Puerto Rico. He was so bent on getting out of New York, that the offer was $60k “or whatever you have and you can pay me back monthly.”

But despite having all the money needed, my new friend just couldn’t pull the trigger on the dilapidated warehouse (with its numerous rat tenants.) It just didn’t compute. Instead, he would save up until 2007 and go in on a $800,000 Forest Hills home. The housing market would crash the next year and fast forward to today: the warehouse, now in the heart of hippest of the hip, has since been leveled and replaced with a shiny building listed at $10.6 Million.

With a heavy sigh he said, “That day, I think God tried to send me an angel.”