-July 6, 2016, 3:40pm(Long Island City, Queens)
Modou Tague, 28, stands smoking a cigarette at the corner of 12th Street and Queens Plaza South. The air is thick, a slight breeze is scented with gasoline and exhaust. The “feels like” temperature is 93º.
As I walk by he says, “Hello Beautiful.” Today I am compelled to reply, “Have a nice day”.
Crossing 12th Street, I glance back at this man. He is dressed in solid navy blue from head to toe. The first few buttons of his work-shirt are undone. Taking a break during the last 20 minutes of his shift as a mid-level technician, he waits for his replacement to arrive at the Yakuel Taxi Garage.
The opened bay doors of this brightly painted, single story structure reveal a gleaming tiled floor. The interior ceiling is a canopy of philodendrons; wind chimes sparkle throughout. Each car-bay has a yellow jack placed at a 45º angle.
This 24-hour garage with 23 mechanics services 300 medallion taxis owned by Zion Yakuel. Tague has worked at this garage for seven years as a B Level Technician.
With the title DTC (Diagnostic Technology Center), he analyzes the computer codes generated by diagnostics, e.g. check engine light, as part of regular maintenance of the fleet.
A Bronx native, Tague could not afford college. “When I was in High School, Bush was President and I didn’t want to go to war. I needed to be a grown man. To move out of my parents’ house.”
Working with his high school guidance counselor he enrolled in Universal Technical Institute, based in Exton, Pa. He didn’t know a thing about cars but seized the opportunity. He said, I busted my ass and graduated in 2008.
His only job interview was with Yakuel. Determined to get the job, he researched everything he could about the position before going in. “I knew all about the owner and the garage. This impressed Yakuel. I was hired on the spot”.
His 12 hour shift starts at 4:00am each day, six days a week.
To conclude this interview, I wanted to take his photograph. Only after he re-buttoned his shirt and straightened his uniform did he give me that permission.
Until next time.
adventure is life, live it! ®