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Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  358 ratings  ·  80 reviews
“I had always thought about driving a cab, just thought it’d be interesting and different, a good way to make money. But it always seemed like a fleeting whim, a funny idea, something I would never actually do.”

In her late twenties and after a series of unsatisfying office jobs, Melissa Plaut decided she was going to stop worrying about what to do with the rest of her life
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Villard (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 702)
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Someone needs to write a book called How to Turn Your Blog into a Real Book, because a lot of the people who get blog-to-book contracts just...can't. Which is not really surprising, and yet. It's sad to read a book and think, "Huh. This would be better as a blog. Oh, wait." Obviously, that's what happened here. This book has all the usual blog-to-book flaws - it's structureless and vaguely empty, without much focus or discussion of events.

Plaut kind of wanders between the chronological structur
Oct 24, 2007 Christina rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: wanderers, recent grads who are freaking out about what to do with their lives
Shelves: non-fiction
In short: Don't buy, borrow. This a library read.

In long: This memoir reveals issues of prejudices and stereotypes typical in most any service industry job. It's unique in that it gives more intimate portrayals of New York City neuroses than most books (say, by bartenders) due to the added tension of being locked in a cab with the nutjobs and vulnerable to their whims.

The author is a likable person & has a voice that will appeal to the well-educated liberal-arts set. She's analytical, as b
At 29, Melissa has been in and out of half a dozen office jobs, and she's sick of them, and sick of trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. And so she decides to take a step towards adventure, and applies for a license to drive a yellow cab in New York City.

Hack is full of stories about what it's like to drive a cab. Both stories about crazy passengers, other cabbies, and what it's physically like to go through twelve-hour cab shifts. Hack is lively and compulsively readable.

The next time I'm annoyed by a rude driver or am stuck in a traffic jam I'll remember how grateful I am that I don't have to earn my living as a cab driver, particularly in New York City. I certainly don't envy Plaut, but I definitely gained a whole new respect for these brave road warriors. It's no wonder her blog had so many hits. Melissa Plaut's book is full of interesting stories.
Finished this in less than 2 days. Some of the taxi stories are funny. As a result of reading this, I will continue to be nice to taxi drivers and tip well. It's a hard living. The book was divided in chapters but the chapters didn't need to be there. It was like the publisher said "Oh another 25 pages have past, let's put a B&W photo of from your taxi and a Number." They weren't defined very well. I found myself skipping over paragraphs because the stories seemed to be so similar. She proba ...more
This book is really a collection of short glimpses into the experiences of driving a cab in New York City. For me it was one of those quick reads between other books. To the extent one driver's experience captures anything about an industry it is interesting enough for a quick view of what goes on in the cab.

As a book, the material could do with better organization and is lacking something to pull everything together. Still I don't think the author makes any pretenses about what this is and isn'
This little book gives great insight into what being a New York City cab driver is about. There are things most of us don't know about the taxi industry, such as the fact that there are huge holding pens for cabs at the airports where cabbies often have to wait an hour or more to get a fare back to Manhattan (then why are the lines at the taxi stand so long?).
Melissa Plaut's narrative is informative, intriguing and utterly interesting from start to finish.
Aerial Nun
Sep 03, 2007 Aerial Nun rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: New Yorkers, feminists, bloggies
This chick is a lot tougher than me.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hack provides a painfully honest, unfiltered look in to Melissa's life as a female NYC cab driver. It allows us in to see a very frank view of her life both in and out of the cab, and how the two worlds influence each other and occasionally collide.

The stories are entertaining at first, but get more depressed (not depressing) and unorganized as time goes on. You can follow her growth as a person, but only because she is so openly brutal to herself. The narrative you'd expect from a book isn't th
Aug 10, 2009 Sjo rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
The title says it all: "How I Stopped Worrying About What to do with my Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab." This book is written with an eye toward the Village Voice narcisist, fully emboldened and re-energized by the thought of a transition to a career in simplistic slumming (is the sequel going to focus on her experience at McDonalds?).

Melissa Plaut commits the worst crime--she pursues a taxi driver career, not for pursuit of simplicity or adventure, but so she can write about it as if she
Melissa Plaut has been working one boring office job after another, and when she gets laid off from one she decides to actually go forward and seek adventure by driving a yellow cab in NYC. In Hack, Plaut takes us along her journey, from the endless application paperwork process, to the crazy instructor Frank, then to the streets of New York and all that they hold. She describes her most unusual passengers and crazy stories from other drivers. All along, she tries to find herself.

I really liked
I read Hack on a short road trip this past weekend. It wasn't incredibly interesting, but a fun read. Melissa has a dry sense of humor that I could relate to and it's always nice living different cultures through the words of other people. I felt like the book got a bit tedious at times and it seemed like I was reading the same thing over and over again because most of the stories are flat, but on the other hand it's not like I picked the book up to learn a huge life lesson. It's a quick, easy r ...more
Jennifer Maloney
This book swears like a drunken sailor, but considering that it's an autobiography of a New York taxi driver, I suppose that's to be expected. Lol.

The tales of this woman's two years as a full-time driver were totally fascinating, though, and made me really want to tip my taxi drivers well (should I ever make it to New York, of course). I have such a new respect for this faceless army of people who do so much work in such a thankless, tiresome, and sometimes dangerous situation.
Full review:
Melissa relates here the perilous journey of a yellow-cab driver. I mean, driving a taxi may not be one of the simplest jobs as it may seem. It's not like in Crazy Taxi 3 where you would drop people off after you've caused a huge mess on the road, bumped into whichever solid or moving object that has gotten in your way, arrive late to destination and still get huge tips. No,it's way far from that. Driving a cab in NYC city is a synonym of being verbally assaulted and hu
Aug 15, 2008 Angela rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: a memoir fan looking for a quick read
What I learned from this book? I learned that it mostly sucks to be a cab driver--which didn't come as much of a surprise. I learned that there are almost NO female cabdrivers. I learned that you can enjoy a book while knowing that it will most likely leave no lasting impression on you.

"Hack" is less thoughtful than the subtitle would have you think, but it doesn't necessarily suffer for it. Plaut never touches on more than the surface of WHY she ended up in a cab, but after more than my share o
i came across this one lone copy at the bargain shelf at barnes and noble, and it was calling to me because i've been thinking of working as a cabbie to make money, set my own schedule, and get out of the house and see the world a little bit. this book made it seem very doable.

it was a fast read even though it wasn't as heart-stopping as its claimed. it was written simply and straight-foward. the drama wasn't there, and kind of ordinary day-to-day for new york. the weekend drunks, some creepy ne
The "blog-to-book" trend is getting out of hand! The concept behind this memoir of driving a cab in NYC sounded so promising, but falls short in the execution. The series of stories seem disjointed and few of them are memorable once you've closed the book. Some "blog-to-book" projects are able to retain their casual style of writing with out seeming amateurish ("Julie & Julia" for example), but "Hack" hasn't translated as well. Plaut's writing is frequently clumsy and reuses the same adjecti ...more
The premise is more exiting than the book. This memoir is lame. The author wants an adventure so she drives cab in NYC. She is from NYC suburbia so she has a basic knowledge of the city that most her fellow cab drivers have to learn on the job. She thinks she's a tough girl but she isn't all that because she has fallback positions, perhaps not pleasant but options that most of her fellow cabbies don't. Entitled & whiney is the tone of this book. I recommend it only for basic knowledge of how ...more
Mar 01, 2009 Karen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Karen by: Scott
This book began as a blog and sounds like one. I'm sure it was a fun blog to read, but in book form the story is shapeless and the writing isn't up to par. Granted, it would be hard to give shape to a series of anecdotes about driving a cab in any case, but the woman who wrote it has difficulty with direction and structure in her life, and it shows in the book. Also, she tries to be "brutally honest" about her anger issues and she just doesn't get me to empathize. She comes off as a real prick m ...more
Dan Putt
Meh. I'm not sure what I was expecting but this didn't deliver. It would have been better as a blog as a precious reviewer noted. Which is exactly how it started. Sadly it never matured beyond that past getting printed with a cover.

It quickly became repetitive and whiny. From talking about her own lack of direction but never expanding on it or giving anything if depth about herself. The stories all became the same. Either good people or bad people. Anecdotes loosely structured as chapters. Even
I usually love "occupational reality" books and was looking forward to reading this. I got about halfway through it and decided to give up. The information about driving a cab and the details of how it all works was interesting, and while the taxi driving stories were at first compelling, they got a little repetitive. Quite frankly, I expected a bit more in the way of odd or bizarre behaviorial stories, and while an incident would start out sounding interesting and different, it would then kind ...more
I know what my next adventure won't be, haha.
Alli Inouye
Disclaimer: Yes, Melissa is my friend. And I wanted to buy the book instead of checking it out of the library in case she gets royalties or whatever.

I honestly could not put this book down. There were times when, reading the book on my flight to Florida this week, I laughed out loud and annoyed the hell out of the lady next to me. I also really liked the "on-duty photos" that accompanied each chapter. The only downside is that I never got Melissa as a cab driver. Or Harvey/Helen for that matter.
A quick and not substantial read; it moves along quickly enough, but unfortunately I think this stands as an example of how some writing that works as a blog is probably less successful as a book. I never read Plaut's blog, but you can see how the immediacy of blogging probably made these stories more compelling as they happened. Without that immediacy, there's not a strong underlying narrative link or insights to provide a continuous through-line.
This was just so so. It was nice to read a book written by a queer woman where her queer identity is just part of the backstory, not a plotline. The anecdotes about the day to day stuff were good, but I had no sense that there was any real growth -- the introspective passages meandered.

Overall, this book should have waited another few years until there was either a plot conclusion or some coherence to the self-reflection.
I just finished this book. I loved it. It gives you a different view on New York and the world. The book has a message running through it that you can do what you set out to with your life. If you make the best of the situation your in you'll be happy. It just resonates with doing what you want all the time as apposed to working your way to the top so you can have the free time to do what you want.

This is not a book; this is a rambling, incoherent collection of anecdotes without any semblance of plot or continuity. After 100 pages of grumbling, nearly indistinguishable stories about how people who take cabs are jerks and cab drivers are weird, I had had enough. The thought of reading another 137 pages of poor grammar and even worse storytelling was too much for me.
Mar 11, 2008 Molly rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are interested in the topic but don't expect too much from the book
This book started off with potential, but it lacked the zest I was hoping for. Even though I'm a New Yorker, I definitely learned quite a bit about what it's like to be cabbie. I just didn't feel like there were enough great stories within it to warrant an entire book. I had to force myself to finish it, because at a certain point it was just more of the same thing.
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