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

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  405 Ratings  ·  87 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 797)
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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 liked it
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
Mar 23, 2008 Lucy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, memoir, nyc
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.

Sep 20, 2007 Catherine rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 15, 2009 Lizz rated it it was ok
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
Jan 27, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reads
I liked it. Good conversational tone. Real, unlike reality tv where people act for the camera. I wish her well with her next adventure.
Jul 25, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it
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'
Oct 24, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 13, 2015 Stephen rated it liked it

At the age of twenty-nine, Melissa Plaut was let go from her job at an ad agency. She found the layoff liberating instead of terrifying, freeing her as it did from a safe but utterly meaningless job where she felt distinctly like a sell-out. Having spent most of her twenties spinning her wheels at one safe job or another, she opted this time to pursue adventure. So it was that she braved the labyrinth of New York bureaucracy and the warren of traffic to become a New York City cabbie.Hack collect
Aerial Nun
Sep 03, 2007 Aerial Nun rated it liked it
Recommends it for: New Yorkers, feminists, bloggies
This chick is a lot tougher than me.
Sep 28, 2009 Cassy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cassy by: Allison
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2010 Dave rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, bloggers
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 did not like it
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
Oct 13, 2014 Maegen rated it liked it
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
Dec 16, 2014 Kristen rated it really liked it
Ah, New York! I miss it. Following Plaut in her cab was a delicious virtual return to the throb of the Big City. Be warned, though. It's a pretty profane little book; Plaut sees the underbelly of the city, which I happily managed to avoid when I visited. And when she wants to relax, she and friends head for their favorite dyke bar. Still, she's a thoughtful writer and someone who's trying to be a decent person, in her own way.
Jennifer Maloney
Oct 12, 2014 Jennifer Maloney rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
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.
Roman Gokhman
The stories were entertaining, at first. Then they got repetitive. They she started to complain, which is pointless. She chose the career for herself, then said it wasn't fun. If it wasn't fun for her, why would lshe think it would be fun for us to read about it? The answer, the same as the point that she drives home in the book, is money. And she had nothing better to do.
Feb 13, 2014 Asmaâ AALBACHI rated it liked it
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
Corey Miller
May 06, 2016 Corey Miller rated it it was ok
Very underwhelming. Though some interesting information is given about how people become cab drivers and the process they go through, the author's stories aren't "stranger than fiction" like I thought they would be, they seem pretty typical. It feels like she was told to hit a certain word count, and padded the book to fill it.
Jan 19, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally empathized with Melissa throughout the course of this book. I shared her sense of adventure. I enjoyed reading about her exploits on the streets of NYC and the book flew by. A very interesting read that will make you look at the profession of cab driver in a new light.
Aug 15, 2008 Angela rated it liked it
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
Feb 04, 2009 Rubenesque rated it it was ok
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
Sep 01, 2013 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was ok
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
Jan 07, 2015 Melissa rated it it was ok
While it certainly opened my eyes to the lives of taxi-drivers, it wasn't written well and was full of vulgarity.
Dan Putt
Nov 09, 2011 Dan Putt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 23, 2008 Robin rated it liked it
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
Anna (Shell)
Apr 03, 2014 Anna (Shell) rated it really liked it
I know what my next adventure won't be, haha.
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