‘The same old New York’ will be back again

Blacklane chauffeur Daniel shares his experiences over the past year in NYC, from helping people get to vaccination appointments to celebrating communities who’ve supported each other.

Times Square, New York City. Image credit: Luca Bravo/Unsplash
Times Square, New York City. Image credit: Luca Bravo/Unsplash

As New York slowly starts to revive, Blacklane chauffeur Daniel is slightly optimistic about his hometown being “back to the same old New York” soon enough.

The vibrancy of the city is partly what drove Daniel to make the move from Florida more than five years ago. 

Wanting to feed his entrepreneurial spirit, he quit his day job as a project manager at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre and bought vehicles to start a rental company.

Three years later, with his business running smoothly, he started driving for Blacklane. 

Safety is the top priority

When the pandemic hit a year ago, Daniel said he was a little nervous about his health and how safety would be prioritized while he was on the road.

“For me it was not so much about me catching it, it was more about where I would take it if I caught it, that was my biggest concern,” he said.

“But once you started to see in Blacklane all the proper ways to clean, everyone wearing a mask, you start seeing all this new training coming up due to the situation, I was like, Ok, the support of the company is there, they expect the same from the client, it is going to be ok.”

Community spirit

Image of a food truck.
Takeaway surged during the pandemic to support restaurants. Image credit: Daniel Irwin/Unsplash

According to Daniel, different communities really came together to help each other out in 2020, including his uncle who supported his local restaurants through the tough times.

“During the pandemic, a lot of the people who didn’t lose their jobs were ordering out when they used to cook (at home),” he said.

“They wanted to make sure that after the pandemic was over that the restaurant was still there for them to go out.

“My uncle was doing that a lot more. He doesn’t eat out that much but he was buying food a couple of times a week.

“So I think the camaraderie is still there and the support for the business during the pandemic for the people who were able to help support.”

Memorable moments

Some of Daniel’s most memorable rides in the past year have been safely driving people to get their first or second vaccine dose.

“Some of the rides that kind of fulfill me personally are taking an older person to get a vaccine, waiting for them, and bringing them back home,” he said.

“It’s nice to see that, you can tell that they are nervous about the situation…but it’s something that is going to give them a sense of security for them to go back to a normal life.”

Locals for now, but tourists will visit again

Daniel said when he’s not doing city to city rides out to Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Boston, his main clients are locals getting around Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

“Most of the time it is usually people working, whether a model is going to an agency or coming back or someone is going to a meeting or to the office,” he said.

“I’ve also had other employees of clients that request an employee be taken to their house in the Hamptons and then taken back – you get everybody, all sorts of different people.

“Right now, we don’t have that much tourism so everybody tends to be local right now.”

Aerial view of part of High Line Park in New York City. Image credit: Orbon Alija/iStock
Aerial view of part of The High Line in New York City. Image credit: Orbon Alija/iStock

But he hopes tourism will bounce back in the city. He offered a few must-dos when visiting, including a stroll through the parks where there’s always something on, from ice-skating in the winter to concerts during the summer. 

Broadway, another must-visit when things open back up again, should also be on a traveler’s list, along with a walk along the High Line, Daniel said.

“Something else that I’ve personally done and like doing is walking the High Line…and almost before the exit, if you come out you should go and eat some tacos at Chelsea Market,” he said.

“In general, New York City always has something to offer. You can always find something that you like.”