It all begins the night before, when I choose whether or not I want (have to) to work. If I decide I want to lease a cab the next day, I used to have to call the garage around 8:30 pm to make a reservation, but at the new garage I just show up and wait. The dispatcher usually comes through with a cab, but from time to time they're booked with drivers. I show up anywhere between 1 and 3:30 am, sit in the lounge, and by 5 am (usually) I'm assigned one of the taxicabs coming back from the night shift. My old garage (in LIC) had drivers park their cabs throughout the neighborhood because they have no lot of their own. But the new garage (in Greenpoint) has one.
Upon dishing out roughly $105, I used to have to search a 4 square block area to match the meter with its medallion number (randomly parked taxicab), but now it's right out front. Upon entering the cab, first thing I do is briefly inspect it for leaky tires, burned headlights, significant dents, and stray trunk cargo. I make sure the backseat isn't littered with rubbish (omen for lower tips) and slide my hack license into the partition. I make sure to equip the cockpit with an emergency pee bottle and a gallon of potable water, to minimize unecessary breaks. Then I go a step further than most cabbies and reset the radio dials to the 3 essential stations that offer periodic traffic reports, in the precise order they broadcast them:
1010 am on the ones.
1130 am on the fives.
880 am on the eights.
This way I can quickly refer to them throughout the day, which is essential if you want to avoid accidents and roving construction jams. It's good to be prepared in case someone jumps in with an outer borough request, or anything involving the highway.
It also pays to check the internet before your shift and compile a list of events happening at the Javits Center, the cruise ship terminal, etc. Look on the MTA website to find out which train lines have suspended service. People prefer taxis over often overcrowded shuttle buses.