It's a simple question. But it heralds, for some, the ride of their life.
Hailing a cab in Manhattan isn't hard. All taxis are the same color, all drivers are licensed by the City's Taxi & Limousine Commission and are required by law to pick up anyone and transport them to any destination within the City (and a few outlying counties as well).
For New Yorkers, taking a cab is almost an involuntary reflex. Need to get from point A to point B? Stick your arm out at a 45 degree angle and a yellow vehicle will appear. (Why are all NYC cabs yellow? If you really want to know, look it up on google. I did and the answer's not all that exciting. I do recall, however, escorting a group of travel agents through the top floor of the Doubletree Guest Suites in Times Square when one looked out the window and said, in all sincerity and naivete, "Why do so many New Yorkers drive yellow cars?")
Once in a lifetime, though, a magic cab appears. You get in, you tell the driver your destination, you buckle your seatbelt, and you hear a loud synthesized sound as disco-like lights surround you. The driver turns around and announces, "You're in the Cash Cab. It's a TV game show played right here in my taxi. I'm your host, Ben Bailey, and I'll ask you general knowledge questions until we reach your destination. Whaddya say, You In?"
Before you even notice the tiny cameras in the vehicle, you're riding through the streets of Manhattan answering questions (hopefully correctly) worth anywhere from $25 to $200 each. Three strikes and you're out, though, as Ben will pull you over and boot you out if you miss three questions.
Cash Cab is a Discovery Network show. I watch it every day. I love it not just for the game aspect, but for the New York City scenery as it rolls along out the cab's windows. It's just so New York, and most of the contestants are so New Yorkish. "Clear the meter please," one crotchety lady orders twice before Ben can finish his You In spiel.
Someday I'm going to get in the Cash Cab. I know its license number (I'm not telling you). I know what the cab looks like (it's yellow). I'll answer every question right. I'll get the Red Light Challenge. I'll even do the Video Bonus. I'll be so charming and intelligent that the Discovery Network will want me on full time. Ben Bailey will be my best friend. We'll hang out together and sign autographs and write books and make movies and be in a rock band.
Yeah, I'm in.