John Belitsky was celebrating his pal Dan Wuebben's birthday when they decided to hail a taxi to drive them from New York to Los Angeles.
For anyone who has tried to hail a New York City taxi in a rainstorm, or tried to convince an off-duty cabbie to drive them home, it may come as a surprise that taxi driver Mohammed Alam agreed to drive the two friends across the country. ABC News spoke with the trio on their stop in Las Vegas, as they drive back across the country in the taxi.
Belitsky, an investmenr banker, and Wuebben, a professor, decided to make the cross-country trip after a night of celebrating "We were talking and had this idea…I wanted to do something magical and wonderful," Belitsky told ABC News. They left that same day.
They hailed a taxi at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan and got the driver to agree to a cross-country trip, but his boss was a different story. When they went to ask for permission to take the taxi out of town, they were denied.
"We need to find a guy with his own cab," thought Belitsky. So they looked for a "longtripper" at New York's LaGuardia Airport.
They were speaking with one cab driver when Alam overheard the conversation and offered to take the two men on the trip. He asked where they were going, "Queens? Brooklyn?" but was shocked then they said, "California." Undeterred, he agreed to drive them. The three negotiated down from the usual out-of-town rate of $6 a mile to a flat fare of $5,000 for the trip. Alam told ABC news that he thought, "this is going to be hard work, but I have to do it…it's a challenge."
Belitsky and Wuebben told ABC News the most surprising part of the trip was Alam, who started off distant and strictly professional, but became friendlier over the course of the trip. Belitsky told ABC News Alam began opening up as they arrived in Omaha, Neb., and was completely different by the time they arrived at the Grand Canyon, even carrying himself differently. The three have become friends over the course of the journey.
Meet the three men, and hear more about their trip by watching The Conversation video above.