The discovery was made by his wife and brother, who had been worried about Mr. Bokrezion and traced his GPS device with the help of his garage. His wife started crying, screaming, pounding on the window.


Mehari Bokrezion, in the center of the back row wearing a hat, with fellow drivers. He died behind the wheel of his taxi and sat there for 18 hours before he was discovered.

Cabs always parked in a neat line along the west side of the street, one of 38 taxi stands in Manhattan where drivers are allowed to rest for a short time without risking a ticket. Drivers always took power naps. Sure, the sign — “Taxi 1 Hour Limit Relief Stand” —indicated that rules were supposed to be followed, but on this part of Thompson Street, which makes an abrupt turn into Avenue of the Americas instead of heading straight into Canal Street, no one seems to have paid attention to the taxi that stayed a little longer.

Yet in some ways, Mr. Bokrezion’s long wait to be found was just another example of how in this city of almost 8.6 million, the most crowded in the country, minding one’s own business is an art form.

Despite the crowds, New York can sometimes feel like the most isolating place in the world, a city where a man spent as long as five hours riding the No. 1 subway line in 1999 before anyone realized that he, too, had died.

Mr. Bokrezion’s family members could not be reached for this article. At some point, his family moved from Eritrea to America. He joined the taxi company — Susan Maintenance Corp. — in Manhattan shortly after getting his taxi driver’s license in 1991. As an independent contractor, he could drive as little or as much as he wanted. Mr. Bokrezion chose to never work weekends. He picked up a taxi in the morning, and almost always turned it in before 10 p.m.

Other taxi drivers said Mr. Bokrezion was the kind of friend who called when they were on vacation, just to check in. When he spotted a fellow driver walking through Pennsylvania Station, he sneaked up and joked that he needed a ride to Brooklyn. (It’s taxi-driver humor; civilians might not understand.)

Mr. Bokrezion, who lived in the West Village, often showed up hours before his shift, to chat with friends at the two yellow picnic tables inside the Susan taxi garage, which had moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn, from Manhattan. It was a mini-United Nations, with drivers and dispatchers from countries like Senegal, Morocco and Haiti. Most frequently, the drivers talked about how tough it was to earn a living, with Uber looming over their livelihoods. August was also a slow month. Mr. Bokrezion said it was hard to find a fare.


The taxi stand on Thompson Street in SoHo, where Mr. Bokrezion parked.

Edu Bayer for The New York Times

On Tuesday, he took the subway to work like always. He checked with the company’s insurance coordinator, Tony Hou, on whether a friend’s driving violation had been cleared. Mr. Bokrezion then called the friend, who was on vacation overseas.

After getting a taxi, about 10 a.m., he drove to where he liked to start the day: La Guardia Airport in Queens, where he often waited for a customer for an hour. Mr. Bokrezion dropped his fare in TriBeCa, in Manhattan, just down the street from the Tribeca Grill.

Then Mr. Bokrezion drove less than a mile, to a neighborhood he knew well: The taxi stand on Thompson Street near the former home of Susan taxis.

The biggest buildings nearby were the two boutique hotels, the Soho Grand and the James, but the hotels’ main entrances were on other sides. Down the street, a karaoke lounge advertised “a peaceful corner” on its brown awning.

Mr. Bokrezion parked carefully. His doors were locked. His windows were rolled up, almost all the way, but it was a pleasant day, in the mid-70s with scattered clouds. Mr. Bokrezion was sitting up. To anyone walking by, he seemed to be sleeping.

His cause of death would later be ruled natural, due to cardiovascular disease.

Throughout the day, people walked past Mr. Bokrezion’s body, those with hair appointments at Haute Air, those with acupuncture appointments at Yupo Wellness, those just with someplace to be. Other taxi drivers parked. They talked to one another on the sidewalk; they walked down the block for a snack and a bathroom break at Soho’s Finest Market. After a time, they drove off.


Susan Maintenance Corp., in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Mehari Bokrezion drove a cab for more than 20 years.

Edu Bayer for The New York Times

Once the sun set, people showed up for Jimmy’s, but it was a slow night, so there wasn’t a line. Down the street, karaoke fans smoked cigarettes.

The night shift left; the day shift arrived. Mr. Ahmed walked by about 3:30 a.m. to set up his food cart for the morning rush. He saw Mr. Bokrezion, but thought nothing of it.

Franklin Lambert, 71, a taxi dispatcher, showed up at Susan taxis about 5 a.m. At some point in the next hour, Mr. Bokrezion’s wife called Mr. Lambert and said her husband never came home. Mr. Lambert checked the taxi’s GPS unit and saw that the car had not moved for almost a day. And he told Mr. Bokrezion’s wife where the cab was parked.

She lived about a half-mile away.

At around the same time, at 6:30 a.m., a passer-by noticed Mr. Bokrezion hadn’t moved and called 911. Mr. Bokrezion’s wife and brother arrived, finding Mr. Bokrezion. His wife broke down. Two others called 911. Workers with the city’s Emergency Medical Services showed up and broke the car’s window and unlocked the door. The police arrived.

Mr. Lambert drove over from Brooklyn. “Even myself, seeing her, seeing her around the cab, it was so painful,” he said. “Such a painful thing to witness.”

The authorities covered Mr. Bokrezion’s body and hung yellow caution tape around the taxi stand. People gathered on the sidewalk, the hotel workers, the commuters.

But soon enough, the tape was pulled down. The taxis returned. All that remained of Mr. Bokrezion’s time was a small pile of broken glass. People walking by just figured that the glass was left from a petty crime, from something stolen inside a car.

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