Have you ever taken a taxi somewhere? I have in three different cases: 1) no access to another car and needed to get somewhere farther away than I wanted to walk or 2) I was in a strange city and didn’t have a clue where I was going or 3) I needed to get to/from an airport and public transit wasn’t running.
I only ever took a taxi once in the US…from BWI to my Aunt Grace’s house. In Cacak, we took taxis around town if the weather was bad or we needed to get from the store with a large shop. We took a taxi in London once because it was £4 cheaper for the cab than for a single-ride tube pass. In Belgrade, we took a Mafia taxi ride, went less than a mile, and paid an arm-and-a-leg (and learned how you really get a cab in Belgrade).
Anyway, in the English speaking countries, what this guy points out was true: the cabbie asked how to get there. My response….I don’t have a clue. I expect the cabbie to use his knowledge of the local situation and take the quickest/shortest/most economical route. Anyway, here’s what he says:
I used to drive a taxi. I made a lot of money doing it. I learned very early on to never drive someone to their destination if it was a route they drove themselves, say to their home from the airport, or from their home to work or vice versa. Everyone prides themselves on driving the shortest route but they rarely do. Often people develop a route that is based on need -say going by the day care, or avoiding an intersection where they once had an accident or to avoid driving by an ex’s house or skirting road construction long since resolved- but as they become habituated to it, they fail to reorganize their strategy when their needs change. When I first started driving a cab, I drove the shortest route -always, I’m ethical- but people would accuse me of taking the long way because it wasn’t the way they drove. So, I learned to go their way ending up with a lot less grief and a lot more money. If you’ve ever wondered why a seeming professional cab driver will ask you how to get to your destination, this is why. Going your way means they’ll make more money and they won’t be accused of ripping you off. Not to say that in the beginning, I wasn’t stupid. I’d try to show the customer the route on a map but they’d usually be offended that I was contradicting them. It was to their house, if I’d never been there, how could I possibly know better than they did? In the end, experts they consider themselves to be, people are a tangle of unexamined emotional impulses and illogical responses.
Taking a taxi after walking around town (like in Cacak) was an interesting experience. The first time, I wondered why the guy went the way he did…but then, I started paying attention to signs as I walked. As a walker, I made turns where cars couldn’t or went the wrong way down one way streets.
Image from jorjev via flickr