I do love cab drivers. I meet lots of them throughout the year and wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the collective personalities of a city's cabbies in relation to the city itself. Does that group of mobile ambassadors reflect anything about the city in which they live and work?
I think they might.
Twice in Philadelphia I've been taken on the tell-tale "ride".........you know, the ride where you get in the cab, tell the driver where you want to go and he ends up driving around in loops just to knock the fare up a few bucks because he knows you're from out of town and won't know the difference. Problem is, I know the difference in Philly because I have worked there lots. Enough to know a cab ride from one spot to another should take about so many minutes. But I don't know my way around enough to be able to tap the guy on the shoulder and say "Dude, you shoulda turned back there....why didn't you?" I just don't trust cabbies in Philly.
It took me several rides in another city to decide they apparently never hire people who speak English. First few rides the drivers kept mumbling and I assumed they were talking to me. I listened, trying to understand them and respond. Took me a while to realize they speaking Hindi or Guatamalish or Ethiopian, they were talking into the blue tooth headset in their ear....and I'm pretty sure they were saying something along the lines of "Dumb American chick in my back seat thinks I'm trying to talk to her."
In the city where I live, the only sure spot to find a taxi cab is at the airport.
If you're visiting town, don't plan on eating out and then catching a cab back to your hotel after dinner. Huh-uh. These streets ain't the Field of Dreams, folks. If you build up your hopes of a ride home..............there is no promise they will come. If you make the call on Wednesday, make sure you've got provisions to get you through the weekend just in case. It's going to be a long wait. On the other hand, if you are at the airport and you want a ride home after a return flight, you won't have a problem. Jack (named changed to protect me) is always there waiting. At least he always seems to be there waiting for me. Last three times I hitched a cab ride home from the airport, Jack was curbside to grab my bags. Jack is a friendly cab driver. Very friendly. He's chatty too. He will ask you if you had a good trip. He will ask you if you like to travel. He will ask you if your husband or boyfriend likes it that you travel. The FIRST time he asks you that, you will tell him you're not married................and then he'll tell you his wife doesn't understand him and.....well, you know where this is going.
Rewind and tell Jack the friendly cab driver that your husband the former Marine drill instructor black belt in karate and gold medal-winning Olympic sharp-shooter has a terrible temper and HATES it that you travel. Jack will dispatch you to the doorstep swiftly, help you with your luggage and graciously decline your tip.
Speaking of friendly...........I'm working in Las Vegas this week.
And this is my new favorite cab driver.
He greeted us with a genuine smile, chatted all the way to the hotel, slowed down a bit so we could gawk at a fender bender that did mean things to a real expensive car and hummed out loud, declaring "she sure has nice booty" when we passed a billboard announcing Beyonce was coming to town soon.
Who could disagree and I do love genuine, unbridled enthusiasm in anyone.
Thanks for the ride, Ernesto.