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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Evidence that the bus is where I really belong

I went in a taxi cab today.  I don't think I've taken a taxi alone for years and I had no idea what to do.  So, I have some questions about taxiquette ...


1. Was I right to sit in the back, even though there was only me?  By automatically opening the back door and getting in the back seat, was I saying, 'Hey, driver.  I'm cool with this.  I know what to do when I call a taxi'? or was I saying, 'I am a taxi virgin and you are probably an axe murderer.  The minute you turn round and even look at me, I'm out of here, buddy'?

2. Should one start a conversation, or is it the thing to keep quiet?  And if one does start a conversation, what does one say (apart from 'I have this annoying habit of saying 'one' when it's really such very old hat - can you advise me?)?  I didn't know whether to say, 'Nice weather today, eh?' or 'Lovely soft seats' or 'I like this song that's on the radio' or 'Hell, old chap, I haven't got a clue what to say in these situations - could you start the dialogue off and I'll follow'.

3. I wasn't sure he knew where we were going.  Is it the thing to say, 'I think it's a left here' or is that a real insult to a taxi driver?  Would he be offended?  Or would he be more offended to find we were approaching the North East Coast and I was still sitting in the back, pretending not to notice as the sea lapped over the tyres and the engine cut out as we hit the deep water and fish bobbed in via the exhaust pipe?

4. Is it okay to pay while you're still in the back seat, or is it compulsory to get out of the car first then put half of your upper body into one of the windows and flick through a wad of dollar bills?  Or have I been watching too many American films?

5. When you get out, what do you say?  Just 'thanks' or 'cheers'?  Are you meant to say 'goodbye', or is that like saying, 'Wow, we really got some kind of emotional bond while I was in your taxi, my friend.  I think the next step is dinner and wine at Prezzo Italian, don't you?'


I hope he doesn't brake too suddenly, because I have this unusually long, thin neck and my head will be in his lap before he knows what's happening.  



No wonder I take the bus.  I know all that stuff.

21 comments:

  1. Guess I've never thought that hard about taking a taxi. I don't do it very often either. I believe you can do whatever you want, though.

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  2. Lol, I have absolutley no idea of the answer to any of your questions as it is ages since I have been in a cab as well!.... but you did make me laugh.

    Cheers Mich x

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  3. I wouldn't know either. I haven't taken a taxi for years, but always wondered whether to get in the front or back?

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  4. Our "local" taxis are mostly driven by foreigners, newly arrived on our shores, still smelling of curry and cigarettes, so conversation is not an option. Directions must be given by the passenger as the drivers have no clue where they are going. The front seat is usually full of their personal junk and not available to passengers.
    I remain inside to make my payment.

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  5. Last time I took a taxi alone I didn't start the conversation but the driver talked on and on. When he started to turn the wrong way on the street I knew would take us to a dead end drug infested area I said NO!! TURN THE OTHER WAY!!! This was in Detroit so maybe taxi manners are different in your neck of the woods. I doubt it though.

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  6. Well, you're at least ahead of me. I don't really know how to take the bus!

    The nice thing about a taxi is that even if you really screw it up, you'll probably never see the same driver again and I doubt they keep an international taxi passenger database.

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  7. To be honest, having spoken to a few taxi drivers, they're just happy if you don't vomit over the leather upholstery or do a runner when it's time to pay.

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  8. The back doors on Japanese taxis open automatically. I knew that before we got a taxi just one time, but I still forgot and tried to open it myself. The driver gave me a "I knew you were going to do that, stupid foreigner" look.

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  9. Harhaha. And tipping? Do you just say keep the change or is that only in films too?

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  10. I've always had a hatred of taxi's and go to great lengths to avoid them. And it is just the things you mention - not knowing how to behave - that is the basis of this hatred of mine.

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  11. I'd love someone to write a comprehensive account of taxi etiquette. I'm always confused about all of the points you mentioned above....

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  12. Obviously you belong on the bus. : I do, too. I always feel awkward in cabs! And I don't like the threat of a conversation.

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  13. These are all things I wonder about on the rare occasions I take a taxi (I always sit in the back Just In Case) which is why I take them so rarely. It's all too complicated.

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  14. Yes. No. Depends. Yes. Depends.
    I think the question most taxi drivers would want you to ask is: Should I give them a big tip in case I ever do get them again

    You can learn a lot from watching too many American films so you would know to expect the taxi driver to let loose his pent-up emotional state in a half-deranged monologue delivered to no-one in particular (Taxi Driver) or to involve you in murderous exploits, which may include dinner with wine (Collateral) or be an alien (Men in Black). Easy!

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  15. Oh - and I just remembered, didn't logical thinking guru de Bono suggest two kinds of taxis (1) those whose drivers don't know the way (say, in blue taxis) - then locals can use them and give direction, enabling them to move to (2) other (yellow?) taxis driven by people who DO know the way to be used by out-of-towners?

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  16. Midlife - you can do whatever you WANT? Oh, how I wish I'd known! I've always wanted to sing my way through The Sound of Music in a taxi.

    Michelle - Well, I insist that you book yourself a cab right now and let me know how you got on.

    Eliza - well, as you can see, I can't help you with that one. I am as bemused as anyone.

    English Rider - my taxi driver didn't fit your description at all. But conversation still didn't happen. I think we were both shy in the early stages of our relationship.

    Kristin - I admit it - the streets of Leamington Spa are not very Detroit-like at all. There are lots of chemist shops, but I guess those aren't the kind of drugs you're referring to ...

    Nana - any time you want bus training, you know where to come.

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  17. Steve - I can see how vomiting and running away might not go down well, indeed. You sound very knowledgeable about these things, by the way.

    Japanese Student - that made me laugh. I can just see you doing that. And the look on his face. That's like when i tried to pay the London bus driver with real, metal money and he looked at me as though I were something not very nice.

    Lane - aarrggh. The tip! I daredn't even start tackling that. I didn't know WHAT to do.

    Alan - you've hit the nail on the head. It's not knowing how to behave that's so difficult. I find this in lots of contexts, though.

    Katie Anderson - well, it won't be me.

    Talli - I know what you mean. Conversation when you don't want conversation is the worst kind.

    Karen - You're right. All these should I and should I nots. Too much to cope with.

    Brokenbiro - you know a HECK of a lot about this topic. Do you want to write the book?

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  18. I take taxis every 5 minutes I do (ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration). It's because they are easier than buses / walking. A quick guide is:

    - Always ask the price before you get in
    - Sit in the back.
    -Don't engage in conversation with the driver unless you or/he want to
    - Don't give them directions unless you know the route waaaay better than they do. They get arsey because they have spent years getting 'The Knowlege' (specific to Black Cabs)
    - Pay them from the back seat after insisting they turn on the rear light.
    - If they have taken you where you want to go quickly and efficiently, bung them a tip.
    - If you suspect that they have taken you on a merry ride, don't give them a penny.

    Voila! so tell me about bus etiquette because I haven't got a scooby.

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  19. Annie - I will print off your advice guide and take it with me next time. As for bus etiquette. That's just the point. You do what you like. Everybody else does.

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  20. I make it a principle to ALWAYS talk to taxi drivers even - especially - when they've turned up the volume of the radio and closed the glass partition between us.

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  21. Very amusing post, Fran. The answer to Q.2 depends principally on your mood. If you want silence, you'll probably (but by no means definitely) get it; if you want to chat, any remark at all will get the ball rolling, but there's no telling where it'll end up. Chances are it will all be perfectly pleasant, but now and then it will open the floodgates to Weirdsville.

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