Taxi Driver Confessions

Ever try talking to a New York City cab driver?  Think about one of the things you almost always ask.
Getting to where you are going in one piece is what counts when taking a Manhattan taxi. But if you’re like me, when you’re not on the cell phone or returning Blackberry messages, perhaps you’ll engage the driver in conversation.
Are those your kids? As we all know, pictures of cab drivers’ kids often adorn the dashboard. How old are they?  How’s your day been so far?
Lauren Collins, who writes for The New Yorker and reported on an unusual public forum in Manhattan—“Out from Behind the Wheel,” sponsored by public radio station WNYC—is kinda telling us that while it’s OK to talk to cabbies, there’s one thing you should never ask.  (The forum, by the way, was for the much maligned drivers to talk about who they are; discuss strategies for coping with stresses on the road; and figure out ways to improve the industry.)
Collins reported that cabbies have lots of beefs that are not that unusual, from coping with drunks, to paying a $.50 MTA tax that ostensibly funds city workers’ pension plans, to credit card readers that don’t work, and more.
The one passenger question, however, that gets the goat of New York City taxi drivers, is “Where are you from?” Unfortunately, Lauren did not tell readers why the cabbies said they dislike that question so much, but she reported that passengers should “never” ask it.  Thanks for the advice.  Hopefully, at least some of us will remember it next time we are in a New York City cab.


Roger Pondel,

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