Monday, July 18, 2011

Taxicab Etiquette

First of all, let's set the scene.  Hot, muggy and late for a brunch with the girls... you know the drill:  flying off the front stoop of your building, hustling to the nearest main cross streets while frantically waving your arm at any large and yellow fast moving object, not bothering to check if the taxi number light is on before darting into traffic for a more aggressive approach...

That was me just a few days ago.  Only this time as I was getting into the cab that stopped for me, I heard the most incredulous statement.  A guy that was crossing the street from the opposite corner to mine was saying to someone on his phone, "it's not fair, I have been standing out here for 20 minutes!"

Let's forget for a moment that someone from New York had just said, "It’s not fair."  The part that grabbed my attention was the second half of his complaint.  Did I really just steal someone's cab?  Was it possible that I was so caught up in panicking about being late that I committed one of the most infamous taboos?  All I could think of in response to my own questions was "yes, finally!"

Before you find me harsh and unreasonable, you should know that my usual scenario when running late consists more along the following lines. 

1) Standing at the nearest intersection of a series of one-way streets;
2) scanning the oncoming traffic for the first available cab;
3) raising my arm to hail it from blocks away;
3) watching the driver of the vehicle noticing my summons and start to merge to my side of the curb;
4) recognizing the familiar smile on the cabbie's face as he eagerly pulls over to collect his next fare; and
5) blankly staring as the cab stops short by a few meters and has its door tugged open by some arm that doesn't belong to me.

Road rage has nothing on the feeling of getting a taxi swiped out from under you by a newcomer that is usually on a cell phone chatting and laughing away.  You tell yourself that the next one is yours and you feel pretty confident about it.  That is until you notice that the guy that turned up a few minutes ago and was waiting patiently behind you just crossed the street ahead of you and has his eye on the next beacon of light.  Before you can get your glare on, another woman has just entered the intersection from the other side and is angling herself a few meters ahead of the cross street.

While you are weighing the odds of getting a cab before the next stampede of people hit, you squint against the sun to see the worst bully of all.  The tourist with a suitcase!  No matter where they position themselves, any taxi within a 2 block radius will be crashing into each other to pick up this cash cow.  An airport run is branded as the ultimate tag.  With a heavy sigh and thoughts of bringing an empty suitcase with you next time, you tread off to the following intersection hoping the next roundup will include you.

Now, when we are idly standing on the escalator, we keep to the right so traffic can still flow unhindered to the left.  When we are waiting in line at a counter, no one tries to cut in.  And even when we hear someone approaching the elevator doors as they are closing, we press the button to keep them open.  Why is it we have no etiquette when it comes to hailing a cab?  And what would it involve to implement taxicab etiquette?

**Tip of the week:
During summer months, try to hail cabs with their windows rolled up.  They are more likely to have working air conditioning and/or drivers willing to utilize their a/c.  Although, keep in mind that they must turn on the a/c upon request.