January 26, 2012

Captain Cabby

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Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer (attributed)

Imagine, if you will, an evening at the theatre after a long day at work. You arrive at the venue with the headache from earlier in the day threatening to make another appearance. Stupidly, you have forgotten to replace the painkillers that normally reside in your bag.

You take your seat, thankful that some of the more annoying of your colleagues are not in attendance, and give fake courtesy to those that are. The lights dim, the play begins and the headache takes over. Ninety minutes later, interval begins, you make your excuses and head for the tube.

After an uneventful thirty minutes on the train, you reach your station. Exiting the station you see the normal line of cabs sitting in the rank. Walking over, you climb in and give the driver your destination. In response you get a guttural “huh?” You repeat the request and off you go. You are secure in the knowledge that in five minutes you will be home, with painkillers, a cup of tea and only meters from your bed.

Having done this route many times you’re a little surprised when the driver turns left instead of going straight ahead. Your annoyance grows when the driver takes you through the centre of town and then back out and onto the road you wanted to be on.

You say to the driver in a confused voice, “um, why are we going the long way?” to be told “it isn’t the long way, stop complaining. All women. All they do is complain. This not long way, this short way for me.” Wanting to avoid any further argument, you say “whatever” and resign yourself to paying extra for the fair. It’s only money after all.

This, however, is not the end of it from the drivers point of view. He continues to gesture wildly, talking at pace in such heavily accented English, you can only guess that what he is saying is what you are hearing. For the entirety of the five-minute trip, you are berated and told off for being a woman and for complaining. Your blood is beginning to boil, and you start looking for the number of the cab so you can make a complaint.

Normally, you wouldn’t make a complaint straight after an incident, to the line manager of a person. It is not the automatic first response, however, in this instance, it is necessary because of the locked doors of the cab and the aggression being directed at you.

Having imagined all of this, you might be confused as to why this variation in route is an issue. I will put it plainly. Had the driver gone down R*** Road, there would have been three or four sets of lights, an almost straight road and a slightly higher speed limit. The driver, going through town, and down W*** Road incurred seven or eight sets of lights, a wending road and a regular speed limit. Consider £5 verses £7. It isn’t much, I agree, but the level of arrogance and aggression I was subjected to means I probably should have tried to avoid payment altogether. In distances it is 4.02km (2.5miles) verses the normal 2.75km (1.7miles).

I wish I could come up with a moral to the story, but if there is one, it eludes me.

Bastard cabbies!!

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