Monday, March 22, 2010

That was a little disturbing

Oft of an evening, by the time I get myself to Brookline Village, I decide I'm too tired to walk or bus the rest of the way home, and I catch a cab.

Usually, everything's fine, but last time...

I headed over to the cab stand and got in the first cab I saw*, told the driver where I was headed and then noticed that there had been a cab in front of the one I entered, but all its lights were off, so I didn't see it. I am aware of cab etiquette as far as choosing the frontmost cab at a cab stand, but that cab was mostly invisible at the time.

So "my" cabbie started driving, and suddenly the frontmost cab started honking and swerved in front of him cutting him off. That cabbie was yelling in a language I don't understand, but my cabbie did. My cabbie first told me to go to the other cab, but as I was reaching for the door handle, the other cabbie kept yelling louder and bringing his cab closer, and then my cabbie told me to stay in the cab and he'd take me anyway.

I'm glad he did; even if I had gotten out of the cab, I wasn't about to get in the other one, with that driver so angry. I made an honest mistake, and my cabbie did tell me to get into his cab, and I was afraid of the other driver. What I found most interesting is that both cabs were from Town Taxi. (Ah, a quick search of The Google, blessed be it, shows that Town Taxi is an independent dispatcher.)

Lately, I only like getting cabs from Veteran's Taxi in Newton; with one exception of a cabbie listening to conservative talk radio in which Jay Severin claimed that nobody's ever died from not having health insurance (no really, WHAT?), I've never felt uncomfortable in a Veteran's cab; they're clean, and their credit card machines always work. This doesn't help me get home at night, however.

Now that the weather's improving, I'm more fine with walking through Mission Hill than getting a Brookline cab. Although, I am quite fond of the Scion xB Hello Taxis, although I've never taken one. They're just so cute.

*Incidentally, I'm not originally from a Major City, and I still don't understand if a cab's light on the roof being on means it's available or not. Anyone?


reindeergirl said...

The on-light means the driver is available. And typically, the passenger approaches the first taxi in the queue, as those drivers have been waiting the longest. The drivers behind in the queue are supposed to respect the unwritten rule.

Fiddler said...

Right, I knew to approach the first cab in the queue, but said first cab was sitting apart from the others, no lights or signs of life...I didn't say this in the post, but I've seen other cabs parked in the same spot when they're either devoid of driver or the driver's taking a break.

Of course, since I didn't see it in the first place, I suppose that part's moot.

reindeergirl said...

You can't flag drivers from one town if you're in another. However, you can put in a call for, say, a Newton cab to come to Boston. But that Newton driver can't randomly pick you up in Boston. Taxis are among the most regulated industry in the state; they work long hours, get carp for pay, and most are renting, and don't own their medallions.

I don't think you did anything wrong. Tempers were flaring between the two drivers - inappropriate and unprofessional.

Taxi drivers are no longer the retired men trying to bring a little extra income into their families, or the laborer working a second job. Some are very nice, though (I never had a bad experience with Town Taxi). I wouldn't critique a driver for listening to Jay Severin; however, with any radio show or CD, the noise is supposed to be low enough for the driver and passenger to communicate.

Drivers are suffering with the economy. Stress is rampant among cab drivers. But you did nothing wrong, and should not have been subject to that insanity. I hope you reported the incident.

reindeergirl said...

Sometimes they are off to p e e , or to get a quick coffee. In which case, they are within their rights to take a break, and you are within your rights to take the second cab in the queue.

Don't worry - these two drivers may have bad blood, it had nothing to do with you, but they need to be reported.

I'm not a taxi driver, but the ex-wife of one, one of the few drivers these days who is old style (ringing doorbells instead of honking the horn; helping people with their packages; keeping his can spotless; knowing every street in Boston, etc.). In fact, he's a better driver than he was a husband, and I would still recommend him to others.