A Tale of Two Cabbies

I don’t normally take taxis, but in the past week I found myself doing so a few times. Most of the time taking a taxi is great - it gets me where I need to go fast and efficiently. However for some reason two of my taxi rides this week were complete failures. These failures both stemmed from a misuse of technology, but for opposite reasons.

The first failed taxi ride was in a standard yellow cab that I flagged down while trying to make my way to Brooklyn. I got into the taxi and told the driver the street address and cross streets. As we drove the driver kept muttering how he didn’t know where that was. I asked him if he a smartphone or GPS that he could use, and he said no. I tried showing him the map on my iPhone, but for some reason he refused to look at it. When I finally asked him if he could take me where I wanted to go, he said no. I left the cab and quickly found another that took me to where I needed.

The second failed attempt was surprisingly with Uber. I needed to get to Long Island City fast, so I ordered an Uber. What was supposed to be a 3 minute pickup window turned into 10 as the driver circled around seemingly every adjacent block before finally heading down mine. I even saw a few yellow cabs pass me by while I was waiting - but I felt that I had already committed to taking the Uber, so I waited. When I was finally in the Uber, we headed to Queens, but the driver kept misreading the GPS and took a series of wrong turns that doubled the time of the trip. Once we were finally headed in the right direction, he couldn’t quite figure out where exactly the final location was in comparison to our car. Having made the trip before and exhausted with helping him navigate I told me to stop the car, let me out, and I just walked the last half mile to my destination.

In the first instance the taxi driver was probably one of those old school drivers who had literally seared a map of the streets of NYC into his brain. While this is an extremely impressive form of knowledge retention, his refusal to incorporate modern navigational technology rendered him unable to take me to where I needed to go. On the other hand, the Uber driver was a total n00b, and probably had very little NYC driving experience and no clue about any of the streets in NYC. He was totally reliant on the GPS with nothing to fall back on when the directions given by the GPS became ambiguous.

Both of these taxi drivers failed because they didn’t utilize technology appropriately. The first driver refused to use technology at all, while the second was entirely reliant on it. The ideal driver would have a balance - the experience and wisdom of the first driver, with the open mindedness to use technology of the second driver. Hopefully the next time I’m taking a taxi to an outer borough, I’ll be lucky enough to get such a driver.