Rules of Engagement

You know that sinking feeling. You’re at a party and the village bore sidles up and wants to discuss his collection of beer mats.

What do you do? Enter into an earnest conversation on the merits of square versus round or oblong, praise the durability to withstand liquid, and discuss their post-modernist designs.

As I see it your have three options:

  • Engage in an earnest and meaningful conversation, and listen to his discourse for three hours
  • Suggest sex and travel might at this juncture be appropriate in his case
  • Stare over his left shoulder at that cute girl across the room while trying to not let your eyes glaze over

[S]tuck inside your cab you regularly have the village bore, with the maxim ‘the customer’s always right, even if he is a complete prat’ ringing in your ears you have that same dilemma. Well a recent study might have the answer to my problem.

Social researchers have studied the interaction between hairdressers, dentists or cabbies with their clients. They call this ‘The rules of conversational engagements for everyday encounters’, and interestingly it would appear that we have the upper hand in driving the conversation, even though you are employing us.

We have all sat in the dentist’s chair while he conducts a conversation about your holiday while filling your mouth with implements. But it would seem that my customers also know their place when sitting in the back of my cab as much as in the dentist’s chair.

It would appear that the driver starts the conversation choosing the subject, and, sorry about this, drives the conversation forward. You, of course, reply to my discourse not wishing to be confrontational, as you regard conversation with a stranger to be on a different level than, say somebody you met in the pub or a casual acquaintance.

So the next time you are in the back, take this little bit of advice, and know your place.

Thank you for letting me shout at you.

2 thoughts on “Rules of Engagement”

  1. I once took a cab because I had bought something that turned out to be far heavier than I had imagined. Throughout the journey I was subjected to an unpleasant diatribe from a driver with definite racist leanings. Only fear of being stranded with my heavy parcel prevented me from stopping the cab and getting out.

    These days I have a better solution. I wear hearing aids in both ears. I can therefore let the monologue rumble on for some time and then suddenly interject “Oh, sorry, did you say something just then?”


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