Contrary to the popular perception that all cabbies like to chat, punters are also guilty of asking, well, some pretty banal questions.
The problem for the driver here is two-fold: if he answers in the affirmative the punter might be weighing up the opportunity of mugging him; conversely, if he says it’s quiet the passenger queries the reason why it took so long to catch a cab or thinks the cabbie just wants to moan and soon the conversation will turn to the shortcomings of the current Government/England manager/or London’s Mayor.
“What do you do for a living?”
Passengers sometimes enquire politely about what we do for a living. This is not, as you might expect, a unique occurrence on long, late-night journeys, and sometimes asked more than once by the same passenger.
“What time are you on ‘til?”
Many cabbies work the more lucrative evening shift, so the punter probably feels a degree of sympathy as he clocked off work at five. The supplementary inquiry “Can you pick me up?” at a time and place to get me home like we are going to drive halfway across London helping you get the last train home.
“Where do you live? Or live far?”
Why on earth should that be a topic of conversation with a stranger unless, of course, you want a lift home – see the previous inquiry.
“What chance is there of me getting a cab?”
In Ireland one private hire driver, after being repeatedly asked these futile questions has stuck onto the vehicle’s partition screen a notice reading:
Please Don’t ask futile personal quizzes. I am from Ghana, now an Irish citizen. Yes I like it here. I have a Master’s Degree (MBA) UK. Please show due esteem.
The message went viral on Twitter, at the time of writing had received over 166,000 likes and had been shared more than 12,500 times.
However with over 1,000 replies, inevitably some thought the message was a ‘bit rude’. One comment read:
It’s a bit rude, to be honest. What’s wrong with asking him where he is from originally (presuming he doesn’t have an Irish accent) and whether he likes it here. Having a bit of futile chat is part of what we are.
Another response from Eion Dunning read:
Man in customer service hates customers. Best of luck to him.
John Parsons response was:
As an Irishman living in England for thirty years, I often get asked where I’m from . . . hell, even Irish people ask me where I’m from, they also often ask me if I like England. It’s called fu#king small talk.
Ride-hailing app Uber backed up the driver’s actions saying:
Getting straight to the point is a highly underrated attribute these days.
Others joked that the driver needs a second sign displaying whether he has been busy and what time he finishes.
I know those questions well.