Dear Rest-of-America: New York's Cabbies Are Not the Rudest, You Are Just All Ignorant Pussies
DNA News posted today on a recent Hotels.com survey calling New York City's taxis the second-best in the world next to London's Black Cabs. They also called the drivers of New York's taxis "America's Rudest," with Paris coming in second place. To which New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commissioner responded with an "O RLY?"
We gave the TLC a ring and reached the Office of Public Affairs. A spokesman there noted that "this is an old story that's new because some website posted about it" and furthermore that if we were to click under TLC Commissioner David Yassky's face on the TLC's website, we would find his "September" column there in which he directly addresses the totally unscientific survey.
After taking note of another article before it that regards a teacher of cabbie manners for persistently "rude" drivers named David Vollo -- who Commissioner Yassky notes as someone who " is particularly charismatic and successfully communicates the value of customer service to cab drivers who have seemingly forgotten that they are in a service industry" -- he also reminds New Yorkers that it isn't "rocket science" for cabbies to know that "good customer service = happy customers" and "happy customers = good tips." Yassky also empathizes with drivers that "not every day is a good one in the real world, and it will be harder on those days to put such an attitude across, but sometimes just the sincere effort alone is enough to earn a passenger's respect."
Finally, in addressing the survey:
Once upon a time, the argument was that good customer service was an obligation of those privileged to hold a Taxi and Limousine Commission license. Later on, that argument "evolved" to the arguably more practical one that good customer service equaled better tips, and a better bottom line at the day's end. With all due respect to Mr. Vollo, however, because he's right in his contentions, I favor the former approach. I really do think the TLC license is a privilege, granted to someone who, by accepting that license, is making a promise to fulfill its requirements with professionalism and with honor. Lofty goals and perceptions aside, how about we give London a run for its money in this survey next year, and shoot for number one? Better yet, how about we let Paris have the honor of "rudest cabbie" all for itself next year......after all, it's the polite thing to do.
We also rang up the Taxi Workers Alliance for quote, and they have yet to return the call. Meanwhile, it seems some general context has escape the parameters of this survey. Basically:
- The only thing most non-New Yorkers think are ruder than New Yorkers are Parisians, and the population of New Yorkers to Americans in other cities who actually go to Paris is -- just a guess -- likely highly disproportionate in our favor.
- People who still think the stereotype of the "rude" New Yorker still exists are also the kind of people who still think the East Village is littered with stray hypodermic needles.
- People who aren't familiar with the ways of our city may misconstrue "rude" for "busy" and "astute," for which most New Yorkers won't apologize. Sorry if you have less shit to do than us.
- Finally, maybe New York's cabbies wouldn't be so rude if they weren't told they couldn't (by law) talk on the phone while driving even if passengers don't mind, if they weren't being assaulted by cops, if the city weren't unfairly and incorrectly accusing and indicting them en masse, fares weren't busy stabbing them for, you know, being Muslim.
Finally, most New Yorkers realize what assholes we are -- or at one point, have been -- to cabbies. I once knew a young neophyte New Yorker who used to climb in cabs drunk in the East Village, and scream the line from the seminal Eddie Murphy film, Coming to America: "TAKE ME TO THE LAND OF QUEENS!" as he lived in Long Island City. Many found this funny, or at the very least, curious. Some did not.
Five years later, uh, he's come to the realization that it's not worth pissing off the ones that didn't find it funny. Like the rest of us, they have enough on their plate as it is. Like being called "America's Rudest" by a bunch of ignorant tourists in a totally unscientific survey, among other charms of the gig.