Taxicab Confessions

In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple comments on Meryl Streep’s recent imposition of her political opinions on the rest of us. He mentions his irritation at the attention given to actors’ opinions and the adolescent nature of President-elect Trump’s reply, and then points out a superior source of commentary: taxi drivers…

I was once in Singapore trying to catch a taxi. You cannot just hail a taxi on the street in Singapore, you have to go to a taxi stand. This I did, but still no taxi would stop for me. The taxis swept past me as if I did not exist. Then someone came and hailed a taxi about two feet to my right. A taxi stopped immediately and took him. Was this some kind of discrimination, in the politically correct sense of the word? No: When I stood two feet to the right of where I had been standing, a taxi stopped for me immediately.

I told the driver of my experience and he, Chinese without a great deal of English, replied, “Singapore velly, velly law.”

Have you read anything in the Financial Times, or any other serious newspaper, that so succinctly and accurately sums up a country or society?

Take another example, more recent. I was in an English university town where I took a taxi from the station to the university. We fell to talking, the driver and I, and to keep our conversation going I asked him whether the students were nice.

“No,” he said, “they’re evil bastards.”

This judgment was so spontaneous, so deeply felt, and so obviously the fruit of what sociologists call lived experience, that it could only have been true.

3 thoughts on “Taxicab Confessions

  1. mike boon

    My advice to Dr D :don’t believe in the so called wisdom of taxi drivers.It is not that I think that they are all liars but rather that they are skilled in saying what they think the client wants to hear(or at least in trying to say something interesting true or not).Presumably this driver thought that Dr D looked like a university.professor.

  2. Steve

    I thought this was a very good point:

    “I cannot imagine why anyone should take any notice of what [actors and popstars] say—except, of course, that being kept constantly entertained is the main purpose of many people’s lives, and they naturally assume that those who entertain them are therefore of immense importance and authority.”

  3. Peter WARWICK

    It was Gough WHITLAM (former Prime Minister of Australia) who suggested that if you want to know the state of the economy, just ask a taxi driver. The theory is that taxis consume a considerable portion of the discretionary funds one holds. When the discretionary funds are low, people often walk or catch a bus, or reduce travel activity considerably.

    When I take a taxi, I always ask the taxi “how is business ?” – it is quite surprising the responses I get – from “terrible, every bastard is walking” (meaning no discretionary funds) to “been run off my wheels” meaning plenty of discretionary funds in wallets.


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