Taxi, no Taxi

I must be one of the totally oblivious ones, because I think your 20 percent figure is way off. I’d cut the number fivefold or even tenfold.

How can you be sure you’re not imagining it?[/quote]

I don’t think Omni is necessarily imagining this. I’m not oblivious to hostility… rather, I am keenly aware of it and I frequently enjoy it. I know that sounds strange, especially as I don’t consider myself a confrontational person, and I don’t get into a cab and initiate any hostility. But, I do enjoy replying to hostility with even more hostility, to a point, at least.

Yes, the vast majority of drivers, in my experiences, are nice. But there is no shortage of cranky drivers either. And I refuse to let a cranky driver ruin my day. I prefer to leave him pissed off at me than the other way around.

[quote=“Omniloquacious”][quote=“cranky laowai”]I must be one of the totally oblivious ones, because I think your 20 percent figure is way off. I’d cut the number fivefold or even tenfold.

How can you be sure you’re not imagining it?[/quote]

That could be the case – I might well be misreading ordinary gruffness for something worse. But it still makes me feel uncomfortable, and puts me off wanting to ride in their taxis unless I absolutely have to.[/quote]

Omni, it sounds like you may be very sensiitve re: cabs, the way some people are about being looked at on the MRT. In cases where you are not flagging down cabs, but planning to take one from your apartment, I’d recommend calling the company that has the heart-shaped logo. The drivers are friendly and they always have a fresh orchid up front, so the cab smells great. I’ll hunt up their number and post it here later for you.

Look for a Toyota Altis. You can usually spot one coming at you pretty easily given its oval shape. They’re generally quite new and have very strong air-conditioning. So strong that I sometimes feel compelled to ask the guy to turn down the fan. Of course, the best model to take is a Cefiro. But those are few and far between.

When I’ve been drinking, or for that once every two weeks hypermarket shop…

Cut the taxi drivers a little slack. Ask them how many hours a day / days per week they drive, and then how much do they make? They have to drive those cabs 10 to 12 or more hours a day through the horrible Taipei traffic in order to barely make a living. That would make just about anybody pretty cranky. I would sure hate to do it, that’s for sure.

All while watching that small screen TV they’ve installed up front. Betel nut, whisbey, TV… doesn’t get much better than that.

Same thing in the U.S.; I know a cabbie in Tacoma, WA, and he has to work 12x7 to make ends meet. But the job comes with all sorts of little bonuses, like passengers who barf in the back seat, passengers who try to mug him, passengers who try to run without paying their fares. . . .

The only time I had a lot of problems using taxis was after that huge typhoon two summers ago. For about a month after the typhoon, I got a wet ass from at least half of the taxis I used.


Your concerns are noble, indeed. And I should point out that I was raised to respect all work, so long as its honest work.

However, I am less inclined to “cut anyone any slack” with respect to the way they carry out their job.

With few exceptions, we are all employed at some job that suits us, and that job suits us most likely due to the various choices we have made during our lives. Yes, I realize that there are exceptions.

I work long hours (at least as long as most Taipei cab drivers) and I make just enough to make ends meet, especially considering the investment of time and money that went into making me eligible for the job I perform. My father was a medical doctor. He spent even more time and money in preparing himself for his life’s work.

And I can assure you, not a soul would cut either my father or I any slack in connection with the way we perform our jobs. I hate to sound snobby, but, IMO, my job is, and my father’s job was, far more difficult than the job performed by a cab driver, even given the traffic conditions in Taipei. If nobody is going to cut us any slack, why should I cut some cab driver slack just because he has to drive in rough traffic? My chair in my office makes my back hurt too.

I know, in my father’s job and mine, any mistakes could be costly to the patient or the client. That’s why I am and he was required to operate with a high standard of care when doing our jobs. And my father was on call seemingly all the time to answer emergencies and I am always working overtime to handle some client’s urgent matter.

All that is required of the cab driver is that he at least not be hostile to his fare and that he drive safely. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Apologies for the rant.

Oh well said, Tigerman! Cab drivers aren’t your friends taking you for a free spin in their new car, they’re providing a fucking service! If sitting on your arse belching up betel nut all day is too much like hard work, get another job! :unamused:

As far as I’m concerned in a cab - which I take everyday home from work - it’s 1) turn that radio down; 2) turn the AC to a level that I, the paying customer, is comfortable with; 3) stop jabbering about adogahs to your “boyfriend” in loud Taiwanese on your cab-driver’s walkie-talkie thing (they HATE that!); and 4) Go the route I tell you if you want me to pay what’s on the meter.

Fortunately there’s a cab rank outside my office, and many of the drivers know me and shout out stuff like “DON"T go over Fu He Bridge” and have a laugh among themselves. And as soon as I tell drivers I don’t like ANY sort of pussy, least of all (I imagine) Taiwanese pussy, I generally tend to get a peaceful and pleasant ride. The kind of ride I believe I deserve, in fact! :sunglasses:

Well said, Tigerman. I agree that there’s no excuse for having a bad attitude and making no effort to perform one’s job as it should be done, especially when the job involves serving the public. As long as the customer behaves politely and properly, the person providing a service to him should damn well do at least the same.

in all my days weeks months years decades centuries milleniums in Taiwan I have NEVER had a bad taxi driver. I love 'em all. The only bad taxi driver is a dead taxi driver. The thing is, when you get finicky driver, humor him. It always works.

I’ve met quite a few who can’t follow directions, even from native speakers of chinese. Obviously they haven’t read this report.

[quote]Three years ago, researchers at the Institute of Neurology in London showed that cab drivers’ grey matter enlarges and adapts to help them store a detailed mental map of the city.

Taxi drivers given brain scans by scientists had a larger hippocampus compared with other people.

The scientists also found part of the hippocampus grew larger as the taxi drivers spent more time in the job. [/quote]

What’s that? A North American university?

Here’s some beginner Chinese for use in a taxi.

In a Taxi
Can you call me a taxi? 你能幫我叫輛計程車嗎?

Turn left. 左轉zuŏzhuăn
Turn right. 右轉y

Thanks, Almas John, for the lesson.
This is what I really need to be able to say, however:
If you go that way, I’m getting out right now and I’m not paying.
Back home, we let pedestrians cross when they have a walk light.
Please drive on the right side of the road.
For Christ’s sake, when I said “Make a U-turn here,” I didn’t mean right in front of a bus.
Where are you going? This is not the way to …
When I said “Stop over there,” I didn’t mean in the middle of the intersection.

Can these drivers read maps?? I’ve shown a Taipei city map to half a dozen drivers this week, and only one showed any comprehension of what a map was, much less how to read it.

Thanks to life in taxis (practically my sole way of moving long distances), I know how to say stoplight, and the difference between right side (you bian) and left turn (you duan) as well as understanding the question “How long have you been in Taiwan?”

I think if I were to continue studying Chinese when (and if) I return to school, I’d have the MRT to thank for my reading skills, every form that requires my (many) local address(es) for my writing skills, my 3-year-old students for my listening skills, and taxi drivers for my speaking skills.
Who needs Chinese lessons when you’re immersed in ample opportunities to absorb language?

I’ve had two bad rides in 18 years…

First one was during the Chinese missle tests back in 96. The guy was obviously not pleased with any sort of US involvment in Taiwan/Chinese policy and let me know in a vocal and rude fashion. I got out.

Second one was a guy who just didn’t like foriegners. mouthed the usual nasties for the entire trip while I did my best not to let on…At the end of the ride I tipped him and said in Chinese “Not all of us are like that”

The rest have been exemplary, with good conversation…Honest guys for the most part trying to get by as best they can…

Living in Yangmei and having my own car means once a year or so for cab rides, but my experiences although limited have been for the most part excellent…Wish they’d slow down though :s

Back due to public demand.

Here’s some advice from the Taipei Police for staying safe when using taxis.

Taxi tips.

  1. Decline the service of a taxi driver who pulls over to the sidewalk to solicit your ride.

  2. Do not ride in taxis which have one-way mirror glass windows that prevent you from seeing into the taxi.

  3. Avoid taxis with strange decorations. Haven’t noticed these.

  4. Avoid taxis without license plates or that have illegible plates.

  5. Avoid taxis which have other passengers already inside.

  6. Avoid taxis which have no handles for windows or doors. Yes, a little suspicious

  7. Attempt to immediately get out of a taxi in which the driver appears to be intoxicated or is improperly dressed.

  8. Sitting directly behind the driver in a taxi will allow you to react quickly if there is a problem. (For example, you can grab the steering wheel and create a fake traffic accident thereby involving others while getting you out of possible danger.)

  9. Take down the registration number and name of the taxi driver. Both should be prominently displayed on the right hand side of the dashboard.

  10. When taking a taxi, ask a friend to write down the name of the taxi company and the license plate number.

  11. When engaging the taxi driver in conversation, try to stick to topics of low sensitivity such as his family. :laughing: Yeah, like his wife