New York City recently missed a golden opportunity to replace their iconic taxi cabs with a vehicle just as symbolic, whilst complying with a United Nations directive that taxis be wheelchair accessible by 2020.
Despite public polling heavily favouring a Turkish contender, Karsan V1, the Taxi Commission decided on a regular looking Nissan. Hence this first comment at the Nissan link:
There is much angst in the UK this week over the stabbing death of an 18 year old lad on a Greek island.
Robert Seggard was on his first foreign vacation with mates when they got into an argument with two cabbies outside a nightclub at 3am.
The situation escalated when the youths allegedly abused the cabbies, jumped on their vehicles and shone lasers at them. The cabbies responded with a wooden baton and a flick knife. One boy died and four others were hospitalised.
Here and in the UK insults and attacks upon cabbies are commonplace. Most cabbies will grit their teeth and drive off, wondering how long they can turn the other cheek. Other drivers quit before they are pushed over the edge.
Shining a laser beam in someone’s eyes is particularly provocative, falling into the category of personal attack. It’s an especially dangerous act when the target is a known hot-head.
This does not excuse the assailant’s violent response and he should be punished accordingly. But the situation should never have come to that.
The lesson for young adults is that not every target will necessarily tolerate inflammatory behaviour, either at home or abroad.
And the lesson for taxi drivers is quit now if you have a history of hot-headedness.
Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraphpublished a follow up to their campaign against drivers touting for fares. Of the 82 driver's number plates the paper published the Transport Department has only been able to reprimand four of those drivers. At the time I wrote,
I’m somewhat sceptical as to how the case against the drivers can be proven. Given the complainant, a journalist, is not a compliance officer it must be very doubtful whether the exchange with said drivers can be fairly tested without supporting electronic evidence.
The four drivers reprimanded were pinged using verifiable electronic evidence - they were not logged into the network. Otherwise one imagines the remaining drivers disputed the journalist's version of events or the evidence was simply inconclusive.
FWIW here's a video showing a couple of typical exchanges with would-be passengers in Kings Cross during peak demand.
Yet the Telegraph can take consolation from the fact that their campaign has had the desired effect of cleaning up breaches of touting regulations around changeover time. Well done.
Taxi politics is not normally a Cablog topic as the multi-layered shonkiness overwhelms me. It's a bit like investigating child abuse, akin to putting one's head in a bucket of crap. But feel free to have a go at some of the Herald's half dozen articles and lists of documents for an idea of the complexities involved.
For some months there has been hints that life in Baghdad is returning to normal. This is sweet vindication for those who retained faith that peace was possible, despite the entrenched scepticism of large sections of the Western media.
Now a post at Captain Quarters examines a Washington Post report that Baghdad security has been put to the ultimate test - the cabbie factor,
If cabbies feel secure enough to drive all over Baghdad, that's a good indication of normalcy returning to Iraq. They know better than to take extraordinary risks, which makes the cabbie factor an interesting and reliable leading indicator.
There is a sobering qualifier, of course,
...this is still a city where anyone could be killed at any moment for no particular reason.
The blogger, Edward Morrissey, a former Los Angeles cabbie makes an easy analogy with Baghdad cabbies,
...this is the world of cabbies everywhere... Recently, Minneapolis had a rash of cabbie murders, drivers who died for less than $200 because their fares turned out to be murderers, and in LA this happened with less fanfare.
Good luck to Baghdad cabbies, indeed all cabbies, it's a jungle out there.
The phone rings at home around dinner time and there’s a connection delay at the other end. Uh oh, I think, India calling. "Hello, this is John from ..... International," the caller announces with a distinct Asian accent. "John," I reply, "do I know you..?" "Err, nooo," he cautiously says. "Okay, then," I suggest, "let’s leave it that way. Bye." Click. Cruel, I know, but that’s how it’s become with unsolicited tele-marketer calls.
Yet one can’t simply brush-off workers in offshore call-centers contracted to Aussie companies. If there’s a service relationship with that company, one has to grin and bear the sometimes unfathomable accents and resultant frustration. Not to mention a natural reluctance to dealing with international staff for local matters. But then, what's 'local' in today's world ?
To date I’ve never stopped to consider that in many respects these staffers are just like me, providing a needed service and struggling to make a buck.
Until now, that is, after reading an article on Indian taxi drivers contracted to ferrying those employees to and from work. They work all night carrying staff who fix the world’s banking, computer and accounting glitches,
Arya looked out at all the call-center vehicles speeding past. "At this hour, there are only call-center cabs on the road," she said. "I told you we are a breed apart. The aliens are out in the night."
Then, like her cabbie, she retires at dawn and attempts to sleep throughout the day.
Right now, at 6.03am, it’s a routine which sounds terribly familiar and I must admit to a certain affinity with these people, providing the exact same service in today’s global economy. Therefore, good luck to them, I say.
It’s a neat article and well worth reading, for a rare personal perspective on life for offshore staffers. Me, I’m off to bed.