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A World of Taxis

Monday, December 15, 2008 / Posted by Zackary /

In New York City there is an endless sea of aggressive Yellow Cabs. If you find yourself in NYC and unable to see a Yellow Cab then hit the subway or run fast. Some taxi drivers are native English speakers but not so much. If your driver is talking to you instead of on his cell to his family on the other side of the world, consider yourself lucky. They wear what they feel like wearing and shower when they feel like showering. You aren't allowed to smoke anymore but that might cover the other smells you encounter. They do know where everything is and the fastest way to get there. Business is business and they want as many customers as possible.

In Germany the cabs are cream colored Mercedes or Audis carefully maintained. The drivers are middle aged and respectful. They don't drive so fast but like the UPS they are going to find the right address no matter what. If they need to ask a person on the street for directions they are happy to do so. Between the nice car, the well groomed drivers and their desire to help, you feel safe in a German cab like everything will be okay.

An Argentinan taxi is black, cheap (for foreigners) and usually has a middle aged to older taxi driver ready to fly at your command. At red lights and stop signs they often slow down a bit and then hit the accelerator if no one is coming. Ever wanted to go 100 miles an hour in a cab? This is the place for you. Your heart beats too fast but it is about twenty times faster then the bus. Taking a cab in Argentina can feel like a grand adventure into itself. A word of warning, the taxis at the airport in Argentina are known to have less than scrupulous drivers so be careful. See the following link for more information and a video.

In Japan taxis are often black but also a rainbow of other colors. Like in Germany, drivers are usually middle aged and kind. There is no uniform but they dress nicely and normally wear white gloves. In the western world taxi drivers only unlock their doors to let passengers in or out. In Japan drivers often keep the door open until a passenger steps in. When you are seated they push a button and the door closes. The cab is always immaculate and the driver pays attention like you are important. Generally they only speak Japanese so explaining where you want to go can be difficult. If you want to go close to a train station or a major landmark then tell them that. If they don't understand anything anything then try another cab. You are not allowed to smoke and drivers only use their cell phones to help find your destination. Like the Germans they are going to find your address and nothing will stop them from their quest.

On the plus side they don't tip in Japan so the number on the meter is what you pay. On the minus side the cost of a cab rises dramatically at night. A trip during the day that costs 500 yen can easily be up to 1500 yen at night. Yuki, a woman in Tokyo said that after a night of serious drinking she woke up hung over and full of regret about taking a cab home.
Train stations are generally big in Japan (more about that in another blog) and outside you will find a row of taxis ready to whisk you away. So if you can find a train station you will find eager cabs and nice train staff ready to help you. If you speak Japanese you can also call a cab as well.

In most of the world taxi drivers are male although you can of course find female drivers. When you are walking down the street anywhere in the world and hail an empty taix they stop if they feel like it. In Japan the taxis drivers are professional, intelligent, and might even break some traffic laws but they don't always feel like picking up foreigners.


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