Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Cabbie Mold

Dear Norma I. Reyes, Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection,

I'm writing to send you a cab driver compliment.  The Boy and I had an awesome driver last night, one Bruce R. Vandergriff #56775, driving cab #391.  He provided efficient, friendly service...well, that really doesn't encompass how I felt about our cab ride.  Let me give it to you straight.

The Boy and I don't take cabs all that often, and last night we were debating on whether or not we should wait for the bus or take a cab.  We let one go by, then decided that the bus was too slow, so we flagged the next guy down.  As soon as I opened the door, I could hardly contain my excitement.  Could it be?  Really?  Yes!  An old white guy cab driver!

You might think that's a racist thing to say, and although I appreciate the diversity our great city has to offer, I am pretty particular about race/nationality when it comes to cab drivers--and after almost fifteen years of living in the city, I've experienced enough drivers to have a solid opinion on this matter.  The best?  The old white guys.  They've been driving a cab for decades.  They know the city like the back of their hand.  You don't give them an intersection, you give them an obscure address, and they'll know the back way that gets you there quicker.  They like to chat and have great stories about the city.  Old white guy cab drivers rock.

Notice I said old.  Young white guy cab drivers?  Not as good as the old ones.  These guys tend to be temporary drivers and aren't as invested.  They're still decent though.

Other really good cab drivers?  African-Americans, Hispanics, Koreans (we had such an interesting ride with a good Korean driver once), and Egyptians (more great conversation and decent driving).  Pakistani and Indian cab drivers are pretty decent and can be fun to talk to.  Their driving is OK.

Eastern Europeans are hit and miss.  I've had good ones.  I've also had the one who was watching a DVD while he drove us down Lake Shore Drive during the morning rush hour (sorry I didn't report that incident.  I was too shell-shocked after yelling at him to turn off the player that I forgot to get his number).

The worst?  Africans.  Usually the ones from Nigeria.  They need driving lessons.  They need to learn the streets.  It's no fun telling your cabbie--who can barely speak English--where Lake Shore Drive is.  That guy almost got us into an accident.  We did report that one, which your office took care of and kept us in the loop on.  Nice job!  We've learned that we really shouldn't take any of the maroon/purplish cabs because they tend to have worse drivers.  Sad, but true.

At any rate, Bruce took us where we needed to go.  He drove safely.  He was friendly and told a good story.  We wished we lived further away so that we could stay in the cab longer.  I don't say that about many cab drivers, but Bruce was really good at his job.  I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate cab drivers like him.  Could you create a mold of this guy and make all potential Chicago cabbies be like him?  Cabbies with different colors and accents, sure, but cabbies with the same great attitude and skill sets.  Our city would be much better off.

Thanks for your time.
Your pal,

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