Taxi Drivers Like to Read
23 Apr 2007
Have you ever noticed the effect of a piece of paper in your hand when you take a taxi?
If you jump in a taxi empty-handed, the driver will turn around and ask you where you’re going, listen attentively, perhaps ask a question or two to clarify, and then you’re off.
If you have a little piece of paper in your hand, however, it’s a different story. No matter how clearly you tell the driver your destination, he will fixate on that piece of paper. Unless it’s a really simple destination like “the Pudong airport,” he will likely ignore whatever you’re saying and insist on seeing that paper. The written address trumps anything that might come out of your mouth. Just shut up and give him the piece of paper with the address.
I can certainly understand how the drivers would be conditioned this way. Seeing the address clears up ambiguities — both the ones resulting from homophones as well as the ones borne of less-than-perfect foreigner pronunciation. It just feels funny, though, that the driver seems to not trust me to know my own destination, insisting on seeing the paper, when I’m the one that wrote down the address on the paper five minutes before leaving home.