Getting the Most Out of Your Cab Ride
Behold the following cabbie confession, courtesy of Tyler Cowen:
I used to drive a taxi. I made a lot of money doing it. I learned very early on to never drive someone to their destination if it was a route they drove themselves, say to their home from the airport, or from their home to work or vice versa. Everyone prides themselves on driving the shortest route but they rarely do. Often people develop a route that is based on need -say going by the day care, or avoiding an intersection where they once had an accident or to avoid driving by an ex’s house or skirting road construction long since resolved- but as they become habituated to it, they fail to reorganize their strategy when their needs change. When I first started driving a cab, I drove the shortest route -always, I’m ethical- but people would accuse me of taking the long way because it wasn’t the way they drove. So, I learned to go their way ending up with a lot less grief and a lot more money. If you’ve ever wondered why a seeming professional cab driver will ask you how to get to your destination, this is why. Going your way means they’ll make more money and they won’t be accused of ripping you off. Not to say that in the beginning, I wasn’t stupid. I’d try to show the customer the route on a map but they’d usually be offended that I was contradicting them. It was to their house, if I’d never been there, how could I possibly know better than they did? In the end, experts they consider themselves to be, people are a tangle of unexamined emotional impulses and illogical responses.
It seems to me that the best thing one can do—irrespective of what route one is used to driving in order to get to a particular destination—is to get Google Map directions on one’s smartphone to find the shortest destination possible, and then to tell the cabbie to drive that destination. Yes, there are some people who don’t have smartphones in 2013, but the number of smartphone-deprived people is diminishing by the day, and if need be, one can always map a route on one’s computer or tablet (though I concede that there likely is a fair degree of crossover between people who don’t have a smartphone and people who don’t have a tablet). Yes, sometimes Google Maps gives you bad directions, but overall, the service is very good indeed; good enough that iPhone users went into mourning for the period during which iOS stopped offering Google Maps and forced users to rely instead on Apple Maps (Apple Maps will eventually become very good as well, I might add). And yes, there will be times when neither Google Maps nor Apple Maps will anticipate roadblocks, constructions, and other occurrences that require detours. But those instances will likely be rather rare.
So it would appear that cab riders are well-equipped to tell the cabbie what the shortest route is, and have the cabbie drive that route. The key is for the rider to get over the idea that s/he knows the shortest route simply because that is the route s/he regularly drives when getting to his/her destination.