Monday, April 28, 2008

Cell Phones and Cabs

Ok, so I don't always read the Post as well or quickly as I should - missed this story from a couple of Sunday's ago about drivers vs. passengers on the cell phone debate.

From the passenger's side in the article:

" I think it's a party line," says Michael Levin. "One big party line and they're all talking to each other."

"I always assume they're talking about me," says Levin's friend Laura Silberman. "It's usually in a foreign language . . . but I assume they're saying, 'Ugh, this annoying girl just got in and now I need to --' "

And then from the driver's side:

"If the customer is rude or if I'm talking to my young son," says cabdriver Tekle Atsku, "I'm not going to get off the phone. I'm not."

"We're not the only ones" on our cells, says driver Birhanu Gizaw. "Sometimes passengers, they don't even stop talking to tell me where to go. They get annoyed that I'm not going but they don't tell me where to go."

Is it rude? Or just part of everyday life anymore? The Post reporter goes on to note:

Perhaps it boils down to an etiquette problem. Butting in on someone else's discussion should be done under only dire circumstances. Is an acceptable interruption . . . when you know of road construction ahead? When you speak Amharic and you feel you have something to add to the front-seat conversation? What, exactly, does a cabdriver owe his passenger? Safe transport from A to B, or sparkling dialogue on the way?

What is the right balance? I don't use my cell phone in public unless I have to (yeah, I know, there are 3 of us left) and that includes in a cab. On the other hand, I've never had a problem with a cabbie using his phone, as long as I know that's what he's doing. At least a couple of times I've thought the driver was talking to me when he wasn't. In the morning I don't like to talk to anyone, co-workers, drivers, family. I am not chatty in the morning. In the evening, I'll chat away. Most of the time I'm with someone, and we'll talk to each other, the driver usually not chiming in.


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