All talk

25 Jun 2008

Johnny McCain teaches a mandatory taxi driver safety course for would be Washington, D.C. hacks. Among his lessons: pull over to the side of the road to talk on the cellphone. Anyone who has ever taken a cab in the last five years knows how laughable this suggestion is. In fact, if you've actually had a conversation with your cabbie in the last five years consider yourself lucky. Says Peter Greenberg, travel correspondent for the Today Show, 'They're like automatons. I've been from my house in Manhattan all the way to JFK with the driver talking the whole time.' Taxi drivers admit they use mobiles a lot but claim that passengers cause many problems. Driver Birhanu Gizaw says, 'We're not the only ones. 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.' According to the Washington Post, James Katz from Rutgers University studies the changing dynamic as the director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies. 'It used to be that when people came to a new town they would use the cabdriver to learn what was what. They acted as information pollinators, steering people away from the Hard Rock CafŽ and toward the unknown holes in the wall. It's been part of our cultural tradition and initiation, and it's disappearing.' Add taxicabs to the bus, train and airplane as former stranger meeting locations now cut off by the earbud.

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