What a NYC Cabbie Said That Made Me So Mad

The following experience is a great reminder of how important it is to change our ways when new (better) information is presented. I arrived in NYC LaGuardia airport on Sunday around noon. The airport is approximately 8 miles from the hotel I was staying at. Because Uber/Lyft can take 15 minutes to get to the pickup area, I decided to take a taxi.

I gave the cabbie the name of the hotel and its address. He said no problem and off we went. Everything was fine for about the first 15 minutes. And then we just stopped on the highway. I quickly opened Google maps to see how bad the back-up was. It was bad. What should have been a 30-minute ride had now become a 70-minute ride. It was too late to do anything; we were already in a very long queue to go into the tunnel.

There are two main ways to get to midtown from LaGuardia. The cabbie was taking the most direct way. However, Google maps showed me that had he taken the other route, it would have gotten us there in 30 minutes. I asked him if he was aware that an alternate route would have been much faster.

He responded by saying that he knew what he was doing and that this backup was unusual (I found out later that those lane closures happen every Sunday as construction works on the tunnel). I told him that if he would have taken the FDR route we would have gotten to the hotel 40 minutes quicker. I pressed more by asking why he doesn’t use GPS to check traffic. His response infuriated me.

Consequence of a Bad (or Good) Response

He said he never uses GPS because “those maps are unreliable and not accurate.” I couldn’t believe what he just said. I asked him to repeat it, and he did. He should have said something like, “you know, I really should use it for purposes like these. I often don’t think about it because I know how to get from point A to point B.” Such a response would have yielded a very friendly and understanding reaction. Instead he basically said he prefers less information to more.

I repeated several times how much his not using GPS cost me in time. What else was I to do as we sat and sat? His stubbornness to embrace technology basically ensured a miserable experience. Once we got out of the tunnel I gave him turn by turn instructions (per the map) to get me to the hotel as quickly as possible. Even though I was upset, I was generally cordial throughout the process – but I couldn’t stay quiet as he irrationally embraced ignorance.

Takeaways & The Need to Change

1) Don’t expect a cabbie to check for the best route. This isn’t a question of them knowing the route. This is a question of traffic. Check out the map on your phone and suggest the quickest route to the cabbie. They will do as you say; if you don’t say anything they will just take their “default” route.

2) It’s OK to admit we are wrong or could have done something better. If this guy had admitted his mistake, it would have been a non-issue with me. This often applies in other circumstances. Acknowledge the error and adjust to the better way going forward. If someone else corrected you, thank them for helping you improve your business/perspective.

3) Embrace change. Cabbies are losing because for decades they haven’t changed. Now they are playing catch up. Once we become reactionary, we are behind the ball. Find a way you can add more value to your business and start doing it today – not because clients are clamoring for it now, but because they will in the future.