I needed to make a quick trip to Boston for a few days. Not very familiar with the city, I did a little research-homework before I went.
After choosing my hotel, I used Google ‘street view’ and took a virtual walk around the hotel neighborhood to get my bearings.
This turned out to be amazingly important when I was lucky enough to get in the cab of someone who seemed less familiar with the city than I was (and I didn’t know much.)
I gave him the address and he just sat there. I thought he could use a little encouragement, so I started naming metro stations and other landmarks that he might recognize near the hotel.
“Ohhhhhh,” he (eventually) said, (long pause) “O.K. We’ll go and figure it out when we get there.” Hmmmm. This didn’t sound good.As we left the airport area it became more evident that my personal “uh oh” radar was correct. He truly was completely baffled (was it his first day?) about where I needed to go. Really. He had no idea. No clue. He got me within a mile or so, pulled over and asked me ….. “here?”
ARGH! Fortunately our smart phones can save us from this kind of predicament (but shouldn’t have to).
From the back seat of the cab, I opened my google map app, and tapped on the little arrow so I could see my personal blue dot (the cab). I followed our progress on the map on my phone, as my driver worked his way toward my destination (with my help and direction).
As we got close to my accommodation, I began to “recognize” buildings and landmarks, and was able to point out my drop-off spot to my cab-driver. Thanks to my time spent with Google street view, I felt as though I was in a familiar neighborhood.
(You’d think the cab would be equipped with a good GPS, but I didn’t see one. And if you are going to equip your cabs with clueless drivers, a GPS is imperative.)
A little yelp-looking showed me that I am not unique in my Boston-cab experience (my return to the airport was also fraught with troubles).
And so this brings me to part 2 of my rant: Why must this be our norm?I don’t think this would have happened in London. I just finished watching a lovely little story (courtesy of the London Olympics) about the cabs in London. Those cab drivers have pride in their work. They spend four years studying the streets, learning the roads, the byways and the highways, the landmarks and the hotels, the restaurants and the hospitals, the obscure and the popular. They are polite, informed ambassadors who represent their city and are for many the very first impression of the city.
I have been fortunate in my life to have visited London 4 times. My cab experiences each time reflect the professionalism that was presented in that little news story.
London cab drivers made me feel welcome, cared for, and confident. They answered (invited!) every question.
Boston cab drivers made me feel vulnerable and uneasy. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the city, the cab experience was a detracting factor.
And I really don’t mean to pick on Boston. Cab experiences in NYC and other US cities have never, ever been especially pleasant.
So that’s my Rant. Perhaps others have had better experiences in Boston et al, and I’m sure there have been some rotten experiences in London. But for me the difference was dramatic.
I cheer and applaude my Rescue. Thanks to Google Map street view, and the handy dandy blue dot of our iPhone maps, I arrived at my destination in spite of my cab driver.
Truly, in today’s world, “Lost” should only be a TV show, and never ever be a predicament, again.