Modern taxis (mutter grumble...)
Back in my 20's and 30's, I could order a taxi to take me to and from a night out, confident in the knowledge that (a) the driver, when the taxi arrived, would know where it was that I wanted to go and (b) that they would know how to get there reasonably efficiently.
I'm getting close to 60 now, and taxi drivers have satnav to make life easier for them. And yet a good 50% of taxis seem to have no clue of where they are supposed to be taking me, and more like three quarters of them ask me which route to take.
I am not a driver. I never have been a driver, as after three attempts at the test, I gave it up as a bad job as I couldn;t afford the cost of more lessons and attempts, plus I'd also discovered that even the traffic back then made me nervous (probably my love of physics making me nervous of how many tons of metal I could see being chucked around carelessly by folk with too little sense of self-preservation).
What was the absolute worst though, was a few months ago when some kind of virus was affecting my throat, and I was finding it harder and harder to talk at all. I had the address of the emergency unit I needed to get to written down (it was the middle of the night, as is traditional for potentially serious odd ailments). I had explained this to the taxi controller, and also had it written on the piece of paper with teh address I needed to get to that I had lost my voice due to the virus. Yet STILL the driver asked me
'What route do you usually go?'
My pained smile started cracking. I shook my head and waved my hands to indicate that I had no idea.
'What, you don;t know?'
I shook my head again. Apparently this was a severe disappointment to the driver.
'Well, how am I supposed to know how to get there' he snorted, despite the satnav stuck to his windscreen.
At which point, he stopped and finally bothered to put the postcode of my destination into his satnav. And still took a good 15 minutes longer than I would have expected to get me to the emergency centre on roads that were nearly free of traffic. By the time we got there, I was starting to have a bit of trouble breathing. Suffice to say, I didn't feel the service rendered quite qualified for a tip, which earned me a disgusted glare.
OK, so that was the most extreme case I've encountered, but I recall another trip in which I had to tell the driver no less than five times that I don;t know the route, as I didn;t usually make the journey I was wishing to travel that day. To top it off, when we finally arrived at my destination he asked 'how much do you usually pay?' You may imagine my unfortunately irritable response.
SIgh. Give me old-school taxi-drivers any day. There's a lovely one on the other side of the city, near where I work, but they won;t pick up from where I actually live, more's the pity, as in my experience the good ones that know what they're about are a very rare breed indeed nowadays (I don't live in London, incidentally).
Fail, because with the added benefit of technology to help them get to places, most modern taxi-drivers actually manage to give a worse service than they did 20-30 years ago.