Sunday, June 14, 2009

Random Thoughts: On Taxis and Mating Rituals

Taking a brief break from the travel posting to share my thoughts on something that I've experienced a few times now. One thing that my journeys have allowed me to do is to experience all kinds of modes of transportation including taxis, which are not typical for me, but sometimes you just need to catch a cab somewhere when public transport isn't available or amenable. This seems to be one area where Atlanta falls behind other major cities.

For example, Hubby and I took a cab from the airport to our hotel in Seattle when we arrived on May 29. The shuttle we'd planned to take said "no reservations necessary," but their desk had closed before our arrival, and we didn't have the exact change required to pay the driver directly. Admittedly, finding the taxis in the Seattle airport is a challenge, and luckily it was just the two of us because about 80% of them are small hybrid cars. The driver knew exactly where we were going, and even if he hadn't, he had a GPS in the car.

Contrast this with last night. Hubby and I went to watch a work friend of his play in an amateur league hockey championship in Duluth/Norcross/way the heck up I-85. We really enjoyed hanging out with them, and we were invited to continue the celebration of his team winning the trophy, which looks like the Stanley Collander, at East Andrews Cafe and Bar in Buckhead. We don't typically hang out at Buckhead hot spots, but Hubby convinced me it would be a good place to people-watch and observe the mating rituals of the single Atlantan (more on that later). We both wanted to drink, so we opted to do the responsible thing and take a cab. Hubby, not sure which companies come to Decatur, called Decatur's Best Taxi in spite of two previous negative experiences:

1) First trip to the Pacific Northwest, called a cab to go to the airport: We were cutting it close, as usual. The taxi driver picked us up and then pulled into the corner gas station to fill up. Yeah, we ended up running on to the plane in sock feet.

2) Going to a conference, I called a cab because I'd thrown out my back and didn't want to have to haul my luggage on MARTA. Hubby had a work conflict and couldn't take me to the airport. I called Decatur's Best and explained my situation. They sent a driver with some severe back issue such that he could hardly walk, much less help me with my suitcase, although he did try.

So the cab driver picked us up last night at our house, and he seemed completely bewildered when we told him where we wanted to go. Hubby ended up pulling out his Blackberry and using Google maps to give the guy directions as he drove. Nope, no GPS, and the dispatcher was equally clueless. The driver was somewhat apologetic and justified his lack of even knowing how to get to Buckhead with "I'm not familiar with that area because we don't usually leave Decatur." WTF? I guess Decatur's "Best" cab drivers only know how to go to the airport and haul drunk people back to the surrounding areas from downtown Decatur.

We arrived at the club at around 11:45 and met up with Hubby's friends. One of the first things I noticed was that the ratio of women to men was about 2:3. I used this to justify to Hubby why I got hit on a few times (yes, I was wearing my wedding and engagement rings), and he didn't. The second was the Buckhead going out uniform: mostly cute dresses for the girls and untucked polo shirts with pants or shorts for guys. The women sat at tables or on benches, talked to each other, and waited for the men to approach them. So much for our liberated times! The bartenders were good, although the first one I asked gave me a vodka tonic when I ordered an Absolut Stress. The crowd got thick at around 1:00-1:30, then thinned out again, for which I was grateful because I couldn't seem to find a good place to stand and observe without being in the way of the flow of foot traffic. Alas, the end of the evening came without anyone having fallen or gotten dunked in the fountain, although a few particularly inebriated ones came close.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening, and we did take a cab back, although not one of Decatur's Worst. We still had to give the guy directions because of lack of GPS and general knowledge of how the city is put together. Are my expectations of taxi drivers and/or companies too high?

1 comment:

Dan said...

And yet more reasons not to go to Buckhead...or more reasons why metro Atlanta's mass transit options suck!