Ethics

For the week ending 20 September 2003 / 23 Elul 5763

The Cab-Bus World War

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: As one who avoids intercity travel with my own car because of the parking problem in my place of work I regularly get to my destination either by bus or taxi depending on how much of a rush I am in. This gives me an opportunity to share in the frustration of the driver of the bus I am on when a cab stubbornly obstructs his path to pick up or discharge his passenger. But I am sometimes that very passenger! What is the right thing for me to do in such a situation?

Answer: A cabbie friend of mine once compared the perpetual battle between drivers like himself and the busmen to the historic struggle in the "old west" between the cattlemen and the homesteaders. Each side is absolutely convinced that justice is on his side and blames the other for "thinking he owns the street".

Without actually taking sides in this "world war" (although it would seem that if traffic laws accord a public vehicle the right of way this should extend to giving priority to the bus as well) in which tempers flare, there is no reason for you to be an accomplice to a cabbies inconsiderate action. If you are hailing a cab and he stops for you smack in front of a bus, just signal to him to pull over to a spot which will not obstruct the route of the bus. The same procedure should be followed when the cabbie stops in front of a bus to let you out. Politely tell him that you wish him to drive over to a spot where your disembarking will not be at the expense of the bus driver and his passengers.

In both cases your cabbie may get upset at your telling him how to run his business. Remember, however, that you are the paying customer and have a right to make such demands. You may also be losing a minute of your precious time by insisting on such consideration. But isnt it worth sacrificing a minute of your time to save a minute for dozens of passengers on the bus behind you especially since you know how they feel from your own experience as a bus rider?

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