Taxi Tales:

Repetition, repetition, repetition

By Louie de Palma
Reader Road Warrior

Universal Fact number 784: People love repetition and complete lack of differentiation. People enjoy eating the same foods every day, watching the same commercials over and over again and doing the same work over and over again until they die.

That’s what people say, anyway. Personally, I think they’re full of crap. Repetition is the villain of variety, and variety is the hero of humdrum days.

Every job has its quirks. And the little things that happen to the person doing that job make them tick. Take your average Safeway cashier checker. They all appear to hate their job, and I get it. The other day standing in line, I was about to start screaming at people to watch the prompt screen after the cashier prodded them through checkout for the the third time. “Member number? Don’t know it? How about a telephone number? Sure, try your aunt’s member number. Great. Now credit or debit? Great. Credit? Hit cancel then. Re-enter member number. Great. Cash back? Hit no. Thanks for coming in Mr…. Run-o’-the-mill-geriatric.”

Bartenders get asked if there’s booze in the drinks. Servers get asked 1,000 times a day about gluten-free BS and pretend to go ask the cooks, only to come back with a made-up answer. Don’t be offended—it’s just because most of them have BS allergies. Since you don’t really have a gluten allergy, you probably never noticed. Then there’s my line of work, where I get asked what I think about Uber or how many people have puked in my cab. So once and for all, let’s clear this up.

What do I think about Uber and the Google cars? I don’t. Uber doesn’t exist here. I use it when I’m in bigger towns and need to. I think it’s a great system. Personally, I think they need to hold Uber responsible to the strict regulations the real taxi companies have to adhere to, or they need to loosen their regulations on taxi companies. Even the playing field. But it has little to do with anything I do here in our small town at this point, and I hope to sell this business before the robots take over. Really, it’s pretty offensive that people ask in the first place. I don’t go into your work and ask you about how you’re going to be obsolete. I don’t ask yoga instructors what they think about DVDs.  You wouldn’t approach a suicide bomber to pick his brain on his opinions about rocket launchers, would you? That’s because these people are connoisseurs of their craft. They know their trade, and they make it unique. Our taxi is an artisanal craft taxi that caters to a local needs and small town camaraderie. We’re also gluten-free.

Uber doesn’t know where you live by heart or carry you into your house. We will. Uber won’t bail you out of jail or pick up that grandma you forgot, grocery shop for you, watch your baby while you go in the store, hide your affair or call adult protective services on you for not taking care of yourself. We do all these things with pride because weren’t not Uber, or robots. On the other hand, if you ask me the same thing over and over, I probably will power off.

How many people have puked? Five. The answer is five. Whoever puked last time in the very back and didn’t even mention it—there’s a special place in hell for you. I hope it’s as a cashier for a hellish Safeway, where your card swiper machine asks too many questions and none of customers can stay focused or follow the prompts.

Universal fact number 785: The automated checkout robot has a higher tolerance for people’s BS. It has no problem repeating itself. And it has an almost human, pleasant voice, just like a human checker.

I guess the robots are already winning.

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