Recently, a young man and woman hailed a cab from me in front of a bar on Twelfth Street in the East Village at 3:00am. They were going over the East River to their trendy neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After just a few minutes of hearing their profane and lewd conversation, I realized they were “Oh-No’s;” the worst of my four categories of passengers—loud, lots of cursing and filth. In order to drown them out, I turned up the volume on my cell phone as I was listening to the Catholic Radio station. When we arrived at their apartment the woman said to her companion, “The cabbie heard all this.” Then she said to me, “Driver, I’ll bet you’ve heard it all? What do you think of these conversations?”
She totally surprised me; it’s very rare when someone asks me a question like that. I paused for a second and thought I’ll tell her the truth, but with charity and said, “Well, it makes me grateful for my Catholic faith. Most of these people are so lost and so miserable.” Not realizing I was talking about them, they both nodded and smiled and the gentleman handed me a five dollar tip. I thought Boy, this honesty stuff really pays off!
My other three categories for passengers are the Ughs, the Quiets, and the Likes. The Ughs carry on loud and animated conversations among themselves or on their cell phones. These are the two types that are most likely to give the driver a hard time, to be overly bossy, to get mad and start an argument, or refuse to pay.
The Quiets, as the name implies, keep to themselves either in silence or in polite conversation. The Likes are the ones who love to talk to the driver. Even if we disagree on things, it is better to be conversing with someone and giving them the Catholic point of view of things than to ride two feet away from someone for twenty minutes without speaking. They are our bread and butter, the ones we might steer towards Jesus and his Church, who will then steer them towards heaven.
You have probably encountered these types in the market place, at work, with customers, with neighbors, in a waiting room or at school. Out of utter desperation in dealing with the Ughs and the Oh-No’s I have found a few things that work. I am certainly not an expert, just a six year convert. I am so grateful to the Church for giving me these ideas. I can’t imagine getting by any other way. You must have things that work for you in similar situations and we welcome your comments.
Holy Water. A little Holy Water sprinkled inside the cab at the start of the shift accompanied by a short prayer for protection and the conversion of souls can put me in the right frame of mind. I knew a woman who went to work early to sprinkle it around her office. You can put a few drops around your home, too.
Blessing. Playing some Gregorian chant and blessing the people of the city is a good way to start. Pulling up beside a local church and asking for blessings is good. Once, one of our drivers pulled up next to me and asked me what I was doing? I told him and he pulled his cab up to the curb for a moment, too.
Dealing with Passengers
Gratitude. Greeting customers with the words “thank you” can set them at ease and reduce tensions. I have seen scowls and grimaces come off faces with these words. It is also a very honest expression, because I am thankful for every passenger, even the noisy ones.
Catholic Broadcasting and Downloads. There are tons of Catholic TV and radio broadcasts that you can access on your mobile device or computer at EWTN.com and EWTN.com/radio/. These and many other websites have mountains of Scripture, prayers and other resources that you can have radiating into your earpiece and your soul during difficult situations, such as with Ughs and Oh-No’s. We can also offer it up to our Lord for someone we know who is distressed. With the noisiest passengers, I find myself softly saying an Our Father or Hail Mary to myself just to keep from going bonkers.
Apology. If I drive past their building or miss a turn I quickly say “Sorry.” It can diffuse a lot of potential anger. Even if it’s not my fault, I still apologize.
Humor. I feel very fortunate that I often see the funny side of things. If anyone gets me talking, they are going to hear a joke or two. I have also found another benefit of humor: it’s hard to get mad at someone who just made you laugh.
Forgiveness. Quickly forgiving any slights, or rudeness or brusqueness is vital for peace of mind. Trying to not respond with anger is a real challenge, because I tend to have a temper. The times when I have gotten mad and yelled at people left me still stewing for hours later. A response to hostility of “God bless you” really frees me from that bondage of vengeance.
Blessing. Saying “God bless you” is a nice way to end any trip, even the most difficult. I regret the few times I have not said it out of sulky anger. Those might have been the times that benefited the other person and myself the most. Our Lord and Saint Stephen blessed those who were killing them. Couldn’t I overlook a lousy tip or a slight or a ridicule?
Prayer. Sometimes, I grudgingly admit that the Lord has given me the perfect job. Where else would you put someone who is impatient and has a temper except driving right in the middle of New York City where there are twelve thousand stop lights, where he can take a full minute for prayer and reflection throughout the long night? I guess I have to keep doing this until I get it right; staying peaceful and charitable, spreading the Good News about our Lord throughout my shift.
New York is a city with an abundance of Ughs and Oh-No’s and not too many Likes or Quiets. A city much like ancient Rome and Corinth, and yes, even Calvary.
© 2014. Jamey Brown. All rights served.