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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

People take cabs when they think they're important

Half a year in, haven't lost the shiver of pleasure that comes with telling cab driver, "Conde Nast building, please."
It would be unkind to mention the name of the person who tweeted this yesterday. There's nothing wrong with a young person being really excited that they've got a job on a New York fashion magazine. What's interesting is the reference to the cab, which the tweeter probably didn't even notice.

There are many legitimate reasons for taking a cab: to complete a journey difficult to make by public transport, to transport heavy packages or for safety late at night, for instance. (Obviously it can't be for convenience because in London cabs spend most of their times in traffic jams.) However the impulse that causes people to raise their arms to the noonday traffic and take a cab is the heart-pounding, almost erotic feeling that they are far too important to be transported any other way. The fact that their employers are happy to refund cab expenses in certain jobs confirms them in this feeling that their work is of an order that demands they be moved about separately from the rest of us, that they be not impeded in any way and that, wherever possible, they be given the solitude to think about their next move. They're about status, not transport.

During economic boom nobody bats an eyelid. It's different right now. If I took cabs for work I would be keeping pretty quiet about it at the moment. Spotlights are being shone hard on the running expenses of public bodies and the amount of money being splashed on cabs does rather stand out. If you've got a moment, just Google "taxi expenses" for a selection of eye openers. This is just one.