Driving a taxi in one of America’s urban jungles is back-breaking work with little reward. The hours are long, most of them spent sitting or schlepping 50-pound suitcases to the trunk. The pay can be awful; if a driver doesn’t make enough in a night to cover the lease of the taxi medallion and gas, he or she might go home with $0—or, worse, owe the taxi company money. And then, on top of all that, there are the people: us. The taxi universe is the service industry on steroids, with drivers encountering the spectrum of humanity, sometimes behaving its worst.
This isn’t to say cab drivers are perfect. As in any industry, there are bound to be a few shady characters who overcharge customers, keep a messy car, or just behave rudely. But most of them are trying to do right by their customers and their families, says Emir Ayed, a 12-year veteran driver in Greater Boston. We asked him to share some of the rider habits that he and his fellow cabbies experience almost daily—faux pas that range from the annoying to the mean and dangerous.