On Friday, I got into a cab and told the driver where I wanted to go. She turned and tried to clarify, and we had a brief exchange upon which she understood and sped off. She occasionally asked which way to take, to which I responded, “I don’t know, whichever is faster.”
“Ah, Faster.” She avoided the traffic and took the express coastal route. She was unusually communicative about where we were going, in a pleasant way, and seemed to genuinely care that I got where I wanted to go. I managed to get home for a reasonable fare in a reasonable time. This is all you ever want from a cab.
I find this to be interesting not because it was perfectly reasonable, but because she was a woman. In all the countries I have visited, I have seen probably 2 women taxi drivers. This includes the news article I read on women driving cabs in Egypt prior to the revolution.
The woman I rode with on Friday had her hair was cropped short, she wore glasses and an ambiguous shirt, so I didn’t notice her gender until she turned around to clarify the direction. Maybe I shouldn’t have noticed. Is she purposefully androgynous because of her work? Or is it just a personal preference? Or both? What is it like to drive a cab? Is it different to drive a cab as a woman? I should have asked her, but then that would be a bit voyeuristic. We wouldn’t want that (she writes as she blogs).
I find myself instinctively thinking this is a feminist victory. Women should be able to break into any profession, including cab driving, and do it however they please. Maybe her dad drove a cab, and passed the trade on to her; maybe she dreamed of being a cab driver as a child; maybe she would rather do something else.
I don’t know this woman at all, but I hope she likes her job. I am at least pretty sure she gets paid the same as a man, because cab fare is fairly standard in this country. So I’m counting it as a win.