When silence is golden

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Drivers of London's black cabs are famous for their skills as talkers, a trait that delights some passengers but annoys others. Now new recruits to the job could be given training in another skill: knowing when to zip it. The World's Alex Collins has more.

MARCO WERMAN: Cab drivers in London have found themselves the focus of much attention this week. The city's top taxi regulators suggested the cabbies could use some lessons in consumer service. The regulators said London cabbies are among the great characters you meet in the city but perhaps, he said, they could do better when it comes to knowing when to keep their mouths' shut. London cabbies are indeed known for their verbal prowess so not surprisingly, the regulators' comments set off a round of discussion among Londoners for or against the drivers' gift of gab. The World's Alex Collins met up with a London tax driver to see what he thought of all the fuss.

ALEX COLLINS: What's your name?

RON: Ron.

COLLINS: How long you been a cabbie for?

RON: Oh, 30, 36 years.

COLLINS: And you're a blabberer?

RON: Oh blimey, I love good blabby, yeah. Some people don't want to speak to you, some do. Some don't want to speak until they close the window on you. Or you look in the mirror and one minute they're talking, the next minute they're reading something off a bit of paper so you realize and that gives you the inkling they don't want to speak to you.

COLLINS: I was going to say, do you sort of work out when to sort of keep your mouth shut?

RON: Well, I try to make conversation with people. You know, the job's boring enough as it is but it's nice to speak to people. One of my biggest problems is that I talk about politics which is probably one of the worst things you could ever speak about.

COLLINS: Have you ever had an encounter where someone said to you could you please shut up?

RON: Well, when people start talking about certain things and they dislike it, especially what side of the politics you're on because if you start talking about your part, your user poll, they don't like and they support labor, I've had them sling the money on the floor. They don't give it to you. They actually sling it in front on the carpet.

COLLINS: So you're keeping out your personal opinions about politics?

RON: Yeah, I guess I do. I don't [INDISCERNIBLE] anything, you know I speak as I find people.

COLLINS: Well but isn't that a bit unprofessional though?

RON: Well not really. No, I don't think so. I mean if you can't have a conversation about something without getting into a battle with somebody I mean ?

COLLINS: So have you actually had any [PH] barney's with any of the ?

RON: I've had a few disputes with people, yeah.

COLLINS: About what then, other than politics?

RON: I got one about the road works in London. They drive me insane. You know, day after day, after day. Some people say well you're having a bad day driving and I said because I'm having a bad day, so would you if you were driving around this 12 hours a day, you've be having a bad day as well, wouldn't you? Blimey, I tell you if you had some of the people [INDISCERNIBLE] you know, I rant on about certain things, people get in, they're spoutin' all their life story, tell you all their life, especially women, tell you their life story, sitting in tears in the back of the cab. I think dear, oh dear, what have I got here?

WERMAN: That was Ron, a talkative London based cabbie since 1974. He spoke with the World's Alex Collins.


WERMAN: The day's top stories are coming up on PRI.