This evening I had my usual free-ranging type of conversation with a cab driver whose cab I happened to be in the back of, and he mentioned his surprise that more people in London don’t just start talking to each other if there’s nothing better to do. This struck me as odd, and I pressed him for that most meaningful of analytical metrics – anecdotal statistics. He was of the firm belief that in the 10 years he’d been driving a taxi, about 10% of the punters chat with him, and the rest sit there silently and merely wait for him to take them where they’re going.
This seems unusual, as prior discussions I’ve had with cab drivers included finding out about The Knowledge, how much the driver would like to move to Australia, what’s happening that evening that’s interesting, and what the driver’s most frequently asked and least favourite bits of smalltalk were – unsurprisingly, The Knowledge, life in London, and what’s going on that evening that’s interesting. At the risk of boring them, I’d sooner discuss those things than sport, religion or politics with someone who spends all day in London traffic confined to a small perspex box.
So I guess what I’m wondering – given that 90% of the time I’ll find myself chatting with the cabbie – is would the 90%-of-punters-don’t-chat rule be accurate, or could it just be that the guy who made that claim isn’t much good at random light banter?