I started off the week thinking there were a lot of similarities between Boston and Chicago cabbies. In particular, on my way to the airport in Boston I rode in a cab with a credit card reader installed. But when I got to the airport and asked to use a credit card, the cabbie made up an excuse about the credit card reader not working. I think he was just trying to avoid having to pay the fee that the credit card processor charges.
When I landed in Chicago I took a cab from O’Hare to my downtown hotel. When we pulled up I asked to use a credit card –this guy had a credit card reader, too. But guess what, he claimed his wasn’t working either.
So I had a bit of a surprise this afternoon when I took a cab back to O’Hare with a couple of other guys. One of my colleagues sat up front, and before we even got started the driver said to the front seat passenger, “Please put on your seatbelt.” The passenger was shocked, as was I, but in a good way.
I’ve never seen that before. In fact, in Boston I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cab driver even wear a seatbelt! One difference is that unlike Massachusetts, Illinois has a primary seatbelt law, meaning the cops can pull a driver over just for not wearing a seatbelt. It doesn’t have to be connected with any other violation. Primary enforcement laws help boost seatbelt use. In fact, Massachusetts has the lowest rate of seatbelt use in the whole country.
Still, I wonder how our driver got into the habit of asking customers to buckle up.May 15, 2009