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'Get outta ze cab!'

By Simon Busch, CNN
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Wed August 21, 2013
Rudest taxi drivers on the planet? Let's give that one a Gallic shrug.
Rudest taxi drivers on the planet? Let's give that one a Gallic shrug.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Study names French world's rudest taxi drivers
  • All study survey subjects were British
  • New York cabbies are entertaining storytellers
  • A London black cab driver tells all

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(CNN) -- Who hasn't left a strange airport wondering not just whether you should be in this taxi but whether it even is one -- only to be charmed, amused or unexpectedly edified by the person behind the wheel.

Or, it's true, bored to death, humiliated or even ripped off.

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Now an online booking service called Airporttransfers has released a survey of 2,162 recent British vacationers, asking them to name the meanest, nastiest, take-the-longest-route-and-still-expect-a-tip taxi drivers on the planet.

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And get outta ze cab! It's the French.

But -- and here we perform some fabulously expressive gesticulation whose meaning is "leave my hired vehicle immediately" -- it's also the Italians.

That's right: the two European nations have drawn up level at the traffic lights and been judged equally rude.

But for every offensive action, there's an equal and opposite reaction -- which brings us to Greece.

Some of its taxi drivers, those on the island of Rhodes, were judged among the friendliest on the planet.

The news comes on the heels of findings that people on another Greek isle, Ikaria, are among those with the longest life expectancy on Earth.

Diet has a lot to do with it, but so, too, does a famously laid-back attitude -- something that might have infected the Rhodes cabbies.

But what about those British vacationers?

Could it be that their collective offense-taking at the cab driving Jean-Pierres and Patrizias of this world comes from the famous reluctance of the French and Italians to speak English just because the British do?

NYC cabbies -- let them tell you a story.
NYC cabbies -- let them tell you a story.

Rides worldwide

To broaden the field a bit, what do non-Brits think of cab drivers worldwide?

Asking around our well traveled staff produced some passionate responses.

Tokyo cabbies wear suits, white gloves and put doilies and plastic covers on all upholstery.

Nice.

But they're easily inflamed.

"Don't touch the door!" warns one editor. "That's for the driver to operate in your first moment of ultra-impressive service."

"Hong Kong taxi drivers can be mean and whiny if you're not going far or stuck in a lucrative traffic jam," says associate producer (and local) Maggie Wong.

"And, as second-jobbing small businessmen, they all have multiple mobile phones on the dash, so forget about small talk."

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Top storytellers

Next to London's beetle-shaped black cruisers, New York yellow cabs must be the most recognizable in the world. You'd expect New York cabbies to be sassy -- but rude?

"Are you rude to them?" parries Payal Dixit, an Upper West Side NYC resident in her early thirties.

"I've found that New York cab drivers are some of the best storytellers -- a simple 'hello' can get them going.

"Some don't want to be bothered, but most enjoy sharing their adventures, whether it be about celebrity passengers or their lives in a foreign country you dream of visiting."

Now, we bet he\'d have reason to be cranky ...
Now, we bet he'd have reason to be cranky ...

View from the front

Dixit raises a good point. What's the view from the front seat?

"You know, 99% of people are as nice as pie," says Steve McNamara, general secretary of the British Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, himself behind the wheel of a London cab for 30 years. (Another, global survey, it should be said, has consistently rated London's legendary black taxis the best in the world.)

"Cab driving restores your faith in humanity. It can be trying when people say, 'I'm staying at the hotel with the green door.' Don't you know there are 8,000 hotels in London?

"And you get obnoxious people who've been drinking -- but that's not as common as you might think.

"The 1% -- the loonies -- can be right wing, left wing, Christian or Muslim. Drivers always say, put 'em all together in an island in the Atlantic!"

Pull up here

We're getting out here.

In the comments section, share your stories of being charmed, amused or unexpectedly edified by the person by the wheel.

Or bored to death, humiliated or even ripped off.

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