A few months ago, motivated by an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, we tackled the age-old debate over upstreaming a fellow cab-hailer. How much distance should you give the person behind you before attempting to flag down a taxi? That turned out to be a question so complex, even top officials at the TLC gave us drastically different answers. In a new book on manners, writer Henry Alford offers his take on the dilemma:
[I]t is my belief that if indeed you are in great need of a cab — you’re late for an appointment, or it is raining, or it is two in the morning and you are standing on a dicey part of Flatbush — then it is permissible to walk upstream of another party that is also hailing a cab, as long as you walk far enough upstream that that party cannot see you. Well, at least not glare at you.
While we appreciate the effort, Alford’s guidelines are simply too vague. If someone can see you, aren’t they capable of glaring at you, too? Or do you have to be far enough away that, if you turned around, you couldn’t tell that the person was glaring? What if it’s an old person with bad eyesight — is an etiquette expert really telling us that we should more readily screw over an elderly lady than a young man with 20/15 vision? As far as we’re concerned, this solves nothing.