We just came back from on overseas trip. A short spur of the moment, ‘let’s jump while we are young’ type decision. Our trip to Vanuatu truly hasn’t left our minds too. However, this isn’t a travel post. It is about whether sitting in the back-seat vs the front-seat of a taxi or Uber is the ‘right’ thing to do.
While on the plane, our seats had those awesome little screens in the back of the chairs. Qantas has created a pretty impressive new video for when the crew go through the safety rundown before takeoff. Geoff and I both looked at each other and did the “mmm, good one” facial expression. Hard to describe, but you would all know it if you saw it. I couldn’t help myself, here it is with our exact thoughts:
At one point in this video, a lady is climbing into the taxi, in the front seat, and the taxi driver turns to her and says “You must be Australian”. To which she chuckles at this and says, “but how do you know?”. Well, you get the point, because she chose to sit in the front seat.
This stuck with me and made me start wondering about all this business. I also remember hearing about a ‘respected trait’ of another lady being that she ‘always sat in the front of a taxi’.
If you’re like me, I hadn’t thought very much about it to be honest. I grew up thinking that as a passenger my seat was in the back. In groups of four, the last seat taken would be the front seat, only out of necessity. I remember hearing in South Africa when I was younger, that if you climbed into the front seat of a taxi, you were being suggestive. I think this is particular for women. So when I got back home, I thought to do a bit of Googling and see where it would lead me. As mentioned before, I’m not the only one. Google never fails to reassure me that I am not a weirdo for wanting to know some answers. For instance, like why the emergency lights on police cars/ambulances are red and blue. Do you know?
What I have discovered in some quick scrolling was no official manual or list of instructions that you find on government websites. Of course, there is a whole new set of rules too with Uber and Lyft adding to the mix of options on how to get home. However, what I did find was various opinions on the matter. Some depending on where you live, others on your gender. There were some that depended on whether you are extroverted or introverted, snobby or polite.
This website shared some of the thoughts I had heard already, that women preferred to sit in the back seat, especially when alone, for safety reasons. It also mentioned that generally men preferred to sit beside their driver in Australia. This was mentioned on another group chat that they thought it was due to masochist behaviour, though I’m not entirely sure I understand this one. This response on a reddit chat to whether they chose front or back seat, cannot be argued with:
” Front seat, living in the tropical part of Australia, you’d be an idiot if you didn’t sit in the closest positioning to the air-conditioning vents.”
Followed by a lady, who basically said she didn’t understand why the driver would want their space invaded. She was quite straightforward in saying, it’s not about being snobby, it’s just professional, as she didn’t sit in the front of a train/tram/bus/ferry/or plane either. Valid point.
That last point about it being a class thing was something that was sitting with me the most. I hated the idea that I had given the impression that the much appreciated taxi and Uber drivers that have taken me home have somehow been left with the idea that I thought I was above them. Without them, it would have been painfully far to walk!
Interestingly, there were a few drivers themselves that had commented on some of these questions and posts. Alec Smith, stated that he preferred if passengers sat in the back of his car. He says he is simply not as naturally friendly as other people (his words). In London, apparently the traditional taxi has no seat next to the driver. This space was reserved for the passenger’s luggage. The same London taxi driver that was mentioning this, said that everything was actually more convenient if the passenger sat directly behind the driver. Better for communicating through the fitted intercom, and easier for the driver to make eye contact. This also prevents them having to take their eyes off the road for longer.
A few others mentioned, Geoff included, that perhaps it just depended on the particular day. If it’s an early Uber ride to the airport, maybe a quick nap in the back is essential. Perhaps you’ve had a long day at work and don’t feel like more talking. When you’ve had a stellar night out, and are more extroverted, you might want to chew the fat with your accommodating driver. All of these basically just depending on the time, the occasion, and the personality of both the passenger and the driver. We have had a great discussion with someone that drove us home from the city, all from the back seat. So no conversation was killed there!
Lastly, Lifehacker shares a few tips on some appropriate behaviour. Apparently, if you have a dog, then it is more polite to get in the back. This ensures the driver’s ears are not licked and you ride off the road. Why in the world are you ride-sharing with your pet though? Take the poor dog for a walk!
So, as you can see, a variety of opinions. Hope you found it as enlightening as me!