Taxi drivers complain about entertainers

TOKYO —

“Well of course there are some nice ones, but right from the get-go at this job, I found that a lot of entertainers look down on us taxi drivers. You hear them exchanging patter with their chums on television, putting us down or making fun of us, and that really burns me up.”

The speaker, a 46-year-old driver for a large taxi firm, pours out his resentment to Shukan Taishu (March 31).

“I never want to drive for W (only initials are used in this article), an entertainer who appears on variety shows and who also serves as a moderator on some news commentary programs,” he says. “That guy has a terrible attitude. After he gets in the car, he just says, ‘Hurry up, get moving!’ without even telling me where he wants to go. And if the traffic is heavy, he’ll say, ‘Why did you pick this street? Hurry up, dammit!’ All he does is complain, complain, complain—from the time he gets in until he gets out!”

Up-and-coming entertainers disdain use of public transport, and see regular use of taxis as something of a status symbol. That said, one would think that they would develop cordial, if not friendly, relationships with the drivers. But that would appear to be the exception rather than the rule.

“Last October, soccer commentator Masakiyo Maezono was arrested after he slapped a taxi driver in an argument over the fare,” an unnamed reporter for a nationally circulated daily tells the magazine. “Currently he’s still in limbo, work-wise. And back in 2005, kabuki actor Shichinosuke Nakamura was arrested for a similar offense. In the past, a driver suffered blunt force trauma to the head after being struck by actor Kazuya Kimura. It seems that once actors get drunk, it results in their shedding their humanity.”

Actresses aren’t much better.

“The other day, I was driving Ms M, a top actress, on her way back from rehearsal, and oh man…” says another driver, an eight-year veteran. “When I asked her where she wanted to go, she just snapped, ‘Take me to my place!’ and not knowing it, I replied ‘Sorry, but I don’t know where it is,’ and she became agitated and sullen.

“Up to that moment, I’d been kinda thrilled to be carrying somebody famous, but I sure regretted it at that point.”

Another famous actress, a certain Ms K, was known as a dedicated dog lover.

“She’d get in with several yapping mutts and let them hop and drool all over the back seat,” another unpleasant anecdote goes. “After she left the car, I noticed a smell and when I investigated, I found a dog turd that she’d popped into the pocket on the seat back.”

A 50-year-old owner-driver politely asked Mr U, a well-known musician, which route he wanted him to take to his destination.

“Don’t you know the roads in Tokyo, ‘omae?’” he replied. “How many years have you been a driver?” (Omae is a rather contemptuous form of “you.”) “Moron!” he shouted, lashing out with his foot, kicking the front seat several times.

Shukan Taishu piles it on with several more unhappy accounts of lapses in manners by members of the entertainment world. Such as Ms I, who’s well known in the gossip columns for having wed a man many years her junior.

“Hurry up! If I don’t get there by 5 p.m., I’ll get chewed out by the program host!” she screeched at her driver.

“When we got there a couple of minutes late, I was afraid she’d stomp off without paying. What a ****!” the driver mutters.

“It’s a sad fact that there’s a completely different side to the personalities of some of the famous individuals you see on TV,” says Ryoko Ozawa, a critic. “Whenever they pay money to someone, they assume a haughty attitude, and will harass people they feel are of lower status. I detest such people.

“By contrast, in past times, important politicians used to accord gracious treatment even to the lowly doormen in charge of footwear,” she notes.

You showbiz folks might benefit from some serious soul-searching, Shukan Taishu’s writer remarks.

  • 18

    sensei258

    Most taxi drivers are so polite (except for the one who queefed), and their cars are spotless.

  • 10

    Matthew Chad Oneil

    “Whenever they pay money to someone, they assume a haughty attitude, and will harass people they feel are of lower status:" That's indicative of the Japanese society as a whole, remember this is where the customer is king!

  • 16

    bfg4987

    That's indicative of the Japanese society as a whole, remember this is where the customer is king!

    People do kinda treat cashiers, etc. like dirt here. Like, they barely even acknowledge their existence.

    It's shocking to them when, after the transaction, I thank them. That's just common courtesy in the U.S.

  • 1

    dbsaiya

    You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the else are you talkin' to?

    For those who don't know it's DeNiro from Taxi Driver..

    Would be funny to see someone go postal on some of these arrogant good for nothings.

  • 3

    ratbert

    sensei258

    lol! I don't ride the taxis very often but seems like every time I do, the driver releases a silent one!

  • -1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    They must be under a lot of stress or something.

  • -2

    Hide Suzuki

    I don't know how much we should trust this article though, those weekly magazines tend to exaggerate pretty much everything they write about. And there is no way to verify their claims since there is no actual names except for the two of them that got arrested

  • 11

    borax

    So Japan's beloved geinoujin, pampered and showered with praise every moment of their lives once they make it big, are rude and filled with contempt for those in their service. What a shock.

  • 4

    jojon922

    Why is this not surpising ? Humility is not a natural human virtue. It takes a real character to rise above one's circumstances and maintain humility...

  • 12

    Amidalism

    You'd figure with all of the money that these people are making from being on every second show on TV that they would be able to hire their on chauffeurs. All the taxi drivers that I have encountered here over the years have been friendly ojiisans. Never had a problem once.

  • 11

    sighclops

    Not surprised in the slightest. "Talents" my arse...

  • 6

    therougou

    It's shocking to them when, after the transaction, I thank them.

    I say thank you just about every time I buy something and don't recall a shocked look. Not sure on your definition of shocked though.

    That's just common courtesy in the U.S.

    Unfortunately, in the U.S. you are supposed to thank the store and get treated like dirt when you are the customer. This is the one major thing I don't miss about the USA.

  • 9

    Mocheake

    Expecting a celebrity to be a nice person was the drivers' first mistake.

  • 6

    HongoTAFEinmate

    Unfortunately, the "entertainment industry" in Japan has a long and proud tradition of beating up taxi drivers. In 20+ years of living in Tokyo, I can think of Mr. M (the most odious of TV variety program comperes) who had a short hiatus back in the 90s for beating up a taxi driver over a fare of 1,200 yen. There was also the male anchor on NHK who disappeared from his Saturday morning news spot after spending a night in the cells for trying to strangle another driver with the chord of the in-car phone (in the days before mobiles). I also seem to recall a comedian who got on the wrong side of a taxi driver who stopped at the nearest taxi rank, the "home" rank of him and his fellow drivers from a certain well-known taxi company. The story goes that a couple of drivers dragged the comedian out of the care and taught him some manners. Maybe circa 1993?

  • 12

    AJHC78

    i don't see why only the initials should be used when making a complaint against a public figure. If these claims are true, those 'talents' should be fully exposed and put on a taxi black list. They don't deserve to get any special treatment just because of their TV time.

  • 13

    jpntdytmrow

    Some of the best conversations I have had in Japan were with taxi drivers. They give great social and economic commentaries! Some don't like to talk. But, in the recent snow storm, my hat goes off to them for their diligence in navigating dangerous roads to get people to their destinations safely (and hopefully off the icy roads!) Talento are way to full of themselves here.

  • -22

    bfg4987

    I say thank you just about every time I buy something and don't recall a shocked look. Not sure on your definition of shocked though.

    Do you say it in English?

    Unfortunately, in the U.S. you are supposed to thank the store and get treated like dirt when you are the customer.

    Ahhhh, gotcha, you're one of the (many) American expats who come here and just bash their own country all day and end up being intolerable conversation partners.

  • 10

    Jimizo

    These pathetic types exist everywhere. I was spoken to like a subordinate in my local izakaya by a salaryman who I'd never met and quickly told him that he wasn't my boss and I'd never heard of his company. I'm sure posters here have also read the snobbery towards what job people do on this forum. Sad, petty people who seem to forgotten the clichéd but true expressions that you respect people for doing a day's work and respect should be earned and commanded, not demanded.

  • 2

    SenseNotSoCommon

    You'd figure with all of the money that these people are making from being on every second show on TV that they would be able to hire their on chauffeurs

    They get a pittance, that's why they're on every second show.

  • -7

    Daniel Neagari

    bfg4987... I don't know if you really come for the U.S, or that is you may come from a parallel world U.S., because customers that say "thank you" as in really grateful for the service/attention they got in the US (of this universe) is as rare as golden coins buried in your backyard.

  • -9

    Alex Einz

    I fully support the comedians on this one! With the extremely rare exceptions most taxi drivers are extremely rude, drive badly , dont know directions or how to use and read their own gps and often also try and cheat to take a longer way if they see you dont know the way ( that is why the which way you want to take question)

  • 0

    quercetum

    The other day, I was driving Ms M, a top actress, on her way back from rehearsal, and oh man says another driver, an eight-year veteran

    I'm just curious...what is "and oh man" in Japanese?

  • 4

    USNinJapan2

    99% of the time I'm very satisfied by the courtesy, professionalism, and efficiency of Japanese taxi drivers and the cleanliness of their vehicles, but I did have a rare run-in with a newb driver of a major taxi company (not a kojin) last week. He was in the taxi cue at the Roppongi Hills Grand Hyatt and didn't know how to get from there to Harajuku. He didn't understand/recommend any of the street directions I told him and I basically had to direct him turn-by-turn the entire way. He didn't drive very well either. He was so bad that I don't see how he could have passed the Tokyo taxi driver exam and gotten hired by an established taxi company.

  • 2

    GalapagosnoGairaishu

    I'm just curious...what is "and oh man" in Japanese?

    I'd guess it's probably something close to いやあ、参りました。(Iyaaa, mairimashita.)

  • -3

    gokai_wo_maneku

    I thought this meand "entertainers".

  • -10

    Knox Harrington

    Celebs are no different from your average Japanese customer. Thay are all bad/unpolite/annoying.

  • 0

    hidingout

    With the extremely rare exceptions most taxi drivers are extremely rude, drive badly , dont know directions or how to use and read their own gps and often also try and cheat to take a longer way if they see you dont know the way.

    I agree with this. Taxi drivers complaining about the bad manners of other is like DPRK claiming Japan has a human rights problem.

    I can't count the number of times taxi drivers have attempted a circuitous route to the destination assuming that a gaijin wouldn't possibly know the way. When I ask "why aren't we taking such and such a street" they start in with a bunch of worthless apologies.

    There are some excellent drivers out there but in my experience they are few and far between. One can reduce the chance of landing in the car of a bad driver by taking note of the taxi company when you have a particularly good/bad experience. There are several companies that are imo consistently superior. I'd list the ones I think are good, but I don't know if that's allowed here.

    As for the "tarento" ... anyone expecting good manners from that lot is living in a dream world.

  • 2

    Skeeter27

    No surprise here...

  • 1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    Lived in Tokyo for many years... took hundreds of taxi rides... I never had one problem at all. To me, the people that think they're getting ripped off are generally people that just don't trust anyone anyhow. And generally the people that don't trust others... are not trustworthy themselves because they'd rip someone off if given the chance.

  • -2

    Strangerland

    To me, the people that think they're getting ripped off are generally people that just don't trust anyone anyhow. And generally the people that don't trust others... are not trustworthy themselves because they'd rip someone off if given the chance.

    Ridiculous. I'm trusting to a fault, but I've busted taxi drivers trying to take the wrong way around too many times to count. I find the people who don't think taxi drivers try to take the long way around are the type who aren't good enough with directions to know when the taxi driver has taken the long route.

  • 1

    Fadamor

    It's shocking to them when, after the transaction, I thank them. That's just common courtesy in the U.S.

    I don't know if it's "common courtesy". I think it's more like an automatic response given without thinking. I do it too, but what are we thanking them for? "Thank you for allowing me to give you my money?" This is similar to our habit of asking "How are you?" when we really aren't interested in their current health woes. It's a statement given without meaning.

  • 1

    Tahoochi

    bfg4987Mar. 18, 2014 - 07:15AM JST

    It's shocking to them when, after the transaction, I thank them. That's just common courtesy in the U.S.

    I'm gonna have to agree with therougou here; it seems to me that the US is the extreme opposite of Japan, where customers are sometimes more polite than the servers.... AND they expect 10-20% in tips!

    I agree that many Japanese customers take the service industry for granted, but at least the service industry is always courteous despite this. I have had one very bad experience with a taxi driver n Kyoto, compared to many in North America.

  • 10

    Wilke

    It seems that people in all countries dislike taxi drivers. Many project their own faults onto their taxi driver, however, and the result is the contempt they show and the contemptible behaviour they display towards the driver.

    I have driven taxis in one country, and have rode in taxis in many countries. In my experience, I have found the standard quality of taxi driver in Japan is much higher than in many - if not most - other countries.

    That Japanese taxi drivers manage to do so well in cities where most streets are nameless and properties aren't numbered in any logical manner is something that I find to be astounding. In my home city (in Australia), where all roads have names and the numbering system is that properties are numbered sequentially, you would consider yourself very lucky to have a booked taxi arrive to pick you up within 10 minutes of the booking time, and many drivers now (even with GPS systems) will get lost trying to find you. In Tokyo, I recall booking a taxi to take me from my accommodation in a nameless back street in Asakusa to Tokyo Station, and being told "the taxi will be there in eight minutes." The taxi arrived in exactly eight minutes.

    My wife and I earlier this year found ourselves questioning the professionalism of a taxi driver in Yonago. My wife, being a polite Nihonjin, didn't complain, but noted the divergent route that the driver took from the route to which she had been accustomed. However, after mentioning this to another driver, we learnt that at that time there had been major traffic disruptions on her normal route and that the first driver had taken the quickest alternative route.

    As for the entertainers who were quasi-mentioned in this article: their behaviour is not surprising. Nor is it acceptable.

  • 1

    hidingout

    To me, the people that think they're getting ripped off are generally people that just don't trust anyone anyhow. And generally the people that don't trust others... are not trustworthy themselves because they'd rip someone off if given the chance.

    To me, the people who don't think they're getting ripped off are naive, or as Stranger says, just clueless about directions.

  • 2

    Raymond Chuang

    This is more than just a Japan story--you see it on any taxi anywhere in the world. Indeed, I'm sure Japanese taxi drivers and especially the drivers of the famous London taxi cabs are trained specifically to deal with rowdy passengers.

    By definition, well-known celebrities can be really bad because they often have an entitled attitude and treat everyone else accordingly.

  • 2

    tamanegi

    This story makes me glad that I gave a local obachan picking up garbage in the neighborhood at 7am a big arigato and otsukaresamadesu!

  • 1

    Warauwww

    From my experience of how I treat people who in customer service, I have adopted a Japanese mentality to an extent. Rather than thanking the customer, I am subtle and just kind of bow my head to acknowledge that I have been helped. When I went to America for college, I was very annoyed when I would call for a taxi and I would wait 15-20 minutes longer than I was told, and being mad that it caused me to be late, it should only be expected that I was stern and hasty to be "rude" when I would often receive lapses in professionalism. In Japan however, I never had problems with the taxi drivers. They always know exactly where I want to go, always arrive on time, and only speak to me when I am the one to initiate the conversation. I know that these acts are committed not only Japanese celebrities but it is still quite unpleasant to hear.

  • 0

    gogogo

    Shows Japanese "talento" have no class or talent

  • -2

    mrkobayashi

    Shows Japanese "talento" have no class or talent

    Shows you base your opinions on Japanese gossip magazines.

  • -1

    dcog9065

    If they really are that bad, name them and shame them rather than just gossip with pseudonyms. Although, there are some incredibly terrible taxi drivers out there; revoltingly smelling, racist, plain rude, impatient, directionless, fraudulent.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    I agree they should name and shame them, but likely that would result in libel suits, and the 'tarento' would definitely win over a mere taxi driver! (part of the attitude).

    Anyway, last time I went home to Canada I took a taxi from the airport to downtown, asking specifically for a taxi that accepted credit cards because I didn't want to use up my free cash, though I planned to tip him using cash. When he saw I entered the exact amount of the fee when charging to my card (ie. he didn't see me holding out the bill for a tip, just the amount I entered), he mumbled, "I work all day and you guys always screw me over!". When he noticed the bill he was immediately apologetic, and I took no offense. The point is that while some people can be over-opinionative an jump the gun, I think I prefer a taxi-driver or somoene in a similar profession that voices their thoughts than someone who can't and then only complains anonymously later. I would applaud the driver who turned around at Mr. U after he kicked the seat and said, "Omae! Moron!", etc., and said, "Get the hell out of my cab and walk!"

    As it is, if they cannot speak back with the companies' support, the will be forever abused.

  • 3

    edwardw

    "Get out of my car" Enough said.

  • 2

    JTDanMan

    Ha ha ha. I'd like to see any those people try that crap in Osaka....

  • 1

    Thunderbird2

    “Well of course there are some nice ones, but right from the get-go at this job, I found that a lot of entertainers look down on us taxi drivers. You hear them exchanging patter with their chums on television, putting us down or making fun of us, and that really burns me up.”

    Can't translators just put it into standard English? I mean, what does get-go even mean? Does it mean "from the start"? If so, say it, don't try to make everyone sound like they come from California or something.

  • 0

    Steve Western

    In the US taking a longer route is called "Longboarding" and sadly is too prevalent. If a cab driver is native to the country it helps, in the US it's not very likely to find an native American behind the wheel. Indians, Pakistanis, Mexicans on the west coast, Russians and and Eastern Europeons on the east coast. We did say "Thank You" automatically, because our mothers were always telling us: "Say thank you" everytime we had anything to do with a non family member. Many times we do mean it. The worst ride I ever had was with a just off the boat Russian who took a 15 mile and three freeway drive to take me from the Baltimore airport to the train station a half mile away. It assured me he knew better than the simple directions I gave him. I felt badly for him, he was a proud man and hated to call in to dispatch to find out how to get back to the airport area. No, I didn't pay the $55 fare, I missed my train and had to wait 4 hours.

  • 1

    JTDanMan

    dcog9065

    :there are some incredibly terrible taxi drivers out there; revoltingly smelling, racist..."

    I suppose there must be. Still, I lived in Japan for nearly a decade. The only time I did not get decent service from a cab driver is when I got good, or great service.

    I score them the best in the world.

  • 0

    Equality

    I would feel sorrier for these taxi drivers if most of them didn't look so put off / forlorn when I get in their cabs. "Just my luck, a gaigin" is what their expression says. Even after greeting them and offering clear information/directions in Japanese, all I usually get is a begrudging, "Domo" (if anything at all) after paying the fare at the end. Their complaining about being looked down upon by entertainers is pretty hypocritical if you ask me.

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