This story seeped into my subconscious as I was alternately napping and listening to the Rachel Maddow Show and it stuck with me. To celebrate the centennial of W.H. Auden the city of York, birthplace of the poet, has been training cab drivers to memorize and recite portions of his work for passengers. Said one cabbie:
“As taxi drivers, we are often the first port of call for visitors to York so it’s good that we can give them a taste of what cultural York can offer – and I’m looking forward to putting my new performance skills into practice.”
Ye gods. I shudder to think if that were happening here in New York. I have a hard enough time decoding the cryptic utterings of cab drivers, and don’t really appreciate unsolicited advice or conversation from my cabbie. I just want to stare out the window and savor the fact that I’m not walking or taking the subway, not be subjected to randomly selected snippets of poesy, hastily committed to memory by Abdul or Akbar or Fred while he’s sipping his twelfth cup of coffee. I’ve already had my fair share of talkative hacks, all too eager to debate politics, offer their best beef stew recipe, or confess their homosexual experimentation with a cousin back in India.
I’m content with letting our cab drivers natter away on their cell phones. Skip the poetry and just drop me off at the corner, ‘kay?