Main | Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Etiquette Of Upstreaming

Upstreaming is the tactic of walking past the person who has been waiting for a cab longer than you have. It's also the cause of a lot of late night street fights. But according to one etiquette expert, upstreaming is sometimes permissible. From Henry Alford's new book:
That New Yorkers cut in lines and steal cabs is not, on the whole, news to foreigners, many of whom face such chicanery in their own countries. But what did strike them as interesting was my assertion that if they ever need a cab, they will need to be willing to steal one from someone else. A German woman who was visiting her daughter in New York responded: “Oh, so it is a game of dirty poker that you play!” To wit, it 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. “But they might walk up there and see you!” the German woman told me. “Yes,” I said. “But the trained assassin is both methodical and efficient.”

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