The Cab Drivers of Portland Oregon

a lesson on how to take your job and love it

How you feel about what you do comes across in the quality of your work and the perception that your customers have of your service or product. Even if what you are doing right now isn’t your dream job, become exceptional at what you do and your dream job can’t be too far behind.

What has inspired this post? Cab drivers, but not just any cab driver. If I was wearing a hat, I’d take it off to the cab drivers of Portland, Oregon. My taxi experiences, while not many, usually consist of getting into the back of a cab and staring silently out the window while the city passes me by. The conversation with the driver includes only the bare minimum – where I’m going, how much it’ll cost, and how long will it take. Occasionally they’ll point out some interesting landmarks, but not often.

But then, in less than 12 hours I get into two different cabs in Portland, and was blown away by the personalities of the drivers. Gone was the dread of awkward silences and feeling like I (the customer of all people!) was inconveniencing the driver when I only had a short distance to go.

In terms of business, here are the actions that the first cab driver took which exuded professionalism, individualism, and courtesy all in less than 5 minutes.

* The driver actually got off her phone, mentioning to whomever that she will call back in a few minutes when she would be free.
* She was playing music that reflected who she was, which provided us the opportunity to talk to her about her profession and find out more about the person who is providing us with this service.
* When we apologized for the short drive, she genuinely made us feel like we shouldn’t be apologizing.

In short, I felt comfortable for the first time in a cab. And then I met my second cab driver of Portland. What really made an impact with me was when he asked if I had had the time to see the city during my visit. When I mentioned that honestly, not really, he gives me options! I had a choice to fly by on the expressway to get to the airport (quickest time) or he’d take me through the back roads to see more of Portland. I opted for seeing the sights. In under 20 minutes, this is what I learned of Portland.

* Mount St. Helens is not so very far away, and erupted not so long ago. However, there are also two other dormant volcanoes in the area which have the potential to erupt any day.
* The state has actually dug out part of one of those volcanoes to make walking and sight-seeing paths, despite the fact that the volcano has religious significance to natives of the area.
* The transit system is changing in one area, and the kinks haven’t quite worked themselves out yet.
* There used to be a very strong German presence in Portland, but that all changed with World War 2.
* Le Pigeon is perhaps one of the most interesting restaurants to visit (which means I’ll have to go back to Portland)
* The Americans used to sell what they thought were used-up mines to the Chinese, but then became quite upset and violent when it turned out there was still gold in the hills.

And I could keep going on! While maybe these facts aren’t all entirely accurate, they certainly were engaging to hear. To this driver, his job description wasn’t merely driving from point A to point B. He was genuinely interested in his work environment, and was enthusiastic to share that with the people he encountered. As a customer, I was excited to be a part of that environment and am also excited to go back and visit.

The beauty of my experiences is that they are not limited to the sphere of cab drivers. Everyone has the ability to take their job and love it. Seek out opportunities to stand separate from mediocre. How can you do this, regardless of your profession?

  1. Know the history of your business and become passionate about it
  2. Learn about your work environment, and how it impacts your customer experience
  3. Bring energy, enthusiasm and interest to your role
  4. Pass Steps 1-3 on to your customers

Make your job everything you want it to be.