Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The wisdom of discretion for a cab driver

A discreet cab driver could win the trust, and the business, of his community, Harris says.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KIERAN TAYLOR:
I'd imagine just driving a taxi that you kind of, I mean you must've known everybody's business just I mean you must've really sort of had your finger on the pulse of this street.
JOHN HARRIS:
Well, that's, I guess that's part of what goes with the territory of driving a cab. And you're right. You know certain things. Now if you, you could develop a reputation. If you were a talking cab driver, you didn't get, everybody knew it. So they never, anybody that was going to use a cab on a regular basis, they're not going to call you because you talk too much. So if you were able, if you could build a reputation of not being of seeing and not seeing and seeing and not talking, you became respected for that.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So in a sense you're a priest, an attorney—
JOHN HARRIS:
That's exactly it. That's exactly it. Because people get in your cab and they'll tell you things that just like is what they would tell their priest. You could either, you could either accept it and just say well, or you could discuss it. If you're smart you don't discuss other folk's business.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
What about even with your wife or family. Would you ever bring stories home?
JOHN HARRIS:
No. No. Well, sometimes you would, but most people, you don't talk about the misfortunes or fortunes of people. Well, everybody likes to talk about the fortunes of people, but sometimes you sort of just learn to not to discuss the misfortunes of people.