As a life-long New Yorker (except for one year in San Francisco and two in Boston) I've learned you can learn a lot from cab drivers.
I'm not talking about finding an alternate to the Van Wyck for getting home from JFK (the Belt to the BQE to the Queensboro) I'm talking about what you can learn from literally the first few moments you get into their car.
"I'm going to 83rd and York," I say in a clear voice like a bell.
"86th and Park?"
I repeat myself.
"I'll go up 10th Avenue."
"No, 8th" I say. "It's quicker and cut through the park at 81st."
We head up 8th but he goes speeding past 81st and crosses the park at 86th.
"I said 81st."
"No, you said 86th."
"You said 86th," he repeats, getting angrier.
"I said 81st," in a voice that would make John Gielgud cower.
"Ok, ok, ok," he answered, cowered.
This is a typical ride home for me from the new breed cab driver.
It's not a matter of language.
It's a matter of listening. Or not listening.
I fear that we in advertising are afflicted with the same malady. Clients often tell us what their issues are. And we persist in trying to form-fit agency agendas as a means of answering them.
We don't listen.
That's what I see in cabs. I suspect it's the same on Madison Avenue.