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— But most cabbies must not seem cool to the average cab-taking San Diegan. One recent survey by the Department of Justice found that taxi drivers suffer the third-highest rate of on-the-job violent crime, following police officers and security guards. According to The 2002 Jobs Rated Almanac, by Les Krantz, the job of taxi driver rated sixth worst on the list of common jobs in the United States, down there with lumberjack, ironworker, and commercial fisherman.

Besides stress and the attendant road rage, the average cabbie deals with long hours, no job security, no guaranteed money, difficult conditions, unfriendly customers, and rampant co-worker rivalry. There are fees for a half-dozen waivers, tests, and required regulations. And if a cabbie receives too many tickets or gets in an accident, then he's out. Can't get hired. Just like that.

The image of the cab driver arguably holds a position in American pop culture second only to the cowboy -- which is another one of those five or six worst jobs in America, by the way. How many movies, television shows, jazzy songs, and recent commercials can you name that were either about taxis or had characters who were taxi drivers? It makes for good metaphor. But no one actually aspires to become cab drivers, do they?

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