Trying to acquire “The Knowledge”

From the Everything Is Amazing newsletter comes this gem, about what is involved in trying to join the legendary tribe of Brits who drive traditional London black cabs:

“Everton Thomas, a 33-year-old bus driver from Woolwich in southeast London, is sitting in a cramped, ugly office decorated with maps of the city. There are maps on the walls, maps on shelves, and a big paper map spread out on the angled desk opposite him. But if Everton sneaks a look at any of these maps, he goes back to being a bus driver – a job he’s desperate to leave. He’s hoping a better life awaits him and his family if he can keep his eyes fixed straight ahead, and not let his nervousness cloud his brain. He really, really needs to think clearly right now. In a sense, this is a job interview – but it’s also one of the hardest memory tests in the world.

The examiner says: “Everton, where’s the London Edition Hotel?”

This question, and the following ones like it, requires him to remember specific locations from London’s roughly 100,000 landmarks. He has to know where these places are – and he has to know how to get there from anywhere else. The exam is called The Knowledge – and these days, Everton teaches it, in the school he set up after he successfully passed it in 2017. Most students take four or five years of study to get to the required level – or they drop out, or get disqualified (there’s a 70% fail rate). But the ones that succeed will earn anything from £15,000 to £30,000 more per year than any of London’s bus drivers.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *