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Cabbies: Friend or Foe?

July 12, 2010

Your Momma taught you well: told you to never get into a car with a stranger. Smart people listen to their mothers and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who will get in a car with someone they don’t know, unless they’re naïve fifteen year old. People will, however, get into a taxicab without a second thought.

Living in the big bad city, walking down deserted streets alone at night, it’s not uncommon to be followed by random people in cars. They might just be out for a joy ride and checking you out, but they also might be looking for a hooker or easy prey. This has happened to me more often that I can count, and once when I was eighteen the situation became a little scarier then most. The black SUV that had been following me had slowed down to a speed that matched my walking pace, only he hung back, hugging the sidewalk and warming my backside with the heat of his headlights.

It was one in the morning and I was meeting a friend at a bus stop further across town. I had time to kill, so I decided to walk and save some money. I immediately regretted my decision when the SUV sped up ahead of me, did a u-turn and blocked off the sidewalk right ahead of me. I rapidly scanned the scene around me trying to find a way out of this possibly dangerous situation. There were no other cars on the road, no other people taking a late night walk, no open stores where I could take refuge. Luckily, at that precise moment a taxi turned onto the street and was heading towards me.

I didn’t have to think twice and hailed the mother down. Strange though, don’t you think, to seek refuge from one stranger with another? It might be strange, but the reality is that taxis often come to the rescue, whether you are stranded somewhere or simply need to get out of the rain.  I wonder if it’s the act of paying someone for a service that makes you feel safer? That certainly didn’t stop the serial killer from The Bone Collector to murder and slash his victims. Ok, granted that was a movie, but you get my point.

On a more serious note, I’m sure a lot of you (ladies especially) will agree that there are just as many creeps driving taxis than everywhere else. I’ve had taxi driver accost me, offer me free rides, follow me around, slow down and stop me on the side of the road asking me for a light when they obviously had one in their car. You know, the usual stuff that will freak a girl out when she’s just trying to get home late at night.

What’s the hiring process? What’s the training provided? Taxi drivers should be trained a little bit like cops, only without all the power. Cabbies patrol the city, and are a much more frequent sighting than a cop car. I’d feel much safer if they were given sensitivity training, something along the lines of “how not to scare a woman half to death”. I’d also add a little EMT training in there just for good measure.  

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