Tuesday, January 12, 2010
POLL OF THE WEEK: Have you ever had a problem getting cab service to or from River East?
If you should find yourself standing on a corner trying to flag down available cabs with no success feel free to use my Hailing While Black: 10 Rules of Engagement Game Plan.
STAGE ONE: Capture
1. Identify a sympathetic non-black person (the whiter the better) and ask them to hail a cab for you.
2. Stand on the curb while your front man/woman gets a cab to stop (cab drivers have gotten hip to the game so make sure to look nonchalant…I find that whistling overplays your hand, however, if you have a Blackberry this would be a good time to check your email).
3. Just as your new friend opens the cab door you jump in the backseat quick and fast, making note of the cab company and number (if things go bad you will need it to file a complaint).
4. Now this next part is important. Make sure you are in the cab with the door firmly closed before you tell the cab driver where you are going! Unscrupulous cab drivers have been known to suddenly go off duty right around the time you get in the cab or right after you tell them your destination. If you make the rookie mistake of telling the driver you are going “east of the river” before you get in the cab you may find yourself “east of a cab”… and left on the curb! Never ask a cab driver if he is in service, if he stopped the cab for your front man/woman he is in service.
STAGE TWO: Misdirection
5. At this point usually the battle is already won. You are in the cab and it’s pretty clear that it will take a stick of dynamite and a crowbar to get you out of the backseat so at this point about 95% of cab drivers will just take you to your destination - they might be mad as hell, but they will take you to your destination - assuming your destination isn’t across the Anacostia river. Now if you do live in “southeast” (aka east of the river) then you may have to do some strange things to get home.
6. I’ve learned from experience that the best way to win a fight is to avoid a fight, so when telling the cab driver your destination keep this in mind. Never, ever ask a cab driver if he will take you to Southeast (you might as well get out of the cab at this point); I find it best to deal in a general direction (down South Capital Street) or a landmark (National Stadium) rather than providing a specific east of the river address which may present an opportunity for your cab driver to refuse the fare outright (it’s illegal but it does happen). Don’t get me wrong, there are professional cab drivers out there that won’t have a problem taking you across the river; however, there are more than a few drivers who are not. (FYI – generally if you catch a cab from the cab stand at an airport or a reputable hotel you can usually and again I say “usually”avoid this step, most of those cab drivers know they have to take you to their destination or risk losing privileges at that cab stand)
7. Just before you arrive at your “destination” start giving your driver street by street directions. When I am in a cab with a less than ethical driver, and I need to get home to Congress Heights without a fight, I will generally tell them to either take me to Nationals Stadium (best bet) or Bolling Air Force base (2nd best bet). Once we get close I will give them turn by turn directions over the bridge and to my house.
STAGE THREE: The Handoff
8. So you have finally made it home but you aren’t exactly home free yet. If you haven’t already make sure you have the cab information recorded somewhere. Even if you don’t have a cruddy cab driver it may come in handy if you leave something in the cab.
9. Pay the posted fare and get a receipt. It is illegal for a cab driver to ask for your fare in advance and if you pay with a credit card it is illegal for the driver to access a credit card surcharge (or require a minimum amount). If a driver accepts credit card payments they have to have a notice posted in the window.
10. Before exiting the cab if the cab service was to your satisfaction please tip the driver accordingly, they appreciate it. If you have complaints or commendations please contact the DC Taxicab Commission with the driver’s information.
There you have it. The Advoc8te’s “Hailing While Black: 10 Rules of Engagement”. It may not be pretty, it may not be politically correct, but until the District of Columbia really does something about this bias it is an unfortunate reality of a person of color living in the District of Columbia and those living in River East. This all leads to this week’s Poll of the Week: Have you ever had a problem getting cab service to or from River East?
Please vote in the poll in the header and include any comments on this post.