Today on the radio program "The World" from PRI (Public Radio International) they featured a story about taxi drivers in the small southern US city of Gainesville, Georgia, population 33,000, and how they drive workers to and from the various chicken processing plants. Business has been booming lately for the eight cab companies comprising a total of 179 taxis since the State of Georgia passed a bill allowing Georgia police to check the immigration status of anyone they might stop, even for the most minor of offenses. It has resulted in folks taking taxis instead of driving their own cars. Everyone is afraid of being arrested and deported. I highly recommend that you go to the website "TheWorld.org" and click on the feature from Wednesday March 7th, 2012 where you can listen to the original interview with driver Maria Romero and also watch the BBC video concerning the story. Another slice of the taxi pie!
Sending Curtis Back to Tallahassee
My last fare of the weekend was one I should have argued against, telling the nice woman at the Veterans Administration Hospital ER that I wouldn't be taking the passenger to the Greyhound Bus Station at 2 :00 AM because the station would be locked. Going against my better judgement I took the extremely distressed Curtis B. from Tallahassee, Florida down to the closed bus station. Occasionally they will let someone in. On this particular morning we encountered a new employee who barred the door. The story I heard was painful. Now you too can share in the pain.
Evidently Curtis was told by his local VA people back in Tallahassee that they had arranged for him to receive treatment for his post-traumatic stress here in Seattle. Curtis paid the $250.00 fare and endured the five-day journey to Seattle only to be told that he would be receiving nothing whatsoever but a kick in the behind. Adding insult to injury they discharge him in the middle of the morning to my Yellow cab and the cold and alienation of the Seattle streets. His bus was scheduled to leave at 10 AM. The station didn't open until 7 AM. Talking to his girlfriend over the telephone he spoke of suicide. I called dispatch and eventually took him back to the VA Hospital. Being from Florida he was freezing in the early morning cold. No, I didn't get paid for taking him back and didn't care. I called Senator Murray's office and told them about the situation. Hopefully they intervened. Nothing like taxi to have LIFE crammed in you face. Life's sometimes harsh realities, that is. Com' on everyone, join the Army, see the world, and guess what is going to happen once your service is over? Try asking Curtis. He'll tell you all about it!