Car 6

Car 6

Monday, August 18, 2014

Helping a Kid Get Home By Lying to the Cops

With the things going on in Ferguson I decided to crawl out of my hole and write another post. I have had to take a break from the blog because I am in the midst of two book projects. One is based on this blog and the other is a collaborative effort.

Anyway. With Metra PD and most local PD we have good relations in the night and we often rely on the police to protect us when we have an assault or someone refusing to pay or someone trying to rob us. That said, there have also been times where I have been threatened arrest for reporting criminal activity (no, really) and then the officer decided to follow me for a few miles as opposed to looking into the matter I called him about. Then there was a time I was surrounded by three officers and threatened with arrest when I was breaking no laws and the only thing that kept me from being arrested was my dispatcher. Now, to be fair, that was in another city and it is fascinating story and I will tell it on a different post. 

Long story short, those who think that cab companies are buddy buddy with the municipalities have never seen a cabbie get pulled over by an officer who sees you as a bottom feeder. NYC Cab driver Melissa Plaut in her book,"Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab" covers this beautifully with many stories of her harassment.

One night I am driving one of my regulars home from the East side. He is a young black man trying to make it from temp job to temp job in the hopes that something becomes permanent. He has a rap sheet, but nothing terrible and he has been keeping his nose clean for over two years and even taking some night classes at the local Jr College. He's trying. Frankly, he's busting his ass off. He's a good kid.

I picked him up on the east side. He took a cab. Why? He had been drinking while he was hanging with his buddies. We were going to his apartment the next town over. We pulled up to his neighborhood and there was a cop parked in the apartment entrance as we were pulling up. I recognized this officer and I know his MO. He can be a hard ass.

He was blocking my path. He looks at me and asks,"Who do you have in the cab?" I can see the eyes widen from my regular in the back seat. He gets tense. "Don't tell him nothing." He's defensive. He's also scared. He has also been 4 miles and the other side of the river from this area for the last few hours. But I also know that does not matter to this guy.

"Your gonna have to trust me here," I whisper.

"Just one of my regulars, officer. Taking him home from the warehouses."

"Who?" He asked.

"Officer, my logs per your own regulations are privileged information. Can I get into the drive here so I can get this guy home and get on to my next fare?"

"What if I take a look at your logs anyway?"

I get out of my cab with my clipboard in hand and walk over to him.

"Look, I gotta a time call in ten minutes, I don't have time for this and your already killing my tip here."

"Where's your time call?"

I named the bar that the police like to hang out in his town and said I was taking 4 to a popular strip joint.

"You know I can't be late for that call."

"So the n***** you got in there ain't a fucking banger?"

"I don't know what he does on his spare time. I just take people home from warehouses."

"Whatever, I got my eye on you."


I got back in the cab.

"You all right man?" I asked my passenger.

"Yeah, but see this?"  He pulled up the back of his hoodie and showed me bruises that were healing.

"I see it."

"He did that to me almost a week ago. Know what I did?"

"What?" I asked.

"I had a taillight out. I bet you don't believe me."

"I do."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because he threatened to arrest me and followed me when I was training a black driver."

"Did you complain?" He asked.


"What happened?" He asked.

"No one returned my emails."

"Shit. You're white." he said shocked.

"I'm also a cab driver." I said.

"So you know what it's like?" he asked.

"Hell no. I have no clue what it is to be you and I am not gonna insult you and say I have any idea what it is like to deal with the shit you have to deal with. I listen to 2Pac and Marley and I have been harassed by a few cops, but I have never dealt with what just happened here. I'll never know what it's like to be in your shoes."

"You the coolest cab driver ever."

"Well, that I won't argue with."

"You know I ain't got money to tip."

"I know, you never do. Go up there, hug your girl and kiss your kid, how old is he?"

"He'll be two in 4 days. Think the world will be better for him?"

"No," I said, "but I like it when I am wrong."

"I don't think so either. Maybe we're just dumb men. My baby mama says it'll get better."

"Be safe, man" I said as he left.

"Thanks to you, I was tonight."

This conversation should not have happened. But it did.

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