Since I don't drive, I take cabs all the time. It's unusual for a week to go by without me in the backseat of one taxi or another … either because public transportation doesn't go to where I'm headed or it's not safe at that hour or I've cut it too close.
Yesterday something happened to me while taking a cab that's never happened before: My cab driver refused
to leave me alone at the address where he dropped me off.
The Comcast customer service location nearest my home was only 5 miles and 15 minutes (in traffic) in distance but a lifestyle away. I knew the neighborhood had a bad reputation, but I didn't realize how bad. Or how well deserved.
Here I was at an office building in a strip mall at 10:00 on a sunny Tuesday morning, and the cabbie said, "I will wait for you here for half an hour. No charge."
I told him not to worry about it, that I had my cell phone and would call for another cab when I was done.
"No cab driver will pick you up here. I'll wait for you. No charge."
I went into the service center, saw the line, and ran back out to the cab. "There's a line," I said, "you should go."
The cabbie gave me a small, chilled bottle of water to drink while I waited in line, told me he would go out on another call, but would meet me right here
. "Do not worry," he said.
I wasn't worried. It was cold but bright and sunny morning and I couldn't see any harm coming to me in this standard-issue strip mall (though, come to think of it, all the other storefronts were abandoned). But he was insistent. So he drove off (without my having paid him a cent yet) and came back just as he promised and drove me home, charging me $28 for the round trip.
This morning I checked the crime stats in that neighborhood and it's sobering. Statewide in Illinois, there are 38.1 crimes per square mile. In this neighborhood, there are 389 ... more than 10x the average.
So I'm grateful to my over protective cab driver for taking such good care of me (and for the bottled water)