After standing on a curb for nearly 30 minutes trying to hail a taxi one recent afternoon, I finally managed to get one to stop.
With much relief I said, "Take me to Pennsylvania and Sixth Street Southeast."
"Southeast!" the driver snapped. "Man, come on, don't do this to me. I just came back from over there. I can't make no money doing those junk runs . . . . "
I wanted to tell him to cut it out and l K Street Northwest.
I must add, however, that there are a few good cabbies. Some do return property left on the back seat and now and then a cabdriver will actually take a short cut or help somebody who has run out of gas.
But the good guys have been overrun by the bad.
I saw one cabdriver who already had two passengers stop for a white man who was not even looking for a cab. The man was just standing on the curb with a briefcase and the driver, who had passed me up, stopped and tried to coax him into getting in.
I was so furious I began running after the cab, and if I had seen a brick on the way, I would probably be in jail today.
"Why," I asked the cabdriver who finally stopped for me, "do you guys treat us this way?"
He looked at me with contempt through the rear view mirror and growled, "Most of you black guys don't have any money and you always want to go farther than anybody."
I pointed out that Sixth and Pennsylvania was virtually on top of Capitol Hill, and he immediately started to hem and haw.
"Look," he said. "I just got here a few months ago [he was from Ethiopia]. I have a college degree and can't find a job so all I can do to make ends meet is drive this piece of junk."
William Wright tries to justify this attitude by saying, "Even with the new increases we are still the lowest paid cabdrivers in any city in the country, and until we switch over to the meter system, then passengers will have to bear with their gripes."
We'll see about that the next time he goes before the Public Service Commission seeking another fare increase.