Part III of a three-part reverse-chronological series.
Image: An animal more commonly seen in New York City, a Sikh taxi-cab driver from India or Pakistan poses for a photographer. In D.C., we have more Arabs drivers but also many from West Africa.
Dozens of area cab drivers urged the D.C. Council last week to rescind aspects of the law that last year changed the zone system to metered fares, arguing their profits had fallen by 30-40 percent.
Though the city won’t return to the Byzantine zone system, by which cab drivers assessed fares based on any number of considerations, including weather, baggage and personal temperament, the drivers made some fair points. The drivers argued at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Taxicab Commission that they should be allowed pick up multiple passengers per ride and to assess higher fares for longer distances.
After hailing a cab in Georgetown one night, I find myself trapped inside of a fast-moving box of steel and plastic that smells vaguely of musk.
As we speed down M Street, the Arab man turns to regard me. “Do you know the trouble with the world?” he says.
I do. It’s the Jews.
In Melbourne, the cabbies and livery drivers are mostly white—and they don’t blame the Jews, only the Arabs.
Indeed, Australia teems with working-class whites doing the most ridiculous jobs unseen in America. A beautiful young woman, a marketing or sales type here, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence, picks up cigarette butts with one of those long implements used to pick up cigarette butts. Nearby, another young woman—a pretty redhead I name “Sheila”—drives past on a forklift. She is smoking a cigarette.
As we drive at a steady (and slow) 100 kilometers-per-hour, the lanky Anglo man turns over his left shoulder to regard me.
“Do you know the problem with the world?"
I do. It’s the Arabs.
In my hotel suite, I turn on the television and there’s Ellen Degeneres, talking about Twittering. So I’ve never really spent much time overseas and there’s Ellen, telling a story about visiting the Parthenon and then tweeting about it, so I send a Twitter and someone in Canada says, “Hey, I’m watching Ellen Degeneres right now, too!” Except that’s a lie because of the time difference and it’s not even a live show anyway.
Ellen does not mention the Jews and Arabs. She dances.
In my two-state solution for the city’s hired car business, I propose modestly that we accede drivers their demands, as they work hard, 12-hour shifts, many of them, to provide the rest of us with a valued service.
Yet, they must give, too. In the solution, cab drivers may discuss only local politics, weather and sports, steering clear of the international realm. Thus, cab drivers may be permitted to discuss Jews only in the most pedestrian and neutral ways. For example:
“I understand Jews celebrate Festivus in October, as part of their 6,000-year cultural heritage.”
“Yes, I heard that, also. Very interesting.”
“You know, we Arabs and Jews have so much in common—except they have more nose hair, I think.”
“Sir, I’m going to have to report you.”
“What, what, what!? I’m just saying!”
In D.C., you better recognize a real cab driver, son.
This blogger does not have AIDS.
Posted by M@ at 6:14 PM