Chicago Cabs (Scott Strazzante/Chicago…)
If you've ever had a horrible cab experience in Chicago, would you please raise your hand?
Good. I was certain I wasn't the only one.
So assuming you're like me, you can understand why last week's announcement that all 6,892 taxis in the city will start featuring bumper stickers telling people to dial 311 to report drivers—whether you're calling to praise or condemn them to the bowels of hell—burned my toast.
Why is cab safety and service only now becoming a bumper sticker-level priority? Do you know how much beef I have in my heart that hasn't been expressed?
You know what? Let's get it out now. I'd retroactively like to file the following "reports" on cabdrivers I've encountered.
To the cabdriver on St. Patrick's Day 2010: First off, I wasn't the one who told you to work on the single most annoying day for sober people in America. Also, it was kind of an amateur-hour move to threaten my friend just because he stuck his head out the window! He had to puke! You laughed when we asked you to pull over! Trust me, he was doing you a favor. He didn't even get any on the car!
To the cabdriver who tried to recruit me to the Nation of Islam at 3 a.m.: Come on, homie. I'm just trying to get to the leftover pad Thai I have in the fridge before I fall asleep with the TV on and my contacts in. Yes, yes, the honorable Louis Farrakhan is the light and the way, I'm aware.
To the cabbie who told me he didn't "trust people like you to have working credit cards" so I had to pay cash: You meant BLACK PEOPLE, right? I think what you meant to say was BLACK PEOPLE. Our money works too, bud.
To the enterprising young driver who decided to go 93 mph from my house to the bar: I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I'm seriously not in that much of a rush to get anywhere. Ever. Well, anywhere that isn't sex- or buffalo chicken sandwich-related, that is.
To the cabdriver who accused me of farting, then tried to call me the "gas man": You know damn well it was you. OK, fine. It was me.
Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of awesome cabdrivers who provide quality service and do amazing things. There was the cabbie who found my phone and drove it all the way to Logan Square to get it back to me. And the nice guy from Ghana who comped my ride because we both liked the same soccer club (Everton, WHAT WHAT!).
Ultimately, a quality cab ride is a two-way street. Some cabdrivers are jerks who pretend their card readers don't work. Some riders are jerks who can't wait to get home to have sex or just do that "scream the entire ride with their besties" thing. If either one of these types is you, smack yourself twice.
I say both sides should pledge to enjoy each other's company for the limited time we share and do our best to keep the ride smooth on all accounts. Sound good? Of course it does! I even promise not to throw up!
ERNEST WILKINS IS CHICAGO'S WINGMAN. ERWILKINS@TRIBUNE.COM | @ERWILKINS