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As a black person, I’ve developed, somewhat to my embarrassment, a formula to avoid the anxiety-ridden act of hailing a cab: (1) If possible, just catch the bus. The bus does not discriminate. (2) If you’re going to be out super-late, just drive. Spending an hour searching for a parking spot beats being alone and stranded late at night any day. (3) If you’re downtown, especially near a hotel, find a taxi stand—-cabs are lined up and they have to take you where you want to go. (4) If the trip is two miles or less, just walk.
While I rarely hail cabs at all anymore, I was reminded of this over the weekend when I had the misfortune of watching a middle-aged blind couple (who also happened to be black) trying to catch a cab near Metro Center. Situated across the street at a patio table outside of Potbelly’s, I watched this couple stand on the curb for about 20 minutes. Every 30 seconds or so, they’d listen for the surge in traffic before they raised their walking sticks into the air. And no one stopped.
Finally, a security guard from a nearby building came out and tried to help. But he was also black, and no one stopped for him, either. He then went inside to get somebody to help. This guy was white and, in a matter of seconds, a cab pulled up. It was one of those moments that you’ve read about or heard about on talk radio. For me, it was a moment that’s played out countless times in my life that I’d forgotten about—-like having no one to sit with in the cafeteria; it probably happened to you a long ago, but since you’re not in school anymore, you don’t think about it.
How humiliating it was to watch that scene play out. I felt as helpless as I’m sure the security guard did. While we both had our sight, we still couldn’t do much to help the poor couple since we, too, were handicapped.