Last week I was on my way to pick up 3 college kids from their parent’s house (I’m assuming) and take them to their apartment down town (also an assumption, but that’s what it looked like). On the way to them I saw what I thought was a large bag of trash in the center divider of a major street. It’s a grassy area, large with no dip in ground level. As I pull past, it moves and I realize it’s a person. I think “that’s a strange place for a homeless man to sleep.” And then I go pick up the kids. It’s not uncommon for homeless men to sleep in sleeping bags all over the city and especially under the Monona Terrace, but I hadn’t seen one at this particular intersection before.
Then I think “maybe that guy wasn’t sleeping, maybe he’s hurt,” as I wait for the kids to come out. When they pile into my car, I ask them if we can make a small detour and I tell them about the man I saw. “Ya, okay, we’re in no hurry.” I don’t turn the meter on, and don’t plan to until past the intersection of where I saw the man.
We see him again and I pull up alongside him. I hope a car hadn’t hit him or something because I REALLY don’t like seeing blood and gore. I ask the man if he’s okay and he starts rocking himself back and forth and wailing. I call 9-1-1 and get them to come out. They ask me things like “Does he have a history of heart problems?” And I try to explain to this person I’ve never met this man in my life and he’s in no position to tell me his medical history. The person on the phone asked me if the man was turning blue, and I say “I can’t tell, he’s a black man and it’s dark outside.” And it isn’t like I know what his normal pallor is.
The injured guy is wailing for us to ring his doorbell and tell his girlfriend he’s out here, so the three boys in my car go do that, but there’s no answer. It looked like he was at the shopping center on one side of the street and was on his way across the street to his apartment, but he said he just went numb and he couldn’t feel his left leg. A doctor pulled over before the ambulance got to the scene, so I just felt a lot of concern and not panic anymore.
The thing that pissed me off was that between the two times I saw this man (the second being me pulling over), no one else pulled over to see what was up. The three boys in my cab were concerned about this, too. After I pulled over, I think more people pulled to the side of the road and got on their cell phones, probably because they thought I hit the guy in my big yellow taxi. I feel bad for not pulling over the first time I saw him, but not REALLY bad. I did come back for him once it sunk in that he could be in trouble. It’s alarming to see people with the strong mind set of “I don’t want to get involved.”
Another story from last night:
I picked up two ladies from the Jail downtown they were going to the near-east side. They were leaning up against the building, casual and comfortable, and when they got in they started talking about how AAA is lame and about their lack of good customer service while they tried to get their brown van towed. As they got in and I pulled away with them, a cop car decided to throw on it’s cop lights and blow a red. I thought that was a terrible abuse of power.
La La La, nice ride while the ladies chit chat in the back. I think vaguely that it’s nice to listen to black women talking sometimes, when they have smoky, soothing voices and a core of confidence but speaking softly at the same time. They’re talking about how they’ve had bad experiences with AAA and with a competitor taxi service and other random stuff.
I pull onto their street and we’re within a block of their apartment. There’s a cop pulled over to the right with it’s lights going. I think maybe that they’ve just finished giving someone a ticket and that person drove off because it’s in a typical place for a speed trap. As I get closer to the cop car, there’s two civilian cars in front of me. The front most car stops and a man gets out of the driver’s seat. He’s got a gun holster on, and a fanny pack I think. I don’t notice these at first, because when he gets out I think something is wrong and that someone has hit an animal or child or something. I do notice these things when he opens my passenger door behind me.
“Step out of the car please, police,” he says, and the woman cop who is actually DRESSED like a cop from the stopped cop car is on the other side of my cab doing the same thing to the other lady. I am just so surprised I cannot think of what to say or do. By the time the two cops got the two ladies out of the car (who didn’t put up any resistance and were also surprised), a second civilian-looking car pulls up behind me and another man comes to my window.
“What was the fare?” He asks. “um… $8.50…” He gives me a ten and says, “Have a good day!”
People came down and abducted my passengers.
I felt like a fish out of water, with it’s mouth slowly closing and opening trying to catch my breath. I have no choice really, I have to drive away and never know why these people weren’t just detained at the freaking jail where I picked them up. It’s kind of obvious now that the cop that ran the red in the beginning was speeding up to meet us at our destination and the two civilian cars were following us the whole time. Does this mean they didn’t pull us over like you see on TV because they thought my passengers were armed and they wanted it to be a big surprise?