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Angry Cab Driver abandons car - and me - in Oakland

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UPDATE: Do you know where your DMV Money goes?

What happened to me on Sunday October 18th should not happen to anyone in Oakland, or anywhere.

I was just going to go into San Francisco to catch up with my friend who was finishing the Nike Women's Marathon.  I called "Friendly Cab" to take me from my place near Lake Merritt in Oakland to 19th Street BART Station in downtown Oakland.

I was in a hurry to get there as it was around 3 PM, so even though its just about a mile away I figured cabbing it, as they say, was faster.

So the cab - car number 236 - showed up as I was standing out there early.  Well, what happed was the cab driver activated this automated call system that says "Welcome to DDS; your cab has arrived."   Well I went out to meet the vehicle and there was no cab for a solid four minutes of time.  Then he rounded the corner.

I got in the cab and calmly and normally explained where I was going.  So the cabbie starts down a street such that once he got to Grand Avenue he would pass through five stop lights before we got to Grand and Harrison.  I figured the cabbie could just turn right and use a faster path without stop lights.

But once he did as I really asked him to do without a second thought, he slowed the cab down and tried to just go deliberately slow. I asked if something was wrong. I explained that I was trying to meet my friend and it would be great if he could go faster. I then said I would give him a good tip if he helped out in that way.

So we rounded the corner on Lenox Avenue and all of a sudden the guy pulls over at what was the driveway of an apartment complex at 325 Lenox - without warning and blocking the driveway - then gets out of the car and says I can have the cab but he's going to secure it and then, yelling frantically, ordered me to take my bag out of it. He also said, "You can call the police."

At that point I pulled out my Flip Video Camera and turned it on.

The video tells the rest of the story.

As you can see, he just takes his stuff and walks off.  I got on the phone and told the cab company what happened.  I also explained that I was making a video of the incident.  I wasn't angry at the time; more like surprised and confused because I didn't say anything mean to him and there was no argument until he flew the coup.

I called Friendly Cab and the guy who came over to get me was someone I'd had as a driver before and is a very professional person. He took me to BART without charging me.

But that's happened to me before but it was in 2007.

I was returning from the Miami Super Bowl and got a cab near 12th Street BART in downtown Oakland to go home. The cab driver did not like that I asked to go down Franklin rather than some weird and costly route combination he had in mind.  So he stopped and as he was getting me to leave his car I called the Oakland Police.

They took me home.

Now all of this seems to be just because I make a request that any customer has the right to make.  But here in Oakland we have  cab drivers who seem to want you to spend more money than you should and then try to abuse you when you don't let them.  Here's my evidence.

There should be some kind of law against this action by cab driver as its dangerous. Suppose I was left in an area where I could be robber or worse? And all for what? Because I want to go my way? Come on!

This has gone on for sometime and the City of Oakland has done nothing about it.  The City of Oakland has allowed one cab company, Friendly Cab, to maintain a monopoly and in turn maintain some drivers who treat Oaklanders like this guy treated me.  But the company does have some good and fair drivers who I know - just not that guy.

That cab driver is not the norm in San Francisco, where cabbies really know their stuff and take pride in what they do.  Plus, there's more competition.  In Oakland its like they're doing you a favor rather than providing a service.

Also there's an element of racism of a different kind here: a black man cabbie who does not want another black man passenger to "give him an order," even if taking that order part of the deal of being a cab driver.

And that's the rub: it wasn't "an order" but a request I as a customer have a right to make. I was not acting weird or diva-ish and I talk to everyone. I even asked the cabbie about the warm weather before he went AWOL.

Something has to be done.  I also am explaining my personal fear because that guy knows where I live and was nutty enough to take the action of walking off.  What will he do when he can't get work because of his actions?

I have no idea.

But I do know that I had to show this. I had to take action to show people what's really wrong in Oakland from the position of how Oaklanders are treated.  Be it parking or this, the City of Oakland does not take care of its people.

Isn't it time for that to change?  I think so.  Once again, the City of Oakland, and this time its taxi detail, needs to make a better place and stop maintaining a cab system that harms Oaklanders. 
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