Cabs in America


If you travel long-distance by Greyhound Bus across the USA, as I did four years ago (Chicago to LA and back), you’ll need to add a minimum $10 cab fare to the cost of your overnight motel.

Why so?

Because Greyhound Stations in the major cities tend to be situated in the seamier side of town where the motels are not. So you’ll need to take a cab to your motel and a cab back to the Greyhound Station at the end of your stay.

Unfortunately, that is.

Because cab drivers in America in my experience (like their counterparts in the UK, I suppose) are in the main untrustworthy unhelpful, inhospitable and dishonest.

As I say, that’s certainly the way my experience stacks up.

Because, of the eight cabs of which I was constrained to make use in cities as far apart as Chicago, LA, Flagstaff and Albuquerque (a pretty wide spread, it seems to me), the bandits beat the good guys by a ratio of 5 to 3.

Having said which, my sincere thanks and appreciation go out to the good guys in the trade . . . like Drew in Chicago, for example, the Afro-American guy who ran me the short distance from the Hotel Parthenon to the Greyhound Station on West Harrison Street, Chicago, without complaining about the short distance – and whose wonder-struck repetition of my stated destination: ‘LA’ suggests he’s maybe made it out there himself at last . . . and Sanchez in LA, whose honestly priced $8 dollar trip from the seedy Hotel Cecil to the downtown Greyhound Station counterbalanced his fellow countryman’s meter-less 25% rip-off on the inward journey . . . and Denis, whose sonorously musical Don Williams tones welcomed me to Albuquerque late one night, whisking me to the welcoming Hotel Blue for an overnight that stay was anything but.

Meanwhile my supreme contempt together with some choice invective accompanies five altogether different Yankee cabbies down the Road to Hell . . .that 25% rip-off shifty-eyed Hispanic working the rank at the LA Greyhound Station in an LA emblazoned tee-shirt in need of 3 additional character-defining capital letters: DRO – LADRO! [Thief(Sp.)] . . . Milady Cabbie in pine-scented Flagstaff, reneging on her promise to order me a cab for next day. . . and Tex in Albuquerque who ran me to church but refused to call back for me later

‘Have someone telephone when you’re done,’ said he.

My heart dropped: I was on a tight schedule.

Luckily, a troop of Boy Scouts, holding a sale of work nearby were prepared to do so. Because my fellow churchgoers obviously mistook me for a bum and treated me likewise. That is to say, with dismissive disdain. (An attitude I, in turn, passed on to Pecos Pete who eventually picked me up and demanded a minimum $5 for a $4 dollar fare.)

Back in Chi, approaching the West Harrison Street cab rank to take a cab to the nearby Parthenon, I was directed to a private car (most definitely NOT a cab) driven by an Uncle Tom character, obviously down on his uppers, whose lady wife occupied the rear seat.

Why so?

Because cabbies are loathe to take the first fare emerging from a bus/train station. This fare obviously knows where the cab rank is, which means he’s a local and not going far.

I know this from my days as a (trustworthy) cabbie in the UK. Mind you, in the UK cabbies just take such misfortune on the chin. Never before or since that time in Chi have I witnessed such unprofessional street-smart misbehaviour. Maybe Chicago cabs have no regulating body.

(1 May 2013)

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website,

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