The Plight Of The Taxi Cab Driver

Larry Price
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Wednesday - July 11, 2007
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The strangest story of the year has to be about a cab driver, one Guillermo B. Fernandez, who tried to run down a customer because he allegedly refused to give him a tip.

He was charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder.

I find it difficult to imagine a cab driver with an attitude like that driving around looking for fares, and at a Waikiki hotel to boot. Most of the cab drivers I know are good, hard-working individuals. Many of them are not driving a cab because it is their chosen profession. They are driving a cab as a means of supporting their families.

It’s not a fun job. The hours are long and it doesn’t pay very well. I know several cab drivers who work 14 hours a day to make ends meet. I don’t know any who would try to run down a customer because he didn’t leave a tip. That just doesn’t make sense.

Now, I don’t know Mr. Fernandez and I don’t have an investment in his cab company. It’s just unbelievable that someone would commit such a serious crime over $2.

I’m sure more information about the incident will surface after he makes his court appearance, but logic says there has to be more to this story that initial reports indicate. The victim certainly deserves a lot of compassion, and I’m sure the judicial system will see to it.

This case deserves much more understanding than it has received thus far in the media. With all the transportation problems we are trying to address, someone in office should consider the plight of the

cab driver. Mass transit is nice and so is owning your own car to get around, but if you’ve ever been stuck at the airport or a hotel and need transportation, you are going to have to depend on a cab.

The taxi business is the most neglected segment of the transportation solution. Over the years they have been preyed on by airport security and mourned over. In fact, there is a lot of clear and convincing evidence that driving a cab is probably the most dangerous job anyone can have. Their families are constantly fearful for their well-being, getting robbed, mugged and injured on the job. Now we are led to believe a cab driver attempted to murder a rider because he didn’t get a tip? It’s hard to believe.

Some good might come out of this strange case. Maybe someone in elected office will look at the cab business and make a few inquires about how the owner goes about hiring and firing workers. What kind of customer training do they undergo before hitting the streets at all hours of the night?Are they entitled to workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits? And finally, where do they get their cars?

Some of the cabs are pretty shabby looking, suggesting that the beleaguered driver is using his own car as a cab. This raises several questions: Does the taxi meet all the safety standards of the City and County of Honolulu? How old is the automobile, and are the behavior of the driver and condition of the automobile worthy of receiving a tip? And finally, are the wages paid a cab driver dependent on a tip to reach the minimum wage level?

In a resort state like Hawaii, it appears that skills of a cab driver have fallen between the cracks of government regulation. If they are going to be such an integral part of providing tourists with transportation and vital information

about Honolulu, then they should benefit from the wisdom of our elected officials.

These kinds of stories, true or false, do nothing to enhance Hawaii as desirable vacation destination.

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