Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): $75 now the price for getting cab sick?

I sympathize with the thought of a taxicab driver who has to take time out from what could be a busy night picking up passengers and making money to clean up a mess caused by a passenger who gets sick during the ride.

I say so because I remember one incident about two decades ago when I was that passenger.

MY STOMACH WAS feeling a bit queasy, but I thought I could keep it in until I got to a commuter train station in downtown Chicago. But instead of being the guy who threw up in a men’s room toilet, I wound up doing it within a half block of the train station, in the back seat of a cab.

I recall giving the driver an extra $20, in addition to paying the fare. It seemed the least I could do.

So imagine my reaction to learning that the cab drivers are seeking increases in various fares and fees associated with riding a cab – and one of the changes they want made is the right to demand $75 from anyone who gets sick inside the cab.

Fat chance they’ll actually be able to collect it. Or will it now become a police-worthy offense (as though they’re not busy enough already) to puke one’s guts up in the back seat of a cab?

I RECALL THAT night so long ago that I gave him $20 because it was all the cash I had on hand. Are cab drivers now going to start screening their potential passengers based on who looks like they might be carrying enough spare cash on hand that they could afford $75 if they become ill?

Or will they now “profile” people to avoid those individuals whom they think will become ill? Considering that we encourage people who become intoxicated to avoid driving and rely on a taxicab instead, it seems like a contradictory move.

Not that I’m excusing my behavior that night (as I recall, it was a night at the Billy Goat Tavern after a day’s work at the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago, and I took a cab to a train station because I was feeling too queasy to just walk). But there has to be something more practical than this proposal – which is something the City Council will get to consider in coming weeks.

What other events are occurring on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan on this second day of Hanukkah?

THIS IS WALSH’S BIG ISSUE?:  Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., is grossly offended that he’s not allowed to use his official Congressional newsletter to wish people a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah.
RUSCITTI: The anti-Walsh?

The House rules that have been in place since the days when Congress was preoccupied with Watergate don’t want taxpayer dollars being used to promote anyone’s religion in particular. So they tell members of Congress to use general holiday greetings.

That has Walsh outraged, although I suspect much of his outrage is for show to get the kind of people who want to perceive a culture war against themselves to think of himself as the guy they should consider voting for come March 20, and again on Nov. 6.

I’m sure Walsh thinks he’s preparing for a general election fight between the winner of Raja Krishnamoorthi/Tammy Duckworth in the Democratic primary for the vacant congressional seat. Personally, I’d get a kick out of seeing GOP primary opponent Darlene Ruscitti (the regional superintendent of schools for DuPage County) beat Walsh, just so we could be spared his ideological nonsense come the general election.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ’12 – WHO DO WE HATE MORE?: It really seems that people are preparing to vote against someone for president in next year’s election cycle.
OBAMA: For, or against?

I couldn’t help but notice the poll released Tuesday by the Gallup Organization. In hypothetical elections of Barack Obama against Mitt Romney, and against Newt Gingrich, Obama wins 50 percent to 48 percent – which is so close that it amounts to a statistical tie.

But Gallup claims many people say they’re voting against the opponent, rather than for the person they picked. Only 18 percent of those surveyed picked the Republican because they want either Romney or Gingrich to be president. By comparison, only 39 percent picked Obama over Romney because they want Obama. The same goes for the 34 percent who picked Obama over Gingrich.

That makes 30 percent (29 percent if it’s Gingrich) who are voting AGAINST Obama, with 11 percent (15 percent if it’s Gingrich) voting against the GOP. What do we get from an Obama/Gingrich battle? 44 percent of the people voting for the candidate they can’t stand.

Only in America!


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