Tuesday, February 28, 2006

TAXIS: D.C.'s So-Called 'Babushka' Cabbies

A FORMER COLLEAGUE a few years ago told me about how the only female cab drivers he seems to come across in Washington are "babushka" drivers. While finding a woman as a cab driver shouldn't really be any sort of shocker, the taxi industry is nonetheless dominated by males. Prior to Sunday night, I've only had one woman driver, and she looked like she could have been a stunt double for the late Anne Ramsey (of "Goonies" and "Throw Mama From the Train" fame).

ON SUNDAY, I was having dinner in Georgetown after work and because it was so cold, decided it would be worth my while to catch a cab home to Connecticut Avenue. So I hop in one cab on M Street, and I guess I came across one of these fabled "babushka" cabbies. She spoke with a very thick eastern European/Russian accent. Her neck was covered in various scarves. But to be clear, she was not wearing a headscarf like a typical babushka would wear. So I'm not sure what the qualifications you must meet in order to be classified as a so-called babushka driver. (Who gets to define those characteristics anyway? I doubt the D.C. Taxi Cab Commission has such definitions.)

Anyhow, she consulted with me -- through the thick plexiglass shield -- exactly which route I preferred to go home, which I appreciated. To stay within Zone 2, Rock Creek Parkway was the natural, quickest option. She told me about how she wished she could "win the Powerball" in order to "get riches." I agreed with her that that would be indeed nice.

So we pull up to my front door and I ask her -- in our meterless city -- how much the one-zone ride would be. "Most people pay me $15."

$15? Sorry. Maybe for two zones.

"Didn't we only travel within one zone?" I asked.

"Then pay me what's right, it's OK."

So I gave her $10.

>> "What Drives a New York Cabbie? The Stories." [The Washington Post]
>> "All Zoned Out" [The Washington Oculus]


At 4:24 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

She was no babushka but my most terrifying cab ride home involved a good ol' redneck woman cabbie of maybe 60, who picked me up in the wee hours of the morning after my shift at ESL. Let's just say that approaching a traffic circle underpass, we caught air...I mean all four wheels off the ground.

Just glad to be alive...

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