Letters to the Editor

From the week of July 15, 2004

Ticket to Ride

This land is your land: I can't tell you how touched I was by Laura Bond's "Death and Taxis," in the July 8 issue. Whenever I feel depressed about the state of this country, I will remember what Alemshet Workie said about this still being a land of such opportunity. I hope I'm lucky enough to ride in his cab one day!

Mary Aragon
Denver

Drive, he said: Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaase!!!! Why do you print these sympathetic articles about cab drivers? I own a car service here in Denver and it is total BS that there are too many cabbies in this town. We do 3000 to 4000 of their calls every month, and we have only been around for two years in June! Why? Because these so-called "drivers" treat their customers more poorly than any business I have ever seen. We have been swamped. (We operate similar to a taxi, but are registered as a limousine due to the taxicab lobbyists in this town.) The demand is there, but people do not want to take a ride from a guy with food stains on his shirt, or crud on the floor or seats of his taxi. Or from a guy who can't even understand plain English (or pretends to not understand) to take you less than a mile from downtown to Cherry Creek via I-70!

I have heard more horror stories in this business than I can even recount. These guys need to stop complaining about too many cabbies and start working on service. In Laura Bond's article, this guy Alemshet Workie talks about shining spotlights in their faces, telling people he is from a fictitious country, blah blah blah. Who wants to be treated that way when you're out on the town having fun? Yes, they can get pretty drunk; yes, they can be a pain on occasion. But they are paying customers, and they remember what they experienced that night (some of them!) -- even the cab ride home.

I want to thank you for the article, in the sense that some of us pay attention to what's going on. It can be dangerous and tiring. These guys feel that everyone is ungrateful. Our customers don't think so.

Jason
Denver

Danger is their business: Laura Bond's articles on the taxi industry in Denver were timely, factual and helped to humanize a business that has been stereotyped for years as being the place of people between jobs, unfamiliar with English and careless in their driving habits. Alemshet Workie's words helped reinforce that taxi drivers are caring professionals with families, bills and the same worries everyone else has -- and oh, by the way, cheerfully working the most dangerous job in America.

My only correction concerns the taxi-operating permits issued by the Public Utilities Commission. These are not "owned" by the taxi-leasing companies (Freedom, Metro and Yellow in Denver). They are held in trust for the citizens and businesses of Colorado. When those trustees are dissatisfied with the status quo, they must address the system and demand that the leasing companies provide better quality service to the consumer and to its professional drivers.

This is part of the course drivers have taken by forming ProTAXI. We are carrying the complaints, concerns and comments of our drivers and customers to government officials and the taxi-leasing companies. However, the system is more mindful when the trustees of these certificates get involved. Please consider calling your city council representative, your mayor or the PUC to let them know what you expect and demand when you get into a taxi.

Adam T. Bartolik, president
ProTAXI


To Tell the Truth

It happened to me, too: David Holthouse, I've admired your writing and stories in Westword for quite a long time, but I've never admired you more than now. I debated writing when " Stalking the Bogeyman" was printed in the May 13 edition, but figured you'd be inundated with letters from other abuse survivors. I wanted to write a letter of support after your arrest, but again.... However, having read your "Arrested Development" update in the July 8 edition, I am finally moved to write, regardless of how much e-mail you may have received.

"But, yes, it happened to me, too."

I was five the first time my brother molested me, and it continued until I was twelve. There were other abusers, but my brother was primary, and spilling details after all this time (35 years) and four years of therapy is immaterial. What I want to say to you is this: I applaud your courage, because as survivors we're shamed into silence. The more of us who speak out, the more courage we give those who are still silent and trying to live with the pain. Some of us don't survive because we feel we're completely alone and the only one this has ever happened to. Your most recent article carries the most important message of all: It happened to me, too. When we hear those words and know we aren't alone, we aren't the only ones, and we see that others have survived and even gone on to have productive, peace-filled lives (such as Marilyn Van Derbur), we know then that we can survive and that we aren't alone. You said you didn't know how to help these people. David, you already did. You spoke out. You told them "It happened to me," and they know they aren't alone. You've probably given many of these 2,000 people the courage to speak out for the first time and the courage to seek counseling to heal their emotional wounds. You don't know how to help these people? David, just keep speaking out and being the courageous and admirable man you are. That is more help than you can ever imagine. I speak from experience. Stay strong and please believe that your best and most encompassing revenge is that you did survive in spite of it all.

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