Yellow Cab controversy: Couple gives Nuggets seats to driver who couldn't afford tix for son

Westword's recent cover story about alleged abuse and discrimination at Denver's Yellow Cab and complaints about the regulatory system that's supposed to prevent such issues has generated heated debate, as well as one unique response: After reading the story, a Greeley couple decided to give Denver Nuggets seats to a driver who couldn't afford the game tickets he promised his son because he says he was hit with unexplained Yellow Cab fees.

As reported in the story, Ahmed Odawaay, a longtime Yellow Cab driver, promised his five-year-old son that he'd take him to a Nuggets game and buy him a pair of $90 Air Jordans in September 2007. But after Odawaay worked extra hours that week to make $964 in cab fares, Yellow Cab supposedly charged him $887.62 in unexplained fees, including a $486 "accelerated recurring note." When he asked for an explanation, he was told to leave or he'd be fired. So he drove home with just $76 for the week and sat in his cab outside his home, waiting for his son to go to bed because he couldn't bear to face him.

The story stuck with Greeley couple Janet and Mark Kendall. "I was shocked," says Janet about reading the account in Westword. "It kept me up all night after I read it. It literally made me sick."

So Janet, who owns a corrective medical skincare company in Northern Colorado, decided to do something about it. As Nuggets season ticket holders, the Kendalls had a few extra game tickets -- so they decided to send a couple to Odawaay. "That poor guy wanted to go to the Nuggets game so bad," says Janet. "We have tickets, and we can do that for him. That was a no-brainer."

Through Westword, the Kendalls connected with Odawaay and mailed him two tickets to the Nuggets' January 23 home game against the Indiana Pacers -- and they're good seats, too.

Odawaay, for his part, was thrilled. "That was a great feeling," he says. "We have so many nice people in this world, man. When I showed them to my son, he was happy and jumping around. He loves basketball. I am trying to make him a player."

Janet also did something else: She called Yellow Cab, a company the couple had patronized when they were in Denver, and told a manager that under no circumstances would they be using their services again.

"I will walk or use a B-Cycle bike," says Janet. "I absolutely hate to be cold, but I will freeze before I take another Yellow Cab."

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Denver taxicab controversy: Read Yellow Cab lawsuit alleging discrimination and abuse." Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner

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