Dear PoP – Terrible Incident with a Cabbie and Subsequently the Police

“Dear PoP,

I had a rather rattling experience about an hour ago, and since the police were less then helpful, I thought I might turn to this forum.

This evening I left work on 18th and K for home. I live on 15th and R, but it was raining so I decided to take a cab. I got inside, and noticed his chair was reclined all the way back, and he was sipping for a large coffee mug. Suddenly he was driving only with his knees, and drinking with both hands. I asked him if he would please drive with his hands on the wheel. He grumbled, but complied. Less than a minute later he turns on the overhead light, again starts driving with his knees and starts checking his teeth in the rear view mirror – you can’t make this up. I once again ask him to put his hands on the wheel.

He doesn’t listen, and leaves the light on. I noticed his eyes were very bloodshot, and he had very dark circles. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk or just exhausted. At this point we are a block from my house, so I ask him to pull over on the corner. I go to pay and he grabs the money and tells me he only has $20, no change. I told him that I am going to need change, so I take my money back. He grabs the wheel and starts racing up 15th to the gas station. He starts yelling at me. Calling me a stupid bitch and an ugly whore. I was quite afraid, and asked him to pull into the gas station. I pick up my phone to call 911, and he starts screaming, saying this is going to get ugly and he’s going to fuck me up if I’m calling the cops.

As I went to read his cabbie license he slammed the visor shut and said I could not have it. I wanted to take a picture and see if it matched the man driving. I was terrified and hoped out at the station. I never had good service on U street, and can’t get a signal. I went into the gas station, and the attendant was extremely unhelpful. There was a young man in line who I think felt sorry for me – I was visibly shaking at this point. The man went over and talked to the cabbie. I was too shaken to listen. I’m not sure what ensued, but he came back with the man’s name and number, and said that the cabbie had “waved the extra fee to drive to the gas station” and then would “drive me home for free”. I was not getting back in the cab. I didn’t know what else to do so I paid him and got his license plate number as well.

That is long – but sadly it doesn’t end there. I was standing outside the door of the gas station, waiting for him to leave, but he sat there forever. I didn’t trust him not to follow me home. He finally left and i started to walk out. I get on the corner of 15th and U and see him idling by the light. So instead of walking home I walked to the police precinct on U street. I walked in the doors, and the first thing the middle aged woman behind the desk was – “what do you want”. I’m a young lady, standing there in jeans and a tshirt, clearly shaking, and this is how she treats me. Well, that was enough to make me burst into tears.

I try to explain the story, but honestly, I was a mess. A young, female cop walks up the front, stands in front of me with her arms crossed and asks me what happen. No offer to sit down, to help me calm down – she asks, me, at least 3 times, what I did to escalate or provoke him into yelling and threatening me. I was aghast. I said no, and repeated that I had his name, id and license number, and that I was afraid he was possibly driving drunk. The women who was at the front desk (she was not in uniform) tells me twice that he wouldn’t just yell and that I must have done something to cause his anger. For the first time in my life I was speechless. I explained who happened but they still said I provoked him.

When I finished, the officer and the woman both stood there, arms crossed, and simply stared at me. I started sobbing louder and they just kept staring. The officer said she could not to anything. I was just as uncomfortable as I was in the cab, and simply ran out of the building.

I’m still in shock about the whole thing. I’ve had very little interaction with police, but I know that is not how one should treat someone coming into the station looking for help. Would they blame a rape victim that walked in? I should call in the morning and ask for a supervisor I guess, but in my shock I didn’t really think to ask for the officers name. ! don’t really know what to do. It didn’t seem like anyone else was in the building at 9:15pm on a Saturday. But will it do any good? At this point I’m more furious at the way they treated me than at the way the cabbie treated me.”

161 Comment

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you, but it might be some small comfort to know this is fairly common. A similar thing happened to a good friend of mine. She got into a fight with a cab driver who was overcharging her ($40 for a 10-minute cab ride) and the police put HER in jail for refusing to pay the full amount. A similar thing happened to me a couple years later.

    Best thing is to not take cabs at all, but if you have to and you end up in a bad situation just get away as soon as you can and don’t bother with the police. If the police do show up do your best not to appear upset. They really don’t like it when women are crying or otherwise distraught and will immediately side with the cab driver.

    • What the hell kind of small comfort would that be?

      • It makes it less personal. It makes no logical sense, but horrible experiences can lead to self-doubt, depression, poor self-esteem, self-blame, etc. Hearing that it’s more widespread than just you allows you to stop saying, “what’s wrong with me, that this happened to me”, and start saying “what’s wrong with them, that they are doing this”. Which can be a small comfort in the larger struggle to move past it.

    • You’re ridiculous.

    • Well I feel better knowing I’m not the only one who’s had this happen to me. What’s so ridiculous about it?

    • you paid the cabbie?! jesus. I woulda got out and started kickin his f***in car.

  • Wow, that is awful. You should email Cathy Lanier, and maybe post a complaint to that police district’s listserv. I’m not sure what district the station was in — you can check at this link, and also find a link to the listservs:,a,1239,q,543336,mpdcNav_GID,1523,mpdcNav,|.asp

    Here is a contact page for Lanier:|31417|

    As for the cabbie, you can file a complaint with the Taxi board.,a,3,q,615373.asp

  • i’m sorry this happened.
    fuck taking a cab in this town. no one should ever be threatened by the person providing you a service.

    • Well, this is obviously an exaggeration. I take cabs all the time. I have had one frightening experience along the lines of this post, but all my other experiences have been fine. There are as many types of cab drivers as there are types of people. Some of them are very nice and pleasant.

      The OPs mistake here (not that I am blaming her) was to fail to immediately bail once she felt her safety was at issue. She should have gotten out of the cab the minute she felt unsafe with his driving, rather than prolonging the confrontation and doing things to exacerbate it (e.g., trying to take a picture). In an encounter with a crazy person, your instinct should be to get away ASAP.

      • it’s not an exaggeration. it’s a suggestion. my experience has not been good with cabbies and i find them not worth it and the poor service and the corruption levels of the cab companies in this town piss me off. you feel differently. so be it.

      • M,

        I like the way you take the liberty to clarify the OP’s story for us. Maybe you should re-tell it without all the exaggeration cause I’d like to know “the real story”

        This story, as told, is outside the realm of your reality huh?

        • Sorry, you misunderstood…I don’t think her story is an exaggeration at all. The exaggeration I was referring to is the commenter who said that the answer is to never take a cab.

          • It’s like being abstinent if you want to avoid any possibility of getting an STD. Maybe you shouldn’t avoid taking cabs entirely, but the more you do it and the more you do it under risky circumstances (alone or at night) the more likely you are to have something horrible happen.

      • The OP _did_ try to end the ride (after twice telling the guy to drive with both hands… are you saying she should’ve ended the ride at that point), but he wouldn’t let her go, claiming he couldn’t make change:

        “At this point we are a block from my house, so I ask him to pull over on the corner. I go to pay and he grabs the money and tells me he only has $20, no change. I told him that I am going to need change, so I take my money back. He grabs the wheel and starts racing up 15th to the gas station.”

        • I REALLY don’t mean to play the blame the victim game; but at the same time, I think it’s important to develop a healthy instinct about when to bail on sketchy situations rather than confronting a crazy/drunk/drugged person. Only the OP can say in retrospect if she thinks that she was receiving signals earlier in the incident that in the future, she will pay attention to and take action on more quickly. I can say that based on my experiences and how I read her story, that I might have just gotten out once I thought he was driving strangely, instead of pushing the issue with him. This is borne out of my own experience with a crazy cab driver (who threatened to hit some bikers with a metal bar he had in the car, then threatened to kill me). In retrospect I should have gotten out the second he started acting weird, and that is what I’ll do in the future.

    • Reading this story made me start shaking uncontrollably, as I recalled two of my own horror stories with DC cab drivers and the police’s eagerness to blame me, the victim.

      I’ve stopped taking cabs and try my best to warn other women not to do it. Some of these guys are ok, but a lot of them come from cultures where it’s commonly believed that a woman who’s out alone deserves to have horrible things happen to her. Sometimes the cab driver will act upon that belief. I don’t understand why the police are so dismissive of it.

      • Are you people crazy? “a lot of them come from cultures where it’s commonly believed that a woman who’s out alone deserves to have horrible things happen to her.” What an unfair generalization if I’ve ever heard one. A lot of these men are honest, hardworking people that would never pull anything like this. I’ve taken numerous cabs in DC and have never had an issues like this. However, this post will remind me to be more cautious and observant of my driver before I get into the car.

        • “A lot” doesn’t mean all. I had a Chinese driver once who was very nice and respectful.

        • so you complain about generalizations while offering one yourself? smooooth.

        • sorry folks, but it’s true. many cabbies come from a culture where they don’t have a lot of respect for women, especially western women who are dressed in a way they think it slutty and are out alone. tolerance and peace and all that, but it’s f’ing true. hoping it’s not wont’ make it go away.

      • yep. I’ve had some great ones, and I’ve had some bad ones.

        I’ve had two make disparaging comments about my ethnic background. One of whom made some disgusting sexual comments.

        There are definitely cultures that look down on women in general, Western women, women who are single, women who go out, drink….

  • So messed up, on all counts. Just ugh.

  • This is why I generally don’t take cabs. I’ve taken maybe 2 in the last 6 months.

    Cabs are also the worst drivers, hands down. When I’m on the road with them, I am always really careful around them.

    • i wish i had your patience. unfortunately i’ve succumbed to the urge to tell a cabbie off a few times.

      my biggest pet peeve: when they cut across 3 lanes of heavy traffic nearly causing an accident just to get a fare

      • Well, I’ve done more than tell a few off… Once I was crossing at the crosswalk at Union Station and one nearly hit a friend of mine. Let’s just say his front fender got a nice hole in it from my boot.

        But when riding on the road moving I can’t always do something like that, so most of the time I just move on.

    • I’ve managed to not take in four years, even when I lived out in VA where there was no public transit near my apartment. It’s just too scary.

  • I’m sorry that happened to you. It is because of stories like this that I refuse to take cabs unless of out of pure necessity.

  • Although it can be difficult to keep your composure in times of great stress or emergency, you really do yourself a disservice by becoming hysterical. When things like this are happening, you really need to stay calm and organized and communicate well. If you don’t, you make it harder for people to help you and you put yourself at risk of being taken advantage of further.

    • Although I’m pretty sure she knows this, +1

      If you burst into a Police Station and started crying that the Cabbie called me a bitch and is waiting outside, I wouldn’t know how to help you either.

      Yes they could have been more compassionate but no laws were broken.

      You should definitely go back and make a formal complaint against the officers.

      • Really, you wouldn’t know how to help?

        How about escorting the woman home to protect her from the insane, possibly drunk, angry sexist man who made serious physical threats against her and is lurking around nearby?

        I’m no police officer but I would do that if she’d approached me on the street with that story.

    • This may be true, but it sounds like the OP was very upset and not in a position to be able to snap her fingers and suddenly be A-OK and not crying.

      • You don’t have to be A-OK but this is exactly the position in which you need to be as calm, cool, and collected as possible. It’s in your best interest.

        • Um, I think the OP would have liked to have composed herself, but it’s not always possible. Your body really can take over.

      • Yeah, you’d be surprised by how the body has a mind of its own when you’ve been exposed to traumatic events. My sexual assault by DC cab driver was back in 2006, but my heart is racing and my hands are shaking uncontrollably just thinking about it again today. I kinda wish I hadn’t seen this post; it’s dredging up a lot of horrible memories involving cabs and police response.

  • I take a lot of cabs, and what happened here is very unusual. I can say I’ve never had a driver drive with his knees while looking in the mirror. I did have a guy a couple weeks ago tweeze his face while driving, but at least he kept one hand on the wheel and his eyes on the road. True, cabs in this city are dirty, the drivers often don’t know the routes, and react defensively if you tell them where to go, but I rarely if ever feel unsafe. There are also a lot of really nice, competent ones out there.

    I agree with M that the best thing to do if you feel unsafe is to get out at the first opportunity.

    • i agree with kenyondweller. i’ve lived in this town for 12 years and take cabs on average once a month and i have never had an experience like this with the cab driver being aggressive towards me. i’m sorry that this happened, but in my experience it is not common.

      • Likewise. Have taken cabs in DC for the last 11 years and have rarely had a problem. There have been some drivers that drive too slowly or sloppily (and have lectured them), some have needed showers, but generally decent service. The worst was a ride to National Airport where he tried to jack up the price about $8 (knew the pries well from frequent trips). I took his name and permit # and then told him I’m reporting him to the taxi commission, to which he apologized, pleaded to forgive him, and insisted that I pay nothing to him. I paid him what he should have gotten and told him to never do that again because next time someone may be more harsh with him.

        • I agree that crazy incidents like this are not common, but they do happen. And in my experience, as a female, when I am traveling alone. (I’ve never had anything this bad happen, but there have been incidents.)

          I wonder if those who have never had a problem are male or female — it would not surprise me if the posters above who mentioned gender dynamics are on to something.

          • Agreed. I’ve never had anything this bad happen (yet), but definitely have had my fair share of sketchy encounters, always when I’m alone and usually if I’m out “late” (i.e. after dark, meaning anytime after 5:30 in winter) or am on my way back from meeting friends. It’s always, are you married? Do you have a boyfriend? How much did you have to drink? Do you party a lot? Etc., etc.

            If you’re a lone woman trapped in a car with a strange man, you know these are not lines of questioning that lead to good places. I also had to tell my girlfriend to stop kissing me goodbye when I take a cab to the airport for business trips, because one cabbie freaked me out so much I never wanted to repeat the experience, or have a worse one. Luckily I was only on my way to National. I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been headed to Dulles.

            I would also be interested to see how many women have had bad experiences in DC cabs, compared to men. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

          • I have heard from many of my female friends of cab situations. In fact, some more severe.
            Some examples – a) being asked to sit in the front seat “because she is so pretty.” then after saying no being asked to get out of the cab. – sexual harassment, b)cab driver trying to enter the residence after leaving the cab – given she wasn’t sober and had a hard time trying to get into the house. He acted as if he was getting out to help but after the door was open, he attempted to enter, stating he was just using the restroom. Luckily her roommates boyfriend interceded – near rape!
            I agree that getting upset about the situation isn’t going to do any good, but the situation shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Solution – report every incident.

          • NEVER NEVER NEVER agree to sit in the front seat. I did once, because there were other people in the back when I got in. After the driver dropped those people off, he drove us to a dark, empty parking lot where he grabbed my arm and slid his hand up my skirt. I screamed, hit him with my free arm, and managed to pull my other arm free and run away before the situation got any worse. But it wouldn’t have happened at all if I’d been in the back.

          • Agreed. I commute by cab daily and the problem drivers are really awful. I have definitely had issues with cabbies behaving aggressively and inappropriately towards me. One driver started screaming at me because I asked him to take a certain (faster) route. Part of it seems to come from dealing with men from overly patriarchal cultures who look down on Western women and women in general. Part of it is just skeevy men who take advantage of their position to keep hitting on women who are clearly not interested. I don’t think that men really grasp how creeped-out and uncomfortable it can make a woman who is out alone at night being treated like the captive audience of one of these men. It is frightening to be stuck in a car with a man who has less than stellar intentions and be counting on him to get you where you need to go. The OP’s experience (and the experience of the rape survivor who was attacked by her cabbie downthread) are extreme, but they are not outside the realm of what I have experienced. And it is disheartening to see so many people dismissing her experience. I would really be interested to see the gender breakdown on these comments.

    • I have lived in DC since 1991 and take cabs to and from work daily (so that works out to around 10,000 cab rides). In all that time, I have NEVER dealt with a cab driver like the one described by the OP. Not saying it didn’t happen, just as someone who deals with cabs alot, for a long time, I have NEVER seen it.

      I have been overall pretty pleased with 90% of the cabs I take (the 10% have probably been too smelly or had meters or routes that were hinky). Personally, I think the most dangerous thing about cab rides in this city is the olefactory assault from some of the unwashed drivers.

      Some suggestions to a smoother experience when dealing with DCs cab system.

      – When you enter a cab and have nothing less than a $20, ask the driver if he has change – do this before you tell him where you are going even. If he does not, then flag another cab.

      – Read the rules and regulations that are posted in the back of every DC cab. That way if a cabdriver ever tries something hinky, you will know your rights.

      – Tell the driver you will need a receipt, and ask if it will have the taxi number on it.

      – DO NOT get into a screaming match with a cabby. If there is any disagreement, just get his info off the visor, and make sure to get a receipt, and tell them you will contact his company. If he overcharges you and has you complaining to his bosses, he may loose his cab if.

      – I also like to read or listen to headphones when ever taking cabs, cuts down on unwanted chit chat.

  • That cab driver should never be allowed to drive a car again, and those worthless cops should be on permanent desk duty. But this is DC, so neither will ever happen.

    • If you take every cab driver who’s ever sexually assaulted or threatened a customer off the streets, you’d hardly have any cabs left.

      • And then they could be replaced with professional cab drivers and cab companies that act like they belong in a major U.S. city and not in Accra? Sounds like exactly what we need. Maybe then I could call for a cab and have one show up in less than an hour. Maybe then I wouldn’t have to keep hearing stories like this one from many of the women I know.

    • Uh, being on desk duty didn’t seem to work out too well in this situation, so perhaps you cook up another fantasy punishment for them?

      • I bet that exposing them to that fantastic wit of yours for even a short time would be punishment aplenty, don’t you?

    • It sounds like the officers are already on desk duty.

    • me

      Re: the cope, was the woman cop a redhead? I have had a really bad experience with a redheaded cop- she was a total bitch and extremely unhelpful. I can’t remember her name right now though.

  • This would also be a good time to mention that Holla Back DC! is trying to make Right Rides, a NYC based service, available in DC. RightRides provides safe cabs for women and LGBTQ individuals. You can read more about it and donate here:

    • +1000. I’m a huge fan of RightRides. They have a great reputation in NYC. Would love to have something like that here.

    • Wait is it only for women, gay and transgendered people?

      • It’s for anyone who wants a safer cab experience, straight men included. I think they mention LBTQs and women because we’re the ones who are usually victimized by cab drivers and would use this service the most.

        • Exactly. Limiting it to one group of disadvantaged people would be considered discriminatory.

        • From the RightRides description of their service:

          “The RightRides program ONLY drives women and LGBTQ individuals home. “

    • Why not just demand that the public officials fix the current system instead of recreating a new cab system? That doesn’t really fix the problem.

      • It takes business away from the existing flawed system, and in the menatime it gives us an alternative that would hopefully prvent more people from being threatened, assaulted, raped, cheated, etc. Change will happen a lot quicker if you hurt the system financially. Unfortunately, a lot of people continue to take cabs despite the risks so they don’t have an incentive to change.

      • Can we start with demanding public officials not be corrupt, then trust them with protecting the citizenry?

        • In other jurisdictions, yes. But in DC? Ha! I wish that were possible here, but politicians can pretty much do what they please and be reelected infinitely in DC.

  • I rarely take cabs, not because I have been assaulted like you were, but because mostly they stink, are in poor condition, and the drivers are reckless. That said, I think it is a good idea for everyone that when you get in, make sure the driver’s ID is visible and make note of his/her name and ID number. I started doing that after I left something of value in a cab.

    • I travel to New Orleans quite a lot, and I recently noticed that the cabs have clear, uniform stickers on their windows with the cab number. I noticed this when I realised that the airport cab stand attendant hand writes that number on the cab flyer they give you.

      It’s a very nice system. None of this back-of-the-viser B.S.

  • basically, when dealing with people, the key is to always always keep your cool.

    when the guy starts driving crazy, say, oh…. i’d like to get out right here. thank you. no explanation. no complaints. just leave the situation.

    picture taking always escalates rudeness and craziness.

  • I would contact your councilmember, or the Chair of the Judiciary Committee (which oversees the police) or the Chair of the transporation committee (which might oversee taxicabs). If you put pressure on their staff, they might contact the police for you and get a better resolution.

  • 3D cops down that way suck. I lived on 15th and U for 4 years and all my experiences with the cops around there were horrendous. They were consistently rude, unhelpful, accusatory, and hostile.

    Far cry from 4D, where I live now and where the officers are always courteous, professional and helpful.

    • Didn’t see your post when I was posting mine below. Obviously I disagree. I’ve been very impressed with the MPD, both at the precinct and in my neighborhood.

    • The couple times I stepped in that station (just minor administrative items) they have been very friendly and curteous.

    • I have lived in that part of 3D for four years. My experiences with the 3D police have been a really mixed bag. Some were courteous and great and others, well, ugh. Four years isn’t long enough to tell whether the culture is trending in the right direction, but I hope it is, and I hope the OP ran into some hold outs.

  • Candidly, I was really taken aback by the first half of this post — the part about the cabbie — but when I got to the part about her visit to the police station I began to doubt her credibility. I live in the neighborhood and have been to that precinct several times and have never witnessed the police treat people that way. The worst I’ve ever seen is indifference.

    My suggestion is that the OP contact the line sergeant at the precinct asap and request a sit down with him. He’ll help clear this up.

    • It’s not unheard of. Often the police are instructed to encourage victims to not file a police report, so it looks like there’s less crime overall and they’re doing a good job. The easiest way to discourage the victim is to make him/her feel like it was their fault.

    • Your experience is just that – YOUR experience. Other people will have different experiences including being treated poorly by the police.

    • I have lived in the area all my life and have sadly had many encounters with the police (and more often with 911 dispatchers) when reporting crimes that are taking place (like robberies, burglaries and assaults). They make it sound like my view of the world is too conservative and that these things happen. It’s that kind of crazy bullshit that keeps this city back.

      The OP’s description of the police station is (I’m going out on a limb here guys..but do remember something from psych class) probably what these people are used to dealing with in their own homes – If you get yelled at or beat, it’s because you did something wrong.

      Bottom line, these people are in the wrong profession to be projecting their own beliefs…

  • UGH, so sorry you had to live through this. I’ve had similar lame responses from the 3rd district police HQ staff, but never on an issue so critical to personal and public safety.

    I’d recommend filing a complaint about the police response:

    And also contacting the 3rd district commander ([email protected]):,a,1239,Q,544925,mpdcNav_GID,1536,.asp

    • +1
      Contacting the district commander is a great idea. I had to make a minor complaint about an experience in the 5th district and the commander had my problem fixed in a matter of hours.

      • Yeah, I think district by district there’s a lot of variation.

        First district is nothing but professional, but there’s a lot of trouble, just based on the news lately, with 4th district. 3rd could be the same way.

  • I am sorry that this happened to you. I second the earlier suggestion to take this directly to Chief Lanier – it sounds all too similar to the recent situation where the women were assaulted verbally and physically, and the police on the scene did not detain the suspects. I know that that is still being investigated, so your story of police additional neglect/inattention would probably be of interest to the Chief – maybe there’s a pattern that emerging here.
    I can imagine that at this point you might be wishing it would all just go away, but I would encourage you to find the strength to pursue it. Thanks.

  • For a town that tolerates multiple well-armed youth militias, it’s no wonder the police were snarky with you about your little insignficant problem.

    I really wish the OP would post here the following — the name of the driver and license plate of the cab, and the names and badge numbers of the 2 officers. It’s the only way to justice, rat em out on PoP…

    • Youth militias. Thats a good one.

    • Being justifiably afraid for your personal safety is not a “little insignificant problem”. I don’t think you really understand what it’s like to be a woman in a situation like this – the power dynamics can be truly scary AND dangerous.

    • who tolerates them? you don’t understand the issue of thats how you look at it.

    • Youth militias? Please. You’re giving them too much credit. These kids might be capable of serious violence, but they aren’t even remotely smart enough or well enough organized to be considered militias.

  • I agree. It’s a horrible story, but I have the feeling we aren’t getting the whole picture. Something about it just doesn’t sound right. I’m sure the essence of this story is true, but I think we are missing some details.

  • I’m not going to debate the OP’s experience. Let’s not blame the victim. OP, I’m sorry this happened to you.

    I do want to stand up for some cabbies, though. I have lived in DC for 12 years, taken lots of cabs, and have never, ever had an issue like this. In fact, I’ve had far more good experiences than bad. I had a perfectly delightful conversation with a man who immigrated from Pakistan last week. Let’s not assail cultures or swaths of people, but rather discuss individual experiences.

    • Then you don’t fit the demographic of people that the cabbies think they can f- with. Congratulations.

      Cabbies don’t f- with me either because I am an intimidating person.

      My wife on the other hand (when in a cab without me), get’s told to be a good little lady and be quiet.

      • +10,000,000

        Please stop thinking *your* experiences are a representative sample. I have had plenty of ridiculous experiences with DC cabbies (It’s your first day on the job? You don’t know where Union Station is? You don’t know the difference between NW and SE? BULLSHIT!) and have refused to pay a time or two when they really irritate me, but I lived in NYC long enough to call them out on their bullshit up front, and as a guy I’ve never felt like I was in physical danger.

        I have lots of female friends, however, with real horror stories, often late at night, often beginning with the kinds of personal questions mentioned earlier (are you single, etc). Just because this crap hasn’t happened to YOU, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

        (I should mention that I’ve also met many fantastic, wonderful, helpful, honest, and hardworking cabbies in DC, but the ratio does not seem to very good. On the whole, the cabbies in DC are the worst I’ve ever experienced in the US)

        • Yes, yes, and yes.

        • +100 and I have to say it’s really encouraging to see how many PoPville men understand that women, in the same circumstances, often have very different experiences.

          (I’ve also had great cabbies here, often with fascinating stories about growing up in Afghanistan or as a child soldier in the Congo – no joke – but as a group, DC cab drivers are the worst I’ve experienced anywhere in the world, including Accra, Jakarta, and Quito. Sadly, the high ratio of creeps with hack licenses makes me wary of engaging with even the pleasant ones.)

      • Wrong. I’m a petite woman. I’m not intimidating.

        “gets told to be a good little lady and be quiet”

        Are you serious? This doesn’t even seem realistic.

  • I’ve had cabby’s ask me out while in their cab. It’s very uncomfortable.

    • I’ve had a COP ask me out after writing up a report on my stolen car that was crashed near Wonderland.

  • I too have taken many cabs in DC and never had any real problems. My wife on the other hand has had a host of issues. I think this is the key point. Men and women have different experiences in cabs.

    I do think the suggestion above about not trying to escalate the situation is well taken. If you don’t feel safe in the cab, just get out if at all possible. If you can get the cab drivers name, great do it and report it, but if you can’t just let it go. Also remember, the cabs have license plates, even if you can get the the info from the Hack license, the taxi cab commision still may be able to do something with that

    • +1. It’s too bad we can’t see a show of hands of women with bad cab experiences and men with bad cab experiences.

      As a man my cab experiences have been for the most part fine, with the usual complaints about smelly drivers, sloppy/dirty cabs, and once-in-a-blue-moon attempts to overcharge.

      As a woman, I’m sure there’s a different experience. Even when I’ve ridden in cabs with women I’ve noticed many drivers are much more interested in chatting with my friends and/or trying to scope them out by constantly adjusting the rear-view mirror.

  • Really sorry that happened to you. What a shitty experience. My rule of thumb with cabs is to get out at the first sign of trouble. Screw getting change if you’re scared. Just get away.

  • She is only having a little bit from the police. I wish she could see how they deal with a Hispanic person that go to the station to complaint. The police ask questions like the complainer is the criminal and there is not courtesy for the hispanic. That is why they avoid to interact with police.

    • I’ve experienced this. I look hispanic and was treated very poorly until I corrected the pronunciation of my last name (it’s Italian but they were pronouncing it the Spanish way). Once they realized I was just a white girl they were a lot nicer.

      • I should add that this happened in Fairfax County where people in general are a lot more racist, but I’m sure it happens to a lesser extent in DC.

  • No comment on the cabbie, but I am absolutely disgusted with how the police treated you. I would recommend emailing Ward 1 city councilmember Jim Graham ([email protected]) about this, explaining briefly why you entered the police station (because you feared for your safety, details about cabbie = irrelevant, why you went to the police station = irrelevant, how they treated you was absolutely unacceptable regardless of any of that), explain in as much detail as you can how the police treated you. I have received excellent follow-up every single time I’ve emailed Jim Graham over the past several years, and satisfactory resolution to the issue probably more than half of the time.

    • p.s. I have never had any interaction with Cathy Lanier personally, however, I have found that in general, satisfactory follow-up seems to be less of a rarity when bringing them to Jim Graham’s attention than when trying to take on a DC govt agency by myself. You could email both of them (on the same email, so Lanier will see that Graham is on there too), my overall point is: when a representative of the DC government mistreats you, bring it to the attention of your councilmember (I’m not clear on whether you live in Ward 1 or not, but the police station you went to is in Ward 1, and I’m sure Jim Graham would be “interested” to know how officers are treating people in his ward.

  • Very sorry this happened to you. It sounds like you were victimized twice. If I were you, I would launch a letter campaign with the cab commission, the cab company, the police precinct, etc… If you do not know the names of the offending officer and secretary, find them by inquiring who was staffing the front desk at that time and on that day. Sounds like you already have enough info on the driver. Use certified mail. The lesson for these idiots is, you screw me once, and I will screw you 20 times over until you get the message. That’s what I’d do, anyway.

    • 2010-0107 SOA edits v3.docx

    • Gah the over-reaction on here. “Launch a letter campaign”? More hysterics. Why not start by contacting the 3D Commander or watch sergeant, and the taxicab commission, and taking it from there? That way you actually have something to take to the chief or your council member in the event you don’t get satisfaction. Starting at the top really isn’t the best way to address an issue like this.

      • I think it depends what one is after. From the point of view that what this individual officer did was wrong and that this individual officer is in need of some sort of discipline, going to her supervisor would make sense.

        On the other hand, from the point of view that there is a broader systemic problem wherein police behavior causes citizens to become reluctant to report crimes or seek help from the police because the police will be belligerent to them or otherwise not take them seriously, seeking a response only from that person’s supervisor is unlikely to address the broader issue.

        Note: yes, I realize that nothing about this individual situation here is suggestive of a broader problem. I was approaching this from that perspective already due to prior experience suggestive of similar issues. Anyway, I’d be more interested in doing what I can to make sure nobody else is treated that way by the MPD in the future than in having that particular officer disciplined, and honestly, it is really hard for me to believe that any MPD officer would decide unilaterally, in the absence of a workplace culture that was perceived as encouraging or at least tolerating such behavior, that acting like that was ok.

  • I am incredibly disturbed by the reactions by the female officers. It is no wonder why most people (mainly women) fail to report assaults when they are not supported by law enforcement. I am also disturbed by the readers that question the validity of this story. Speaking as someone who has been in a similar situation, you cannot control the way you react to trauma. We should be supportive.

    • “I am also disturbed by the readers that question the validity of this story.”

      Why? It sounds as if you believe any woman who claims to be a victim is always a victim, and we shouldn’t ask questions.

      Well, I’ve been around long enough to know that everyone’s story, even those of victims, deserves scrutiny.

  • Truth be told these stories often turn out a lot worse, culminating either with rape, physical assault, or the victim being arrested. Try your best to put the incident behind you.

  • The police will nto help you with cabs. Your best bet is to start yelling and when they say they’re going to fuck you up, insist that, no, in fact, you will cause them serious bodily harm if they come close to you. Also, dont hesitate to get out at a stop light. If they accuse you of not paying the fare, tell them to fuck off and call the police if they want to.

    Its sad, but every time you get in a cab, be prepared to be confrontational and aggressive. Also always sit on the right side of the car. If you can, if anything makes you uncomfortable simply get out and leave without saying a word. The police may get called, but they cant catch little thugs with tasers and guns, do you think they’re going to find you? doubtful.

    • The cops won’t help you/call the cops/further engage with an unbalanced person/instigate an altercation/make physical threats.

      All really good information coming from Anon here. Take note, everyone!

  • first of all you … ****** realizes my opinion will be censored*****

  • The cops could’ve been more supportive and for that I would file a complaint with Chief Lanier.

    But, in all honesty, what was the OP expecting them to do? The cab was last seen in the vicinity of 15th & U. The police station is at 17th & V. By the time the OP got to the station, he could be halfway to NE. So, was she expecting the cops to put out an APB on this cab driver for driving with his knees, not having correct change, and name-calling? In a perfect world, sure. In DC, that was not really going to happen.

    I am not saying this to be heartless, but more realistic. Focus on what was done right here. You made him pull over in a well lit area with a lot of witnesses. I would’ve called 911 from inside the Sunoco and not right next to the cab driver who may/may not be drunk.

    The complaint here really needs to be directed to the Taxicab Commission ( The cabbie seemed to have violated a couple of Passenger Rights and if you have some information on the driver/cab, you can file a formal complaint.

    • Once she requested to be let out and he refused and sped off then that turns into a serious crime. People have been charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment for things like this.

  • This is another example of why the license display requirements are a total joke and must be changed. In NY, every cab has the cabbie’s license posted clearly for anyone in the back seat to see. In DC, they occasionally let the visor down. If they suspect there is any way that you have an issue with them, there is no way you are getting their cabbie license number. The cabbies know they won’t get reported or caught, and they act accordingly.

    For those seeking to avoid the regular cabs, I recommend MATS. They are a bit more expensive, but well worth it. In my experience they are professional, courteous, and safe.

    • Last month I needed a very early morning cab to DCA. I ended up calling MATS after reading their yelp reviews. The phone operator and the driver were both courteous and professional. It was about 5 dollars more than I would have paid a cab driver, but it was worth it. I’ll call them again next time – definitely.

  • I think it’s best to take a cab from the local major cab companies, i.e Diamond Cab. Not saying you’re guaranteed good service, but you’ll have more contact info if anything happens and don’t want the cops involved.

  • If someone is mugged walking home, people say, why didn’t you take a cab home, what were you doing walking on the street late at night? If someone’s attacked or harassed in a cab, it’s why didn’t you walk? You can’t win.

    fwiw, most cab drivers I have had have been fine, although I have had to bail early once or twice due to terrible driving. And the police at that precinct were incredibly kind to me when I was a crime victim.

    I also think it’s really important to say to the OP, I am terribly sorry this happened to you. I hope you are doing okay today. You may find it helpful to contact Chief Lanier as a way of taking back some control on this situation. (as a crime victim myself, I found one of the hardest things to get over was the feeling that I had no control over my safety or the situation.)

    • people aren’t really blaming the victim. they are offering smart solutions to avoid trouble. and yes, sadly, you must actively take part in avoiding trouble in life. please try to keep up with the differences.
      no one thinks the cabbies behavior was justifiable.

      • Really? There’s comments saying “never take a cab in this town” and a lot of comments saying “you should’ve gotten out sooner, why did you say anything to the driver, why didn’t you get out immediately, why were you crying at the police, why couldn’t you get ahold of yourself”. That sounds like victim blaming to me. And posts about muggings always have a comment to the effect of “what was this person doing walking in that area/at that time”. The point of my comment is that there is a lot of messaging to women that somehow we’re always to blame for being a victim, even when we are trying to be safe.

        I do agree that no one said the cabbie’s behavior was justifiable, and I have no idea where you got that from my comment.

  • while noble (and technically the right thing to do) at some point your instinct for self preservation needs to take priority over your desire to correct the drivers behavior or escalate the situation by trying to get him in trouble.

    • I’ve asked some cab drivers about life as a cabby. Cab drivers have good stories about us too. You know, the drunks throwing up in the cab, or not knowing their own address; or just being drunk a-holes.

      That being said; I’m also sorry that this happened to the OP.

      Maybe PoP should start an ask-a-cabby segment. I wonder why the police weren’t nicer to her. Also should start an ask-an-officer segment on PoP too. Everyone write in and we can comment!

      • Your comparison is irrelevant. Do you realize the inherent difference between someone being an a-hole, and a driver risking someone’s life by irresponsible driving, threatening their safety, and then possibly lurking outside and waiting for the person to exit the store?

  • none of this is surprising in a town like DC, or Detroit, or New Orleans, or Baltimore, or Port au Prince.

    get a gun

    • What???? She was supposed to pull a gun on her cabbie? No thanks.

      Also: The cabs in NOLA are waaaaaay better than here. And there are hardly any cabs in Detroit. If you are going to troll, at least be internally consistent.

    • Oh, RIGHT! Because they are all majority African American! Why didn’t I think of that.

      Why don’t you take your racist ass back to middle America.

      • Um, I think that was in reference to the fact that they’re cities with relatively high crime rates. But the hysteria and shrieking is super nice.

  • the mayor has made cab drivers a protected class; they’ve only become more brazen.

  • Everyone – trust your instincts. If it feels bad – it is. At first bad feeling, tell the driver to pull over. Don’t be nice, don’t think through all the ways it3447 might be excusable. Say you are going to throw up. Get out. Remember the license plate and call 911. If you need to – run. Scream and knock on random houses. Chances are good you will find a helpful person. Say the driver has a weapon -(he does – a 6000 pound vehicle)

    If officials in any capacity treat you badly, ask for a supervisor right away. People in the country have to anticipate tornadoes and snakes, people in the city have to anticipate crazies and belligerent officials. (Not accept – but anticipate.)

    • The best post on this thread.

      Another caveat: women, as a whole, are socialized to consider the other person’s feelings, sometimes even to their own detriment. Stop second guessing where your discomfort is coming from, and ACT ON IT. I’ve known a woman to stay in a situation longer than she should have because the person making her uncomfortable was a person of color. Was she her discomfiture coming from racism? Would she feel this way if he were white? Whatever – GET OUT. Examine your worldviews at another time. Value your safety above their feelings.

      • For more on trusting your instincts, see Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” (frequently recommended by Carolyn Hax).

        • I have also heard good things about the book.

          But Carolyn Hax’s advice is vapid, circular, and unintelligble. She is truly awful. The worst. I get upset just thinking about the fact that she has a column.

    • Please DON’T lie to the police.

  • i am currently dealing with the fall-out from being a crime victim. some MPD employees (desk officers?) have been extremely rude and short with me, displaying appalling attitudes. so, i took names and made a big stink in an email to their district commander, as well as some other higher ups (started at my district listserve). it’s amazing how quickly the emails started flying. the responses i’ve received from MPD have been encouraging. bad attitudes are not tolerated.

    if i were you, i’d start sending those emails NOW.

    • That’s encouraging that the higher-ups took prompt action. (even if it’s discouraging that the people you initially dealt with were so rude).

  • I am disturbed by some of the comments in this thread that place blame on the victim of this situation. She did everything she could to get out of the situation, and make sure that the cabbie didn’t follow her home. When she tries to get help, the police officers have absolutely ZERO compassion and not only do they not help her, but they act on the presumption that she must have done something wrong.

    Disturbing all around.

    • At least they didn’t arrest her for “disorderly conduct” or some other nonsensical reason, right?

  • Ugh, the OP’s experience doesn’t surprise me – I have also had my share of experiences with cabbies not paying attention, or being rude, or making me feel uncomfortable (I’m female). I’m really sorry the police were so useless as well. I hope you are able to get some answers, both from the taxi company and from the police.

    I’ve had some bad experiences with Super Shuttle drivers – including one who drove through multiple red lights and stop signs in DC and told me it was OK because he was a retired police officer.

    Another time, I had a Super Shuttle driver who showed up nearly an hour late for my appt and had bloodshot eyes and could barely stay awake. He drifted off asleep twice at 60mph on the Dulles Toll Road and finally I resorted to shaking him or yelling at him to stay awake maybe 5 more times…and I never reported him because I was flying overseas and was so late to the airport I nearly missed my flight.

    • Did you come back from overseas? Did you report him then? Super Shuttle has the records, they can identify the driver. Has your inaction put someone else in danger?

  • We were so late I didn’t get any info – and then was gone for almost a month. Wish that I had reported him 🙁 – thinking about this in retrospect makes me much more inclined to be proactive about it in the future.

  • I’ve had a similar moronic response from the U St police station. Idiots. Should have photoed the cabbie and cops if possible.

    Sadly in the end all that matters is what you can “prove” in court. Don’t count on the cops for help in this town.

  • I believe every word that the passenger said. Here is what I think she should do.1. Contact the new head of the Taxicab Commission ,Ron Linton. He is a most reasonable person, and one who has ben a volunteer policeman for years. I think he’s an excellent person to start off with.Ask for cabbie and ppolice. trainng. 2. Contact either Cathy Lanier or Diane Groomes,the Ass’t Chief of Police. Chief Groomes served earlier in her career at 3D, so she has some idea of what it can be like. Ask them to retrain 3D officers in dealing with women who have ben threatened and harassed sexually. 3. Contact Phil Mendelssohn – he’s the Councilmember in charge of police actions. His office should be helpful.4. Contact Jim Graham, who’s in charge of cabbies. Some posters have good suggestions – like placing cabbie license numbers additionally in a location that cannot be hidden. 5. Contact the 3D Advisory Board and bring this subject up. 6. Contact Rob Halligan, who is the guru of police-community relations in DC, and who also guides the Dupont Forum. He should read this entire discussion. It is obvious that a number of writers have no idea what the normal effects of fear, distress and lack of appropriate and expected assistance can be to a victim. The MPD is supposed to understand this and react with compassion and gentleness.(These qualities work better and are the professional way to handle such incidents.) This story should be used as a classroom example at the police Academy of how not to treat a citizen with a legitimate complaint. Both the MPD and the Taxicab Commission should use this as a learning experience – and if they don’t, go to the Mayor. If only half of these work, the victim will feel better, and the general public will have less reason to be earful when stepping into a cab.

  • As a fellow victim of MPD incompetence following a crime, I’d be scared to make a big issue out of this. The cops in this town are, for the most part, low-life thugs themselves and you should seriously consider the real threat of retaliation on their part.

  • Dear lady,
    I am sorry to hear about what has happened to you.
    Please contact the 3D police substation and provide your full name, contact info, cab’s licence number etc.

  • This is the only city I have been in where I feel like you get into a cab and they look at you like you hopped into the backseat of a private vehicle. Half the time I get the feeling they would rather you just drive the cab and then pay them for the service.

    I have had several incidents with cabbies but nothing this extreme (though my wife has). Unfortunately it seems that no one wants to do anything about it…Cab commission, police, city council…no one.

    As for the whole “I don’t have change” gimmick. I had this happen several times and I simply tell them that when they find change they can come back and collect their payment. I never go to gas stations so they can make me get change to do their f*ck*ng job. Usually they manage to suddenly find change in their other pocket.

    Why we can’t model our cabs after NYC is beyond me…they take credit cards and are not allowed to talk on their cell phones. plus their info is usually visible in the backseat (where it should be)

    I say we follow England’s lead and riot in the street…a few burning cabs might grab someones attention.

  • I need her story to investigate it is a bud fiction

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