Yesterday morning I experienced an issue which left me baffled, angry and confused for the remainder of the day. To be honest I'm still confused by the incident but I'm slowly coming to terms with the knowledge that I may never understand the irrational and ignorant behavior that was exhibited. By now I should know that it is fruitless to try to reap logic out of ignorance!
After grabbing a latte and bagel (my traveling treats), I asked the Desk Clerk at the hotel to call me a cab so I could head to the office. After the cab was confirmed I headed outside and chatted with the valet while waiting. A few minutes later cab #405 pulled up, and I headed towards the vehicle.
As I moved to open the door, the driver opened his door and started to run around the car, shouting towards me. It took me a few seconds for his words to register, but they were ringing clear for everybody in the vicinity to witness. "I'm not taking someone like you. I'm not taking someone like you."
I'm sure I went wide-eyed like a deer as he was screaming. Thinking that perhaps he was expecting a different fare, I explained that the hotel had called the cab for me. He stormed past both me and the valet and into the lobby, where he continued to direct his rant to the Desk Clerks.
He furiously yelled "I'm not taking someone like her. I'm not taking someone like her." The Desk Clerks looked shocked as they tried to confirm that she had called the cab for me. He slammed his hand on the desk, stormed out of the lobby and sped away in his cab. I was left in the hotel lobby, confused, embarrassed and late for work.
The Desk Clerks were apologetic as they contacted another company to secure me a cab. I assured them that his behavior was not a reflection of her and thanked her for her time. I managed to maintain my composure, but inside I felt like curling into a corner to cry. While it is true that the driver's outburst was not a reflection of her, it was most definitely a response to me.
It is a horribly deflating feeling to have somebody find you so revolting that they would rather cause a public scene than to let you into their vehicle. I was dressed modestly and was well-groomed. At this point I can only assume that his reaction was caused by my amputation, but it is hard for me to accept that this level of discrimination and blatant ignorance exists in 2017. I have spent the past 24 hours desperately trying to figure out another variable.
Because the behavior was so irrational I decided to pursue the issue. It turns out that the Desk Clerks were aligned and had already contacted the Taxi Commission to report the incident. I understand that the Taxi Commission became more interest when the hotel representatives offered tapes of the exchange. Apparently they have cameras both outside and inside the lobby, and the footage confirms our accounts of the incident.
I feel somewhat vindicated by the knowledge that this driver will be held accountable for his outburst, but I continue to struggle with the incident. How could the prospect of driving me be so vile that he reacted so strongly? Why did my prosthesis (if that was indeed the lightening rod for his rage) bother him to the point of refusing service? Why was I not good enough to get into his cab?
My self-esteem took a hit from his outrageous and ignorant fool, but I'll rebound. I already feel stronger with the knowledge that he has been reported. I will never truly understand prejudice because I don't relate to the thought pattern. Instead of arguing and getting into a screaming match I stayed calm, held my head high and took the incident to a higher authority. I'm proud of my response and I'm working to let go of the negative emotions that have been stirred by the incident.