Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Excuses

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Please read this and sit with it for a while. Discrimination happens every minute of every day and takes all forms and attitudes. This is just one kind of prejudicial behavior and when it happens, it is humiliating.

On Friday March 22, 2013 at approximately 4 PM I called a taxi to 300 Hamilton Avenue in White Plains and was refused service by the taxi driver. I believe the refusal was because I am blind and use a guide dog. The driver pulled up to the curb and rolled down his window, asking if I called a taxi; I nodded yes. When I turned to pick up my bag and tell my guide dog to take me to the taxi, the driver pulled away, leaving me at the curb. I called back the cab company, Intrepid, told them what happened and they apologized and sent another driver.

Since I do have about 5% of my vision left, I could tell it was a white cab with a dark line along it. There is no doubt in my mind, after going over the series of actions that I was definitely refused service. But since I can’t see details, I couldn’t see the cab number to file a complaint.

Consequently,, I did my due diligence and called Intrepid, asking for the driver’s name and operator’s number but was put off twice, being asked to called back and when I did call back, I was told they “had to look into” who it was driving that day. As of the writing of this letter I have not been provided this information, which is another form of service refusal. If I were a customer with vision, I could have seen who the driver was and gotten the cab number but because I can’t I am at a disadvantage and cannot obtain any useful information to lodge a complaint.

Blind customers face this type of situation each and every day. We are at the mercy of ignorant and discriminatory attitudes even though we work, pay our taxes and deserve the same treatment as our sighted coworkers, friends and neighbors.

As of this writing I’ve been made to wait after booking a trip ahead of time the following week. When I called to say I was still waiting 15 minutes after the scheduled pick up, the dispatcher sounded surprised. When I said I booked the trip through the contract via our county’s new taxi program for people with disabilities, the dispatcher again sounded surprised. Then she said that the guide dog wasn’t on the pick up sheet and that was why I didn’t get picked up. I thought, what the heck does that mean? I said to her that I did tell them the day before, twice, in fact and that they can’t keep doing this to me, it’s illegal and wrong.

So, now we’ll see if I can get any kind of cooperation from them. Being at their mercy like this is infuriating. Shame on them for treating me (or anyone else) like this.

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