Hey Cabbie! By Thaddeus Logan

Haves And Have Nots In Baltimore City

City Paper

You would not believe the percentage of cab rides that are subsidized by the government. Some people in this city are actually penniless. Some become that way less than a week after exhausting their monthly check. Either way, the have nots are quite prevalent in Baltimore.

And what happened to cash money in our increasingly cashless system? It is unbelievable the number of $5 to $10 credit card charges I process for cab rides. Charge work is constantly growing in this industry. Many businesses are reversing the credit charge percentage for purchases back to the consumer.

This recession is absolutely unreal. Or rather, absolutely real. They say unemployment is about 6 percent nationwide. This does not include the underemployed. It seems like about 40 percent around here. Most industrial businesses left Baltimore years ago. Today, even those who are highly qualified are not guaranteed employment in this global market.

Lately, everything has become tough. It appears from what I see through the windshield that America is decaying right before my eyes. Many businesses are downsizing either their employees or their benefits. Some have closed their doors forever. Some believe that sooner or later groups of people are gonna stand up and say enough is enough, demanding answers. Don’t be surprised if violence erupts. 

People have difficulty paying their bills from month to month. Some have hit rock bottom. We need solutions for these poor idle people willing to work. There is no American dream in sight for many without a functional productive society. Third world status is rather imminent!

Baltimore has suffered from cutbacks for the past 30 years. To my recollection, it all started in Baltimore City under Mayor Schaefer’s administration with the closing of various firehouses that added insult to injury when computers were replacing the human workforce. In recent years, employees have been reduced in most city agencies including police, and the sanitation departments. Even the City’s school system was not spared.

We are sliding down the bell-shaped curve rapidly. If what has happened in Baltimore City is reflective of the rest of the nation, America’s quality of life seems to have peaked.Corporate greed, control, and government corruption have had an extremely significant role in our city’s downfall. Baltimore was once a striving blue-collar city with one of the country’s largest seaports. Private industries’ contracts contributed to Baltimore’s wealth and prosperity. People’s jobs were relatively secure. This enabled many to accomplish their American dream. For most, that’s a house and car in secure neighborhoods with a good school system for their families.

I recently noticed a professionally dressed middle-aged black woman standing next to a medium-size cardboard box in front of the World Trade Center on Pratt Street. She flagged me after the traffic light changed. I popped the trunk and provided assistance. Her destination was upper Park Heights Avenue.

She appeared to have been crying when entering the cab and apologized for her demeanor. “Mister, I just lost my job after putting in some 20 years of service,” she said. “The company is relatively small, strapped for cash, and needed to downsize. My seniority was low compared to others in the firm. So, consequently, I was forced to take a buyout.

“The offer is good but mister, it won’t last forever. That in conjunction with unemployment and my savings must do for now! I’m 50 years old, had a high-level position, and salary was close to the six-figure range. The money will last for a minute but I must formulate priorities in addition to long and short termed plans.

“My biggest expenses are condo and car notes. Which is heavy,” she said, laughing and crying simultaneously. "Oh my God, just what am I going to do as a single woman facing such a dilemma?"

All I could do was listen; it was sad. Then to top it off, she talked about having to ready herself for the job market at her age. “I have excellent job skills and experiences in my field but my asking price may be prohibitive. You know, it’s a global market and these firms want individuals they can mold and cultivate. It’s gonna be tough, real tough!

“This bombshell is undoubtedly the heaviest experience ever! Knowing that I’ll grieve for awhile but once accepted and recovered I’ll give it my all and if no jobs are to be found then the focus will be on self employment as a consultant in my field.”

Miss, I have to admire your courage and strategy for attack. Sounds like you're saying plan your plan, then work your plan. 


Thaddeus Logan is the author of the books “Hey Cabbie” and “Hey Cabbie II.”

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