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Blogger of the Month: D.C.'s Mad Cabbie

He is profane, angry and a man of the streets, a poet and a provocateur. In his Diary of a Mad D.C. Cabbie, February's blogger of the month rails against the drunks who demand that he get them home even when they're too looped to know where they live. But he's also the guy who signs every post on his blog with a reminder that we "please don't forget the homeless."

Mad Cabbie can be tough, as when he squeezed $300 out of a passenger who tossed her cookies all over his backseat. He had to show up at the woman's place of employment and escort her to an ATM to get the money he needed to have his cab cleaned.

But Mad is also, and he'll probably hate me saying it this way, a bit of a softie. His blog is littered with posts in which he recognizes and even celebrates people whom most of us simply ignore. He's a caring and thoughtful guy, the sort of blogger who cries out in agony over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, gets a little thrill from D.C.-only celebrity sightings--Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama used to be a regular in his cab--and even has a formula of his own for determining when the economy is going south (it has to do with the frequency with which hookers and their johns get into his taxi.) (Mad says he's a former mathematician, by the way.)

Mad is a charter member of a small but important fraternity of hack bloggers, and he's got a good blogroll that will lead you into that little but fascinating world. Cabbies who blog sometimes fixate on matters of fare systems (Mad Cabbie is a meter man, to my surprise), medallion values and the loons and lugnuts who end up in their backseats. Some cabbie bloggers are just trying to attract the attention of the producers at HBO's Taxi Cab Confessions. But Mad is a man of the world, commenting on everything from politics to sex to the mysteries of the night. (I'm not aware of other D.C. cabbies with blogs, but here's one from a regular passenger.)

You may have surmised by this point that I do not know the Mad Cabbie's name. You would be right. He is happy--thrilled, even--to be recognized by the big fat Washington Post, and in our emails, he's come forth with a lot of detail about himself. But he cherishes the anonymity that's protected him over 16 years on the streets of Washington and more than two years on the big ol' web.

What I do know is that he's--well, let him tell it:

...a native Washingtonian born to an African-American army Sergeant and a German music teacher, grew up in Brightwood and Bethesda and graduated from B-CC high school and went on to University of Maryland and graduated with Mathematics and Physics degrees, worked for NOAA for a couple of years and walked away from the job and started driving a cab. It started out as "I need a job that can give me the freedom to think for a while " and it turned out to be a career which I will never regret because I have a happy, simple life and a great group of friends.

Mad Cabbie drives the night shift, is active in several groups that aid the homeless, and considers himself a sub-par writer (he is, rather, "a science junkie," he says.) The Diary grew out of his first attempt at a blog, which was devoted largely to matters of mathematics. This one is more fun.

I'd like to meet Mad someday. I like to think that I've been in his cab and never knew it. For now, however, all I can do is make him Blogger of the Month and let you in on a conversation that's far richer than what's on HBO.

By Marc Fisher |  February 22, 2008; 7:51 AM ET
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And the thing is, his Hooker Index is probably a better real-world economic barometer than most of the data you can find out there.

Posted by: Claudius | February 22, 2008 9:36 AM

No surprise to me that an intelligent and thoughtful cabbie would support the meter system. Marc Fisher may take his zonal delusion with him to the grave, but I doubt the zone system will be widely mourned in the years to come.

Posted by: Mad Meters | February 22, 2008 10:14 AM

I have read two cab stories from this guy, and I am not impressed. I think so far he is just a crazy extortionist. His rant about the cab strike is anything but sane. 1st its not a strike but a work stoppage. DC cabs have been abusing people for years, esp on the night shift. Try getting a cab home for the legal fare to VA. The metro bus came first, which was 20 minutes later. No cabbie would take me based on mileage.

Also the story about the cab and puke is extortion. Your taking advantage of someone who did not have their wits to make a legal contract. As he said he would have no leg to stand on in court or with the police. If you don't want to take a drunk fine, but abusing them is wrong.

Cab drivers in DC are a disgrace and this guy doesn't really appear to be much different (at least to the passengers)

Posted by: Natsural | February 22, 2008 11:13 AM

I was disappointed because I thought this would be an article about how D.C. cabbies like to try to rip off their passengers. I should probably start a blog about that one since I've almost been in fist fights with cab drivers over them making up fares.

Posted by: Brettles | February 22, 2008 12:39 PM

I was almost hit by a cab last week trying to go get in a VA cab. The guy admitted he wouldn't give me a ride back from gtown to VA for the legal price, but when I went to get in the VA cab, he blocked my path with his cab. Who knows, maybe it was this guy :).

I have no sympathy for the reduction in income because they were making so much money from ripping people off and untaxed income. I have a lot of respect for VA drivers, but the ones in DC are horrible con artists.

Posted by: Jon | February 22, 2008 12:58 PM

Night shift as a D.C. cab driver! At the very least this guy has a death wish.

Posted by: fanboy | February 22, 2008 1:07 PM

What exactly was the point of this article? Was it to make the cabbies look human? We know they are human...only humans could be such cheaters.

Posted by: DC Citizen and ex cab rider | February 22, 2008 2:11 PM

The nightshift is the best time for many of the DC cab drivers to communicate with their Al Qaeda brethren in Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. Thanks to the Democrats, it is now more difficult for our intelligence agencies to listen to their conversations.

Posted by: Aaron Burr | February 22, 2008 2:16 PM

If registered VA and MD cabs could legally pick passengers up in the District and take them to their homes in the suburbs, DC's cabbies would starve to death because no one in their right mind (their semi-sober mind) would ever use them voluntarily if they had a choice.

Posted by: athea | February 22, 2008 3:11 PM

Sounds like a guy in the mold of Eric Hoffer ("The Dockworker Philosopher").

Posted by: dewdrop2 | February 22, 2008 5:22 PM

Well, I may be the only one, but I didn't know about this blog before now, and it's pretty awesome. Thanks, Marc, for the pointer.

Posted by: Lindemann | February 22, 2008 9:22 PM

You are looking in the wrong direction for crooks thieves and ripoff artists, Washington politicians and lobbyists are the experts in these areas.Cab drivers have very dangerous jobs and are required to be psychics, diplomats, tour guides etc not to mention expert drivers.If you don't understand the fare system go online and research.Be grateful there is someone out there who will drive (as Mad would say) your sorry butt home.

Posted by: june in florida | February 25, 2008 10:30 AM

Thanks for recognizing the Mad DC Cabbie. I've been reading his blog feeds for a while now, and have found him insightful and entertaining. Good call, Mr. Fisher.

Posted by: thruhike | February 25, 2008 11:28 AM

I'm a regular reader of Mad Cabbie. While I usually enjoy his stories, I was quite disappointed by the one about the $300 puke. I agree with the above commenter who called it extortion--that's exactly what it was. Sounds like he didn't really need the $300 anyway; he just saw an opportunity.

Posted by: Ex-DC guy | February 25, 2008 4:38 PM

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