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Chicago Tribune: Street Smarts for Cabbies

1/1/2014 12:00 AM

A man on the sidewalk tries to hail a taxi. He's wearing lots of jewelry. His pants are sagging. If you're a cabdriver looking for a fare, do you give him a ride?

"It's a judgment call," said one student in the back row of this class for prospective taxi drivers. "I would be judgmental. You've got to be careful. Cabdrivers have lost their life in Chicago."  

"But can you, as a public chauffeur, not pick him up?" replied Kirkland Burke, a former Chicago cabbie who now teaches future taxi drivers at Olive-Harvey College.  

The students muttered "no" in unison, a correct but reluctant answer. Burke, who grew up on the city's South Side, decided to drill the point home. Safety is foremost, he said, but drivers have to pick up whoever hails their cab and go wherever they ask when the taxi's for-hire sign is on. ...  

Burke's classroom had the diversity of a United Nations summit, with 25 students from 13 countries representing every permanently inhabited continent except Australia.  

Read the entire story at chicagotribune.com.  
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