The drivers, Gulam Mustafa of Queens and Haron ur Rashid of the Bronx, were among more than 20 cabbies from across North America honored recently for their humanity, heroism and integrity by the International Association of Transportation Regulators. Mustafa was recognized for returning a wallet containing several thousand dollars to its owner, while Rashid was honored for returning wedding gifts to a couple.
Soon after accepting their awards, they received letters stating they were no longer members of the taxi association. "To be honest, we were very shocked," Mustafa said. Added Rashid: "It was honestly the last thing we expected."
Raoul Ramirez, president of the taxi association, said the drivers had broken a membership pledge to try their best to meet the public's expectations. "Let's face facts," Ramirez said. "The public doesn't expect taxi drivers to be honest. They expect us to take them for a ride."
He said the men had committed several other offenses, such as making sure their meters were accurate and always taking the shortest route. "Being honest once or twice is fine," Ramirez said. "But it has become too much of a pattern."
He acknowledged the possibility that the men are addicted to honesty, saying, "That's why we've recommended that they join the HCA (Honest Cabbies Anonymous) program."
Asked if the public wasn't better served by honest taxi drivers, Ramirez shook his head. "Sometimes yes, sometimes no," he said. "Do you know what happened to the customer whose wallet Gulam returned? He had a heart attack. Almost died."
Photo by Adrian8_8