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Fighting against Discrimination

by Jenia Silver 5 months ago in activism
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A story of a female cab driver in Las Vegas, NV

Taxi meter from Japan photo taken 15 May 2009 Wikimedia Commons

My story starts off with a brief look at an unknown industry: taxis or vehicle for hire. Lately names like Uber and Lyft pop up in the media only to explain that the old fashion metered services are suffering from a loss of customers. While there is a good reason that a new app based on cell phone services rocketed the taxis into lower demands. Uber reflects the need of newer vehicles and safer drivers who can be monitored by corporate fat cats. Unfortunately, its just another vice against fair and equal rights that hits those on either side of the industry who are not inside the norm.

I write this to reflect some of my own personal work experiences. I have been a professional driver close to ten years. Being employed for both app companies and a handful of taxi companies. Most cab companies, where I have worked employed less than %5 of females in ratio to male drivers. Currently I am unemployed, fighting Employment Discrimination. My last job in Las Vegas, was driving a taxi at Desert Cab. Honestly, the pay was great, but the treatment there was more than substandard.

The picture above is not the regulated meter used by taxis in Las Vegas. It is from a meter used in Japan. Competition is tough driving anywhere in a Taxi or in an Uber. I showed the stock photo to tell about what the common perception of earnings is for drivers. All drivers work for commission in this country and in others. This meter is around the average ride amount in Japan, comparing Yen to the U.S. dollar is at $17. Which is around the same price where I drove in Las Vegas.

Here's what makes me remarkably real, showing my true self. At every time I got tossed out of a good job, I fought back. It started back in 2007 at my first taxi company: Yellow Cab (San Antonio, TX). I got fired after a dispatcher advised me to drive on an unpaved road. Specifically the woman on the other end of the radio, told me to drive into a ditch to get the rider. Surprise, the axel broke and I got fined and fired being asked to pay for the damage.

Let me fast forward to the present. In 2021, I found my courage to drive again, operating a vehicle for hire. Having lived here close to 15 years, I know the roads. At first I had fears about working on the strip after events like the October 1, 2017 Mass Shooting had occurred. Yet, it's pandemic time everyone everywhere is facing the grief of Co-Vid 19. Time to try to do what's right, work for a living seeking to show some dignity.

In the month of April, I got hired. The company that hired me, Desert Cab, told me about their disparity during the time when no tourists visited the town. The Las Vegas Strip looked like a ghost town, flights landing were less five a day carrying mostly local residents only. There had been a huge rebound of business for taxis . At some times it appeared to be a higher volume of tourists than before Co-Vid hit.

Certain complications come along with being one of few female drivers working in a male dominated business. Being self employed most of my adult life leads me to keep an isolated routine. I work alone at night and keep to myself. This is my usual idea of being of service, not having a boss looking over my shoulder. The State of Nevada offers regulatory services over the taxi cab industry here. Meaning most taxi drivers are labeled as employees making commissions not paychecks.

The idea to earn a little more money for drivers presents a list of few adult businesses. As Sin City is known for all night and day alcohol service, tourists flow on booze. Night clubs and strip clubs here do as well. So for a cab driver to drop off their ride at these locations rewards the driver. It is known as a kick back; which is legal and recorded by the I.R.S. The grim part of the dismay that struck me a female driver is the association of profiting as a cab driver from prostitution.

For four months as a female driver at Desert Cab, I took the hard thrashing of male rooted obscenities. The harassments in comments and odd behaviors of the male drivers were almost the only words that were spoken to me. Cladded into the city is an unfair house to visit called: the Asian Spa. Drivers would grab the radio airing the request of their passenger to find where the spa is. Returning their vehicle at the end of shift, guys would list who earned more money. I learned to do more listening than talking, nearly chocking on my breathe to hear the $200.00 kickback payment was not reported the I.R.S.

After having had been fired, I did some research. Most of these Asian Spas are not owned by a licensed masseuse. I would know, I looked into getting a job at a casino as a masseuse, over twenty years ago. It takes over $25,000.00 to get the education, which normally takes about a year to finish the classes. It is seen as a health profession which also requires a monetary payment to attain certification in. I assume the women inside these spas are likely not even immigrated citizens, who knows if they even pay taxes. For women drivers it's not an option to get their kickback, it's "Put Up and Shut Up!".

Back to how I got fired. Harassments, and rude comments even politically centered, were directed at me daily. Leaving me to ignore almost everyone at my job. Anger and at times raged flowed through me knowing this disgusting act of selling sex to men was a longtime secret of the trade for taxi drivers. My focus at my job was to go out and listen to who needed a ride. My best friend on the road is the dispatch service.

For years and years before I became a driver, I was a customer. Being left with no ride no matter how much money I had in my hand was my gripe. I had no car for over ten years. Just to get behind the wheel of my first cab in 2007, was one of the first times I had driven a car. In the city of Las Vegas I was one person who had to endlessly complain about unfair treatment of being denied service. Which in 2021, is still ongoing and all apart of trade secrets.

Part of the verbal dispute that took place between me and the owner of Desert Cab, Mr. Friskas told me how these complaints are centered on choice. It is the fault of the management that enforces unfair use of vehicle for hire services. I know the guys at the yard all want more money. Just to get one spa ride is around the nightly book commission of driving for 12 hours. To get more than one is like getting free money for arranging prostitution service. All of the aim of these drivers is to hunt down their lucky guy off of the Las Vegas Strip.

While tourists and local residents alike await for a taxi to take them home from places like Emergency Rooms, and other 24 hour business, hours go by. I am often greeted with a person either unable to walk on their own or so sick they keep quiet, only to hear their wait was over an hour. My personal reward is feeling I could help someone else to get where they need to be. Relying on transportation services should not be a frightening process. Each night I worked, I met new people who tell me I am one of the only drivers who would go out their way to take them.

All of what I have been explaining is apart of my spitting the truth at Mr. Friskas, the owner of desert Cab. I am not sure why the State of Nevada allows this company to accept voucher payments from vendors like hospitals, when the drivers refuse to serve this demand. Other smaller cab companies in Las Vegas are not allowed to accept the vouchers. Originally I was told my dispatch rides with and without voucher payment were at the top %300 compared to all other drivers at Desert. This must mean these male cab drivers discriminate services of transportation night and day with no pause to conceive their wrong doing.

Here is what is real, I fought back by being open minded to call this corrupted cab company owner out. The verbal argument happened in an office, where I was the only female in the building out of over twenty male drivers. I told Mr. Friskas with the keys to his 2015 Dodge Charger in my hand, that he needs to be able to fulfill his agreement to provide transportation services on demand. I had been doing job as I was trained to do and I was fired for providing a needed service. Mr. Friskas fired me for refusing to pick up only on the strip, which is illegal.

For as long the rumors were being spread by the male drivers, I think ignoring the laws pertaining to providing fair use of transportation services is the least of their concern. Mr. Friskas literally fired me after I told him about the riders stranded at all the vendor's voucher sites. I told him people call his phone number or use the online Kabit site when a cab is needed, to wait hours and hours for a taxi ride. How can he stay in business only to push kickbacks and not help those in need? How can he initiate demanding drivers turn off the in car dispatch button, and pay no mind to the real need of taxis?

As I await the legal process to speak out about being fired unfairly, I take a look out to notice how this attitude discriminates others. My first words to Mr. Friskas were: "I'm not an [email protected]#$ Pimp!". I know everyone in the office heard me being abrupt and yelling this out. Maybe someone filmed me and put me YouTube, under Karren starts to rage. At least I yelled out the "F" Bomb. I least I kept my dignity, and felt their choices hurt others and do more wrong than they do good.

Google Reviews a current 3. star rating for Desert Cab of Las Vegas, NV. With over 314 reviews dating back three years of time, most of the one-star ratings were given due to issues of "Bad Service". I left a one-star rating on the Google site and one additional site. Some of the reviews give evidence of theft by service, where the rider is being hustled into paying the driver more money. All these male drivers need more money, for no reason what-so-ever. My advice here is if this is you and your complaining follow up to website Taxicab Authority.

As my time as a driver is being put on hold, I hope that this abuse of service providers in the taxi industry ends one day. I have no mercy for cab drivers who fight at why Uber and Lyft took their business away. This is the reason why app services took over the industry. Passengers dislike being driven around by pimps, who try to pick pockets. I am still fighting against discrimination to be employed. I am boycotting both taxicabs and Ubers.

activism

About the author

Jenia Silver

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