CLUELESS IN THE CLERGY?
by Beverly Eakman
August 27, 2008
I received some odd news from my elderly mother living in Dallas, Texas. At first I didn’t think she could possibly be right — until the same thing happened to me in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.
It seems my mother could not attend Lenten services — or Sunday services, for that matter — because taxis would neither cruise, nor respond to, pickup calls from a church. That this had been going on for four years was startling. Her former “ride” had moved, the steps on the bus were too high; thus the taxi option.
“But taxicabs all are everywhere!” I retorted.
well, I can get one to take me to the church, but not from
the church to home,” she explained.
“But surely you could flag one down,” I offered.
“Nope. Not around a church. And I can’t stand out there at my age flailing my arms,” she complained.
“Hmph.” I wasn’t buying it. “Did you ask the cabbie if he accept a round-trip payment?” I asked.
“Yes. That’s when I found out they didn’t pick up at a church.”
“The cab driver told me they didn’t make pick ups from churches,” she repeated testily.
“Did you try other companies?”
“Yes. I told the fellows in the lobby [of her condominium] to call a different service and ask specifically.”
“And they were told a taxi could take me, but I would have to make another call for a pickup when I wanted to come home.”
“Well, we’ll see about that!” I huffed.
next time I was in Dallas, armed with my cell phone, I called from
her apartment and, of course, we got a cab.
Coming back — a different story. Seems they couldn’t determine the correct entrance, as there were three. Then the dispatcher said the taxi in question would circle the block. After waiting 15 minutes, I learned that all their taxis were “taken.” I dialed another company.
my mother sat inside the church, with that irritating, “knowing”
smile I knew so well.
By the time I got a cab, 40 minutes later, and the cabbie had noticed me and parked, I went to get Mother.
taxi was gone.
Now, really furious, I called the company and demanded they send the cab back, stating the obvious, that it couldn’t be more than a block away. That’s when I was put on hold — forever.
Eventually, we got our cab, having decided to go to a restaurant instead of to mother’s nearby apartment complex. I coaxed an explanation from the driver and learned that, well, it was too difficult locating church entrances. Taxis couldn’t stand around waiting for a fare (as if they don’t spend most of their time doing that already). Furthermore, cabbies don’t like picking up fares traveling only a few blocks (as if somehow that’s somehow different from going in the reverse direction).
trip home from the restaurant was uneventful and reasonably quick.
The next day, a Monday, I telephoned the church. Were they aware, I asked, that elderly people were unable to get home from services? Answer: No. Did they have a van or program that ferries people to church and back? Answer: No, only children.
I repeated. Children who carpool everywhere?
“Well, we have deacons and a pastoral care program to come to the home and provide Communion for shut-ins.”
“That’s nice,” I said. “But don’t you think it might be appropriate to check out the taxi problem?”
The church secretary promised to look into it. Neither Mother nor I ever heard back. Mom had been a parishioner for 40 years, and I had been married in the church.
I more or less forgot the incident — until Good Friday this year—in my own church, located in Virginia. I live in nearby Maryland, but was attending a meeting in downtown Washington, DC. I always took the subway, so I rode it all the way to Falls Church. Cabs are plentiful around subway stations, so I availed myself of one for the approximately three-mile ride to church.
I stayed for most of the three-hour service, then talked with the minister. Most of the other parishioners had left by then. I called for a taxi back to the subway.
Twenty-five minutes later … no cab. A series of irate calls ensued, whereupon the dispatcher “suggested” that that if I would just walk across the street to the 7-Eleven store, she would have a cab there right away.
And she did. Never mind that two muggings had occurred at that store within a month, and here I was in a business suit, brief case and high heels, standing out like a Bentley in a used Honda lot.
I started paying more attention to the people attending services. Maybe it’s coincidence, but the elderly are few. Maybe it’s the gridlocked traffic. Maybe most really are shut-ins. Maybe there’s so much emphasis on youth — banjos, raucous clapping and “singles” hype — that elderly folks are turned off. And we won’t even get into homosexual bishops, lawsuits involving the property of seceding parishes, etc.
As for the taxi companies, they won’t admit to any policy of discouraging pickups.
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So, in the spirit of investigative journalism, all you undercover reporters mockingly referred to as “sitting around in pajamas surfing the Internet,” how about some help! I challenge all able-bodied readers to take a taxi to your place of worship, especially if it is Christian and located in or around one of the larger metropolitan areas. Next, try to arrange a return trip, one that’s NOT to a restaurant or a distant location (more than 5 miles).
Report your findings. No names will be used. I will follow up in a future article.
© 2008 - Beverly Eakman - All Rights Reserved