Just think of the frustration you feel when taxi after taxi drives right past you, despite your outstretched hand. Now imagine how much worse it feels when cabs are zipping by because you’re in a wheelchair.
Traveling with a disability can be difficult enough — but cab drivers like Tarig Kamill make hailing a taxi less difficult.
That’s because, as the Chicago Tribune reports, Kamill gave 1,821 rides to passengers in wheelchairs last year alone. His service has earned him 60 nominations from his customers for the Windy City’s annual Taxicab Driver Excellence Award.
The 52-year-old Chicago cab driver, who rents his wheelchair accessible van from a dispatch company, said he’s seen drivers who ignore potential passengers because they don’t want the hassle of loading a wheelchair into the cab.
“I see these drivers, and I think they are lazy,” the cabbie (who’s been driving a taxi for 11 years) told the publication. “They can make more money picking up passengers along the street, so they don’t want to bother. They don’t see that they have a responsibility to help other people.”
William Hayes, a passenger who nominated Kamill, praised the cab driver for helping these individuals from door to door. “[He will] try to help you in any way he can,” Hayes said. “He guides his clients on and off the vehicle with the utmost consideration for the client’s well-being and safety. He will assist you up to your front door and inside the building.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently presented Kamill with the award along with a free taxi medallion worth $350,000 at Olive-Harvey College.
Kamill, a former Sudanese computer engineer, said he wants to use the money to buy his own taxi. “I won’t see the savings this year because I have to purchase my own taxi,” he told the Tribune. “But once it’s paid for, it’s going to make a big, big difference for my family. I cannot even begin to explain the difference.”
“It makes me proud to read all these things,” he added about his nominations. “I want to do more. I want to provide more rides and help more people. That’s what this award has done for me.”