Monday, November 24, 2008

is columbia heights the ghetto?!

But we have a Target! And a Best Buy! It's practically the goddamn suburbs, no?! At least that's how I feel.

Some DC cab drivers, though, apparently feel differently. I learned that on Friday night when I tried to get a cab back to Columbia Heights from around Metro Center.

"Hi! I'm going to Columbia Heights."

"I won't go there."


"I won't go to Columbia Heights."

"What? Is it too 'ghetto' for you?" (Clearly, I said that with much sarcasm because WE HAVE A TARGET!)


"What?! Are you serious? WE HAVE A TARGET!"

"Yes. I know."

And then he drove away.

Um. That's weird, right? But I'll be honest, for reasons I won't delve into, I don't remember if that's exactly how my exchange with this overcautious cabbie went down. However, I distinctly remember calling his reasoning ludicrous based solely on the fact that, to him, a neighborhood with a Target in it could still be considered too dangerous to drive into. I still stand behind my argument. WE HAVE AN EFFING TARGET!

And not only do I stand behind my own argument (that should be obvious), but so did the second cab driver who found my retelling of this conversation with the first cabbie ridiculously funny.

"Well, thanks for bringing me to Columbia Heights. Apparently, it's a pretty rough neighborhood. Some cab driver just refused to take me!"

"But there's a Target there!"

"I know!"

"And a Best Buy!"

"I know! You're reading my mind!"

Then much laughter ensued.

Although, I'll be honest again. I don't know if everyone in the cab was laughing or if it was just me snickering away in the backseat like an insane asshole. That's really not out of the realm of possibility. Neither is me getting home, almost setting some microwave popcorn on fire and falling asleep upright in a chair. But, you know, that's just how we roll in the ghetto. Deal with it.


Malnurtured Snay said...

Why didn't you take the Metro home from Metro Center?

nate said...

Don't feel bad. You can still find the occasional cab that won't even go to certain parts of U street, and that turned into Arlington jr. a good long time ago.

LiLu said...

When B used to live in Capitol Hill, it was HELL getting cabs to take us home. Fuckers.

Skywalker said...

I was told by DC Cabbie to hop in the car prior to saying destination. They have to take you when you're inside their vehicle. I know because DC Cabbies can be serious snobs especially about Virginia! Not even far Virginia - Arlington.

Marissa said...

malnurtured snay--

Well, for one, it was roughly 2 a.m. For another, did you not read the part about how I fell asleep upright in a chair after nearly incinerating my building? The Metro would've been a bad, bad idea. But at least it goes to Columbia Heights.


Seriously?! U Street?!?! They won't go to effing U Street?!?!?!?! WTF is wrong with cab drivers in this city? Do they hate commerce?


WHAT?!?! Pardon me while my mind continues to be blown. That sounded weird. Whatever, the point is, how do these cabbies hate making money so much!?


Interesting you should say that. My friend told me the same thing, which is what I ended up doing in the second cab. But that guy was cool. Because he agreed with me.

Lu said...

hahaha funny post!

Adam said...

In order to get a cab to take me home I have to play 'parcel out bits of the truth' as we drive along. I'll tell the driver that I live on Capital Hill. And then once at Capital Hill I say, well actually it's at Eastern Market. Once there, I always happen to remember that it's actually another mile or so towards the stadium.

Freewheel said...

Target is a magnet for crime.

Anonymous said...

I live in Columbia Heights and in the last few months have not only been thisclose to getting caught in gunfire in front of my house at 10:30 pm, but have come home--in a cab--only to see the street in front of my apartment taped off and a body lying in the street. I WISH this place was the goddamned suburbs. I feel for the cabbie...I don't even want to go to Columbia Heights and I live there.

Elizabeth said...

That's funny; I was in Columbia Heights a few weeks ago and 2.5 cabs refused to take me to 13th St. NE

Marissa said...


Why thank you! I appreciate the compliment!


I'd be pumped if I were that cab driver since they charge, like, $50 per mile.


Daytime crime, though, no?


Point taken. But why live there if you don't like it?


Yeah, I've had that happen to me, too. Cabs refusing business is retarded. We're not in f*cking Iraq over here.

Anonymous said...

The most likely reason why he didn't take you is because he was on his way somewhere else. You will see this happen from time to time, especially on the weekends.

Do you feel that you can walk 10 blocks in every direction from your house at 11pm? There's your answer to whether Columbia Heights is ghetto or not. No one cares if there's one safe block in Columbia Heights.

Anonymous said...

It is against the law to refuse a person based on race, disability or destination in the District of Columbia. A taxicab driver is required to drive a passenger to any destination in the District of Columbia. However, if the driver has been operating the taxicab for more than twelve (12) hours of any continuous twenty-four (24) hour period, or the vehicle is on-call or off-duty for mechanical or other reasons, then he/she may refuse to take on a passenger. (See rule 820). The driver, however, is required to display the “on-call” or “off-duty” or “out-of-service” signs indicating that the vehicle is out of service and must have the cruising light turned off indicating that the taxicab is not for hire. (See rule 605.6)

Stevious said...

Foreigner question: What does 'we have a target' mean?

In my mind it's just a big shooting range where all the bad 'uns go to let off steam, thus saving them from having to pop caps in the asses of various bystanders.

(Other note the Metro Centre in the UK is a giant tacky shopping mall with giant dancing gnomes in it).

Marissa said...

anon 7:46-

Then why would he stop?

As for your second point. Walking and driving in a car are two separate issues, as far as I can see it. Granted shit can happen. But shit can happen anywhere. Also, I have been out late biking home several blocks away from my home after dark several times. I can out-chase a bullet, right? In all seriousness, I'm also really stupid when it comes to my own safety at times. (Thank you for reverse conditioning me, Moscow.)

But, really, I think 10 blocks is a little liberal. That would put me way outside Columbia Heights...where there isn't a Target. :)

anon 10:01--

Wow. That is actually really useful. Thanks!


Oh, how you foreigners miss out! Target is a giant superstore that sells everything you can think of (except twisty straws, which is a total check-minus, in my opinion). They're so big that they are most often found out in the 'burbs. However, once in a while, one will open in a city proper and, to me, that's always a sign of yuppie-dom. Not to mention, around said Target a bunch of luxury condos also just popped up. And the uptick in children? I don't want to talk about that.

On to more important things -- can you tell me more about these dancing gnomes??? Because that sounds fantastic!

Anonymous said...

If cab drivers won't go to Columbia Heights, where in DC WILL they go? Jeez, I know it's still got problems with crime but other parts of the city are way worse. Other than downtown and G-town, where else would a cabbie feel safe if they don't feel drive driving into CH?

Anonymous said...

I got into a cab in the middle of the day during the work week around Farragut West and asked to be taken to an address in Rosslyn and the cabbie said, 'Rosslyn? I don't drive there. Sorry'. I sat there in shock and he repeated himself. So I (chagrined), gathered up my stuff, got out and took the metro. I figured it was a zoning issue??? Incredible how fussy the cab drivers are here...

Marissa said...

anon 3:22--

YES! Exactly.

anon 1:43--

Double YES! And triple exactly! Although, I think the cabbie then actually broke the law, at least according to the info posted by another commenter who said that once you're in a cab, they have to take you. Hmm, I guess some rules I actually like...

Alex said...

I live in Columbia Heights (and I like it) but kids on my street threw rocks at a cab dropping someone off not long ago. So I am somewhat sympathetic to the cabbie.

On the other hand, it's illegal for them to refuse a ride. The way you deal with this problem is get in the cab before saying where you want to go. They'll grumble but at that point they usually go along because they don't want to make a scene of breaking the law.

Marissa said...


Rocks?! I don't understand kids. Something messy and sticky would've been much more effective. But in all seriousness, that is pretty horrible...

I've never seen that, but then again, whenever I end up in a cab kids are usually asleep. Or at least they should be.

Anonymous said...

are you african american? i am, and i found that it was easier for me to get cabs when i lived in dupont.. unfortunately, i often have white friends hail a cab, then i hop in. ah, post-racial america....

Marissa said...


That is so disheartening to hear. I'm not African American (don't let my paleness fool you), but some of my other African American friends have told me of similar problems. Post-racial American, indeed. One day...

Anonymous said...

Marissa--I live there because it was affordable and was told it was a safe enough place to live ("we have a target!"...right). When I visited in mid-afternoon, it looked nice enough and there were families walking around. I moved there in May after graduating college (not in DC) and would love to move out ASAP. I have been looking relentlessly for months but have not found anything feasible that will fit my current income restraints. If you like the area, you're more than welcome to sublet my room. I'll gladly move out tonight.

Anonymous said...

Why dupont and other area are safe and not the SE or colombia Heights,you made it unsafe and inconvinient for your folks and you keep blaming it on cab>!i won't take u to there if i was tai driver !how about that.