Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In the book "Nothing to Fall Back On" By Betsy Carter she describes getting her face rearranged by a partition in a NYC taxi.

Nothing to Fall Back on
By Betsy Carter

Chapter 12 p. 127

There is a moment when you stop letting life just happen to you. Mine came at 10:15 on a
cold morning in 1983. I was in the backseat of a taxicab on my way to Esquire after an appointment at the dentist. Engrossed in a New York Times story about David Bowie, I barely noticed the light go from sunshine-white to chapel gray. Something odd, the instant dimness, a jerky turn of the wheel, I don’t know what – made my heart race. The cab rushed into darkness. There was a wall of something solid, not moving in front of us. A stalled Chevy. Did the driver see what I saw? Shouldn’t he slam on the brakes? Why couldn’t I find words to warn him?
In a slow horrifying, motion, every second took on its own entity. Hold on, hold on… but there was nothing to hold on to. The world was going sideways. I was hurtled forward. Launched was more like it. Shrieking tires, grinding metal. My body slammed into the partition in front of me. I heard the sound of a belly flop from a high dive. I didn’t scream. I watched. And then there was silence; as terrifying as the commotion that preceded it. There was blood. I saw a hand I recognized as my own, shaking. My teeth. They’d come undone. This had to be a dream, like dreams I’d had so often. I’m getting up to speak in front of a crowd and all my teeth fall out. I’m opening the front door to greet a date; all my teeth fall out. I thought about Malcom’s polisher, about my parents and what they’d suffered and this must be what it feels like. A voice, in an accent I can only describe as frantic, broke the silence. “Get out of my cab! You get out now!”
Loose teeth rattled around my mouth. My face felt like pieces of a puzzle forced into the wrong places. Inexplicably, the driver was kicking me out of his taxi. I gave myself directions. Reach into your bag. Get your notebook. Write down his license number. Get out of the cab. I leaned against the snowy bank of the tunnel. My maroon beret sat lopsided on my head. Blood trickled from my mouth. People in passing cars noticed, but only one person stopped. Another cabbie. He took me to the emergency room at New York University Hospital. I gave him a lot of money; I have no idea how much. The admitting nurse looked at my face and made a clicking sound with her tongue. She shook her head. ”We don’t do oral surgery here.” she said, and handed me some towels. “You need to go to Belleview.”

On the street, people made arcs around me the way they do when a homeless person walks by. No one asked if something was wrong or if they could help. I don’t know how I walked the ten blocks to Belleview or how long it took. I was shivering, I know that. And I was startled by the thought, no teeth to chatter.

My comment; How could someone with blood and teeth spilling out of their mouth travel by foot on a busy NYC sidewalk for ten blocks without encountering assistance? Unthinkable, but, apparently true. How could the TLC continue to get away with this happening... because of their flawed taxi partition mandate?

If partitions were viable in taxis, trust this, I would endorse the application. I BUILD partitions. Mine do happen to be the only partitions certified to comply with Federal Standards, but that still doesn't mean that the partition is viable in this, relatively speaking, most recent (1968)and unprecedented application and objective of partition use. Partitions are not suddenly 'robbery or assault prevention' devices... just because they get installed in taxis. Those objectives were entirely new and never previously ascribed to partition use in other applications such as utility vans, for cargo retention... limousines, for privacy... and police cars, to keep frisked, disarmed, handcuffed, seat-belted prisoners from any access to the front seat area.

Despite the increases in hand gun attacks with taxi partition use mandates in place and increases in murder rates of cab drivers with partition use, the taxi regulators in several US cities continue to require partition installation. It serves THEIR purposes by creating the ILLUSION that a problem has been addressed, when it HASN'T been.

1 comment:

Steve Crowell said...

I spoke with Betsy about her injury and the whole experience behind the partition and afterwards. She wants nothing to do with efforts to prevent this from happening to others. She just wants to 'put it all behind" her.