reactions, I’m sure they thought I wasndeliberately trying to humiliate them; innfact, I was only responding to what Infelt were honest doubts and a desire tonerr on the side of safety.nBut having to make quick decisions onnthe basis of inadequate evidence is ansurefire formula for mishap. One night,nwhile stopped at a red light at 96th Streetnand Columbus Avenue, 1 opened myndoors to a garishly dressed black man: Inimmediately knew I had made a mistake.nHe was going to 125th Street and EighthnAvenue but wanted me to take the WestnSide Highway instead of the direct route,nCentral Park West. I was immediatelynsuspicious because not only is the highwayndarker and quieter than the citynstreets, but the fare would probably benfour or five dollars more, as well. Afterngiving me his destination he said nothingnelse, and so I glanced at him in thenmirror: nothing in his appearance orndemeanor reassured me.nI found myself wishing I had chosennsome other line of work. I started drivingnwest on 96th Street but had no intentionnof getting on the highway. I drovenslowly, considering my options. I couldnask him to leave, perhaps telling him I’mnafraid to go to Harlem, but I knew thatnif I refused to take him where he wantednhe had the legal right to sit in my cabnall night. I could try to persuade him thatnanother route was preferable. Or, as a lastnresort, I could take the advice that morenthan one cabdriver had given me: stop thencar in the middle of the street, gather mynbelongings, and head for the hills onnfoot.nWhen we reached Broadway I summonednmy nerve and said to him, “I’mnnot going to take the highway. I’ll takenBroadway instead.” I expected him to atnleast verbally abuse me, possibly threatennto report me to the Taxi-LimousinenCommission (TLC) or maybe, as in thenold joke, just rob me there. He seemednuiisurprised and said mildly, “Okay, thennI’ll get out here.” I still believe he hadnplans to rob me.nAt the fleet where I now work parttime,nthere is little interaction betweennthe white and black drivers. The worknforce appears to be roughly 40 to 50 percentnblack (primarily African and WestnIndian), 50 to 60 percent nonblack, andneveryone seems to accept this segregationnas normal. (The nonblacks, ofncourse, include contingents of Indians,nOrientals, and Hispanics.) As we millnaround the garage, waiting for the dis­n42/CHRONICLESnpatcher to call our names, there are nonracial incidents, though there are few nonblackndrivers who do not speak disparaginglynof blacks.nThe nature of the job also seems tonproduce a need to talk about work, andnwhen taxi drivers congregate before ornafter work a large part of the conversationnconsists of war stories. One hears talesnof traffic jams, of breakdowns, of accidents,nof finding money in the backseat,nof being cheated out of fares, ofnbeing stopped by the police or by TLCninspectors, of arguments with passengers,nof lucrative fares to New Jersey, of celebrityncustomers and beautiful women. Andnoccasionally one hears of a robbery ornreads in the newspaper about a murdernof a cabdriver. As with other cases ofnviolent crime, that the perpetrator is blacknor Hispanic is simply assumed. TTioughnit is true that most of the drivers whonhave been killed on the job have been liverynand not medallion drivers, this isnbecause they are forbidden by taxi regulationsnfrom working in midtown Manhattannand are thus forced to work innhigh-crime areas, but this provides usnsmall consolation since we too sometimesnwork in those same areas.nCrime is never far from the mindsnof city dwellers these days, and I havenfound few people who are unsympatheticnto the taxi driver’s plight. When I tellnpeople I drive a taxi, one of the first questionsnliberals and conservatives alikeninvariably ask is whether I pick up blacks.n”Sometimes,” I answer, explaining thatnI’m cautious, and so far I have managednto escape without a lecture on racism.nTbough the hypocrisy of liberals is anbyword of our times, everyone to thenright of William Kunstler seems to understandnthat no one can be expected to risknhis life for a few dollars.nMost blacks, it is well to remind ourselves,nare decent and law-abiding, andnmost victims of crime are themselvesnmembers of minorities. It is also tme thatnI have had many regrettable experiencesnwith whites. But these incidents havengenerally been merely unpleasant, notnpotentially dangerous. The unfortunatentmth is that there is a difference betweennacceptable and unacceptable risk and, givenntheir high-crime rate, blacks constitutenthe unacceptable risk.nOne can’t help but sympathize withnblacks who have difficulty hailing a cab.nBlack youths sometimes call out, “Pleasenstop,” “Be brave,” or “We’ll give you angood tip,” as taxis speed past them. Innnhave seen black cabdrivers hail a taxinby waving their license. But even if thenoverwhelming majority of blacks are lawabiding,nso long as the majority of urbannviolent crime is committed by blacks,nthere will remain a problem. And sincendrivers have more to lose than they do,nwe will continue to pass them by.nRichard Irving is a taxi driver and freelancenwriter in New York City.nLetter From Georgianby Randy SalzmannThe Price of JusticenIn a case that ought to become a conservativenrallying cry in the 1992 electionncampaign, the five commissioners in tinynLincoln County, Ceorgia, went to jail lastnfall for what they saw as protecting thentaxpayers’ money. In dignified single file,nbroken only by an occasional hug fromna supporter and the “Bless You, Commissioners”nshouts of three hundred constituents,nthey were led away at high noonnlast October 30 in a symbolic action reminiscentnof past tax and civil rights revolts.nSuperior Court Judge Pumell Davis foundnthem in contempt for failing to pay ancourt-appointed attorney’s $6,000 tab; anbill that under Georgia’s Indigent DefensenProgram could not be contested.nThat was the specific legal issue playednout in this timber and livestock communitynof 7,400 people on the banksnof Lake Thurmond. But when balancednagainst conservative attacks on attorneysnand judicial activism, this becomesnan issue with national implications. Hownfar should a county go to protect thenrights of a defendant? Should it raise taxesntwice to ensure a fair trial for someonenwho has already admitted guilt? Andnshould it then tum around and pay, withoutnscrutiny, the bill of the attorneynwhose work accounted for 5 percent ofnthe county’s 1990 budget? The commissioners’ncontempt of court is, in effect,na case about the dollar cost of civil liberty.nIt began in July 1988 when Johnny DeenJones, now 26, crawled through annunlocked drainage gate at thenMcCormick Correctional Institute, justnacross the South Carolina border fromnLincoln County, to escape his 22-yearnsentence for armed robbery. Four hoursn