Washington D.C. Cabbie Stories

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When I travel, I often learn more about the pulse beat of a place–an unfiltered, from the heart perspective–from the cabbies than I do from the local tourism officials. I’m in Washington D.C. now, and a bonus of visiting with cabbies here, is that I hear cool tales about where they grew up, and it’s often a far off, exotic land, as was the case when I hung out with Samuel Issac who was raised in Ethiopia. Samuel and I had so much fun talking about his life in America, that he refused to accept payment for the cross-town cab ride from Dupont Circle to the Capital Mall. Regretfully, I was so engrossed in living in the moment with Samuel that it didn’t occur to me to record Samuel’s tales until moments after he pulled away from the curb. The next afternoon, Alexander Berko picked me up in front of NPR headquarters for a cab ride out to National Airport. This time I was locked and loaded, and Berko agreed to let me record his D.C. Cabbie stories, including the dark days of the 1980s when DC was known as the Murder Capital, about former Mayor Marion Barry, and the struggles that traditional cabbies face by brutal competition from Uber and Lyft, and most importantly his passionate pride for D.C. I’m Tom Wilmer, come along and join me in Berko’s cab as he talks story about his life in D.C., since emigrating from Ghana 38 years ago.


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