Confessions of a lady cab driver

Twin Cities-based cabbie Chey Eisenman talks death and taxis and everything in between

I would eventually have my revenge.

A few years later, a dope-dealing employee of a St. Paul gas station called me to come pick up a fare. I drove through a blizzard of white gold (cabbie fact: snow storms are very profitable) and watched as a young male poured himself into the backseat, reeking of booze. He looked like every other young, scrawny, Midwestern guy I'd had in my taxi a thousand times before.

As we headed south on Highway 52 he started to vomit. Imagine the rage you'd feel if one of your clients arrived piss drunk at your office, only to barf all over everything. I turned to freak out at him. We both realized it at the same time: Neck Tattoo had slithered back into my life.

Chey Eisenman began driving a cab when she lost her two jobs, but not her bills
E. Katie Holm
Chey Eisenman began driving a cab when she lost her two jobs, but not her bills
E. Katie Holm

He pleaded with me not to kick his ass or to kick him out, pulling out $100 and begging me to take him to Inver Grove. I did some quick mental math: He'd shorted me $25 a few years back; the ride today was another $25. Add in $50 for interest and the pain and suffering of cleaning up his sick.

It took a few years, but I had won.

Every cabbie has a robbery story

This is a job that requires guts and quick thinking.

Example: Gangbanger jumps into my cab and wants a ride from from St. Paul's East Side to north Minneapolis, one questionable neighborhood to another. This equals high risk, which requires a high guard and money up front.

He hints that he has a gun. Because of that, I'm "gonna" take him wherever he wants to go.

Sorry, dude, wrong cabbie. I pull into a 24-hour gas station that doubles as a cop hangout. A group of officers are gathered inside drinking coffee. I ask Mr. Badass what he thinks the boys in blue would say about his plan.

Suddenly he ain't so badass. He jumps out and penguin shuffles with a sagging-pants run into the night, muttering "this is bullshit" under his breath.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Every line of work has its ups and downs, and almost every cabbie has a robbery story. On a slow summer night around 3 a.m., I got a call for four young hoodlums in south Maplewood. I'd dropped off a couple of my regulars, Maggie and Lucy, bartenders from Jerseys Bar. This call would hopefully take me in the direction of my bed.

But something wasn't right. The callout from the cab computer had failed, often a sign that the phone number was bogus or a long distance number. I could see four shady dudes outside of a long line of dark garages in a low-to-no-income cluster of town homes. It wasn't the address I was given, but instinct told me they were my pickup.

Critical thinking exercise: Why would four young males give a fake address and phone number to order a cab in the middle of the night? Because they were up to no good.

I locked the doors and shoved my money and cell phone in my bra. If they tried to rob me, they'd have to go to a forbidden place to get my goods.

I have a layered approach to my valuables. A purse in plain sight with no true valuables, then two cash stashes and my ID and credit cards in separate locations. If I get robbed they will go after the purse first (low-hanging fruit). If they demand cash, I can give them the small change stash. I approached with caution.

One of the sketchy dudes noticed my doors were locked. "What, you racist?" he demanded.

Every cab driver learns quickly that if someone is up to no good, he or she will call you a racist. He's playing on the hope that you will be uncomfortable (most white people are) and question your instincts.

Mr. Racist made me uncomfortable. Normally this would be the point where I drive off and live another day, but his friend, Mr. Good Guy Gangbanger, talked me into letting them in the cab.

Three climbed in and cuddled together in the back, including Mr. Racist. Mr. Good Guy sat in the front. My cabbie-sense was tingling. Something was off about these fools. Mr. Racist was the kind of guy I would read about doing something bad to a cab driver someday. I could it feel with absolute certainty.

They wouldn't give me money up front, wouldn't let me speak to the chick on the other end who was "supposed" to pay, and wouldn't give me collateral. I knew I was either going to get robbed, run on, or both, but it was too late.

I thought about pulling into a gas station and making them get out (it's illegal for me to dump them on a freeway), but there were no open gas stations en route.

When we arrived on the 200 block of East Cook, the street was so dark I could hardly see the house numbers. As I slowed, Mr. Good Guy Gangbanger grabbed my purse. His buddies ran.

If you're going to mess with me, expect some resistance. I clung to my purse.

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Thanks for the information! I've always been lucky to find awesome cab drivers like yourself. I actually really enjoy riding in cabs. I love talking to taxi drivers. It's nice getting to know new people!


I was just wondering where I could get the "gangbanger" detector this racist cab driver must have had in order to be able to tell if someone is in a gang or not. Or is "gangbanger" code for something the target market of Citypages gets. When speaking of her $20 a day customer, she put no label on her (gangbanger, riff-raff, thug,ect...) I bet she was white. (Or maybe it's because the use of a taxi in prostitution is prohibited. So is asking to be paid up front.)Fwd Fwd Fwd


The article was riveting. I hope to read more by Eisenman in the future!


These are great stories and you have good writing skills. But I have to ask:

You were worried about making rent, yet you still bought a "brand new" Primp purse and considered "$75 moisturizer, $28 mascara, $30 hand cream, $25 lip gloss, $30 Apple earbuds, etc." to be "daily essentials?"

If you lived with a bit of frugality, you wouldn't have to drive a cab! Of course, if you enjoy the risk, by all means drive a cab and keep telling stories. 

But if you'd like a more leisurely, less risky job, check out the mister money mustache blog. If nothing else you'll enjoy his writing style, which is similar to yours.


sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter


so you cant really be sure if she is racist

but for a fact you are as you state "bet she was white" 

the article tells you

get a clue 

if you dont like stereotypes stop supporting them


@ryanflanders No kidding..most cabbies I know can barely pa their lease let alone afford high=priced items.  



The author, who is an excellent writer, listed $158 of beauty products in an expensive bag. Below I've listed the same products for a total of $22. If this is a monthly purchase, the yearly cost is $1896 vs $264.

How many cab fares does it take to make up the difference of $1632? That doesn't even require "going without" these "essentials", it just means selecting more affordable products.

Boy, do I feel like an idiot for making a friendly suggesting that could improve a person's lifestyle and save them $16,320 over ten years (not even accounting for compound interest).

$8 moisturizer:

$5 mascara:

$4 hand cream:

$5 lip gloss:


The woman was sexually assaulted while at work, but by all means focus on the important things like how much her moisturizer cost.


@ryanflanders @sillyboys this was my immediate thought as well. i am a female, and i make over $80K annually. i buy Olay from Costco in a 2-pack because it is cheaper than Target and use the free mascara i get in my Clinique bonuses. i also don't have an iPhone. all of these seem totally unnecessary and point to a major issue with overconsumption and gluttony in america.


@MakeItSo  please tone down the drama, not a single person discounted the fact that this happened to her.

however, if I were so concerned with my safety, I sure as hell wouldn't be carrying hundreds of dollars of products on the seat of my vehicle. and as ryan says below, if life is so difficult, why in the world are you spending so irresponsibly?


@MakeItSo Of course we don't want our dear author to get robbed and sexually assaulted. Frugality is very relevant to the discussion. If she limited her overspending, she would have the option of working a less risky job.

The photo cultine reads "Chey Eisenman began driving a cab when she lost her two jobs, but not her bills."

We are merely suggesting that scaling back some of her bills would allow her to choose a safer occupation.


@NoMoreGasthof @MakeItSo I'm not being dramatic. I may have used the oh-so-dramatic-phrase "sexually assaulted" for flair(and accuracy), but really, I just think it's ridiculous that someone read that entire piece and the thing they felt was worth criticizing was the cost of her personal products, as if that had anything to do with anything. It was such an off-hand comment in her story that to bring it up in the comments is missing the point.

She already is a cab driver, this stuff already happened to her, and from what I read, she's already in a place where she has built up a better clientele. These are merely her stories as a cab driver. She sounds smart and okay with her decisions, so to hit her with the frugality-slap seems rude and dismissive.


@MakeItSo @NoMoreGasthof again - you clearly miss the entire point. she ended up in a risky job that caused her to be in a situation where robbery, assault, etc. were a reality. if she wanted to be in a less risky job and climb out of the hole more quickly, she wouldn't spend so irresponsibly. if you don't think this is a major point of the article, and as i mentioned, a major issue in our society, then you need to do some soul searching. it's like people who buy electronics or gym memberships but not medications for their kids. they're out there, and it effects all of us as a society.


@NoMoreGasthof @MakeItSo No, you miss the point you fucking smug libertarian nazi cocksucker.  She lost her jobs, and that does NOT mean she made a bad decision, it means her fucking libertarian nazi fucking BOSSES fucked up and couldn't afford her plus their three houses and six cars and month long vacations anymore.  It's moralizing fucks like you that should be dropped by cabbies on the side of the freeway, or better yet in the middle of fucking no where in sub zero weather, and then you can use your "superior intellect and moral instincts" to figure out how to survive.