It was Sunday not so long ago, I took a friend of mine who came to visit me from New Zealand to see my city and local area. There was no better place to take him first then the Shopping Center Mall in Heidelberg. It was not far from my house so we headed the Mall by foot. Few stores were still open when my eyes fell on an older Somali man sitting about five meters away from abandon Taxi at the Mall Taxi rank. Out of curiosity, we approached where he was sitting when the man suddenly recognized me. Gently he pointed to his chest with his left hand. He could hardly breathe! With immense difficult he uttered one syllable at a time and said in Somali “Adeer, sakaraad baan ahay, dhakhtar I gee” this roughly translates to I am in great pain please take me to a Hospital.
Frantically and immediately I reached for my pocket to take my mobile out to call the emergency room and then luckily I saw a taxi next to us which was vacant. As soon as I dialed 000, I saw the taxi driver crossing shops, still on the phone with emergency. I called the man with the taxi uniform and informed him that there was a man in need of medical attention and he should take us to the hospital immediately.To my amazement the taxi driver who was also a Somali said “I know.” I asked him what he meant by that to which he replied that “I told him to sit there as I was going to get something from the shops.” Instead of requesting an ambulance that would take about 10 or 20 minutes to arrive we decided to take the cab, because the hospital was about 5 minutes away. We helped him in the taxi and as we were putting on the seat belt on the elderly Somali man the driver asked if the man has money for the taxi trip.(M40).
With complete disbelief how this taxi driver did not value the life of this man, I assured him that I would give him his taxi money and to just take us to the hospital kindly. With the certainty that he would get his money, he started the engine and turned on the meter.
In few minutes we arrived at Austen Hospital Emergency Department. Before even the doctors could remove the Somali man from the taxi, the driver looked at me demanding I gave him his money. The trip fair was only $9.50. As I handed him $10.00 I made sure I thanked him for his service.
How could someone be so ruthless as to not value the life of someone in immense pain?
This incident reminded me of a friend of mine who once told me that she never uses her real name when she requests for a taxis but rather referred to herself as Miss Jackson. Out of curiosity and amazement I asked why she would do such a thing. She then said living in an area mostly inhabited by Somalis, when you call a cab, most likely it will be a Somali driver. And for some reason after accepting the job, when they see a Somali name on the dispatcher they will not turn up.
One day a young Somali taxi driver out of complete disbelief told her “but you are not Miss Jackson” to which my friend just said, had I told the operator my real name you wouldn’t come. He smiled and said “you are probably right.”
So, my question is, why are some Somalis taxi drivers luck compassion and are inhumane and unprofessional? Some say it is because they don’t want to ask money from a fellow Somali. But really which one is wost asking some one to pay for their trip or to abandon person whom it is your job to take them to their destination? they could be on their way to a important job interview, late from a flight or even and emergency.
The Doctors told us that the old man has suffered a heart attack, and he was lucky to get a medical attention just in time. He is OK today but every time i see him i remember that day and i ask my self what if, what IF?