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Delivering rides and smiles at City Taxi Service since ’73

Melissa Topey • Oct 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM

As a taxicab driver, Starlin Jackson has heard it all, including tales of love lost.

One woman in particular stands out in his mind. “The woman knew her husband was cheating on her,” Jackson said. “We would go here and look for his car and then go there and look for the car.” As the woman grew increasingly upset, Jackson learned she had a gun and she planned to kill herself at her home, leaving her husband to find the body.

“I began to talk to her and told her about the things I had been through,” Jackson said. “I drove her around, picking up fares, and I delayed taking her home. I kept talking.”

Jackson kept chatting with the woman, helping her remember she wasn’t the only one with serious relationship problems.

“Finally, I talked her out of her gun,” Jackson recalled. “That’s the toughest fare I have had. But I have a lot of stories, though.”

Jackson opened City Service Taxi in July 1973. These days, the 75-year-old is going strong, motoring riders around town.

With most On the Job segments, I work right alongside the worker. On this one, however, I was sidelined as a passenger, since I don’t have the proper license to be a taxi driver.

When Jackson decided to start a taxi service some 40 years ago, he already owned a restaurant, a store and some real estate, some of which he still owns. He got up and running by taking out a bank loan to purchase four taxis, and he never looked back.

His cell phone rings a lot, and it’s usually someone calling for a ride. From his own vehicle, Jackson can dispatch other drivers. During my ride-along, we headed to Lee’s Chicken to pick up three men headed to a Camp Street home.

Over the years, Jackson has strictly become a defensive driver, traveling at about 5 mph below the speed limit. When you see people driving fast and cutting off other drivers, you learn to keep your eyes open.

“If something happens, you need time to react,” Jackson said.

When the phone rang later, it was a woman at Chipotle asking for a ride back to Cedar Point housing. Chipotle is across the street from Lee’s.

“Convenient,” I observed.

“It doesn’t always work that way,” Jackson said.

Summers, especially when Cedar Point is open, are Jackson’s bread and butter. He can work 15-hour days as he runs tourists and Cedar Point employees back and forth across the city.

At one point we had four passengers in the vehicle. Conversations started up quickly, with Jackson observing the men in the car might need a bigger house to rent, and the young lady planned to stay in the area.

Not one to miss an opportunity, Jackson reminded everyone about the apartments he owns.

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