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Obama inauguration good news for D.C. cabdrivers

January 20, 2009 |  6:28 am

WASHINGTON -- Inauguration week festivities have been a boon D.C. cabdrivers -- now weary and overworked but enjoying the spirit of revelry.

"The people from out of town are nice, but the foreigners are even better," a cabdriver named Kofi told me, after he rescued me from a long, cold walk from The L.A. Times' Washington bureau to my hotel a few miles away. "The people in D.C.? They will spend $10 on a beer but don't have $5 for the cabdriver."

"The Georgetown ladies are worst of all," he said, recounting his tiff this week with a mink-coated socialite who wanted him to ignore police barricades to deliver her to the doorstep of her inaugural event. "She said, 'I can't walk that far in these high heels.' She told me she was going to report me to her senator. I told her, 'Report me to the president!' You know, he's an African, like me.' "

Kofi, who came here from Ghana 30 years ago, will be taking today off, after working 15-hour days all week.

"Too many people in too much of a hurry," he said.

With more than 30 inaugural balls tonight, cab demand will be at its peak. That was good news for Mohammed, from Jerusalem, who has been driving a D.C. cab for 20 years and has never seen such a crush of passengers.

"But everybody's so happy, smiling, feeling good," Mohammed said. "Even at Dulles [airport], the bags were lost, the flights were late, but everybody was wearing their Obama shirts and celebrating."

-- Sandy Banks