Life Riding with Singh
posted by April 4 at 10:20 AMon
Readers will recall the saga of Sukhvir Singh, the Seattle cab driver and observant Sikh who was beaten and subjected to racial slurs by an intoxicated passenger last September. Late last month, Singh’s attacker—21-year-old Luis Vazquez—pleaded guilty to the hate-crime attack, and faces sentencing on April 18.
In the meantime, I received an email from Hot Tipper Lauren, who writes:
Last evening I caught a cab at the 7-11 on 15th, and started chatting with my driver. He was friendly, warm and unobtrusive. Jolly, if you will. When I asked if he was just starting, or about to be off duty, he sighed with relief and said “I’m almost done.” I wondered aloud if cab drivers met more interesting people in the evening, or the daytime, and he offered that most people are nice, but in the wee hours you can get some real duds, like the one who beat him a few months ago. That’s when I realized my driver was none other than Sukhvir Singh! “OMG, it’s YOU! It’s HORRIBLE what happened to you! I read all about it, and I’m so sorry. I heard about the upcoming court date, and I think what your attacker is being charged with is so minimal, it’s a crime in and of itself.” He was so sweet and humble, saying that if I felt that way I could show up to the King County Superior Court on April 18, 3:30 pm, and show my support for him.
It’s one thing for me to read about this tragic episode, but now that I’ve met the gentle man it happened to, it’s quite another to be quietly, privately outraged with the conduct of his attacker. Now, unlike a headline, this story has a face. I know I’ll be in attendance. I hope you will print the date and time for other sympathizers and likewise outraged, kind-hearted souls in Seattle so they can do the same.
Lauren’s wish is my command. Speaking of Lauren, I responded to her Hot Tip with a question: What do you tip a sweet, efficient cabbie who you know to have been hideously victimized? Lauren’s response:
On a $6.20 fare I gave him $4, and a promise to tell everyone about his court date. He then gave me a pamphlet about the Sikh religion, with his name, cell number, and home address written on the back, and said if I ever had any questions about his religion to please call him, as ignorance is what caused his attack in the first place.
That’s some fine humanity right there.
In other Sukhvir Singh-related developments: I just learned the man will be sharing his story at the Seattle premiere of the new documentary A Dream in Doubt, “dealing with hate crimes in a post-9/11 world,” screening at Northwest Film Forum on Saturday, April 19. Attendance is free with an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.