by Sash Brown
When Paul Douglas Miller, was driving his cab down the stretch of Woodlawn road in Charlotte, North Carolina at 2:00 a.m., it was unlikely that he was thinking about whether or not he would see the sun rise over the Charlotte skyline. He may have been imagining the comfort of his bed and sleeping while the sun was still black. His mind could have been dusting off parts of his childhood that he had maybe forgotten or wanted to forget. Paul Miller could have been wondering which gas station served the best coffee so he could effectively complete the end of his shift.
On May 3, 2013, Paul Douglas Miller, was ejected from his taxi and landed on the cold, early morning pavement after being hit by a drunk driver. While he lay there staring at what would have been the last moments of his life, 23 year-old Justin Miller, drunkenly stumbled out of his car and ran, leaving Paul Douglas Miller lying on the ground gasping for air; Paul, died on his way to the hospital. Caught shortly after, Justin Miller treated for his injuries, arrested and charged with felony death by a motor vehicle, felony hit and run, driving while impaired, and driving while licensed revoked.
Taxi cab drivers are no strangers to the Justin Millers of the world. They are the stumbling intoxicated passengers that scramble into cabs and hang their heads out the windows so the breeze would catch bits and pieces of their overindulgence. The Paul Millers of the same world continue to drive their cab and scrunch up their noses at the offensive odor in the taxi. They drive their cab a little faster so they have time to wipe down the seats and spray an air freshener to cover up the smell before they return it to the lot.
Some bars in the Charlotte region have a list of the taxi companies in the area; some even go as far as taking the keys of an intoxicated patron and calling the cab for them. The cab drivers are the designated drivers and the ones who create and execute a plan when it comes to dealing with passengers who are incapable of driving themselves. In hindsight, not many of them think about what might happen if a person decided to get behind the wheel instead of taking a more responsible approach to getting home safely. In the case of Paul Douglas Miller, he had no designated person or special warning to inform him a drunk driver was about to end his life. His story, as tragic as it is, whispers an eerie song of irony. Justin Miller, the drunk driver who killed Paul Douglas Miller, is alive and sitting in jail. His freedom would have been spared one way or the other, if he had dialed the number to Speedy Cab, the company that employed Paul Douglas Miller. Both Miller men could have laughed about having the same last name while one man had his head out of the window and the other would have been driving a little faster wondering what he did with his new pine tree air freshener.