Colorful cab company in Park Ridge hopes your ride is rosy
Patti Carpenter sits behind the wheel of one of the cabs for which her company, Pink Taxi, is named. | Contributed photo
NAME: Pink Taxi
SPECIALTY: Cab service, breast-cancer awareness
CONTACT: (847) 940-TAXI (8294)
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:09AM
PARK RIDGE — Patti Carpenter’s on-the-go lifestyle sometimes makes her difficult to reach by phone. But whenever you need a lift, she’s your lady in pink.
Carpenter, of Park Ridge, has worked for the past 30 years in the cab industry, a line of work with numerous pitfalls, she acknowledges, but also full of possibility.
Acting on the advice of an oncologist, Carpenter set out two years ago with the dual purpose of improving both the cab business and the health of women by creating Pink Taxi, a full-service transportation company that raises public awareness of breast cancer.
“You have to make a positive out of this,” Carpenter recounted a doctor once telling her at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital after she underwent surgery to rid her body of colon cancer.
He told her: “Do something important. Make this matter.”
Carpenter took those words to heart and now, as a 20-year survivor of the disease, she is the driving force behind a fleet of seven hot-pink-colored Nissans spreading a message of hope across the Midwest.
“At 59 years old, I thought, ‘How could I make a socially responsible cab company and make a difference in the lives of women who have cancer?’ ” she said. “I could remind them they need to get a mammogram.”
Pink Taxi donates a portion of its profits to various cancer-research organizations, such at the Breast Cancer Coalition and the University of Chicago.
The cab company’s good will doesn’t end there.
Carpenter said she consciously chose a vehicle model with a low carbon footprint and hires drivers with excellent customer-service skills.
“I don’t believe that 15 minutes (in a cab) should be the worst time in a day,” she said, noting how the taxis’ color itself inspires dialogue between drivers and riders, whether they’re touched by cancer or not.
The cheerful hue also easily attracts attention. Carpenter said a group of teenagers approached her cab near Niles North High School on recent afternoon to tell her they loved her car.
“One girl looked at me and said, ‘This pink taxi makes everything feel better. It just puts a smile on my face,’ ” Carpenter said, adding: “You could never believe a little pink car causes a ruckus.”
Pink Taxi provides regular services to Advocate Lutheran General, Coca-Cola, United Airlines and Abbott Laboratories.
Carpenter, an eternal optimist, believes this is only the beginning for her cab company as she sees the idea as franchise-ready and a way to provide jobs to the unemployed, particularly veterans.
“There’s this whole group of people we need to reach and it’s not just the young who are out of work,” she said.
Reviving the country and today’s culture, Carpenter said, requires risk-taking and thinking outside the box.
The back of her business card offers this: “What you do with your day says a lot about who you are.”
For Carpenter that means spending hours on end behind the wheel of a taxi in between pink-polish manicures and retrieving calls to her pink-colored cell phone.
“Think pink” has become a way of life, she said.
“It’s very hard for a lot of people to remain optimistic,” Carpenter said. “But the alternative is so good.”