DENVER, Colo. - When is a cab driver more than just a cab driver? When you're the best in the country it's an easy question to answer. We rode along with a cabbie in Denver, Colorado who was just named "Driver of the Year" by the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association.
"I was very surprised," Mark Chalfin says of receiving his award. "I didn't even know it existed to be honest with you."
Chalfin says he doesn't get behind the wheel of his cab for awards.
"I enjoy helping people," Chaflin says.
And riding along as he picked up passengers, that was clear.
His first customer is David, who is 26, but has the mind of a child. Their ride is full of jokes and laughter.
"They might seem silly but for him he likes it," Chalfin says.
David's smile says it all, but he's not the only person getting a "lift."
"He wouldn't know this but he helps me as much as I help him," Chalfin says.
With David home, Chalfin is heading to adult day care to pick up a woman with Alzheimer's. Pat Kelley says Chalfin is different from the other drivers who pick up at her center.
"Some come in, don't even say 'Hello, all right come on get on the bus'," Kelley says. "Not him. I've told so many of the girls at the senior center about him. 'Well what does he charge?' I said, 'Come find out.'"
When they arrive at Kelley's home, there's even more appreciation from her daughter.
"Just the care he provides her, the consistency with us," Thurber says. "He so countonable and dependable. We know she's in safe hands. He's wonderful."
Chalfin has one more pickup. Lisa and her mother Mimi are heading to a gala. It's a far cry from the usual doctors visits and grocery store runs.
"Mark doesn't look at the people that he takes as fares," Tupper says. "He looks at them as actually friends; friends and people that he is concerned about."
At the end of our ride with Chalfin, one thing is clear. "It's not about you, it's about the customer," Chalfin says. "And it's what they want, not what you want to do."
It's a philosophy that may have earned him one award, but has given him countless friends.