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Atlanta 1996 / 1 DAY TO THE GAMES

The Cabbie

July 18, 1996|CHRIS DUFRESNE

It's two days before the opening of the Olympics, and Atlanta taxi driver Ibrahim Farah has a knot in his stomach the size of a shotput.

"I think it's going to be chaotic," he said as he weaves through downtown traffic. "Maybe the next Olympics we'll be ready for, not this one."

At the Peachtree MARTA station, Rodney Cline sat hump-shouldered on a bench as he awaited an outbound train to his home in Dunwoody, an Atlanta suburb. During the games Cline, a technical analyst for Georgia Pacific, will make his daily commute on this clogged Olympic transportation artery, which appeared near overload on Wednesday afternoon.

Cline said when he approached the MARTA parking lot in Dunwoody at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, all 600 of the parking spots were occupied.

Where did he park?

"Illegally," Cline said.

He expects things to be worse.

"They're saying the wait is going to be an hour to get on a train," Cline said. "They're saying the cops will limit people coming into the tunnel."

A security officer on loan from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who asked that his name not be used--"I'm undercover"--said fears are being exaggerated, although "things are going to get crowded."

Farah, the cab driver, said he can't wait for the games to end. He claimed his profits are off 85% since February because there have been few conventions downtown as a result of Olympic preparations.

"We're getting killed, man," Farah said.

He said he doesn't expect to make the money up during the Games primarily, he says, because foreigners aren't big tippers.

"We keep telling ourselves, 'Maybe the Americans are coming in Thursday,' " Farah said. "Give me an angry American."

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