Expecting a typical silent cab ride home, many students are surprised when the Kenny Loggins lyrics “Loose, footloose/kick off your Sunday shoes” blasts from the speakers as they climb into the back of Myrna Ismail’s cab.

Christina Choi
Myrna Ismail, an Ann Arbor taxi driver, is known for her “Love Bug” cab, which she decorates according to the season. Myrna is selling paper hearts to raise money for a mission trip to Mexico. (BEN SIMON/Daily)

Ismail, who has driven a taxi for Yellow Cab for the past three years, said she relates to the musical Footloose because it is about “a rebel preacher kid,” and she is “a rebel cab driver.”

When students get into Ismail’s cab – she calls it the “Love Bug” – things are different than the bare interior of most taxis.

Ismail decorates her taxi with a different theme for each season.

Right now, it’s a Valentine’s Day theme. Pink streamers hang in the front of the car and paper hearts with customer’s names written on them are posted on the ceiling.

“I spend so much time in my cab, it’s got to be a happy place,” Ismail said.

She said she believes people have “love tanks”, which work the same way as the gas tank in her cab.

“My cab has to be a place where people can fill their little love tanks,” Ismail said. “I try to fill as many love tanks a day as I can.”

The paper hearts on the ceiling of the “Love Bug” are actually part of a fundraising effort. The hearts cost $1 and will go toward film to use on the mission trip to Mexico that Ismail takes with her father each year.

They visit terminally ill children in the hospital, giving each child a teddy bear and snapping a family photo so that the parents will have a keepsake of their child.

Ismail said she tries to help locally as well. She gives out tacos and bags of empty pop cans to the homeless, have earning her car the nickname “The Taco Cab.”

Ismail, a mother of five, is a native of West Branch, Mich. which she lovingly dubbed “Hicksville.”

Ismail worked as a carpenter for 25 years before retiring due to a knee injury.

But she said she didn’t enjoy retirement and decided to try her hand at driving a cab after moving to Ann Arbor four years ago.

“There are not many places in Ann Arbor that will hire people with personality but no education,” she said. “Cab driving doesn’t require much of anything.”

– Know a campus character worthy of a profile? E-mail suggestions to news@michigandaily.com

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