The cab drivers for Mama Nancy’s Cabs are like the local super heroes – they are rarely seen except at night and they save rambunctious college students from embarrassing blunders.
Nancy Couch began her cab business in Murray eight years ago. When she first moved to Murray to be closer to her daughter, she worked at Cracker Barrel and then a local cab company. That’s where she earned the name “Mama Nancy.” Murray State students began to call her that when she drove them home, and the nickname stuck.
She started off with one cab and now has 11 cabs and eight employees including herself and her children.
The students at Murray State are what keep her going day after day, she said. Couch said that the students here are wonderful and smart. Her main goal is to keep all of them safe. She said that even if a student did not have the money to pay for a ride home, she would give them a free ride.
“This is more than just a cab company,” she said. “I watched these kids grow up. It’s about making sure they’re safe.”
Murray may seem like a quiet town, but every night is wild and crazy for a cab driver said Alicia Woods, Mama Nancy’s driver.
Woods has worked for Mama Nancy for five years. From throwing up to being screamed at and chased, she has experienced it all. During the day, everything remains semi-routine. People request a cab service to go to work or visit a friend. However, the nights are a little more interesting, Woods said.
Woods said that on one particular occasion, an angry husband chased a cab driver out of his yard screaming, “You’re sleeping with my wife!” The man’s wife had saved Mama Nancy’s number in her phone as “Sweetheart.” When the husband found out that his wife had been calling this number and that it was Mama Nancy’s, he proceeded to accuse the cab driver of having an affair with his wife.
Throwing up, on the other hand, is not a rare occurrence. Almost every weekend someone throws up in a van, according to Woods. The company charges a $25 “puke fee” because the van’s interior has to be shampooed and sterilized. Oftentimes the students sing, laugh and sometimes even make up a rap about Mama Nancy.
When Mama Nancy’s started out, Couch was busy Monday night through Saturday night. Now, her busiest night is usually Friday.
Unless a passenger throws up and has to pay the puke fee, a ride with Mama Nancy’s in town is $7. The price increases to $1.75 per mile for out-of-town trips. The farthest Mama Nancy’s has driven is 60 miles south of Atlanta. One family paid for a driver to take them and stay with them for a weekend in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Couch has traveled across the region from Indianapolis to Lexington, Ky.
Although owning a cab service in a college town can be crazy, Couch keeps her charm and good nature.
“Nancy is one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met,” Woods said. “We are all like a big family.”
When looking for employees, Mama Nancy’s looks for family-oriented people who are clean-cut and have a good personality. They must be at least 25 years old and have a clean driving record.
“You gotta’ have 17 personalities to be a cab driver,” Couch always tells her new employees.
The business is unconventional in that it does not have a main office or building. All of the paperwork and files as well as the unused cabs are stored at Couch’s house in Murray. Drivers pick up their cab at her house when their shift begins and drop it back off when they are finished.
Mama Nancy’s cab drivers are always out and about. Whether it be chauffering to a business meeting or home from the bar, Mama Nancy’s drivers are like the superheroes of Murray… if superheroes drove mini-vans.
Story by Madison Wepfer, Staff writer