Sunday, August 18, 2019

Taxi Do's & Don't's Conclusion: Working Hotel Stands & Zones

While concluding my self-styled series of what the alert cabbie should do, I remain doubtful I have captured even half of what is required to successfully drive a cab.  Each week I experience something new and different, meaning I could live to be one thousand years old and still be surprised, pleasantly or not, by who is stepping into my cab.  Later I will relate to what happened on my one and only ride from Wednesday's Rolling Stones concert to a Pierce County address located outside of Bonny Lake, knowing I would have handled it far differently in 1989 than I did 30 years later upon a August 2019 evening.

In other words, I can provide the greatest suggestions possible but my written instruction never replacing the 200,000 plus road miles required to make anyone a truly prepared and professional cabbie.  Each month I put 5,000 plus miles upon my faithful 1092, each mile more fully inscribing the living taxi tutorial upon my fatigued brain, hopefully translating into even better performance.

And Wednesday might have proved I remain the good student, having my first three one-hundred dollar-plus fare days in my long 30 year taxi career, those three fares adding up to $380.60.  Some like to say "taxi is dead" but I see everyday that instead, we are very much alive and, day by progressive day, regaining our industry footing, constantly meeting passengers who say they will never again take Uber to where they need to go.  And in fact we often prove to be cheaper, Uber charging $70.00 from the Pier 91 Cruise Ship port to Sea-Tac International Airport while we'll get you there for $47.00, lessening the financial incentive to skip good, old taxis.

More Money Making Strategy: Working Hotel Cab Stands & Taxi Zones 

My first more or less two years, I worked independently, meaning not for a large association, something translating into only a handful of dispatched calls and prompting a daily search for the best place to get that elusive fare.  Often, like all the other independents, I would usually end up upon a hotel cab stand but which hotel to chose was the question of the moment.  Pick wrongly and you could end up sitting for hours, going, as it is said, nowhere fast.  This is when I discovered that taxi was a kind of science, with investigation required to understand the functional biology of finding a fare.  Like all investigative research, repetitive testing is needed to know just where and when to go.  As should be obvious, each day and even hour is changeable, making it essential you are aware of what you need to do and why you are doing it.

The cab stand "player" then knows which convention is in town, how many in attendance, and when it is leaving, and of course knowing which hotel is full or not.  To not know these facts can kill a day, which is why so many cabbies "die upon the stand," never truly understanding what hit them.  In short, as I have said elsewhere, the successful cabbie is ever alert, paying attention to what, business-wise, is occurring around him/her.  One method, which I never liked, and have found too painful, is to sleep upon the stand, waiting for the "early, morning airports."  While sometimes successful, it leaves you ragged and weary, making you feel like "death warmed over" which is an awful feeling, making the money you earned harder than it needed to be.

Picking a zone to book into is similar, knowing your city's particular demographics essential, pertaining as to why the local residents are taking cabs or not.  Just like the hotel stands, fares might come out at 5:00 AM but it might be completely dead twelve hours later.  So what I am saying is, know why something is occurring minus as little guesswork as possible.  I have known taxi buddies, longtime 20-30 year veterans who neither knew or cared about what I have just told you, and were, or are forever complaining about not making money.  When errors are pointed out, "go to hell" is their usual response but it's them instead assigned to taxi's nether regions, damnation and perdition their sorry fate, Uncle Screwtape their happy sponsor.

In conclusion, taxi is a damn hard business if you insist upon driving in proverbial circles day after day.  My advice then is don't, don't do it.  Instead, think, think, and think again about what you are doing.  And if one strategy fails, try another until you succeed because succeed you will, I can promise you that.  I do know, for better or for worst, all about it, and before I forget, which I did, I'll relate my short story of how knowing what you are doing makes all the financial difference between making $180.00 or driving back to Seattle angry as hell and out all that time and money.

Post-Rolling Stones

He staggered into the cab, flattening out upon the backseat, saying he was going a long way southeast of Seattle, over halfway to Mount Rainier.  In other words, this was going to be a very good fare.  When I was a rookie, I would have demanded money up front, and if it wasn't coming, he would have been out of the cab and on his way but the years have taught me how to gauge a passenger no matter how inebriated he or she might be.

The ride was great, the passenger totally out but of course knowing trouble awaited once I had to wake him out and discover just exactly where I was taking the disoriented fellow.  And problems I had, the guy screwing up his debit card pin number, and worse, vomiting up beer.

But it all turned out okay, avoiding all those cars whizzing by on State Highway 410, including a local cop who stopped to inquire "just what was going on?"  Once halfway sobered up, my passenger, the good guy he was, directed me to his house where the wife wrote a check for $180.00, $20.00 of that for necessary cleanup.

It was all cordial though their dog considered the canine wisdom of biting the intrusive cabbie standing in the kitchen.  But hell! who could blame the pooch, so rudely awakened in those early morning hours.  As for me, I remained cheerful yet tired, eating my "meal-of-the-day" at the Bonny Lake Denny's, the waitress great, a true professional serving me my T-bone steak and eggs.  I couldn't complain, everything fine upon an early taxi morning, good money made and certainly ready to go home.  What else can I say?  Nothing whatsoever is the answer.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Graded By The Better Business Bureau? & Debut Of PSD's New Dispatch System

For those following my cabbie do & don'ts series, expect more next week, including more about making money, and specifically, how to work hotel stands, something I now rarely do but once serving as my independent taxi "bread & butter" while refining and honing my skills during my first couple of years beneath the top-light.  Instead, I will concentrate upon the oddest of animals, a complaint received through Seattle's Better Business Bureau, something I couldn't have imagined, or anyone else at Yellow, for that matter, unique and different if not pleasant, another kind of naive bureaucracy reaching out in confused embrace.

Normally, all official complaints are filtered though the City of Seattle but for reasons unknown, the complainant chose the BBB to register her alleged injury but perhaps I do know why, her complaint unfounded, embellishing truth into unnecessary lying.  More than the actual incident, what spikes my curiosity is just as to why would anyone go to such lengths to not only fib but leave themselves open to a libel suit?  My taxi educated guess is a toxic combination of alcohol and domestic discord, the woman's husband alcohol-fueled aggression and irrationality prompting her response, finding herself  navigating alone a daily traumatic melodrama minus end or easy resolution; easier then to blame anyone other than the individual solely responsible for their combined misery.

Before I report what she said, I will tell you what really happened, something taxi mundane and usual, not noteworthy because it is a commonplace occurrence well known to anyone who has driven a cab: the out-of-control drunken bully who refuses to cooperate.  If we can't invite drunks to leave the taxi, what then are we supposed to do when belligerence raises its ugly face?

Belled into a house near the corner of 6th NW & NW 84th, clearly there was a drunken party occurring, the usual shenanigans in full view.  Watching the man approach, I recognized trouble, his unsteady gait and angry face telling me everything I didn't want to know.  After turning around, and hugging equally drunk friends, he and his wife entered the cab, telling me they are going to N 104th & Greenwood N., a more or less $6-7.00 dollar cab ride, approximately five minutes away.

Normally, unless people either are drunk or insane, that is where it ends but when you are a bully, it is yet another opportunity to bully, crossing over usual and accepted lines of civility.  Gruffly telling me to turn right (all I could do), I warned him he had to stop or the ride was over, this response taken directly from my own "taxi" textbook stating you never let drunk, angry or crazy behavior take over the cab, something never allowed in airplanes, buses or trains, recognized for the danger it is.  As is obvious, I don't have an undercover air marshal sitting next to me.  I only have me to respond.  When "all-hell-breaks-loose," which it sometimes does, five minutes is a long wait to be rescued from what might be fatal.  Instead, I quickly state what needs to occur, and if the passenger fails to agree, the ride is over.

In this instance, we barely moved 100 feet down the road before the man said he was getting out of the cab.  The wife, only wanting to get home, pleaded with him to just let me take them there but there was no arguing, he was gone and that was the end of it, other than calling me back to pick them up again.  Why would they do that?  Alcohol induced confusion, forgetting dispatch's number (206-622-6500) and calling the cabbie back instead, something I have experienced often in similar circumstances.

What the wife, in her BBB complaint, said occurred, is that I shouted at them "to get the f _ _ k out!, then refused to let them out of the cab, implying for a quick moment they were kidnapped, held against their will,  while also stating  it was very "scary."  Why I would have done this isn't truly explained, the wife making no mention of alcohol or menacing behavior.  The truth is, I wanted to take them home, especially the wife but her husband's unacceptable behavior prevented me doing the basic, driving the few blocks northeast to their home.

Getting back to the complaint, you might see the logic in my supposition as to why she made her complaint, perhaps assuaging the beast that is her husband.  Having dealt with unfounded complaints before, sometimes the motive appears to be simple revenge, trying to punish the "bad"cabbie.  Over the years I have been accused of theft, unwanted sexual advantages, driving drunk or stoned, beatings and the usual "taking them for a ride," meaning "dishonesty is the standard cabbie policy."  That I recently returned $500.00 left on the back seat to a regular rider or, as some readers might remember, the potential $5-10,000 left in the black travel bag I found and returned a few months back, won't stop the next unwarranted accusation coming my way, poisoning the day.

All this is the "taxi reality" I know too well and accept as "part & parcel" of doing business and driving cab.  The last HopeLink complaint I received was classic, the passenger  (he did not have to pay a dime) complaining I took the wrong way to his NE 65th & Ravenna NE apt building, saying I didn't take Montlake Blvd.  And why didn't I take the usual and prescribed route, Montlake transitioning into 25th NE, the entire length closed both ways for construction, meaning it was impossible to break through barriers blocking the road.  Despite the obvious, this complaint lingering for months before resolved.

I did request for BBB to contact me, instead of using PSD as an intermediary but only if they truly are interested in knowing what it means to deal with nonsensical, irrational behavior entering the intimate space that is a taxi.  There is no other public business environment like a cab.  I would like for them to understand.  A mere half hour conversation would suffice.  Let's talk!

MTI Dispatch System Now Installed at PSD

After months of preparation, yesterday, the "San Francisco George" system was switched off and MTI was switched on.  It seems user friendly.  More later about MTI and our now Manila-based call center.  How many shoes do they own?

Uber Quarterly Loss

5.2 billion is the figure.  Amazing one might say!


                          Uber! Uber!

                         Where did you go wrong?

                         Spending investor money like tap water,

                         are you preparing all your dumbbell investors

                         for one final, inevitable financial slaughter?

                         In the Wall Street morning after,

                         In the fiscal bleeding night,

                         will everyone be waving goodbye

                         as misbegotten Uber's good ship Misery

                         drifts out of sight!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Do's & Don't's Part 6---The Taxi ABCs Of Making Money

Other than making money, and I mean, in relative terms, making lots of money, there is no absolutely no reason to drive taxi, as least in the long term, given the overall misery associated with this crazed occupation called driving a cab.   Perhaps for a month or two, some might regard it as a great adventure, or maybe even as an astute observation post upon all human behavior, which taxi certainly is.  And I do agree, taxi making a great subject for someone writing their PHD thesis in Applied Behavioral Psychology, knowing full well you will meet every kind of human inhabiting our planet.

But the cabbie's bottom-line must be, and has to be, the monetarily maximizing of every hour you are out upon the streets, the modern urban landscape your 24 hour ATM.  Even in this Post-Uber/Lyft environment, there is good money to be made.  How much depends on the given city plus your hours put in, and of course, the individual cabbie's ability to navigate the taxi maze.

And this is what this particular posting is, and designed to do, serving as an assist in the making of the money you truly deserve.  As you know, you are working in the most dangerous workplace our planet knows, save an active battlefield of  drawn bayonets, whizzing bullets and exploding bombs.  Staying safe and making the money is our daily task and taxi motto, with a growl, with a smile but of course minus all predatory guile.  We may bite but we aren't infectious!

How to Multiply the Taxi Dollar

To be a successful, money making cabbie, you first must have the requisite skills translating into a consummate professionalism. The professional cabbie is a special animal---part bloodhound, part wolverine, part owl, part lamb, part Saint Bernard, part hawk, part greyhound, part camel, part mule---yes, truly a species apart from the norm. We are all these intertwined animals and species because it is required, a shopping list of skills necessary in winning and solving that particular situation or problem.  A good example is what happened Friday night when the Jamaican passenger going to Sea-Tac presented me with a $2000.00 cashier's check to pay his fare.  I am not joking.  How was I going to cash that? Yes, this actually happened, stranger than usual fiction.

Instead of getting angry,  I took him him to the Renton, WA Money Tree, where he successfully cashed his check.  Instead of an argument I got, including tip, $120.00 for my effort, both of us happy with the outcome.  In my rookie years, I am afraid I might have responded differently.  Clearly you must be ready for anything because anything will happen.  You can depend on it.

Successful Components Composing the Professional Cabbie Personality 

Everyday, be organized.  What I mean by this, is to have a plan of action, where you are going to start working, and more, having a very good idea of just where the money is and will be upon that given day.  A huge mistake many cabbies make is treating each day the same.  While each day shares similarities, each day is nuanced, with individual twists and turns.  So have a plan, but like the wise owl you must be, remain alert to the sounds emanating from the taxi forest.  In short, know what you are doing even when you don't.  What does that mean?  It means welcome to taxi as I know it.

Part of that daily organization is knowing what is occurring that particular day, be it a big name rock concert or, if in a major city, when is the football game ending, meaning the easy money might be there as opposed to elsewhere. But the reverse can also be true, working where everyone else isn't, knowing there will customers in other parts of town seeking your services.  This rule especially applies if you driving for a large taxi company like Seattle Yellow Cab offering 24/7 service throughout the city and county.  But I have found that some events, like a UW Husky football game, is guaranteed money due to up to 73,000 rabid fans pouring out of the stadium. Start just before halftime and begin counting the money.

But what do you do when nothing at all is happening, and you are feeling crazier than normal?  This is when you understand that the successful cabbie makes every attempt to remain "cool, calm and collected" in all and every situation confronting him/her regardless of what it may be.  Taxi can "eat you alive" so the best approach is to remain patient, knowing everything will get better, perhaps in the next minute or hour or next day.  Trying to "force the day" only leads to frustration and screaming at the sky, though therapeutic shouting can be effective as long as you are sitting alone and safely parked.  If you need to go "nuts" for a moment, do it and then shift into "Buddhist-mode," enjoying the bliss of being alive! upon a rainy day.

Another part of making money is knowing your city and all the roads therein, enabling the shortest routes possible Point A to B, thus maximizing your time in the cab.  Obvious, but the faster you get to the passenger in and to their destination translates into being vacant quicker for the next fare,  explaining why I always help load and unload the groceries, luggage etc.  Not only do I get exercise and bigger tips and simple appreciation, but by speeding up the process I am quicker on my way to where ever I might be going next.  The lazy cabbie is a big dummy cabbie. Get outta the cab and move your butt, being helpful to all concerned.

Maintaining good habits assists in making money.  Using your trip sheet to maintain a hourly running total is very helpful in keeping focused upon the bigger money-making picture.  It is part of remaining alert to what you are doing.  The cabbie standing around talking with their buddies is going to miss any bells coming through the system.  It has happened to me more than I like to admit.  Taxi is a stern mistress, kicking your ass when you aren't paying attention.  Again, I know all about it, me the perfectly imperfectly cabbie, too often not taking my own advice.  Yeah, me too the big dummy!

I could say more but tonight I am running out of time.  I hope this series helps someone somewhere understand more fully the under appreciated craft that is driving a cab.  Most don't know but we do, which is all that counts and matters, you and me and the millions of others driving cab upon our planet. Brothers and sisters, I salute you!  Be brave! Be smart! Make money!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Taxi Do's & Don't's Part 5--- Police & More Specifics Concerning Passengers

Cabbie relations with the local Seattle & King County police departments, have been, in my personal history, a fraught narrative mandating a bureaucratic punch-in-the-taxi -nose to any cabbie within reach of the "too long arm of the law."   There are real reasons why, until recently, the US Department of Justice  officially oversaw Seattle's Police Department, with the recent cancellation of the mandate undergoing further review.  Over my 30 plus years driving cab, the vast majority of my contacts with local police authorities haven't been positive, meaning I have been the loser regardless of all and any perceived right and wrong. The reason for this is simple: police fear offering any signals that they, and not you, are completely in control.  Expecting conciliation of any kind is a mistake. Instead the closed fist, the psychological "hand gripping your collar" their operational vernacular.  As said, when dealing with the police, there is no winning, only losing.  But before providing further elaboration and advice concerning the police, I feel it necessary to further expand upon passenger relations, more specific detail perhaps helping when talking to, and dealing with, your valued customer.

Situations & Personality Types

The Interviewer---This personality type wants to know everything about you, asking the most personal questions.  While often not taking my own advice, the best approach I have found, as politely as you can, is to say something to the effect that you feel uncomfortable volunteering personal information.  Understand, that in my long experience, this kind of passenger is some version of crazy, no one sane or normal interested in prying into you life.  Their questioning is a kind of intrusion or assault, so feeling violated is a natural enough response.

The Bully---Their gig is to be completely controlling, dictating your every move, sternly commanding "turn left, turn right, etc," verbally slapping you around.  In telling them to stop, I make it clear their behavior is very distracting, preventing me from safely driving down the road.  Too often, their response is an impolite "I am paying!" which is when I pull over and say, "No you're not.  You don't owe me a dime. Please leave."   Sometimes they refuse to go, prompting me to leave, turning off the cab and walking away.  Always remember this taxi bottom-line: you the cabbie MUST be in control of your cab at all times, never allowing COMMANDEERING of any kind to take place, either by weapon or verbal abuse.  I have found that if the passenger feels they are in control, and not me, I immediately question the customer's motives, and just what will happen next, if the ride is allowed to continue.  As the adage goes, better to be safe than sorry.

The Dangerous Passenger---Anytime you feel that the passenger's agenda is anything but the normal "Point A to B" ride, do this instead of driving on waiting to be killed: verbally state you question what the passenger is doing, or will do.  If you don't like the answer, immediately terminate the ride.  If the passenger won't get out, pull into a busy intersection and open all the doors.  I find that works well.  And if the worst happens, gun to head or knife to throat, speed up while yelling "you will roll the cab!" and do it within seconds if the knife or gun isn't tossed out.  Don't play games with killers.  They will kill you!  Always remember that "you the cabbie" have a higher likelihood of being murdered upon the job than a cop.

Too Drunk or Drug-Addled Passenger---That you were foolish to allow them into the cab is your fault.  Your job now is to somehow safely get the passenger out of you cab.  Just remember that you have a legal and moral responsibility to put them out in a safe location, and not, for instance, on the freeway where they will be killed walking into oncoming traffic.

The Disabled Passenger---Never resent that the blind or physically-impacted or frail & elderly passenger requiring extra time and help and assistance.  Assist to the door.  Carry their groceries.  Be a hero and not some commonplace cad!  As might be suggested, imagine its you needing the help.

Our Friends the Police

Never forget that when you are involved in a police traffic stop, you are officially under arrest until the cop gives you permission to pull away.  Also remember, the ticket you have been issued, whether dismissed or not, will follow you beyond the grave.  I know this factually, having 30 or more tickets dismissed but certainly not forgotten, King County and Seattle prosecutors treating them as "real violations" despite their dismissal.  You will find that even official police correspondence saying you did nothing wrong, the ticket erroneous and unlawful, is not enough to stop you from being found guilty of the moving violation.  As the court rules have changed, I always hire my favorite taxi lawyer, Doug Silva, to protect me from the judicial wolves. Also know that the officer will write comments you will not see until your day in court.  Police, as I have personally experienced, will perjure themselves both in writing and upon the witness stand.  Who do think is believed, you or the cop?

My first advice is to do everything you can to prevent a traffic stop from occurring.  If you are going to break some traffic rule, do it when no one cop is around to to stop you, meaning you should be especially careful after the sun goes down, when the police have the distinct advantage of being able to seeing you first.

But when you are stopped, and you will be stopped sometime in your taxi career, I advise you to to remain calm and say as little as possible.  Often the cop will try to make you talk but politely say you know you have the right to remain silent and that's what you are going to do.  Of course, keep your hands in full view and make no sudden moves.  Early on, in my first taxi year, I was assaulted by a Seattle cop.  All you can do is be completely cooperative and wish for the misery to be over.  And once the stop is over, and if finding yourself too upset to drive, take a break, have dinner or a cup of coffee.

In short, in all other words, do NOTHING to provoke the officer.   Be SURE to REMEMBER that the cop is probably scared out of his/her mind and will shoot you if the excuse arises.  To believe otherwise, is a foolish and potentially fatal notion.  It isn't that the cop will want to kill you.  It's only that they are armed and have the legal right to kill you if they feel threatened.  Obviously then, do nothing that might seem threatening.  That is the best advice I can give you.  Take the ticket and drive away, living to see another taxi day.   That is all you can do.

To be continued.

Next week: How to make the "BIG" money!  Yes, successful and proven strategies assisting in making a given taxi day worthwhile. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Do's & Don'ts Part 4---Passenger Relations

In years past, often I would have more inert passengers, meaning packages, than alive and breathing human beings, the only required human contact secretaries, receiving clerks and various medical staff more than happy to hand you the package or sign for it.  Especially at Yellow, blood was the big mover, taking us to all points east, west, north and south around Washington State.  Packages are great, keeping the conversation to a minimum, and not telling you how to get down to Olympia or north to Widbey Island.  Human passengers of course are more demanding, some even thinking they know far more about taxi driving than you do, bringing me to crux of the matter: you need to be a combined psychiatrist, detective, comedian, saint, cop, mediator, historian and human punching bag to successfully communicate with that unstable animal known as the modern and current planet Earth human inhabitant. If an actual outer-space alien enters your cab, you probably wouldn't know it, our fellow homo-sapiens as varied and different as Mercury, Uranus and all the other planets orbiting our Sun.  "Hey you, Mr & Mrs Pluto, where would like to go? Oh sure, your son and daughter are currently visiting Area 51?  Yes, we can negotiate a flat rate. Step in my spaceship 1092 and off we  will roar round and round the known world!"

Passengers, Love 'em or Hate 'em, They are Our Taxi Bread & Butter

If there is a true bottom line, and one word, or one approach existing when serving and communicating with our taxi customers, it is RESPECT, imperative our initial greeting is one of respect and nothing else.  Of course, and while knowing full well how quickly taxi interactions can sour, you always should be prepared to instantly respond appropriately when the customer is, in turn, disrespectful in whatever manner.  But in all normal circumstances, regardless of who the person is, welcome them into your cab, hoping they respond in kind.  This also applies to servicing the call instead of assuming that the customer waiting at the the local grocery store is somehow less deserving of your cab, to the point that the fare is "dumped," leaving the customer questioning just "where-the-hell-is-my-cab?"

Respect also applies to the drunk passenger.  Within reason, make every attempt to assist, getting them safely home.  As is obvious, over a year's span, you will potentially meet every kind of human being in every conceivable life situation.  This is where "taxi sainthood" comes in, because often the "patience of a saint" is required.  "Losing your temper" should only come into play when you are either in danger or unjustly insulted.  Being grumpy is okay, or at least moderately grumpy, because too often that is what I am after too many hours plying the streets.  Just remember, beyond anything else, that the passenger sitting in your back seat is not responsible for your life situation.  Whenever possible be emotionally embracing, welcoming.  If that approach is rejected, well, so be it, finish the ride and say goodbye.  Hatred is not helpful.  Instead, try to find some viable alternative.  You might even get a good tip as a result of your effort.  As I know well, you never, ever truly know what will happen!  Good luck dealing with the insults!  Again, just another part of the taxi experience we all share, the good and bad and the everything in between.

To be continued.

Next week: Dealing with the Police

Also Passenger Relations Part 2---More Specifics

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Taxi Do's & Don'ts Part 3---Successful Approaches To The Inebriated Passenger

More than a necessary nuisance, drunks, especially extremely drunk passengers, are dangerous and unpredictable, one personal example of many being a sodden customer's hand reaching the steering wheel and nearly pulling us into a head-on collision. Ah yes, ain't alcohol consumption wonderful, cheering the masses into collective euphoria?  From my taxi perspective, the opposite is true, excessive drinking a self-induced psychosis leading only to nonsense and mayhem, and in worst-case scenarios, the morgue.  The following are a few suggestions and strategies for dealing with this never ending problem encountered day and night in this here United States and the world in general.

Dealing with Drunks

As is often said, a happy drunk is a pleasant drunk, laughing and joking, truly the life of the taxi party.  While maybe true upon the twirling dance floor or the convivial lounge, drunks---happy, sad, aggressive or crazed---present a serious problem for the cabbie.  Too often the most basic is impossible, getting the fool to tell you his/her address, meaning, how can you proceed forward when everything is ass-backward?  Not easily is the answer, the drunk at times an unresolvable equation, the math involved one giant subtraction minus all positives.  Above all, above all other considerations, you must be sure that the drunk will pay you once you have reached the destination.  I mention it because the issue will come up, and negotiating with the drunk is both frustrating and insane.  I guarantee you the first words emanating from their mouth will be "Haven't I already paid you?"   And don't think they will believe anything you say.

From hard experience, I have learned some basic tenets concerning drunks.  Heed my warnings or forever be damned, the uncaring drunks' unerring goal is to make your life a misery.  As always, in every taxi situation, be aware of who is (and their state of mind) getting into your cab, because once they are in the back seat, it can be extremely difficult to get them out again.

One "hard & fast" rule is to NEVER , EVER ALLOW the "blind drunk" in your cab without a somewhat sober friend who can and will control their companion's behavior.  Another steadfast rule is NEVER ALLOW  a bartender to make his/her PROBLEM your PROBLEM!  Lock you doors and say, minus all equivocation, that you are not letting the passenger in until they are reasonably sober.  Be sure to also call dispatch, appraising them of the situation because you don't want the bartender to simply call back in an attempt to find a more compliant cabbie.  As I have told more than one bartender, "You are one who over served the guy, this is your problem, you are not going to make it mine!"

And what do "blind drunks" do?  They leap out of moving cabs.  They refuse to pay.  They physically assault you.  They have you circling round and round a neighborhood, shouting "Why can't you find my address?"  They accuse you of stealing their money.  They accuse of you beating them up.  They say you sexually assaulted them or made lascivious suggestions.  They yell "you are kidnapping me."  And of course, like the "garden-variety" drunk, they vomit all over the backseat.   If any of this sounds fun, then you too are "out-of-your-mind," because dealing with the "blind drunk" is complete insanity and nothing else, a thankless task for the weary cabbie.

A Short Checklist for the Wise Cabbie

If possible, before letting the drunk in, ascertain their level of inebriation.  If too drunk, drive away.

Always! Aways! keep the drunk in the back seat.  Drunks sitting next to you are a menace. Beware!

Never, ever allow them to vomit in your cab.  Have the drunk drape newspaper over their lap or provide a paper bag.  Keep the drunk seated next to an open window, admonishing them to tell you if they are about to vomit.

Make sure the seriously drunk individual have an escort who will take control of their friend or spouse.  No escort, no ride.

Know the address before pulling away.

If you are uncomfortable, seek pre-payment.  If they don't pay, terminate the ride.

If attacked, immediately call 911 and make yourself safe.  Turn off the cab and get out.

After successfully getting the drunk home, assist as fully as possible getting the passenger to their door, making sure they can unlock their door.  Otherwise, you might witness them falling over and cracking their heads.  And also advisable, if possible, is to get the spouse's telephone number and call ahead, seeking assistance at the door.  This strategy can also "sober up" the customer, knowing the wife is waiting to slug them over the head.

Make sure nothing is left in the cab, including money.  Also make sure the drunk doesn't over pay.  If they give you $50.00 for a $20.00 fare, point it out, asking them "do you understand you are giving me this?"  While you may think you deserve  the money for your "pain & suffering" after dealing with this total asshole, honesty is, and always will be, the best taxi policy.

Again, and I repeat, never let a bartender transfer their trouble into your cab. Tell them to call the police, not another cab.

Never get intimately involved with the drunk.  Many drunk woman will beckon you.  Leave then alone.  You are potentially looking at very serious trouble.  Once they have sobered up, they might say whatever happened wasn't consensual.  Beware!  And besides, what is reasonable, positive and good about sleeping with a drunk?  Nothing I can think of.

Whenever encountering an overly aggressive and angry drunk, tell them, in no uncertain terms, to stop and get in control.  If they don't, ask them to leave.

There you have it.  Good luck.  You'll need it.

To be continued.

Definition of "blind drunk" added 07/15/2019

In talking to "she who can't be named," she asked just what had I meant by referring to some customers as "blindly drunk."  And from my unfortunate experience, a "blind drunk" is someone intoxicated pass saturation into an alcohol induced poisoned state of body and mind, causing a kind of walking, talking unconsciousness, the individual "blacked out" yet moving down the street, zombie-like, totally disconnected from functional reality.  Communication is not possible, making all interaction fraught with dangerous possibilities and bad outcomes, the "blind drunk" literally "out-of-their-mind" until sobering up how many hours later.  No fun is my clear and obvious reaction, the kind of passenger to be avoided at all hours of the day and night.

PS 07/21/2019---"Drying-out Center closed

For years, the homeless, hopelessly drunk had a free place to safely and peacefully sober up but no more.  Located for years on Boren just off of Stewart Street, it is now officially closed.  Their new location, in the new hip and so-called alternative Georgetown neighborhood, cannot open on time due to neighborhood opposition.  Perhaps they prefer instead the inebriated to vomit upon their doorstep.  So much for the "liberal" embracing of the downtrodden.  What would Jesus do? 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Do's & Don't's---Part 2

That it isn't necessary to know every Seattle & King County nook and cranny is something I can confirm, somehow stumbling, bumbling to many addresses throughout greater King County ( and some parts of Snohomish County too) minus glancing at my old, and getting older, Thomas guide.  But having a basic knowledge of your area's roads and highways is essential, not relying on some GPS mapping device to get you where you are going.  What many don't understand is that GPS is now a mechanical version of the seeing eye dog, and after observing many of those good canines work, clearly it is better if you can see the way forward yourself.  That is why I say, to truly be a professional cabbie, as much as possible, you need to be directed by your brain alone to where you gotta be minus circles and dead ends. It can't be that difficult if I can do it.  You can too!

Correct Routing from Point A to B Should Always be the Goal

A good, quick way for someone to get themselves booted from my cab is to accuse me of intentionally taking them the wrong way, having little tolerance being called a thief.  But that point, on a very basic level, is acknowledged.  Some cabbies, intentionally or not, go the wrong way, taking a less efficient route to the expressed destination.  Dishonesty of course can never be accepted.  And obviously, neither can ignorance of the local roadways, your workplace of choice.  Without question, all cabbies must have a decent grasp of their city's major arterials and numbering and addressing systems.  Without that knowledge, you are driving blind, something totally unacceptable to the task at hand.

I have two easy self-tutoring methods helping you gain what you need to know.  First, get a good map and spread it out upon a table.  Look it over and note all the major street and roads, including highways.  Then take a high-lighting marker pen and trace over, in your favorite color, all of them, trying not to miss any, because knowing your streets is indispensable to knowing the correct route and making the big money you deserve and want.

After doing that, get in your car after rush hour and drive those streets, familiarizing yourself with every part of town, along with every route taking you to the airport, train, bus stations, and as in the case of Seattle and area, every ferry terminal.  Be patient, take up to a month, and once behind the taxi wheel, you will be, more or less, prepared to drive passengers around minus too many serious mistakes.  Errors you will make, and if particularly egregious, reduce the fare by five-ten dollars.  As a taxi professional, it is your duty to your passenger to "get it right" minus all and any excuse.

My other suggestion is to keep learning on the go, paying attention to all the street names you pass by.  Try to remember their names, and the hundred and thousand blocks, the first time because you never know when you will need to find Campbell SW or Peach Court East or Dibble Avenue NW or Carkeek Park or Matthews Beach.  If the tourist from Japan, speaking no English and in the USA for the first time, gives you a written address reading 36_ _ 26th SW, you will instantly know it's located near the corner of SW Spokane & 26th SW.  This is not only the cabbie you want to be, it must be the kind of cabbie you are.

Staying Safe

Seattle, in terms of danger and threats from nefarious passengers, is tame, many years since we have had a single cabbie murdered in Seattle and King County.  In other cities, that can't be said, but here in Seattle you are relatively safe.  But still, you must be able to read your passenger's intentions.  Along with that, never, ever allow yourself, late at night or early in the dark morning, to be directed into an alley or dead-end street.  Tell them straight out you are uncomfortable, and if they want to go further, they will have to walk.

And that is what I advise.  If the situation looks grim, stop and speak directly to the passenger, saying you think they might hurt or rob you, their reaction telling you everything you need to know.  Now you don't want to be neither stupid or discriminatory but if you feel the ride is over, end it, pull over to a safe place and say you can't go any further.  Screw the fare, just get the potentially dangerous passenger out of your cab quickly.  Make every attempt to be fair and diplomatic but remember, your goal is get get back safely to your family.  Losing the money is meaningless, your life and well-being all important.  There will always be another passenger to serve minus trouble and mayhem, ready to smile and tip you big.  It's true as the sky is blue.  Stay safe!

To be continued.