Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Could I Do Any Worse?---The Seattle August Primary Season Is Approaching

As more than 20 mayoral candidates line up at the primary starting gate, only two will make it to the general election, meaning your vote in the upcoming primary election is essential because we are past the point where we need a true taxi advocate in the mayor's seat.  While outgoing Mayor Ed Murray has, overall, been a decent mayor, rating a C grade from me, he was a complete disaster in how he dismembered our local taxi industry and promoted TNC/Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft over our needs and interests.

That he, like so many municipal and county administrators, by simply not comprehending in any real way the menace posed by the monster Uber, miserably failed both the American taxi industry and similar taxi-like services and their  passengers and customers, thus creating a situation seeking uncertain resolution toward a problem not of our own making.  When considering your mayoral choice, please consider if that particular candidate will be at best neutral in their overall policy decisions, and not making things worse, as the past five Seattle mayors, Rice, Schell, Nickells, McGinn and Murray have, comprising a 27 year long span of at best mediocre, and at the worse, complete incompetence---the WTO and Pioneer Square Mardi Gras  riots and the giving away of an invaluable NBA franchise heading the sorriest examples of an abysmal list.

Public policy should not, and I repeat, should not be some conflated version of "pin-the-tail-upon-the donkey" because too often the administrators involved end up looking like the proverbial "horses' ass," with the voting public kicked squarely in the buttock.  While slapstick comedy worked quite well for the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy, public and governmental policy is neither a movie script nor comedic routine.  While trying to find a serious candidate who understands this obvious point will be difficult to locate, still, despite the low odds, we must continue attempting to both find that correct candidate and keep communicating our thoughts and political aspirations.

Already there are two mayoral front runners: former United States Attorney Jenny Durkan and former mayor Mike McGinn.  The big money is pouring in for Durkan,  ensuring she will reach the general election.  The second slot is more uncertain, with McGinn being penciled in due to his familiarity with the voters.

While McGinn is clearly a nice guy, he is the mayor whose bike-lane polices have clogged the already un-drivable streets, McGinn somehow not noticing that Seattle now has 200,000 more permanent residents, translating into at least a 40-50 percent increase in citywide car ownership. Where are we going to put all these cars when lanes have been eliminated and on-street parking greatly reduced?  

If interested in viewing his handiwork, trundle down to the east-bound Pike Street at First Avenue and see for yourself McGinn's failed version, how the heavy traffic is now funneled down one narrow lane.  Just as the pin-the tail game is played with a blindfold on,  that is good description of McGinn's governing style, closing his eyes and hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, for those of us who can see beyond our nose, remain appalled at the results, McGinn destroying reasonable traffic assess at one of the nation's most popular tourist destinations.

Again, if this were comedy, it would be funny.  But since it is governmental policy it is farcical. Something called the INRIX Parking Ranking announced today that Seattle is the fifth hardest city in the entire country to find a parking space, saying the average Seattle-lite spends 58 hours per year looking for available parking.  If you find that to your liking, then do vote for McGinn because he is the individual who eliminated miles of on-street parking.

And if you are curious, there are over 35,000 recognized American cities and towns, meaning a fifth overall ranking means you have truly screwed up, a kind of reversed efficiency.  I personally at  this point have no one to recommend but remember the name of Washington State Senator Bob Hasegawa because he might be the one candidate who is not sold out to special interests.

The reason I entitled this week's posting the way I did is because I know, beyond any doubt, that the majority of folks managing the City of Seattle, are clueless, and dangerously clueless at that.  This point was reinforced Monday when I took a passenger from the train station to the 2300 hundred block of1st Avenue.  Given the amazing congestion now clogging both directions north and south-bound on 1st, I chose to take north-bound (its one-way) 4th, turning left (or west-bound) to access that part of 1st Avenue.

Five years ago this would have been an easy task but no longer because those idiots in Seattle City government decided to transform the arterial Bell into a glorified park, restricting access and the ability to turn both left and right. Avoiding that mess and a myriad of potential  moving violations I picked Wall Street to turn west but even that wasn't the best choice due to the no-left turn sign posted at 1st and Wall.

Even what would be the final choice, Clay Street, doesn't work either since it now closed  west-bound due to construction at 3rd.  The only legal option left then is to go 6 blocks out of your way and turn left onto Broad Street off of 3rd Avenue.  I would wager any amount you suggest that NOT ONE INDIVIDUAL in the entire Seattle City government knows they have created this kind of complication for what used to be a very simple matter.

The best thing about this particular fare is that the old soldier told me that the US Army in 1955 were taking him somewhere downtown Seattle when he saw a red convertible being chased by a motorcycle cop who suddenly flipped into the air after colliding with a seat cushion tossed out of the car.  Now that was when Seattle was a real rough and tough city, and not the wimpish suburban center is has now become.  Could you imagine anyone in Seattle now disobeying the good officer?  No, neither can I.

And do I want to be mayor of Seattle?  No, but if I were you can bet I might understand just a little bit better the real down-to-earth issues facing the Emerald City.   Instead I would rather run for Congress in Toledo, Ohio, representing the honesty of a rough and tumble, Rust-Belt City.  Both of my grandfathers worked in the local factories there, supporting as well as they could their large families.

Back then life was more black and white sans the grayer areas now known as excuse and obfuscation. In the other words, my grandparents lived in the good old (and bad) days when corruption was shoved in your face minus pretense.  Back then, you knew exactly what they were thinking and doing to you, which is quite unlike today when simultaneously government says "I love you" while cutting your throat with high property taxes and of course, no parking spaces for the car whose licensing just cost you a King's random.  Just be glad you will have access to better public transportation in 2022!  Isn't that great!

Postscript Wed July 13th, 2017

Today's Seattle Times On-line edition has a very helpful guide to all 21 mayoral candidates.  I encourage everyone to check it out.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

She Scared Me! & Other Small Horror Stories

What I find so successful about Edgar Allen Poe's stories and poems is how they often capture human personality as it truly is, Poe of course presenting our more confused, distorted and sinister sides---accurate psychological profiles years before Freud and the advent of modern psychiatry.   While debate continues about just what motivates human behavior, there is one, unavoidable truth:  as a fellow homo-sapien you are surely going to be affected by what another member of the species does, whether or not you want it to,  or like it,  because it is going to happen.  And of course taxi is all about human interaction, voluntary or not, you instantaneously receiving a concise introduction to who just entered your cab, the invitation reading: welcome (or not) to my world and all my assorted pluses and minuses and personality-based bugaboos.  The inspiration for this brief preamble was a police call in the Fremont ushering forward a very drunk woman concealing herself behind a car:

"Get me out of here," she exclaimed, "it is all too crazy!" And so I took her home to an address almost parallel to where I found her, an address on the other of the canal located on the northern face of Queen Anne Hill.  Taking three minutes to get her there, she announced that her husband would be paying the almost seven dollar fare.  "I know he won't be happy with me," she commented, "we are just two days away from our first wedding anniversary."

Understanding her state of intoxication I waited at the open door while she looked for the money, asking her husband, also sounding drunk and hidden from view, where his wallet was.  After taking a couple minutes she reappeared with a five-dollar bill prompting me to say, "That's fine, it's enough." which elicited a spreading of her arms into a wide U, signaling she was about to embrace me in a passionate "bear hug." Scaring the "hell-out-of-me" I swiftly avoided her octopus arms and escaped back to 1092, wanting no part of what she was offering.  And there was her husband, sitting a mere four feet away!  Heaven help us all is my best comment upon the subject.  And good luck too because they are going to need it but perhaps not as much as four-year old Andrew who is clearly involved in a living hell not of his making.


My newest book, the nearly completed "To Age 13," is all about a child, me, who is repeatedly victimized by less-than-aware parents, which is why Andrew's situation for me is all the more poignant, understanding too well his personal dilemma.  His father seems okay but his mother is entirely another story.  I will never forget Andrew's anguished face.  It is not funny.

I picked up Andrew and his father at the train station, both of them having just come up from Portland, Oregon, their destination an address in the Magnolia neighborhood.  The two of them kept up a rousing dialog, Andrew clearly a bright and aware child.  All seemed normal until the father told me we were heading for Andrew's mother's apartment building, where he had left his car.  Suddenly comprehending the situation, we actually passed the mother walking with her new boyfriend.

Stopping, it turned out that Andrew would remain with his father for the afternoon while the mother wanted me to take her and the boyfriend over to a Ballard pot shop.  Witnessing various interactions between all concerned is when I saw poor Andrew's pained face.  I didn't want to see his intense suffering but I saw it and will never forget, his face a permanent photograph in gallery of my mind''s eye.  All I can hope is that Andrew's young wisdom is somehow transferred to his adult self.  Best wishes, my young friend!

More Uber

Post- 4th July fireworks the passengers at Queen Anne's Kerry Park wanted to go to either North Everett or 130th & Greenwood Ave North.  Most recently Uber riders, they were avoiding the Uber surge by taking a cab, the Uber surge rate to their Everett address being $188.00, greatly surpassing my estimate of $95-100 dollars.  My meter to their Greenwood condo was $26.00, which got me a nine dollar tip on top.  What was Uber asking for the same ride?  $66.00.

Postscript Thursday 5:30 PM---They didn't get me but got my money instead!

Today I stayed in Seattle so I could attend my moving violation court date where I was represented by Doug Silva.  Doug negotiated a deal where I pleaded guilty to to non-moving violation and in return receiving a reduced fine and nothing on my driving record.  Though it cost me, including Doug's fee, a total of $275.00, it would have cost me much more in increased insurance costs if I had been found guilty of not obeying a traffic devise.  I did enjoy my post-courtroom conversation with Doug, someone I have now known for nearly 20 years.  Thanks Doug!  And what a crazy world it is!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Back In Tacoma---Thoughts About Recent Uber Developments And Revisiting Old History: How The Seattle City Council Opened The Door To Uber & Lyft

Before I comment upon Uber and its recent changes, I think everyone reading this blog might be interested in knowing more about where I have just been traveling, especially if you like waterfalls and roaring creeks, you too motivated in wandering south-bound down I-5. The biggest factor impacting my recent trip was the intense heat wave affecting northern California in and around Mount Shasta.  The best way to express it is that  average daytime temperatures at Lassen Volcanic National Park were in the low 60s degrees F. before exploding to the high 90s F., twice reaching 99 F. All this meant that we required shade to cover us and water to dip in, which thankfully were both in large supply southeast of looming Mount Shasta, a peak even higher than Mount Rainer in elevation.  If you find the heat too troublesome, you will experience some profound relief once the sun goes down, with early morning temperatures dropping down to the low 40s F., a more that 50 degree differential between day and night. Bring a warm sleeping bag.

My can't miss recommendations for this general area are Burney Falls located in Burney Falls State Park; and the three water falls--Lower, Middle and Upper found upon the McCloud River.  There is a wonderful 15 mile river trail bordering the McCloud which has easy and quick access points to the three falls.  The actual walking distance between the falls is less than two miles.  Do it, like we did, early in the morning and enjoy the scenery and wild flowers while avoiding the later afternoon hordes.

One tip for visiting Burney Falls, and thus avoiding the $8.00 day use fee, is to visit at early dawn and have these amazing falls both all to yourself and for free.  Some excellent camping choices are Butte Creek and Trout Creek camp grounds, both minus fees while providing large and fairly private sites.  At Butte Creek, located just east of the Lassen boundary, we had personal access to the creek, finding a good sitting place where we cooled off in the rushing water.  Due to the record snow falls, all the rivers and creeks and steams are bloated to near capacity.

If you have some spare time the next couple of weeks, it would a good time to visit this part of California for yourself.  You will be happy you did.  And if you do pass through Mount Shasta City, be sure to visit the Sacramento River Headwaters City Park located just about a mile north of the small downtown.  Bring a water jug and fill up at the spring.  The water is both plentiful and free.   Another interesting local phenomenon are groups of post, post, post 60s young hippies gathering in the park attempting to revive memories of mid-1960s summer days of love and marijuana and singing Dylan and Cohen to the heated air.  And HG Wells thought there was only one kind of time machine!

Current Uber & Revisiting City Council Decisions

While many will celebrate the ouster of Travis Kalanick as Uber's day-to-day manager, I advise that you don't cheer too loud because, as I said in last week's posting, you are only going to see a more streamlined and efficient company.  And if you think Kalanick influence will suddenly evaporate, think again as he owns millions? of Uber shares so in reality, he really hasn't gone anywhere other than one step to the right, or to the left if you prefer.   Will Uber suddenly become a more moral and kinder and caring company, more responsive to it's independent operators needs and wants?

It is highly doubtful, and if you need proof, I advise you read the Quartz Media online article, "Locked In---Inside Uber's Unsettling Alliance With Some of New York's Shadiest Car Dealers," a true exposure of how much Uber care about their operators.  In brief, you will find how Uber, in partnership with some very questionable car dealers, are preying upon immigrant populations who don't completely understand what they are doing when signing their signature upon the dotted line. Many Uber operators in NYC find themselves committed to weekly paying $500.00 or more back to the dealers, something that can span three years and more.  I also referred in my last posting to Uber as the "New Plantation."  Read the Quart article and see how I wasn't exaggerating.  If anything, I was understating the situation and just how bad it is for many of the Uber operators worldwide. Check out stories about Uber drivers in Kenya, who after working all day, and after paying all their Uber obligations, end up earning five dollars.  No fun I would say.  No fun whatsoever!

And who do we have to thank locally for inviting Uber (and Lyft) into our transportation world? None other than the good LIBERALS sitting a few years ago upon the City of Seattle's City Council, voting 8-1 to lift off their 250 car Uber & Lyft operator cap and provide unlimited (and mostly unregulated)  access to Seattle's and King County's streets and potential transportation ride customers. And again I want everyone to remember that City Council member, Kshama Sawant, that great self-proclaimed guardian of worker's rights voted to open the Uber Pandora Box.  You might also remember that it was Ed Murray, the now out-going mayor, who initiated the process to convince the City Council to toss away its own much discussed TNC operator cap.  It remains a mystery why they did it, as it was done minus plausible explanation.

And what did Murray dangle before the local taxi industry to go along with him and cut their own throats?  The tradeoff of all those leased medallions becoming real property was the bait, something that should had happened decades before, and something that should have never been part of some "devil's bargain."  As we in the industry know, what was once worth $250,000 is now down in value to something like to $18.000.  What a great deal it wasn't for us, along with all our lost business to 14,000 plus Uber and Lyft operators.

Briefly continuing upon that topic, I want to say to the reader who wrote that I am not fighting for driver's interests, is that at one point I was set to become then GM Tommy Key's assistant, something that was blocked by Yellow's managerial board.  Why wasn't I hired?   Because, in my presentation, I told them that we had to immediately file a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, clearly spelling out what I saw coming, which all unfortunately came to past.  That they made a huge mistake in going along with the City of Seattle's plans is shown in the their now very diminished company.  They were warned and they didn't listen.  It is that simple.  And of course, who paid the ultimate cost?  All the lease drivers and single owners.  What is new?  There is nothing new.

Mount Shasta City Taxi

Seeing a cab sitting in the shade, I walked up to the driver and inquired about the local business.  He said they have about a three-month long season, almost entirely dependent upon the flood of tourists pouring through.  How much are the insurance costs for this two cab company?  $300.00 per car per month.   I found that odd given that I pay $505.00 per month for me and two drivers on YC 1092 but that is the way it is, insurance companies pooling the nation's cabs into one pool, making this tiny cab company through the nose.  Oh well!  And by the way, their per mile rate is $2.50.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Greetings From Mount Shasta City, CA---I Have Already Used My 4 Yellow Hours

Greeting from northern California.  I am on the second day of 12 days upon on the road.  Meeting 'she-who-can't-be-named"here, last night we slept near towering Mount Shasta, the reputed home of aliens residing within the bowels of the great mountain.  The weather is clear and hot and in a few minutes we will be off to view some water falls.  No, no men or woman from Mars, just a bunch of local space cadets.

Locally the big news is that it is now difficult at the Yellow garage to just get your flat tire changed and repaired.  Saturday a friend found this out when he took his Yellow Fleet cab in to get another tire and was told by the new mechanic that "sorry, there was nothing he could do!" given that he had already given Yellow that days' quota of hours.  After pleading with him, he relented but that not really helping, as there were no spare tires on hand, and only after a search through the wrecked cabs did they find one.  I'll let you make your own assessment of the situation but I am certainly happy that I am no longer dependent upon them for a cab.  And in terms of where I am going to have 1092 maintained, it is certainly not their garage.  

Nationally the news is all about Uber's management implosion and how they have been insensitive to nearly everyone and every situation confronting them.  I don't know how this is news, since from the very beginning all they have been telling every one is "F_ _ k you," telling entire countries to just "go to hell!"  The real news is if local American municipal governments finally started telling Uber to "screw off!" and begin repairing their relationships with the taxi companies. 

Do I think that is ever going to happen?   No, I don't.  And you might again ask, what do I think is truly going to happen?  That all those folks who have invested 70 billion dollars in Uber are going take over, making Uber ever more efficient.  

And what will happen to the American taxi industry.  I see them limping along for the next 20-30 years, providing service to the poorer sectors of American society and all those completely disgusted with Uber, an entity I have ingloriously dubbed "the New Plantation," meaning pre-1861 American Southern plantation.  The idle rumor is that all Uber operators all now have a reproduction of Jefferson Davis upon their dashboards.  Now that just can't be true, can it? 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

From The Very Start Of My Cabbie Experience, Beginning In 1987 ,Taxi Has Always Been, And Remains, Like This

I know I have made comments similar to this in the past, but given that I appear to have stirred up a minor taxi "hornet's nest," by my revelation that late night WAT van service is spotty at best, I feel a reminder is necessary.  Back in 1987, and now thirty long years later, the making of money minus true and real customer interests, was, and are, is what the taxi industry is all about.  Why Uber and Lyft made such immediate headway is the confounding (and amazing) fact that transporting passengers safely and efficiently from point A to B remains secondary to every other taxi industry priority.  All the majority of people I have met in the industry want is MONEY, meaning as much MONEY as they can get minus doing MUCH of anything for it.  This assessment also includes the majority of my taxi friends and buddies.  Maybe it is the current societal sentiment that each individual deserves everything minus real and honest effort, calling it the new Facebook reality that everyone warrants the instant silver spoon, you and me and everyone, like the English Queen, deserving and getting by upon an annual 25 million dollar stipend.

And the why of this, the explanation is simple as taxi pie: almost no one I have met either wants to drive a taxi or be involved in the industry.  All the taxi industry is for them is a means to make MONEY and little else.  Examining taxi through this prism you will find this to be true.  Often you hear that someone wants to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer but when can you remember someone saying that they want to solely be a cabbie minus any other profession?

Individually the reasons are many but the results are the same: the taxi industry is, at least by a 90 percent percentile, composed of people who don't want to be there, and in many cases, desperate to get out.  All of this adds up to what I have been observing: a lack of taxi wheelchair van services during late night and very early morning service hours.  When you really don't care, you don't care and that is the reality despite the monetary assistance provided to local taxi WAT providers by the City of Seattle and King County.   While some might call me harsh, I say, like playing a game of basketball HORSE, prove it by making the basket, from this point forward, minus all excuse, ensuring that when someone at 3:00 AM needs at WAT van ride to Harborview Hospital, they get one.  Don't carp, don't complain, don't point your finger at me.  Just prove it, making it happen in the middle of the night.

Last week I paid $528.29 to renew 1092's annual taxi medallion, $500.00 of which going directly to City and County coffers.  The remaining $28.29 went directly into the van operators pockets in recognition of their valuable service provided to our overall community.  And truly I personally don't mind supplementing them when they are doing what they are supposed to do but when they impact folks like the Canadian couple I met at King Street station, needing an unavailable van at 11:00 PM, then I become resentful when it is clear that WAT drivers are not keeping their commitment to the handicapped and disabled community.

As I just said, too many members of the taxi driver and owner community want it ALL minus doing anything for it, providing "lip service" and not much else.  It is true concerning what I just said: the majority of guys DO NOT want to drive a cab, only doing it minus other well-paying options. Throughput the the greater Seattle and Tacoma metro areas, you find scores of East Africans and East Indians working at gas stations and 7/11 stores, arduous positions paying very little but requesting a lot.  It is a bad situation.

Taxi instead pays much more, and for those in the know, proving an upper-middle class income of over $100.000.  Since that if true, I personally expect all cabbies of all stripes to do what is asked, what is required: pick up that waiting customer day and night regardless whether they are walking or occupying a wheelchair.  It is part and parcel of the taxi agreement we all signed up for.

So my final word is just shut up and do it! and be damn well happy you are making the good money you are.  Personally, this moment finds me exhausted because I just worked my "butt off" the past three days but I made some "good money, honey!" so I won't complain, taxi being just what it is and nothing else: HARD WORK!

Editorial Note & Correction From Last Week

In last week's post I reported that the current PSD general manager also heads the Seattle WAT van group.  I misspoke.  He hasn't had held that position for at least the last three years.

Postscript Wednesday 06/14/2017

This morning I talked with a taxi buddy who is also a WAT owner, someone I count on as a true and reliable friend in the industry.  While acknowledging that at times there isn't enough late night and early morning van coverage, he said the issue has its beginnings with Yellow's departure from providing Sea-Tac taxi services, those services now provided by Eastside for Hire and its cab affiliate, E-Cab.

The old arrangement was thus, with the Yellow WAT operators qualified to work Sea-Tac, it allowed for a far more functional 24/7 operation, meaning there was enough work available to adequately sustain the WAT night-shift drivers.  With Yellow's loss of the Sea-Tac provider contract, it translated into fewer available fares and into fewer drivers willing to work the later hours.  So while everyone acknowledges that later hour coverage could be better, they are having difficulty coming up with a permanent and viable solution.

My friend went on to say that WAT van operations are expensive, saying that he wouldn't be able to operate without City and County supplemental funds.  Recently someone driving for him crashed the van, meaning he immediately had to come up with a replacement, a van often costing between $20-25 thousand dollars. I remember him flying clear across the country to pick up his new van.  In the taxi business, if you are not working, you simply have no income.  It is that basic, and stark.

So yes, why it is true coverage could be better, WAT operators are seeking resolution.  From my personal experience, taxi can be a very lonely world, with all the accompanying burdens falling directly upon your poor head.  As I have repeatedly said, no one (in their right mind) would call taxi fun.  It isn't unless pain and suffering are provided new definitions.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Yes, Yes---Crazy Crazy Taxi And Its Nutso World Presented Just For Your Reading Displeasure

I am getting the hint that some of my long term taxi industry readers are more interested in the sometimes "down and dirty" details of good, old insane taxi, and not at all interested in wayward Eskimos or Rosa Parks' ghost hitching a ride down her namesake street.  Given that, at least for this week, I will focus on industry interests and occurrences. I am sure many of you can relate that I might have tired of repeating, ad nauseam, items and issues that never resolve but fester into the infection that is known as taxi.  "Why embrace illness?" is my general feeling upon the subject, more interested in recovery than remaining a steady bedside attendant.

Back in the years 1982-1984 I did many "suicide watch" shifts at local psychiatric units.  All this taxi stuff  seems all to similar, remaining alert less dumbbell taxi again does something both stupid and fatal.  A good/bad example was finding out last night that Seattle Yellow taxi DOES NOT have 24/7 wheelchair van coverage for those who might require it.  The situation was twofold last night and early this morning when two requests for WAT vans were left unfilled. The first situation was by far the worse, as a couple was stranded at the train station at 11:00 PM waiting for the nonexistent van. Calling Farwest and Orange was no better, Farwest too having no vans available and Orange Taxi simply not answering their telephone.  This is "big city" taxi at it's best?  Give me a god damn break!

The wife was in a motorized scooter, and these were the final results, given there was no van and no real alternative to what turned out to be a bad solution.  I took the wife and their luggage to the Hotel Five at 5th & Blanchard while the husband maneuvered the scooter down Seattle's unknown streets to the hotel.

Another Yellow cabbie, a real nice guy from South Sudan, walked along side the guy for a couple blocks while providing precise instructions. It was the Williams' 50th Wedding Anniversary but unfortunately receiving a not-so-nice present from Seattle's combined taxi industry.  Making it even more egregious for them was that their travel agency had booked then into the "Pineapple Hotel."  That there no such named hotel, except perhaps in Hawaii, was obvious.  They had no address and no telephone number.  It was the great South Sudanese cabbie who figured it out, calling Hotel Five to confirm their reservation.

The other WAT request was a 2:00 AM request in the Rainier Valley.  The reason I knew about it was due to dispatch error, dispatching a regular cab instead of the requested van.  Earlier, dispatch got me screamed at over the telephone by a panicked brother trying to get a cab for his endangered sister, dispatch providing me an address on the 7500 thousand block of 21st Avenue SW when all along she was at 24th Avenue SW.  Turns out dispatch was training a new employee and he was making multiple errors that were only known of course when somebody like me called to mention that, once again, "things weren't right."

And perhaps making this lack of WAT 24/7coverage even more dubious is that the current leader of the WAT group is none other than the current Puget Sound Dispatch general manager.  One defense could be is that all of us, both owners and drivers, are independent contractors, meaning we all decide our own hours, when we work or not.

While yes, that all being true being true, it just can't mean that WAT service is not there when someone needs it.  The solution I think is fairly simple, asking for WAT driver volunteers to cover those late potential service hours.  It reminds me when I was a lease driver and complaining about not having spare tires available 24/7. The response was, "you will never have 2 flat tires on one day." When it happened I was faulted for calling the tow truck.  Amazing, isn't it?

Other Funnies:

--- I was almost killed 2 weeks ago when a driver ran a red light at about 60 mph.

--- This past weekend my taxi computer broke off its mount/base and I drove for two days with it cradled in a web of rubber bands.

---  2nd weekend in a row I nearly created a riot, this last time due to a driver thinking I was taking his passengers at the train station.  What is true is the majority of the immigrant drivers remain so culturally befuddled that "misinterpretation" is commonplace.

--- Rookie Yellow cabbie loss $400.00 when the junkie in the backseat noticed that the idiot drivers had his wallet laying on the front seat.

--- Dispatch was looking for a Yellow driver who drove away from an accident near Sea-Tac.

--- In the realm of taxi comedy, a computer-generated message kept telling us in no-uncertain terms can we give someone a blank receipt.  Only problem is is that it is the only means we have of giving out our dispatch number 206-622-6500.  I guess some drivers were selling blank receipts which must mean ALL OF US are doing that.  Oh so much for the life of a petty criminal!

--- A taxi buddy apt rent went up $200.00 this month.  He doesn't know what to do.  The entire State of WA doesn't have rent controls laws due to state-mandated laws.  Nice, huh?

So everyone, are you now sated, having gotten a generous portion of taxi as it really is?  Yeah, who wants to write about this nonsense?  Not me I assure you!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Smile From Another World And Time

Meeting two Alaskan Eskimos Saturday this past afternoon brought me back to Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, the Cree Indian community where I lived  for two years beginning in August 1964. " Fort Chip," while still located on the North American continent, was a world quite separate and apart from Todd's Trailer Court, where we had been living, Todd's another kind of different and alienated world, situated just east of Aurora upon the eastern Colorado prairie, similarly socially isolated like Fort Chipewyan, proving once again, as if further evidence was required, that discrimination prospers everywhere in any and all environments.

Due north of Edmonton by approximately 350 miles, Fort Chipewyan is a historic fur trading post founded by Peter Pond at the southwesterly end of 170 mile long Lake Athabasca in far northern Alberta.  Why my father took us way up there to the northern tundra is one story.  And another of many other stories were the Woodland Cree themselves, relative innocents haphazardly floating upon an artificially created culture constructed (and operated)  jointly by the Canadian government and its religious surrogates, the Roman Catholic Church, two less than benign institutions slowly strangling the Cree minute by hour by day by year.

This is what I saw and lived peripherally, witnessing an ongoing anguish and abuse translating into the day to day lives of a people imprisoned by another, the local Cree forced to transform from what they were into something that was never intended: from an aboriginal people designed to live in the frozen wilderness that is their special home to instead, forcibly adopting a lifestyle imported from French and British Europe and brought to Canada.  But no, they were told, you must be someone and something else, and if you die, and if you go crazy, well, so you do---adapt  or perish, no other option made available.

Which brings me to Robby and MJ, two Yupik Eskimos I met late Saturday afternoon, two individuals adrift but currently assigned to a seafood processing ship introducing them, and for the very first time, to a state in the lower Forty-eight.  Robby came first, coming out of a Ballard bar needing to cash a check because the not-so-friendly folks at the Ballard Bank of America branch refused to serve him due to a firm 1:00 PM closing time.  Taking him to the Greenwood Money Tree, our next destination was to to pick up a passed-put MJ who was sleeping off a drunken bout somewhere behind the Ballard Fred Meyers store.  Due back at six, they were both facing a 16-hour shift off-hauling frozen hake.

Coming out of the Money Tree, Robby suddenly announced that he wanted to go to a strip club. Intervening I strongly suggested that instead we continue on to the sleeping MJ, which Robby quickly agreed was the best plan.  They were a couple, and I assume married, as I later saw a wedding ring on MJ's hand.  I have no comment upon Robby other than he too had been drinking.  I did request that he give up his bottle but refusing as we drove toward the Fred Meyers.

Finding MJ behind a large shipping container, we got her up and eventually in the cab.  One motivation for MJ's afternoon binge was the sudden news of a best friend dying in her sleep a mere five days previously, MJ's constant tears testament to her grief.

Taking them to Starbuck's around the corner, we all drank coffee and talked about what had been happening.  With both lacking sleep, neither were looking forward to their upcoming long shift. Beyond some trifle arguing, they were fairly amiable, and pleasant, both polite to me.

Upon understanding that the meter was still running, MJ pressed us to go, not pleased that it was nearing 60 dollars.  Dropping them off at the Pier 90/91 gate, MJ gave me a innocent smile 30,000 thousand years in the making, coming across from Siberia and the Bering Strait to the Norton Sound, and as I said, transporting me back to Fort Chipewyan and one person in particular, the sixteen year old Dorothy Cardinal singing the Herman Hermit's hit to me "Can you hear my heart beat?" and yes, all these years later, I can.