Thursday, July 14, 2011

Taxi Jargon & Suddenly the Taxi a Confessional!

My last entries of the week though it feels like I could use every waking hour describing to the world just what real taxi, factual taxi is all about.  Those of you who have been with me from the beginning now must have a good idea about all of the bad and plainly stupid that I and so many others experience.  Like I keep saying, get your own taxi for-hire license and you too can enjoy the pain and suffering.  Why not?  Well, the reasons are numerous, and as you keep reading over the months, well-documented.

Laura said that perhaps many don't readily understand "taxi-speak" and I agree, which is why I will take a few lines to explain the local taxi colloquialisms you will occasionally encounter reading my blog.  For the most part we in the local Seattle taxi world speak the usual almost functionall American English though we do have some terms that could require some explanation.  Laura also said that she doesn't want to be mentioned again.  Why I don't know but of course I will try to honor her request.  Just know that somewhere she is lurking in the background, ready to pounce.  Just thought I would warn you, Laura the fierce Brooklyn cougar ready to leap upon then nearest potato knish.

The term "bell" simply means a dispatch call, meaning someone somewhere (unless it is an automated call) picked up a telephone, calling Yellow cab, with the call taker typing in the address into the computer which in turn directs the call to the proper zone (the City & County is divided into areas or zones).  If everything works correctly, the bell or fare is offered to the nearest taxi and then everything is beautiful and like magic the taxi is pulling up to your home and hearth.  At least that is the theory.  By the way, unless you are calling a voice-generated dispatch system (like our local Northend taxi) you rarely reach the actual dispatcher, which at Yellow is the shift dispatch supervisor.  At Northend the person who answers the telephone is the same individual who dispatches the call to the drivers.  One major reason this is now rare is the seemingly inherent bribery that occurs, the dispatcher requesting just that little extra so you get that airport run.  The history of the term "bell" is in itself part of the legacy of old-time taxi, when taxis lined or queued up and responding to an actual bell ringing when a fare came through.  I meant to do a little research and I will later, educating all of us on a colorful history.

So when I say a call or fare had been "double-belled," that means simply that somehow 2 taxis were sent to the same address when only one car was requested.  It is also referred to as "duplicate belling" which obviously has the same meaning.  All us cabbies hate the false call.  If lucky we quickly get our "1st up" position back in a given zone and off we are again to another call.  If it were all that simple.

Another commonplace term we use locally is that an event is breaking.  "The Mariners are breaking."  or "The Seahawks are in break." all of which meaning that passengers are pouring out the door. Usually it means that a major event has reached its conclusion or that the home team is being "blown out" of the stadium.

Also at Yellow we call someone flagging or hailing on the street a "bingo."  Farwest Taxi calls them "greens." 

We call rookies "green peas" and remember, Sunday night shift is when they are put out there for your pleasure.  I am sure it will be immediately obvious that you are the driver's inaugural fare.  Good luck!

The Taxi as Confessional (but not quite)

This next piece is the followup to my conviction of the moving violation that did not happen.  Now that I have a fuller explanation of what happened in the court room I am still in a state of shock and feel quite angry because I quote, "The driver apologized for the violation and stated he knows better."  This statement is on the police report, and given that I wasn't at Doug Silva's side to refute it, led the presiding judge to find that I had committed the infraction.  I have been cursing my complacency for not showing up at the hearing.  I am not smart, I am stupid, having witnessed many times the usual court proceedings.  I know almost anything can and will occur so I can only blame myself.  The problem is that I have truly complicated everything by having to appeal, which will cost me about $250. if I represent myself, which I might do.  I have won an appeal in the past, helped greatly by a few helpful hints provided by Doug.  Another thing that didn't help my case is that the court presented a long history of what I was told was a long list of past mostly defeated violations.  Need I say that I and every other taxi driver, until recently, have been targeted by the SPD.  Under the last mayor, and now MeGinn, they pretty much leave us alone.  Over the weeks I will describe some of the traffic stops.  My favorite one was being chased by an old Chevy van.  I was occupied (with passengers) and while attempting to elude the fool he turned on his police lights.  He was a King County Transit officer and had lost his mind.  I actually received a written apology from the KC Sheriff's office.

Anyway, dealing with this requires time I'd rather give elsewhere, and given what he wrote, I will now have to file an internal investigations report and will be requesting the ACLU (I am a non-lawyer member) to look into it.  Did you know that when you are stopped by an officer anywhere in the USA you are under arrest?  Yes, it is true.

Now the truth is I barely said anything and there he is saying I confessed.  In a minute I am going to quote a poem of mine published in 1986.  You tell me if you think I am a candidate for such a spontaneous confession.  And worse, I hadn't done anything, so why would I confess?  Even though my infraction is considered a violation and not a crime, still the officer can not use anything I might have said without first informing me that it would be used against me.  There is something called the Miranda Rights.  At no point did the officer say anything like that.  Instead he came screaming to the taxi, shouting at me, pressuring me as much as possible. And now I will describe my terrible crime.

I was facing west-bound on Denny Way, stopped at the signal.  It was dark.  Two young ladies standing across the street waved at me.  And this where the problem began.  Anyone sensible would have been in the taxi instantly. No, these two young Danish woman took forever, with of course the light turning green.  I should have just pulled away but instead I waited for them.  This got the cops' attention.  Then they told me they wanted to go up, not down the hill. I took my left turn and being somewhat tired, hesitated momentarily, trying to figure out how to get back in position to procced up Denny again.  I was straddling a lane when I turned left onto Yale.  And that boys & girls, was all there was to it.  I did look in my rear view mirror before I turned.  Maybe later I will further describe the officer's actions but suffice to say he acted like I had done the most horrific act in his entire career.  Not quite I am sure.  But as every taxi driver knows, it is always your fault.  Think of the incident involving my friend J___.  If those clowns had done that to a cop he would have killed them and he would have been found justified in his actions.  The taxi driver?  Hey, we know you are a criminal to begin with, so you are just getting what you deserve.  Welcome to the wonderful world of taxi driving.

Oh, I almost forgot, the quote.  If you go online you  might find a copy of "Saint Sea" to buy, and if you do, turn to page 33 and read the poem "estimation" which is about Catholicism.  The quote is from the last four lines: "Do suffer, my good little boy, god knows there isn't any other errand that so relishes (and understands) your smallish salivations---gibberish in any Holy closet."   I will leave it at that.  No, I did not mistake the officer for a priest.  Talk about fantasy! 

And yes, I blocked Denny for about 10-15 seconds.  His traffic stop, having taken no care in stopping me, left us dangerously blocking the intersection for about 15 minutes. Amazing, isn't it.  And all my fault!

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