This weekend, primarily on Saturday, I kept going east across Lake Washington more times than I call recall in recent memory. It was like a magnet pulling 478 eastward. The first journey was a failed tryst at the Husky vs Colorado Golden Buffaloes football game, the almost fair damsel met upon an airplane deciding she had had enough of the pending affair and off to Bellevue the gallant knight and lady in waiting went, he valiantly dropping her off at the Hyatt, she of the most discreet nature avoiding the scorn of her workmates who thought she was ill and confined to a sickroom. "Failure!" the disappointed lover groaned as he slumped, sinking deeper into the rear seat, instantly a painful lump of discarded flesh. Saying he wanted to reach downtown Seattle as quickly as possible I headed directly to I-405 where he then started yelling that I was heading in the wrong direction. Understanding that he was traumatized I reassured that my routing made complete sense, which it did, and upon reaching Seattle he gave me a $15.00 tip on top of the $55.00 fare, totalling a well-deserved $70.00, guilty that he falsely charged his momentary chauffeur with the worse of taxi crimes. Yes, we serving the top light see it all , whether we want to or not. Ah yes, love is such a fleeting emotion!
My allusion to deviating south is to something that happened Saturday, a Yellow driver taking a passenger nearly 100 miles in the wrong direction. Something like this happens because the driver (and so many other) are ill-prepared for the ________that is taxi. This is also what happens when you treat taxi like you would washing dishes in your local greasy spoon. When professionalism is not a consideration then amateurism reigns. It is unavoidable.
The situation was as commonplace as it is something all of us do nearly everyday. Pick up a pre-arranged contract customer and take them to an already verified address. This happens all of the time. The address is always clearly written upon the computer screen. If there is any confusion, say the customer says that is not the correct address, the protocol is clearly spelled out, and all of us know what to do. You first contact dispatch and then the dispatch supervisor will, in this case DSHS/HopeLink, contact the appropriate agency or person and a determination will be made. It is that simple and straight-forward. In the case of transporting discharged patients, in this particular instance, someone suffering from a possible inoperable brain tumor, you do not deviate from expected procedure. The driver in this particular example used very poor judgement. Perhaps it could be said he exhibited no judgement of any kind. He is extremely lucky that the patient did not have a fatal outcome.
The story is as follows. The stalwart Yellow driver was dispatched to Harborview Hospital this past Saturday to take a DSHS (Department of Social & Health Services) to Grays Harbor, Washington, which is located on the west coast of the state. Like I said, the driver clearly saw the address and knew where to take the passenger. Think of DSHS as the airline and the driver the pilot following a flight plan. It is a very well understood format. The client, probably due to his medical state, told the driver that he instead wanted to go to Vancouver, Washington, which, instead of being directly west of Seattle, is directly 175 miles south. That the driver went along with this request is beyond comprehension. Everyone knows that the DSHS passenger can not on his/her own change the destination. Another thing that is clear is that you receive the flat rate that is shown on your fare information. Even if the DSHS passenger requests that you go to Chicago, you will still only be paid the given amount that has been pre-negotiated. So what this particular driver was thinking no one truly knows. Maybe the incoherency was catching, a new type of virus. We might all believe this because not only was the passenger taken to Vancouver, he was dropped off on a downtown corner, where he proceeded to wander aimlessly for hours until discovered by the local police. Like I said, there was no judgement used. It is difficult how anyone could be this _______! I don't believe any true harm occurred to the client. Again, lucky for the driver who would have surely faced charges. What is the sentence for being an ______? Now someone might say that the driver should have been told the patients condition but my guess is that privacy concerns would preempt that. Again, I will always say that you the driver must be able to read your passenger properly. If you can't you truly are not a taxi driver and should be doing something that does not require this high level of responsibility.
My sixth fare of the just past weekend was a gentleman who kept repeating that he didn't want to offend me because to he was a homosexual. In reality I didn't care if he was a polar bear or wombat, all that is required is to pay at the fare's conclusion, little else. His continued self-descriptions were met with complete disinterest. This sorry situation ended in his fare of $13.00 being declined, the debit card having at that moment insufficient funds of cover the cost. He was already out of the cab but I was able to catch up with him, parking on the corner awaiting his arrival. Instead he decided to run away. My payment, since the monetary one was voided, was knowing that the pathetic fool was scared out-of-his wits, thinking I was planning on pounding him into the pavement. Maybe he has had previous experience. He was cracked, just one of too many. Just think, you too could have the pleasure of having him, or others similar, just within reach of your fingers. Now don't tell me you wouldn't be tempted to strangle the fool. But now, now, we certainly don't want to harm all of our very vulnerable and deranged customers. One must have empathy, don't you know! And that my friends, is taxi as it truly is. So much fun I am ready to run away making this last weekend my final day. If only!