Barry Anthony Fletcher (02/02/44-01/30/12) was buried yesterday. A fairly elaborate Roman Catholic mass was attended by about 100 mourners, including fifty or so from Yellow Taxi. It might of been what is called a "high mass" but being an extremely lapsed Catholic I can't say for sure. A driver and Barry's son delivered eulogies after the Communion service. Everyone chuckled as the driver spoke of Barry's "SOS" requests for diet Cokes and other such refreshments. Overall it was a good send-off to our taxi comrade. One clear presence that was missing was the Seattle Police Department. Much reference was made, including his officer photos, to Barry's career as a police officer. That there appears to have been no official SPD representation was surprising to me. Perhaps there were former colleagues amongst the audience, at least I hope there were. The day was grey and dismal, perhaps suiting to the lugubrious moment and event.
Family members picked up Jack Magerstaedt's car on Wednesday, which had remained parked on the lot since January 23, the day of the accident. I have the sense that the family desires their privacy but will notify everyone when the autopsy is released. Rumor and anger is spreading throughout Yellow concerning HMC's handling of Jack's post-accident condition. All I can advise is just to wait and see, as hopefully soon all of us will have more information enabling a more accurate and precise assessment. As we all know, HMC is one of the top trauma centers in the USA. Of course, mistakes can be made. All I suggest is that we withhold judgement and comment until more facts are clearly known.
Margot S., Jack's long-time "personal", wrote movingly of their various conversations, including the topic of flowers, and upon one occasion Jack giving her a large flowering plant. Who would have ever guessed that Jack was actually a closet "flower child!" At the lot, Jack remained extremely private, pulling in and getting out on the road as quickly as possible. For being such a long-term driver, he was virtually unknown. Jack liked it that way. For instance, Jack was born in Cambodia just after the end of WWII, a very interesting fact that Jack never mentioned. Margot also sent me a photograph of the Mecca Cafe memorial marquee saluting Jack. It is a great photo and something you will soon be able to view for yourself on this blog.
And to further punctuate my point about driver concern, my buddy Ali who shares 478, just called me to voice his trepidation concerning HMC's treatment of our friend. He had spoken to Jack after his arrival at Haborview. Ali can't understand how they potentially missed the truth of Jack's actual condition. Yes, that is an understandable question, hopefully one that can be answered soon. As I have said, any new information will immediately be posted.
Every taxi driver's primary complaint, regardless of country or city, will be the sometimes ill-treatment by some passengers. Much of it is predictable knowing that that some clearly hold a discriminatory attitude toward anyone operating beneath the top-light. That you potentially hold their life in your hands is something they don't consider. You are of the servant-class and you better behave and understand your societal position. Here are two examples from the "lunar" weekend, both occurring in a row. Yes fun comes in pairs!
The first incident comes with this admonishment: taxi drivers, keep that front seat passenger-side door locked! There's always trouble when you don't.
It was a simple call on the Mercer-side of Seattle Center. A couple of play-goers had requested a cab. I got there instantaneously and saw the woman in a certain colored (it was noted in the computer notes) sweater was waving to me as she marched in a determined fashion through the exiting crowd. Having not locked the door, she instead of opening the rear door opened the front allowing for my thermos to heavily hit the street and watch as the wind caught my newspaper and take it down the street. Anyone normal and respectful would have picked up my now damaged thermos and apologized but no, not this individual, finding it necessary to address her only concern. Obvious that I was the assigned taxi my only response was to have her pick up my thermos and get in the taxi as we awaited her husband. Evidently she didn't expect such prompt service and it confused her. I appear to confuse people all of the time, by simply providing good and efficient service. Maybe they shouldn't have such low expectations. Regardless, my response shook my woman to her core, unable to regain any civility she might hold toward the lower classes.
As I noted as I drove them to their very expensive retirement facility on First Hill, I was a trifle tired which in part explained my mood. After that I was friendly, even giving the woman a pen to write with. I thought she needed it to fill out some kind of payment or charge voucher but instead it appears she was busily writing down the cab number etc. because she certainly wasn't paying attention to the ride. As I get to the destination I quoted the amount on the meter which was $9.00,then turning off the meter to quickly get myself into Zone 230. As she wasn't paying attention she yelped that it was too much, saying "Prove it!" essentially accusing me of being a thief. She then started yelling that I was rude and began lecturing me. I told that she didn't have to pay me but as her husband was already handing me the money I took it, not needing further insult to my already dented thermos. So this is what the millionaire-class dish out,the coddled one-percent currently in the news. All I can say is sometimes I just don't feel like being nice. Call it a failing or call it taxi reality. My earlier effort literally fell upon deaf ears as the husband had left home without his hearing aid and missed understanding the performance he had earlier attended. When I asked him just what was wrong with his wife he said that she was surprised I had gotten to them that quickly. Again, are you ready to try your hand at the taxi craft?
Soon after that uplifting interaction I was belled into a facility that plays a peculiar game: even though it called Yellow for a package pickup the personnel act as if the driver is attempting to steal the package. I am not joking. Instead of the package sitting there within easy reach like it is at every other facility, the folks here have the item set away from the window, awaiting the driver's correct response to where the package is destined. This might be reasonable if they were sending out multiple packages in a given hour but during the past five years six-twelve hours will pass before they request a single package pickup. In other words, this particular facility has made the commonplace into a deranged guessing game. Already irritated by the last interaction, I didn't immediately cooperate. And adding further insult,the package went five blocks. But why take offense you say? You know you are a human punching bag. Take those hits to the chin! Com' on, wimp!
At Least the Taxi Gods Remain Kind
I have eluded to taxi synchronicity and during the Saturday bar break, it came though again, my last fare taking me north to N. 128th & Greenwood Ave N., a mere short mile from my resting place. Thank ye gods!