Thursday, June 28, 2012

Inner Sanctum, Part Two

For those cabbies in and around Tacoma, you might want to check out the Tacoma Art Museums' new retrospective, "Best of NW Art."  There are some excellent painting presented.  Being a small show, it will take you 30 minutes or so to take in the exhibition.  I attempt to go to the Tacoma museum once a week, a museum habit I began way back in San Francisco 1979 when the SF Modern would have weekly free Thursday evenings.  Coming home from work I would wander round and round teaching myself modern art.  Luckily they had some amazing shows featuring artists like Paul Kline and Max Beckmann, both opening my eyes and mind.  My eastern foray last week caused me to miss my weekly outing though of course I pine for another long and solitary hike.  Walking through Point Defiance Park helps but it only acts as  a band aide. All that concentrated taxi passenger interaction makes me want to be alone or at least only be with folks I know well and care about.  Though clearly no one can do everything I at times still try to manage the impossible. 

Getting back to the inner sanctum, I can attest that Kim's surrounding could not be described as particularly spacious with filing cabinets and stacks of files hemming her in, a kind of instant Grand Canyon minus the natural ambiance.  And sitting on that stool facing the drivers is not for the fainthearted.  Despite having been given a handout dated March 21th, 2012 detailing in exacting fashion what the owner must have prepared to license his/her vehicle, owners appear to insist that what the city is demanding just doesn't matter, bringing in incomplete or improper documents or documentation.  While driving taxi can certainly be a free-form affair, making sure your new application is filled out properly isn't and never will be.  Even with the seriousness required I did detect from Kim some leniency.  It appeared to me that she was moving as quickly as humanly possible given the difficult circumstances.  Owners need to understand that having illegible or non-matching signatures and other such discrepancies and mistakes costs valuable time for everyone concerned.  My advise is to read the instructions thoroughly and again, don't leave it to the last moment even if it saves you a few dollars.  Every year plan ahead and be as efficient as possible.  Given the state of the economy it is highly doubtful whether Kim will be given an assistant anytime soon.  Try to remember that it was all of us requesting that something be done about the town cars.  Now that the City of Seattle has regained regulatory authority mountains of paperwork have been added to other peaks and valleys that makes up the office's interior.  Take your complaints to the mayor and the Seattle and King County councils requesting more funding. And why you are at it, contact the folks in Snohomish County and ask them why they send all their taxis down to Seattle to be inspected?

And if you have any delusions where the taxi industry fits into Seattle's long-term priorities, you might take note of all that construction taking place just west of Consumer Affairs.  The City of Seattle is building of all things a nice new home for a fleet of new trolly buses similar to those clogging up the streets in and around the south side of Lake Union.  I call them Paul Allen's pets and you can be sure that if he ever invests in taxis the City and County will be whistling a different tune.  Having more or less 40 billion dollars commands respect.  And since we don't, you can expect to remain crammed in that tiny cubicle of a room staring down Kim while she frantically attempts to take care of all of your very important documents.  Clearly a new inspections facility is needed.  Tim needs a new machine to test the hybrids instead of having to drive them a mile down the street calibrating the meters.  All of this is wasted time and the regulatory authorities truly do not care.  The taxi industry, despite its importance to the community is very small economic potatoes.

Remember that as you watch the trolly buildings being erected.  Craig and the other hard working folks are dedicated to making things better for the industry.  Soon two new half-time employees will be on the streets handing out tickets to all those renegade for-hire and limo operators.  Consumer Affairs needs your understanding and support, not your abuse and disregard. Write letters and contact those who hold the purse strings.  Tell them that Consumer Affairs requires a new building and equipment and triple the staff.   Blaming current staff for having to stand out in the rare blazing sun or more usual rain is misplaced.  Tell the mayor to put a canopy out on the north side of the building. Some benches too would be extremely helpful.  I agree that unless major changes occur like new buildings small changes must take place. All of us drivers and owners deserve respect and consideration.  Unfortunately we will have to work harder to earn it.  That is the simple truth.  That is our sorry shared reality. Or maybe we should all be become Mister Allen's dogs and cats but from what I have seen up close picking up at his Boeing Field and other facilities I think not.  He appears to like professional football and basketball players.  Taxi drivers may not be as entertaining. 



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