Friday, August 17, 2012

Robert Graves & The Real & Actual Taxi Experience?

Robert Graves (7/24/95-12/07/85), for those unfamiliar with post-WWI British literature, was an Irish/English writer known best for very personal  poems and prose concerning his time in the trenches and a little bit thereafter his classical though somewhat fictional Roman biographies, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, which were later made into Masterpiece Theater presentations.  Though never having met him, I have always enjoyed and admired his work, his WWI-based autobiography "Goodbye To All That" is a truly amazing example of descriptive prose; and his poem "It's A Queer Time" a must read, along with Wilfred Owen's poetry, for those especially interested to what it means to experience unflinching armed combat. For additional non-fictional prose try dipping into JB Priestley's "Margin Released" and read how a bomb explosion buried him alive.  Fun stuff indeed on the war front.  Quite accidentally I had a small personal connection with Graves when the San Francisco magazine I was working on in 1979-82 published his poem "The Faeries" without first consulting me.  I asked if they had gotten his permission.  "But he's dead, isn't he?" they responded.  No, I informed them, instead he just so happened to be currently residing in the western Mediterranean amongst the Balearic Archipelago.  This was all too typical with these particular folks. Life forward to them was a fantasy and history and past writing was presumed dead and buried which explained their knowledge of Robert Graves.  Last year I read on-line some quotes concerning my time upon that magazine. Again more non-factual gobbledygook filling the already weighted air!

All this preamble brings me to the poem by Graves I want to share because it to me describes the taxi driving experience though of course his poem has nothing to do with that passenger transporting business.  The Welsh connection is important as I have spent various short periods living in northern Wales at my most favorite of locations, Saint Deiniol's (now Gladstone's) Library.

                               The Traveler's Curse After Misdirection (from the Welsh)

                                                  May they wander stage by stage
                                                  Of the same vain pilgrimage
                                                  Stumbling on, age after age,
                                                  Night and day, mile after mile,
                                                  At each and every step, a stile;
                                                  At each and every stile, withal,
                                                  May they catch their feet and fall;
                                                  At each and every fall they take,
                                                  May a bone within them break;      
                                                  And may the bones that break within 
                                                   Not be, for variation's sake,
                                                   Now rib, now thigh, now arm, now shin,
                                                   But always, without fail, THE NECK.

I do know that many passengers would enjoy WRINGING my neck!  For those who have ever stomped  over the green English countryside I am sure they have encountered a stile a least once or twice, which is a kind of wooden steps gratefully taking you up and over the fence impeding your passage to the next rolling hill.

Other taxi:

Yesterday I visited with Abdul of "CNG for Hire."  Rare is it that I am impressed with someones' knowledge of the business.  He knows his taxi stuff in a way that's more comprehensive than mine.  He knows codes and statues and some such documentation which is boring but nonetheless important. I said that perhaps there are workable routes to agreement but first all the for-hire vehicles must stop their DT & Capitol Hill cruising for customers. He said he would try to do what I believe is impossible, keep all those drivers from  making a living.  Again, what did Seattle & King County think would happen once they licensed all those for-hire cars. Clearly little thought if any was put into their decision making so now the entire industry (and the hungry for-hire drivers) must endure their bureaucratic error. How is any of this reasonable?  Abdul and I agreed to meet again.

Wednesday August 15th, a taxi contingent from both large and small companies (and a representative from Shuttle Express) met with the director of Labor & Industry, Judy Schurke and a number of her cohorts.  The issue was how to continue forward the progress made possible by both HB 1367 and ensuing dialog that continues between all interested parties. Especially compelling was description concerning how certain conclusions had been reached.  I would paint the meeting atmosphere as firm but congenial  A reasonable airing of concerns were discussed followed by thoughtful questions and answers.  I believe the logjam has been freed and resolution will soon be flowing down to the taxi sea through the Olympia governmental delta. All indications are for better weather ahead.


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