Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Taxi Poster Child & Open Letters To L&I & The City of Seattle

This description of a Yellow driver yesterday blocking the confined construction site that is Amtrak's King Street Station is a situation "tailor-made" for the taxi spy reporting to the "higher" powers.  Every time I think about rumors associated with me my thought is that these "perpetrators" of specious and idle innuendo have failed to have that most important of discussions: with themselves.  I have found that the most helpful dialogue I usually have is internal, the weighting and balancing of incoming information which is then, after thoughtful consideration, disseminated to a larger audience.  I have also just described the writing process , which must be far more careful (and factual and concise) than that actively verbal outpouring known as spontaneous conversation. 

But in every taxi test or criterion that I know, this fellow failed miserably, and this isn't a rookie I am describing.  Instead he is one of the many professionals from the so-called "Third" or developing world who are driving taxi rather than being allowed to practice law or medicine or whatever else they were trained in. I guess speaking four languages isn't good enough.  What he isn't is a good cabbie because, if possible, he has less interest being out here than I am, which is really saying something. 

Too many of these "cultural" prisoners are wasting away beneath the top-light.  Bad attitudes then are understandable if not completely justifiable.  If their degrees had come from Oxford, taxi driving would not have been necessary.  And if you think that the color of their skin has nothing to do with it, think again because you are naive. Racism is alive and well, thank you, and when visiting the state of South Carolina remember NOT to salute the state banner above the local court house.  And wasn't George Washington a slave owner?  Oh I'm so sorry, just another good citizen relating to the morals of his particular time and place.  Talk about naivete.

I was wondering why all these cars  were backed up, and once everyone cleared away, I understood why.  The gentleman in question's taxi was idling, parked a good ten feet away from the curb.  I understood that he was processing a credit card, a common enough occurrence but parking in an unobtrusive spot is essential in cramped environments.

Finally the passenger emerges, cane and oxygen in hand, directly entering the station.  The driver then pops the trunk, leaving the taxi and takes one bag from the trunk, all the while the taxi is idling away.  So far nearly ten minutes has passed.  He remains staring at the station, clearly waiting for the passenger.  2-3 more minutes are expended before she returns.  Then and only then he grabs a box filled with oxygen cylinders which he places about three feet from the taxi. Finally the woman hauls all of her belongings in while the driver, still blocking the roadway, chats with another driver, completely oblivious to any and all consequences.

Of course all of this was like watching paint dry but nonetheless it was appalling given the alternatives like pulling the cab over to the side and turning the motor off.  While the card is being processed, he could have jumped out, putting her belongings next to the station door.  After finishing the transaction, he then should have assisted the disabled passenger with her luggage into the interior of the station.  Isn't that what anyone would do since she could barely walk and clearly burdened by her weighty bundles?

But of course I am being redundant because my secret report has already been filed and I can almost hear the screams of the driver as the bad cabbie is filleted into slender slices by Yellow's in-house torturer.  But don't worry, if he succumbs in the process Yellow provides free cremation services.  And of course for turning him in I received a bonus in addition to my already generous salary.  The sad part is that someone is going to believe this.  Isn't that funny?  Or is taxi completely devoid of humor?  I kind of think it is.

Dear L&I: An Open Letter & Invitation

Hello Labor & Industry,

Since our meeting of August of last year I thought we had mended the taxi fences.  Knowing that everyone seated around the table were good and reasonable public servants  I held every hope that your agency would be responsive to our argument and concerns.  Thus I was shocked to discover that the punitive audits continue, and worst, your agency are making unreasonable demands.  Though understanding that most of us grew up in the psychedelic 1960s, hallucinations and flashbacks, reliving Alice in Wonderland scenarios just can't be included in any public process.  I thought we had all graduated to sipping red wine while reading William Butler Yeats before a roaring fire?  My friendly suggestion is that you toss all those audit reports into the fireplace.  And if they existed, you could also toss all of those thousands of taxi trip sheets from the years 2009 and 2010 in with them.  But since associations are only required to keep them for two years you will probably have difficulty using them as kindling.

And this is where my invitation comes in, inviting all of you down to Seattle and obtain your Seattle/King County taxi-for-hire licenses.  Then, and only then it appears  will you understand that you, like your fellow drivers, are not employees but independent business owners.  And like me, when you do your "turn," that is pay your lease, you will  fill out like I do a blank trip sheet, printing across it the three word statement "For Payment Only" which is all I am required to do.  All record keeping can only be required by the individuals running their businesses.  The associations in Seattle are not the taxi driver's employers.  By joining us you will also wonder "just what are those folks in Olympia doing?" So when you return to your desks you begin scratching your heads, puzzling at just what was I thinking?   I know you will.  I have faith in you even if the voting public doesn't.  Thank you.

Joe Ostrich

Dear City of Seattle: An Open Letter About Your "For-Hire" Car Licensing Decision

I know that on Thursday you will be having hearings about your decision to release all those pesky "for-hire" licenses that are currently plaguing the Seattle & King County taxi industry.  I know you have expressed your concern by authorizing a "demand" study that will take who knows how many months, conducted by someone who knows nothing about the taxi industry.  Though I know you think you are being responsive I have to tell you that it is all too little too late because the damage has been done.  Need I remind you that band aides do little to stem massive bleeding or beat back flesh-eating bacterial infections? 

This is my unfortunate assessment.  That the locusts are devastating our passenger base, mowing down our business like amber fields of ripe grain.  That you released a parallel industry upon us saying, "Oops!" "Sorry about that!"  That you continue (along with your partner King County) to license up to 50 new drivers monthly despite the industry having no requirement for them,  saying nothing whatsoever about impact or propriety.

And that these new drivers are completely unprepared, with no qualifications to be operating a taxi, you again say nothing. That too many of them have car accidents in their first year you have no comment.  And then insurance payments go up, costing all of us money.  All of this you are completely unaware.

And given all of this, you expect us to sit on our hands and wait, remaining patient while everyone talks endlessly about a problem you created.   Your expectations are not reasonable, so don't be surprised if the industry decides to hold you completely accountable, demanding damages.  Because you did this without thinking, without any impact or contingency studies.  And now we have an untenable situation.  And worst, you are making us the responsible party, saying we have to come up with the solutions.  Is this what is called good government?   Heaven help us.  Where is Mayor Royer when we need him?

Sincerely,

Joe-Tired-Of-It-All


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