I would call these cautionary tales though not necessarily from the tomb. Most of the participants I assume are alive but clearly they drive like zombies. As I have said and keep saying, becoming a skilled and professional cabbie (of whatever version) is not easy, not the instantaneous add motor oil and mix formula currently operational. I have also tired of repeating that the folks regulating the taxi industry know little or nothing concerning the craft. That along with many other issues explain why I am officially announcing my resignation from the Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory commission tomorrow. The time has come for me to begin withdrawing from all taxi political activities, with the end of July being my preferable target date. The one irony which is not lost upon me is it seems that after years of trying, most everyone involved locally now trust me. It is no small feat given the paranoiac attitude prevalent. My affection for everyone remains but given the progress I am making on my new book I have to give up something. And until another reliable income source arrives, I remain beneath the top-light for at least the foreseeable near future.
Our Yellow Taxi accountant recounted a friend's story of flagging what she thought was a Yellow Cab at North 85th & Greenwood Avenue North and instead a United For-hire car stopped, its two-tone yellow and orange coloring fooling most anyone. She was going to the University District and agreed upon a flat-rate of $15.00 which is more or less the correct fare. Everything was fine until they arrived at the destination with the driver now demanding $40.00. When she refused he locked the doors and began screaming at her. Intimidated she gave him the money and was released from her imprisonment.
Yesterday I took a young woman home from Swedish Hospital who has been a regular HopeLink rider for least a year. Last night HopeLink told her that they would be nice to her and send a Yellow taxi instead of a for-hire car. On the way north she had many distressing stories about the for-hire drivers getting lost or making multiple unexplained U-turns or one driver who exited then immediately returned back to the freeway taking her back to where she had just come from.
Suffice to say, all of this is disturbing which brings me back to the central point that being a professional driver is not easy. Every weekend I am reminded of that and I have 25 years experience. Another passenger yesterday told me that a Yellow taxi driver of 10 days duration had to be guided to their hotel. All these examples scream out that this is serious situation. Does anyone care? No, and don't believe them when they say otherwise. They are misleading you.
Friday morning Abebe, president of Yellow Taxi and I met with Ray Mundy and James Cooper, the two fellows who are conducting the passenger demand audit. One important note is that James drove a local version of a taxi somewhere in Scotland for six months. I had to shake his hand on that piece of information. More later on our conversation but in short I can assure everyone that they are serious, sincere and knowledgeable guys. Their opinions and comments display understanding. No one, and I mean no one on this planet of ours can fool me upon the subject of all things taxi. I know when you know and when you don't. James and Ray hold some broad knowledge and are attempting to learn more. When less tired I will dissect the conversation. My one regret was not asking them about their methodology. It was a clear omission which I will attempt to correct later. Their preliminary findings will be announced on June 13th.