Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Poorest Of Guarantees

What kind of guarantee if any awaits the intrepid driver when facing a new day?  Physical pain certainly, aching hands, back, legs and sometimes your head, especially if incoherency is included.  Physical exhaustion must also be added to the list.  Come down to the lot at any shift change and its a "Night of the Living Dead" revival, one shift of zombies changing positions with the next.  One remedy is reducing your hours, exhaustion replaced by a gnawing anxiety holding its own special wear and tear, lesser hours equaling fewer fares meaning you haven't won because you are losing.  All this translating into relentless stress because not finding a fare anywhere,  ticking minutes becoming hours and now after paying your lease and gasoline you have three remaining hours to make your day pay.  Try that for weeks on end and see how you feel. 

Should I mention and of course I must all the wonderful passengers completely convinced minus any doubts that 1) you are cheating them, and 2) you are a despicable  human being, and 3) you are capable only of the menial, and 4) you are in general a compete degenerate.  You like these guarantees?  What about mechanical breakdowns and malfunctioning computers and drivers on the road you know are trying to kill you, knowing that in any traffic court of law they would be convicted with the key thrown away.

All this possibly explaining what happened this past weekend, when questionable actions by my fellow lease brethren could have led to the unnecessary and preventable demise of everyone in my taxi.  Beyond a doubt it is true that stress and disappointment and physical exhaustion leads to poor decision making. All taxi drivers working at the various associations have minimum requirements, basic things like telling the shop why the taxi broke down or that something mechanical is failing.  What happened to me this weekend is like connecting the dots.  Someone failed to follow procedure, and as the following illustrates, it is never a good idea.  While many cabbies take pride in a general nonconformity, sometimes rules are there for very good reasons.  It is as basic as that.
A broken down 478 greeted me Saturday morning, finding it parked next to the garage, sending the clear message something bad happened.  Breaking down somewhere, it had to be towed in.  On the "trouble-sheet" clipboard I saw the towing receipt but not the required filled out "trouble-slip" explaining as well as possible what had happened to the car. 

That the night driver, a good guy and taxi veteran failed to fulfil this simplest of tasks made the mechanic's task just that much harder, providing them a riddle that must be deciphered.  As everybody knows who has listened to NPR's "Car Talk," diagnosing a problem isn't always straightforward or simple.  That is why I try to make my "trouble-slips" as detailed as possible.  The guys in the shop need as much information as they can obtain, potentially leading to the final clue.  All I know is that 478 wouldn't start, having tried a couple of times.

With a number of cars available on the "extra board" I hop into YC 6____.  Great car except that I soon discovered the automatic transmission was slipping occasionally.  Though initially not much of a problem, it progressively worsened as the shift proceeded.  Once back at the lot  picking up a repaired 478 I encountered 6____'s night driver.  "Why didn't you write up the car? I asked, only to receive a lame reply.  I told him I couldn't understand why he thought it was reasonable to drive the car in its current condition, making no sense to me.  At least I notified the shop and wrote the car up.  Someone had to do it.

478 was okay, no problems and I finished the day.  Sunday morning saluted me with a flat tire which is usually no problem but due to soft soil the jack slipped off the car not once but twice.  Finally I got the tire changed.  No fun of course but I was off, just another wasted hour.  As I always say, just taxi as usual, unlimited laughs coming your way.

It was now about 5:00 PM and coming back from Sea-Tac.  It was raining hard when I picked two fellows up at the Munson Motel.  They wanted to go downtown to 3rd and James.  Just seconds from being on I-5 northbound 478 drops dead in its tire tracks.  Fuel pump failure!  We push it to the side and I wait over a hour for a tow, losing in total over two hours in addition to the $20.00 plus fare.  The passengers were great, cheerfully walking away in the downpour.

We all had good reason to be happy because an additional 60 seconds would have put us on the freeway and potentially a fatal accident.  No one could have stopped and 478 theoretically would have been slammed into.  I don't like thinking about it.  My sister said it just wasn't my time.  Yeah, right!  Come on everyone, fill out those "trouble slips" is all I can say!

Fatal Taxi Accident in Puyallup

Early Monday morning an Ace Taxi was hit head-on by a drunk driver.  A passenger in the taxi, a pregnant woman along with her unborn child were killed.  The driver is under arrest, charged with vehicular homicide.  The taxi driver survived the crash.

Did We Win?

Upon reflection, of course not.  With adding the ever present limousines and proposed 100 new taxi licenses, we are looking at over 2000 cars above our current 950 taxis, making it a 200 plus percent increase in capacity.  This is not sustainable in the current market.  What is the Seattle City Council thinking?

Next City Council Meeting 3/10/2014

This is when the final decision will be announced.  I don't know the time but I will be there.  Will you?

Update 03/06/2014:  Next week's Seattle City Council hearing has been cancelled.  As soon as a new date and time is issued, I will post it.

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