One reading these pages recently might take me for a taxi apologist, a myopic cabbie "Rush Limbaugh" railing away at real and imaginary demons. Those more familiar know I have in the past ripped the taxi industry to the point that the late PSD/Yellow general manager blasted me, threatening me on various levels. Given the recent attacks upon us locally, I have restrained from criticizing my beloved taxi brethren but Saturday the tick, tick. tick emanating from 478's motor got my attention. That tell-tale sound usually means a low engine oil level, and I was right but finding it was down an entire gallon got my attention. I was shocked. And who was to blame? The two fellows sharing 478 during the week failings to do that most elemental of tasks: having the mechanic's check the oil. Both of the drivers are veteran cabbies and great people but you don't want to destroy the engine. How could something like this happen?
As I have said, driving taxi is a brutal business, wearing out mind, body, soul, spirit and anything else connected to the human animal, twelve-hour shifts akin to a boxing prize fight, each hour a round of business fisticuffs, each new surprise a jab to the gut. In other words you get worn down, especially when business is off, fatigue setting in and you either loose perspective or your mind. There is also the legitimate excuse concerning timing, taxi being everything about time. The best moments to check the oil is coming off the day shift or beginning the night shift. Sometimes a driver just doesn't feel like navigating the stream of cabs coming and going which probably explains why 478 was short four quarts of vital oil. Not a justification, an explanation. Taxi is a rough business, a punch in the nose, a sock in the eye, a knock in the head. Makes you dizzy and crazy and everything else you can guess in between. I put in a quart to make it back to the lot. Can you believe $7.69 for one quart of oil? Believe it!
Give The Guy A Ride, Why Don't Ya?
This is a bad story. I found the young guy in West Seattle still two miles from his destination. It had taken him three confusing hours to get that far. How did this happen? When stepping off the ferry downtown the cab driver refused to take him to South Park, a more or less $25.00 ride and a mere ten minute drive from the Coleman Dock. Totally unfamiliar with Seattle, he got on the wrong bus, his simple journey going from bad to worse.
And what caused this was an idiot cabbie who knows nothing about what it means to be a taxi driver. There are some real reasons why the taxi business is in the shape its in, one very foolish driver a good and very sad example. Once delivered to South Park the guy gave me a ten dollar tip, the passenger a true gentleman. As the song goes, "when will they ever learn?'' Who the hell knows?
Only one day of training? Ha Ha Ha! Thank you City of Seattle and King County!