While it might be my imagination, some weekends it feels like some mysterious negative force field has overtaken Seattle and perhaps the entire planet, making life difficult and miserable for all human occupants. Certainly I had my share of good fortune and success this past Saturday and Sunday but equally I had some of my worse moments in a span stretching from 1987 to now. Taxi, from my long experience has always been contradictory, the good and bad and the deranged consecutively saying hello, these extremes behavioral "kissing cousins" but unlike the Elvis Presley song everything was not "all right, all right!"
Last night I had---and I still can't believe it---two flat tires, the second, occurring at 11:00 PM meaning I had to transfer my passenger with the broken knee to another taxi while waiting nearly 1 1/2 hours for the tow truck. Earlier I called the shop to get another spare tire but they were already gone for the day. For years I have pleaded for spare tires to be made available after 5:00 PM. Aren't we a 24 hour a day operation? You know the answer and so do I but the situation appears to be beyond all remedy. For whatever mysterious reason, all of us appear fated to play tire roulette. Talking to my friend who runs the Yellow co-op he suggested that since there were cars sitting on last night's extra board I could have exchanged cabs which of course was true. I also could have grabbed a tire from one of those same cabs. I just didn't think of those obvious remedies, the madness getting the best of me. But when I asked what do we do when there are no taxis available, my friend just smiled. "Taxi" God! I just give up!
One interesting coincidence was the guy I was taking home from University Hospital to Magnolia when the second flat deflated the day. He was my friend Jack's neighbor, the driver you might recall who was killed in a taxi accident two years ago. Unable to locate Jack's family, the police contacted the neighbor, and with the help of the manager, located Jack's address book. It was that kind of weekend, filled with the amazing and the inexplicable and the exasperating. I am just glad I survived.
One group of passengers became enraged Saturday after a vehicle pulled along side us, with some dumb cluck of a young woman asking when I had last washed my hair. They couldn't believe her audacity. My response, that "only my hairdresser knows for sure!" totally mystified the idiot, too young to remember the "Chairol" commercial advertising home hair coloring kits. Lately there has been something in the news about smelly cabbies in San Diego which might have prompted the comment. Who knows and who cares, more madness emanating from the ersatz culture embracing modern 21st Century America.
But I have to say, the simple ride that wasn't and forever encapsulating this weekend originated on Beacon Hill, stopping in front of a young couple standing outside of a yard next to all of their worldly processions. The woman was pregnant and the husband/ boyfriend said they were heading to a Motel Six. Loading up the cab I was told instead to go to a gas station near S. Othello and Rainier Avenue S. Once there I was taken aback by all of the young men converging upon the station. Told we had gone all this way for a pack of cigarettes, the man returned only to direct me back to nearly where we had begun, all the while quietly conversing with his weary and bewildered wife/girlfriend. Stopping on another Beacon Hill street, we again unloaded all of the stuff onto a sidewalk. I hated this ride, disliking the random sorrow and sheer despondency of their situation. What in the world was going on? I have no idea but nothing good it seems from the looks of it. Shall we all celebrate life and existence? Hurrah! Hurrah!
Watch Out 4 the Baseball
A Idaho family's baseball vacation was ruined when their daughter of about ten was struck in the eye by an errant baseball. What made this notable was our wandering around the Westin Hotel lobby looking first for the husband, then her 14 year old daughter who held payment for the cab. I swear the teenager thought I was going to kill her mother, never getting such a look. Maybe I should have washed my hair!
RIP Bob Miller!
Recently I found out that a fixture at Yellow, driver and Safety Board member Bob Miller, died last month while driving his cab. Feeling faint, he stopped at a White Center-area grocery and sitting on a bench, had a fatal heart attack. Everybody respected Bob for his straight-forward approach to taxi discipline. He will be missed!
Opening the Trunk
This early morning, post-shift, a new driver motioned to me to help him. Opening my window, he told me he couldn't open his cab's trunk. The key wasn't working, so I told him to start his car and push the "popper" button. Not knowing what that was, he began randomly pushing anything and everything on the dashboard. Reaching over his shoulder, I pushed the correct button. I watched as his taxi lurched away, the young man clearly not in control of his vehicle. "Taxi" Lord help us all!