Yesterday afternoon the mighty Seahawks eked out a victory over the NFL's sorriest team, the once-feared Oakland Raiders, making for a contented post-game crowd, suddenly transforming me into an east side-bound shuttle, twice taking fans over to Kirkland, and later, a very drunk professional back to downtown Bellevue. While fans celebrated, cabbies were just pleased finally encountering some easy business, the Yellow version of the local industry more than weary dealing with a still cantankerous and often unpredictable computer dispatch system. If the man standing at the cashier window this morning was correct, the Sea-Tac cabbies associated with Teamsters Local 117 have not been paying their dispatch fees. While that might keep them smiling, what about the rest of us who are still obediently forking out our hard earned cash?
Across from me this morning at the Honey Court Restaurant in Seattle's Chinatown/International district, a half-sick Yellow driver was quitting early, saying he had made only $100.00 for himself but he had had enough. Commenting though he did have two airports runs, his discontent was palpable, no one these days having much fun. Having mild influenza only magnifies an unsatisfactory situation, not remedied by swallowing an aspirin every four hours.
Just before I found Mister Bellevue standing at the corner of Roosevelt NE and NE 70th, I first accepted a fare offering over the tablet, only to have it suddenly disappear. Instantly offered another call, that address too disappearing from the screen. It was maddening. It is impossible to respond to this kind of problem, the system simultaneously malfunctioning while you the operator are doing everything, at least in theory, correctly.
No, they weren't cancellations, instead, more unfortunate dysfunction manifesting itself before my disbelieving eyes. Making it worse, the fare information also vanishing from the dispatch superintendent's screen, though eventually Jeffery rediscovered the recalcitrant calls, resending them out to the waiting taxis. I bring up the matter of fare cancellations because that is what occurs when the customer cancels, the address and other information vanishing from the screen. Only this Sunday was I made aware of why this was happening, and only after my puzzled inquiry. As I have said, driver training with the new system would have been extremely helpful, eliminating much of the confusion.
That these kinds of occurrences aren't helpful is beyond comment, a holy covenant broken between company and driver and passenger. These mishaps can't keep happening but despite Mister Anderson's intervention, they have, making our reality even more tenuous than it already is. No fun. I repeat. No fun. Geroge Anderson, where are you, now that we need you?
Yesterday, risking stern rebuke, a friend conducted his own taxi private experiment. Theoretically it has been stated that the closest cab to the call WILL always be sent. Sitting next to a Safeway, he himself requested a cab. Upon receiving the call, he could easily have done a "no show" without anyone the wiser. What happened instead was another more distant taxi being directed to the call. So much for theory was my friend's response. While potentially reckless, it begs to answer the question about just what is happening? He and others are past patience. They have money to make and bills to pay. Personally, overall I had a good weekend, with the system working properly for me about 95 percent of the time, putting it on par with the previous system. But sometimes what it does can only be called nonsensical. I am looking forward to this current misery quickly passing into oblivion. One can only hope.
Mid-morning yesterday I was offered a fare originating from Zone 330, meaning somewhere 20 or more miles directly to the north of where I was parked at N 96th & Stone Avenue N. Taking such an unknown call is little more than suicidal, meaning no one can reasonably accept such a distant and mysterious fare. What could be lurking behind that taxi curtain? The answer is, who cares, because unless there is some introductory information presented before its offered, only a cab sitting way up there in Everett could rationally check it out.
Wisely ignoring it like the suspected land mine it was, just one scant minute later I am heading to an airport run sitting a mere 3/4 of a mile away. Now that made sense, along with the $10.00 tip I got on top of the $58.00 fare. Thank you, taxi gods, for your divine mercy and understanding. I am forever your fervent servant, money the quickest route to a cabbie's irreligious heart, suddenly pious and devout, thankful utterances slipping from tongue and lips!