My original primary goal for this blog was to present taxi as it truly is minus the usual mythology and misrepresentations characterizing it as something it isn't, taxi reality interesting enough, not requiring fictional embellishments. Much has happened in one solitary week, and if this is any indication of what the New Year will be like, I am ready to run and hide. Next week I will be in San Francisco and Orr Hot Springs near Ukiah, California. Say a prayer and maybe I can just stay there, a good 900 miles away from Seattle taxi-land. If only is all I can say.
Altercations at the Airport
I only know part of the story but last week a large number of Punjabi Sea-Tac drivers attacked another driver over some protocol violation. This prompted Yellow to suspend the miscreants who responded by getting a sizable percentage of their Sea-Tac taxi buddies to call an instantaneous strike beginning last Friday and extending into Saturday morning. I've heard reports of profane shouting matches, and occurring sometime today, a massive exodus to the new GM's office demanding his resignation if not his actual head. Topping this off for me was a request for media help from my friend Chris, the very person all these crazy guys got fired from Yellow's Sea-Tac operations. All of this is enough to make one's taxi head spin. And I know why it is all happening, beyond the actual facts and details. They, like everyone else in this business, are mentally "burnt to a crisp" and have temporary lost their grip. Eventually they return to some semblance of functionality. People ask why I am always leaving. My response, as I said earlier, is who wants to stay?
Since I am gone next week I accelerated the entire process connected to my accident last Wednesday. My scheduled "Safety Committee" hearing yesterday resulted in me going to a defensive driving class taught by my long time insurance industry colleague, Robert R. During the latter section we watched films of cars and buses sliding down icy Seattle hills; road rage in NYC and finally, too many head-on collisions in Russia. Other than taking time, it was all fairly painless. My three fellow class members took two prayer breaks. One interesting side note is that the fellow causing the trouble in my back seat was involved in yet another incident this week. I wish him the best but it appears he needs to change his behavior before something truly serious happens.
And talk about time wasted, my 2:30 PM court date today extended to 3:30 PM as all of us had to sit through a couple of cases with people acting, and acting is the term, as their own lawyer. Futile and painful to observe. My lawyer Doug Silva had already informed me my ticket would be dismissed but being paranoid, I sat through attorney amateur hour. The last misguided defendant initially refused to sign the necessary court papers, with the poor court clerk trying to convince the idiot she had no alternative. After my dismissal Doug told me they didn't want to do it, handing me a long list of all the tickets I have beaten. It was good to share a bit of humor. Thanks Doug!
During the sometimes informal defensive driving class, I had the opportunity to talk to my three colleagues. What I found, even with the guy who has been driving since 1994, is a shared taxi illiteracy preventing them from earning the kind of money that is out there waiting for the true professional. When I told the 20 year veteran that to really make money, you had to average $40.00 per hour, he was mystified. "How do you do that? " he exclaimed. Even he didn't understand the basic concept of having an hourly and daily goal, keeping track each hour of what you are bringing in. All the truly experienced and savvy cabbies out there know this is all "Taxi 101," the simple fundamentals of driving a cab.
I tried in my short time to quickly teach them some of the "tricks" of the taxi trade but clearly it was too much to swiftly comprehend. I lay most of the blame upon the City of Seattle and King County for licensing folks who have little to no clue on what to do once they are behind the taxi wheel, the complex never becoming simple. How many times have I told the administrators that training has to be more complete and thorough? At least fifty times over the past five years. And why haven't they heeded my suggestions? Ha Ha Ha! is all I can say in reply.
Not Wise Not Having Collision Insurance
All cabbies know that our biggest expense is insurance. There is no escaping that cost, and when you try, you are only bitten in the ass. The veteran driver I just referred to now owes $12,000 for failing to have his van completely covered. My friend D. also has $7000. of body damage to his van that he must pay out of his pocket due to an accident caused by his relief driver. Both attempted to save money but the reverse happened. Taxi can be an unforgiving business and that is just the way it is. Now you know why I now never recommend this business to everyone. It is a Buddhist "hell realm" and there is no other way to describe it. I am sure the taxi devils are having a jolly, good time, poking us with those heated tines.