What I was saying, implying in my last entry, was the failure of not thinking issues through, be it existence itself or driving mundane taxi down your local byway. An example of such thinking occurred yesterday morning as I wandered around searching for my assigned taxi in the rain at the darkened cab lot. A true part of the taxi experience is walking round and round in the night reading every cab's number hoping finally you have found your taxi.
Yesterday morning, having decided to work, hopefully making some post-vacation money my first scheduled cab of a two-taxi single shift was 378. The reason why I didn't find 378 waiting for me at 4:00 in the morning was the day driver's failure to tell Abebe, upon calling off the shift, that he and his night driver were operating the car from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM instead of Yellow's traditional 4-4 arrangement. His inexcusable omission caused me a late start, a foray into a much maligned CNG (natural gas taxi) and driving not two but three separate cabs, the switching from vehicle from vehicle a true pain-in-the-taxi-ass which, on top of the incredible inconvenience, cost me money.
All the driver needed to say was, "Abebe, we are driving the car 6 to 6." and simply the situation would have been prevented. Now granted, that might have annoyed Abebe but at least by knowing what was going on, he would have asked me whether picking up the cab at six would be okay? But by not telling anyone the day-driver created problems he himself could have predicted. Why didn't he say anything?
My assumption is that he has gotten into the bad and fatal habit of not thinking life though to logical conclusions and outcomes. This, my taxi comrades, is essentially how we arrived to where we now find ourselves in the industry. Thinking, problem solving is, and always will be, life's necessary response to every approaching conundrum. Avoidance leads to your victim walking round in circles cursing beneath his breath, "Where is my damn car?" At least I did make some money, an $80.00 Virgina Mason Hospital to Federal Way fare, including a $15.00 tip, helping repair an irritating day.
Some Explanatory History Concerning WA ST Labor & Industry and the Taxi Industry
A few years back, hearing some disturbing rumors about what was the building momentum in negotiations between taxi and L&I, I attended a hearing in Renton. Testifying there, I found there was another round of public testimony scheduled in Olympia. Alarmed by the Renton testimony and response, I determined I had better plan on showing up in Olympia.
Once there I was shocked to find I was the only taxi industry person there. No one, not from Seattle nor any other locale had made the drive. This is where we all got lucky. After my testimony I was invited upstairs by a then L&I official, Bill Moomau, to talk with a group of interested L&I folks. That one hour meeting brought great results because without it we in the Washington State taxi industry would probably now be paying double what we are now.
A few weeks after this most opportune meeting I received a telephone call from the then director of L&I, Judy S, informing me," Joe, I wanted you to be the first one to know that we decided to request half of what we have been asking." Despite everything, it was good news.
While I know the additional costs relating to L&I coverage are high, personally costing me an additional $160-200.00 each month, can you imagine if they had kept to their original estimate? The pain, especially in the current business market, would have been unimaginable if I was now forking out nearly $400.00 each month. Taxi, as all of us plying beneath the top light know, is damn hard work.
Now knowing that all of us, despite the cost, are covered is comforting but there could have been other options taken toward the same goal. What I saw in all of this was the Seattle taxi associations failure to understand the grave threat poised by L&I. Why was I the only individual defending us that day in Olympia? The answer, as I keeping saying, is obvious. Sleeping is fine and necessary but not when slumbering upon a "bed of nails." Anyone ever attempt to clean blood stained sheets?