Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Instant Taxi Kama Taking Me To The Renton Highlands

At times I fully understand why my fellow human citizens believe in all powerful local and universal gods plus other assorted benign and evil deities, believing unequivocally that divine intervention, more than just existent, is operational and commonplace, beyond all doubt occurring on a daily basis, providing an on-call, on-demand assistance to a puzzled and needy humanity, viewing it as a kind of AAA metaphysical road service readily accessed by shouted epitaphs and prayers in the darkest night.  Last Sunday night, after picking up at White Center's favorite "over serving" waterhole, the "Locker Room," and after repeatedly warning my near-delirious drunken passengers that their behavior must stop, regardless of the ten dollars "glowing" on the meter, I promptly turned around and took them back, saying "No charge, guys, just get out!"  While hating to inconvenience anyone, not to mention losing the money, three stern warnings should be enough.  When it isn't, everything stops and I do something else.

The issue was routing, which normally isn't a problem as I am always more than willing to discuss that sometimes contentious topic.  But when the drunk sitting on the backseat is screaming "Go that way, go that way!" while completely unaware of the fool jaywalking in front of us, I become instantly uninterested in negotiating with madness.  Besides, a left turn onto SW Roxbury, then a right on 35th SW taking us quickly to SW Juneau, which would then put us right on line for the requested intersection of California SW and SW Juneau.  Why would I want to take a slower route with "trouble" shouting at me from the back seat?  Not me, I can tell you that!

But no, that wasn't good enough, prompting various threats which will never can be or will be acceptable, alcohol often releasing an incoherent torrent, requiring one response, and one response only.  Is there any justification to put up with this kind of nonsense?  For many they will do anything for the money.  Clearly that is not my position.  The "Locker Room" should be glad I am tolerant, because a complaint to the State Liquor Board is warranted but serving customers past all reason and commonsense is a time-honored tradition, the "Locker Room" not doing anything unusual, so why single out any one establishment?  But hey, if you want to really get drunk, head up of the 9600 hundred block of 16th SW and you will be quickly accommodated.  Just watch out for potential bar fights and other such silliness.  And just why are all those people congregating next to the entrance?  What are they doing?

Anyway, I wasn't happy after wasting 20 minutes but as it so often goes driving taxi, another fare is offered, giving little time  but to attend to the matter at hand, this time a noisy dance club at 29___ 1st Avenue South.  Not getting an answer to my telephone calls I sit there wondering what to do next when a guy walks up and asks if I am available?  Yes I say and off me go to the deep Renton Highlands and $56.00 including tip, which is why I suggest benevolent taxi gods and instant karma  right after my earlier maltreatment, instantly relieving the pain and insult.  

In addition to being a good fare, the Russian software engineer knew a lot about Saint Petersburg, Russia and its famous art museum, the Hermitage, founded in 1764, and open the to public since 1852.  Since I have a free airline round-trip (accumulated air miles) ticket to anywhere in the world I wish to visit, I am leaning toward a trip to Russia and nearby countries like Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Romania and the Ukraine, ending with a more-than-likely rendezvous in Paris to eat pastry with she-who-can't-be-named. 

He knew a lot about the museum and Saint Petersburg in general.  To say that he was more pleasant than my previous two passengers goes without saying.  If only folks could just get themselves under control, even for a few seconds, their whole experience might be altered for the good.  While always joking that I am not friendly, the truth is I am generally good natured, taking much to push me over the edge. Who wants trouble?  When it comes to taxi all I am interested in is  making $$$ and providing an efficient and hopefully pleasant ride, being there to work and nothing else.

Memorial For Slain Anacortes Taxi Driver

Memorial for Lisa Marie Eason will be held this upcoming Friday, May 1st, 2015, at 1:00 PM at Christ the King Community Church in Mount Vernon, Washington.  The address is 2111 Riverside Drive. Telephone number is 360-848-5116 for additional information.  Mert's Taxi telephone number is 360-293-0201.

First Cruise Ship Arriving this Saturday

I know that all you long suffering Seattle cabbies will be cheered to hear that the first of many Alaska cruise ships will be docking this upcoming Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 at the usual time of  about 7:30 AM.  What will further lighten your mood is, due to larger capacity ships, this year we will be seeing approximately 18,000 folks for the combined three day period of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, meaning an increase of almost 4,000.  Business has improved the past three weeks and this will only make it better.

Instantaneous Abuse of Police Power & Authority

Anyone paying attention in the USA these past months have heard news regarding questionable police practices.  Usually they involve very serious incidents but this past weekend I witnessed two situations, while minor in relation to the larger story, illustrate there is an underlying problem that should be addressed. 

The first, the milder of the two, occurred Saturday night while I was picking up on the south side of SafeCo Stadium after a Mariner's game.  An SPD officer who was directing traffic incorrectly sensed I was attempting to creep forward after he had stopped traffic flow.  His response was to keep me from going forward even when pedestrian foot traffic had temporarily slowed down. While punishing me and sending me a message, he also created a three or four block long backup, punishing all those drivers who had nothing to do with the original incident.  My passengers commented that his behavior demonstrated what happens when someone has the power to do whatever he wanted, in this case overreacting to nothing whatsoever.  To any City of Seattle official reading this, the incident occurred around 10:00 PM more or less, and the cop involved was the first officer stationed on S. Martinez Way, southeast corner of SafeCo, making him easily identifiable.

The second was far more egregious, when a Port of Seattle police officer attempted to improperly involve herself with Yellow Cab's contractual agreement to pickup the Victoria Clipper's passengers at Pier 69.  Called in to deal with something unrelated to the cabs, she noticed that they were all parked in the opposite direction of the one-way sign, something mandated for us to do by the Port of Seattle. Suddenly ordering all the drivers to leave the pier, the superintendent on duty, Jeff, ran up shouting, "No, no, no!" explaining the situation to the officer.  Why she thought this was something new is anyone's guess.  I told her "it has been done this way for decades." which is completely true.  That she did this without first seeking additional information says everything about her operational sense.  It also points to a total lack of imagination.  What was this officer thinking?  Oh, and a few minutes earlier, her way was blocked by a parked taxi.  I wonder if that had anything to do with her impromptu command and unwarranted irritation? 

Eritrean Crisis

This past week, many of the victims drowned in the Mediterranean Sea were from the country of Eritrea, one of three countries where many of our local Seattle cabbies originate.  Why are so many young man and women fleeing their country.?  Eritrea has a policy of forced conscription.  A 2014 Human Rights Watch report says many young people are conscripted for most of their working lives, forced to work on civilian projects funded by foreign companies, including a gold mine operated by a Canadian company.  Children as young as 15 years old are being drafted into the army.  If you ever wondered why there are so many East Africans driving taxi in the USA, this is part of the explanation, the region being highly unstable.

A more thorough examination of the region's history will reveal how it was a setting for the "Cold War" between the USA and the USSR.  As what is happening currently in Afghanistan, which for many years suffered through a "proxy war" initiated by the USSR and the USA, a similar situation is now in part shared by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia--- never ending war and cultural and societal upheaval caused when the two super powers meddled into their internal affairs for nearly three decades.  One might even want to go back as far as 1937 and include fascist Italy's bombing and invasion of Ethiopia.  Obviously the situation is not simple and of course made worse by authoritarian governments now in charge of Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Always it seems innocent citizens starve while their leaders attend lavish state dinners. Not only does it display the failure of outside involvement but also of revolutions failing to remember why they took over in the first place, George Orwell once again vindicated.

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