The new computer dispatch system has been truly functional for a number of weeks now, showcasing everyones' initial expectations but still, situations too often occur puzzling and befuddling the taxi mind. Yesterday the simple calling of a passenger's telephone number prompted this mysterious response," I didn't call a taxi. I am in Iceland, I am in Iceland!" shouted the accented voice.
How the local area code 206 connected me to that island nation in the north Atlantic Ocean I couldn't tell you. But I am sure that there are some native Icelanders who require taxis unless they traverse that frozen and rugged landscape upon domesticated musk oxen on their way to a steaming mineral pool. Regardless I did find my passenger waiting not in Reykjavik but just in Seattle's north end. Saved me some gas money, that's for sure.
I ask, what would taxi be like without confounding and nutty scenarios? Why have the mundane when instead your daily cab experience can be a nerve-racking emotional roller-coaster, with each call a surprise lurking behind that thick curtain? Why the ordinary and expected would be too boring.
In September I am leaving for various European destinations including Tallinn, Estonia. Maybe next weekend I will suddenly be connected to an Estonian citizen knowledgeable concerning the best local eateries. That would be helpful even if I can't reach my next customer. I think (sea) gull eggs are a local specially. I take mine scrambled of course, matching my taxi brain. Pass the ketchup.
A couple from Florida called Yellow after a limo driver said it would be $50.00 to their University District hotel, this after their taxi downtown was $21.00. Fortunately they had gotten the driver's business card otherwise they would not be able to tell the City of Seattle about their experience. What is clear is that the driver's actions is not unusual. What also isn't unusual is that nothing is ever done about this type of theft routinely occurring 24 hours a day throughout Seattle. Again, town-cars and Uber, Lyft and Sidecar must have external markings and decals identifying them as commercial vehicles. Until that happens, the drivers will continue to exploit their passengers and steal from them whenever the opportunity presents itself. And tourists like the ones I met can only thank the mayor and the city council. It is their responsibility and their fault. Do they care? Ask and see what they say, remaining polite despite their response.
Last night I had an unusual situation where I was owed nearly $60.00 and the passenger had evidently left his wallet on Beacon Hill and we were then miles north of there in Shoreline, Washington. Trying to figure out the situation, he had called his mother on my telephone. We were in now in Shoreline because he said his older brother Eric would help out with the situation. Stopping at where he said his brother was, Josh suddenly disappeared into the night.
Knowing that his mother would be impressed, I called her and got the brother's address. Upon opening his door I gave Eric the clothes Josh had left in the back seat, along with telling him that his brother had just committed a criminal misdemeanor. Josh called while Eric and I were talking, Eric telling him to get over to his house immediately. Eric gave me $50.00 and apologized for his brother's behavior. I told him it was nothing, just pleased to have been more or less paid.
What I would love to hear is what his family said to the misguided drunk and stoned Josh. I am sure it was entertaining.
Loss of Revenue
It appears that last week's posting has gotten some attention from the walking (or is it, driving) dead, all those taxi zombies waking up to the fact that we are truly in trouble. Maybe they are ready to rally. Maybe!
Less Than Literate Irish
Sunday I took a group of Irish kids (in their mid-20s) to a play field on Lake Washington. Of course they knew about Yeats and Joyce but not one of Ireland's great poets, Louis MacNeice. I get tired of knowing more about someone's native literature than they do. I am not amused because I know that they think they are informed and modern human beings. Yeah right is my comment. A poem by MacNeice:
In the first taxi he was alone tra-la,
No extra on the clock. He tipped ninepence
But the cabby, while he thanked him, looked askance
As though to suggest someone had bummed a ride.
In the second taxi he was alone tra-la
But the clock showed sixpence extra; he tipped according
And the cabby from his muffler said: Make sure
You have left nothing behind tra-la between you.
In the third taxi he was alone tra-la
But the tip-up seats were down and was an extra
Charge of one-and-sixpence and an odd
Scent that reminded him of a trip to Cannes.
As for the fourth taxi, he was alone
Tra-la when he hailed but the cabby looked
Through him and said: "I can't tra-la well take
So many people, not to speak of the dog."
The Cannes reference reminds me that my ex-wife studied dance with Roberta Tallchief in that French city many years ago.
And I must include a stanza from his "Bagpipe Music" which is one of my all-time favorite poems:
"It's no go the Yogi-Man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi."
Written in 1938.
Ah yes, a cabby's primary concern, money and sex!