The question, while simple, contains a complex answer. Why do hospitals in Seattle and in the rest of the United States continue to both discharge and refuse service to patients in need? While some might say that it is due to well-known medical insurance issues, I instead see it as more concerning institutional policy, literally the rules dictating admissions and tolerance toward difficult individuals. What I will never believe is that what I witnessed Saturday night at the University of Washington Medical Center was somehow accidental, an anecdotal incident unrelated to administrational procedure.
How can it be naive to say that a medical institution's first public imperative is to serve the ill regardless of malady, be it physical or mental? Too often, like this past Saturday night, I have seen area hospitals act in a manner less that helpful to the problem presented. One very notable exception is Harborview Medical Center, the four-state (Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana) regional trauma center. Even when faced with the craziest individual, hospital staff make every attempt to treat the patient. It is impressive, something that should be emulated everywhere. And given that the two hospitals are associated, there is truly no excuse.
Saturday night I was belled into the UWMC Emergency Room only to come upon Jeff, a man in his early 60s who was standing outside the entrance surrounded by bags and a guitar case. Understanding that this was my customer, I was puzzled why he was outside, and not inside the hospital filling out some kind of form, as he was clearly doing. A few words from the gentleman quickly told me what I was now dealing with.
Jeff, clearly a (thankfully) good-humored manic-depressive (bi-polar or borderline), was intentionally locked out of the ER, probably after causing some kind of ruckus. Staring at the assembled security staff staring back at me it was clear that they had no further interest in dealing with the disruptive Jeff, impatiently waiting for me to take their trouble away. Any further evidence to this was demonstrated by the hovering arrival of two officers anxious to dispose of yet another annoying disturbance, their arrival hastening my efforts to get Jeff into the cab.
Did I want to take him any where? No, of course not but I also saw that he was about to be tossed about and handcuffed, but being the misguided humanitarian I unfortunately am I decided to take on this walking question mark regardless of the ultimate consequences. I understood that it would both be painful and confusing but again, what could I do when the decision was already made for me?
Very suddenly I was designated a human rubbish collector, emptying the hospital's human refuse bin. At the very least they could have given me a charge slip ensuring I would receive something however minimal for my pain and suffering. But no, Jeff was a "self-pay," which was no problem according to him since he had eight-thousand dollars sitting in his bank account. Jeff, while being totally out-of-his-mind, was completely accommodating, saying I was getting a one hundred dollar tip. That was a nice thought, Jeff, it really was but functional reality overtaking your gesture, which was too bad but there is nothing to be done when madness replaces normal cognition.You needed to be in their care, not mine.
Making a long tale into something manageable, I will condense into brevity and abbreviation, cutting short what, like my ride with Jeff, seemingly could have extended into eternity, because, more than anything else, Jeff desired uninterrupted attention focused solely upon himself. As I have found out over the years, mental illness, if nothing else, is a deranged selfishness sanctioning no other reality than its distorted version of what life is at that given moment. And being distorted, that version can and will change sometimes in a split second, completely negating what was being said a moment before. While certainly not condoning the decision to toss Jeff back to the streets, I can understand the frustration generated and acted upon. Usually these kinds of decisions hold little consequence, no one save the affected individual aware of an injustice afflicted upon the helpless. That evening the hospital made me an accidental witness to callous decision making.
After many attempts on various cards resulted in no money, it became self-evident that Jeff would soon be out of my cab other than for his two remaining twenty dollar bills that kept this saga going. Finally deciding he would pawn the valuable Gibson guitar he had along, we tried two Pawn shops but both were closed. Along the way, Jeff kept asking me what were some of my favorite bands and songs, singing to me Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers" and the Doors "People are Strange." Jeff was amazing and I really liked him but it became abundantly clear no resolution would be reached this particular night, providing me no other option than the one the hospital decided upon. Jeff would have to leave because everything he suggested, pawning the guitar or dropping him off at various addresses, never happened.
The final straw, when stopping at a Starbucks so he could "look something up," was his rushing at me, shouting, "you are not going to leave me!" which I did once he was inside the store. I had offered to give him back $10.00 so he could have some coffee but responding "No, no, I will burn it!"
Anyway, nice guy or not, Jeff was impossible for me to deal with, which is why he became yet again someone else's problem. I can only assume that the police were called, and maybe, just maybe he received the 72 hour involuntary commitment that was required. I might have said before that twice I have been hired as a MHP (Mental Health Professional), that is, someone who can make an official committal recommendation. Intervention was certainly required but not by Yellow cab. How can it be moral to abandon someone seeking assistance? The answer is more than obvious, and lack of necessary funds is no excuse. Jeff required professional intervention. He didn't get it. Until he does, the cycle will continue or until he unintentionally injures or kills someone. Then there will be intervention, and perhaps not until then. Nice story, isn't it? Again, yet again, welcome to taxi as I know and hate it, human stupidity beneath the shining top-light.
Hamster for President?
Two entertaining passengers described aspiring GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump as a "giant hamster wearing a toupee." While that isn't the most flattering description, far worst is the five year and running lawsuit against Trump and his "Trump University" get rich selling real-estate scheme. It is claimed that 7000 peopled were defrauded up to 40 million dollars by folks utilizing his fame and celebrity to sell useless seminars and information. Some of the claimants lost up to $34,000 dollars. In at least two of the cases, Trump has been charged under the RICO racketeering act. Mobster for president? God who knows!?
All of a sudden this past weekend my right foot had a sudden "fungus" attack, creating more discomfort than I have had in a long time. I mention it only to display the sometimes unknown misery associated with taxi driving. Years ago, back in 1984, when first noticing a problem, I went to my "Group Health" clinic and, instead of being taken seriously, I was given a tube of Desenex . As I can report, the "treatment" wasn't effective.
Note on Paris and Travel Security
The terrorist attacks of last Friday in Paris have me reflecting on my recent three pleasant days there. My last morning walking around the "Gare du Nord" were my favorite moments in Paris, watching that great city awaken, the cafes opening and everyone having their early coffee and pastry. It is unfortunate of course that madness overtook the city but when mythology overtakes functional reality, you appear to get this kind of situation. During those three days I did see many armed soldiers walking the streets but clearly that wasn't enough to prevent what happened from occurring.
One security lapse that did get my attention was in Krakow when I was boarding my flight to Paris. Twice I was not asked for my ID identifying me as the ticketed passenger. By neglecting that simple procedure with me and others, anyone could have boarded that flight. Hopefully Easyjet is now more thorough. It only makes sense given what has occurred.
A flurry of incoming news has inundated this taxi reporter so I am adding to yesterday's posting instead of creating an entirely new report. Just think if I was being paid for doing this? I then could be truly organized and up-to-date and accorded the respect given to a working journalist . What do I get now? Don't ask!
No, No,this can't be true: Cheap TNC permits vs Traditional for-hire licenses
Hopefully by next week I will have confirmation one way or the other but today I was told this astounding information. If you apply for your standard for-hire license (for taxis and flat-rates) you will pay $280.00. Apply for a TNC (Uber, Lyft) driving permit, which I am told allows you to drive TNC, taxi and flat-rate and you only pay a nominal sum. What that is I don't know but I will find out. Can this insanity be true? Stay tuned. What do you think? Could the City of Seattle and King County be this disorganized?
Have the WAT charges gone the way of the dodo?
Rumor has it that we in the local taxi industry no longer have to pay the WAT welfare payments forced upon us by the City and County. Is that wonderful news actually true? Again, stay tuned to this taxi channel.
Past Due TNC report
City/County TNC annual report was due end of October 2015. It is the middle of November and we are still waiting.
UW Post-game closure update
Pleased to report that the mystery surrounding the unexpected closure of the Husky Football stadium has been solved by the office of City Council-member Tim Burgress. Nate, his legislative aide emailed to tell me that they had contacted UW/SPD traffic and were told a stalled metro bus caused the change in post-game access. A plus to my question is that a discussion has begun about how to best address situations like this in the future. Part of the response also stated that if taxi drivers had said they were going in for a fare they would have been allowed access but from my experience that night I was never given the opportunity to talk to the frantic officers directing a traffic tsunami. If you have ever been down there after a game you know exactly what I mean.
That I am appreciative of their efforts should go without saying. Thank you Mister Burgress!
Debit Card Update
I have been able to access my money at my bank minus any charges. In reality it is an efficient system. I could apologize for my bad attitude but my long experience dealing with taxi in general has left me jaundiced which I suppose is appropriate for a YELLOW cab driver!
Still a taxi pulse
Tom, 478's day driver reported that on Monday he had 6 airport runs plus two 20 plus fares. Just a few minutes ago, night driver Raymond first fare on a Thursday afternoon was an airport run from the Queen Anne. And I can report that on Sunday my last fare was $89.00 including tip from the SPD East Precinct to Maple Valley. Then, not really working on Monday, driving over to the train station, my one and only fare took me to the Southcenter Doubletree and $50.00. Some business remains. That is obvious.