As many of you know, I began my taxi journey way back in the autumn of 1987, and if I had to use one word to describe what I have seen overall, it is "mess," as "in a mess" or "it's a complete mess," the kind of mess you would see splattered upon your kitchen floor if you tripped while taking the freshly baked lasagna from the oven to the dining room table. Splat! your nice shiny linoleum floor now covered with red sauce and creamy ricotta. "Oh my god!" your waiting family would exclaim, "What a mess you've made of our dinner! Which of course pretty sums up what I have witnessed from everyone involved all these too many years, creating an untenable mess and expecting someone else to clean it up.
Another way of portraying our shared dilemma, and how we got there, is I think best represented by Pieter Bruegel's great painting from the year 1568, "The Blind Leading the Blind." Based upon Biblical New Testament book passages from Luke 6:39-42 and Matthew 15:10-20, it is a very moving picture of six blind men stumbling over each other, the lead walker having fallen over a small wall. Not knowing it was part of the permanent collection in the Mueso Nazionale di Capodimonte in Naples, I too had stumbled upon it in November 2002, happy to have encountered such a terrific painting.
And that is essentially what I have witnessed since 1987--- a succession of City, County, Port, State officials and elected representatives bumping and colliding into all and anyone concerned with taxi and the various motorized passenger transportation companies in Seattle and the state of Washington. While Bruegel's painting is beautiful, what has been happening is anything but, a confused feral menagerie kicking and biting and shouting and screaming down the bureaucratic aisles. That anything has been gained and achieved in any direction is a major miracle. Functional? What could that mean? Functional in this context simply does not exist. Using my favorite term again, it is a mess!
Just how did this dysfunctional tradition begin? What are its roots? If it is carelessness, then why are the people entrusted with the public good irresponsible, not interested in carrying out assigned tasks? If that has occurred, which I believe I have seen in action, for instance the blotched creation of the Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory Commission, it appears to be a matter of having little to no respect for the individuals served.
But for the most part, what I see is, not carelessness as the primary cause but instead, more precisely, a complete lack of real and cognitive comprehension regarding what they are doing, and why they are supposed to be doing it. As many who have read my blog over the past five years, examples of incompetence from both the regulators and the business operators is seemingly endless, the mistakes an unabated river flowing and flooding over commonsense. Originally my intention with this essay was to list yet another series of stupid and destructive issues and decisions plaguing us, but really, what is the point, with one crisis being replaced by yet another blunder.
Again, most importantly, why can't the parties involved see that they have failed to functionally operate in their appointed sphere of operation? Do they have invisible blind folds preventing them from moving forward, bias, not reason dictating and controlling their internal decision making processes? Whatever it is, the cat or dog (or whatever animal you choose) is biting its own tail and going round and round and round the governmental and taxi (or flat-rate & TNC) tree. What has been passing as functional and operational is obviously not working. How can we make the people involved think and see?
If I had Darwin's ghost standing next to me, I would ask him why is it taking so long for the human animal to understand what is directly in front of its nose? I am afraid he would respond that it is all a matter of evolution, that we simply must wait for this animal to evolve, to develop more completely another part of the brain. Unfortunately, we who are alive now, in real time, don't have the luxury to watch the decades and centuries slowly past. By that juncture we will have all reached our natural ends. While death is a kind of final summation, it is not the required answer. We need a better response, and quickly, before our expiration is untimely and unnecessary, beyond and past all resolutions; true comprehension required now, and forever.
Adios from San Miguel de Allende
Sad to say that in less than 48 hours I will be leaving what has been a pleasant stay. Yesterday the temperature was nearly 80 degrees F., and today's early morning heat suggests that it will be even hotter. Again, especially for those unfamiliar with Mexico, or are just inexperienced travelers, San Miguel and area is an excellent place to begin. Sunday we embarked on a two bus journey to view the "pena de Bernal (rock of Bernal)" located in the small town of San Sebastain Bernal. The monolith, 65 million years old and 1, 421 feet high, is the largest freestanding rock in the world. This natural tower is just one of many good reasons to come here.
Another reason of course are the area thermal springs. Each morning we board a local bus (fare about 75 cents) and travel early to the La Gruta spa, a very non-pretentious hot springs where paying a mere $7.00 (120 pesos) at today's exchange rates allows one to soak the entire day (7:00 AM-5:00 PM). Check out the cave or grotto and splash around in the misty pool. I guarantee you will love it!
After the baths, take the about one kilometer walk to the village of Atotonilco and visit the most amazing Sanctuary (church) of Atotoncilco. The interior wall and ceiling paintings are unmatched anywhere. Art lovers will be pleased. And now, since you are hungry, eat some delicious tacos made with freshly made tortillas from the local stalls. They will cost you between 10-15 pesos. Viva Mexico!
Again, adios, amigos!