Always, and beyond anything else this weekly missive from the taxi underworld conveys and presents, it is the kind of taxi reality not generally apparent or obvious to the normal riding public. History as usually presented offers a general overview that leaves much of everyday detail unspoken and unwritten. Though cultural histories do exist displaying everyday existence, they are rare, most historians focusing upon central figures and events like kings and queens and plagues and earthquakes. What you don't see much of is how, for example, the average urban Italian family in 1348 dealt with dying sons and daughters during the Black Plague. You instead just encounter numeration counts of deaths, not the intimate details of pain and suffering. While numbers are helpful, they do not and never will describe a mother's tears.
Similarly, here in 21st Century USA, most people know taxi (in whatever limited form) from movie images of taxis plying New York Manhattan streets or film characters portraying the deranged cabby. Obviously one percent of the story is not the tale in whole. What and where is the remaining 99 percent of typical current taxi reality?
While not even close to the full percentage, even a possible 20 more or less percent discovered here in these pages provide real hints of what is actually occurring on a daily basis. I thought of this while again signing into 478's taxi computer early Saturday morning. The only way for you to understand is to tell you, communicating the "wear and tear" of a rough and tumble profession.
Every time I log on I expect something bad or stupid has happened, beginning yet another shift I truly have no interest in doing, fearing that some unknown complaint or issue has resulted with once again having to respond to utter and complete nonsense. I find vulnerability in parallel attached to everything I know about driving taxi, be it erroneous complaint or near death-causing collisions or simply the prosaic waiting two hours for an ever elusive fare. This kind of stress is killing, wounding me and every other cabby I know.
Recently I have had a telephone stalker who got my number from calling them during a pickup. Who wants yet another crazy situation when taxi is non-stop madness as it is? Yes, being a cabby means you are public property, somehow providing permission to the misguided to do whatever they want. I thought the person had gone away but maybe not, contact again I think was attempted yesterday. Talk about vulnerability.
Of course it is nuts, and of course, welcome to taxi as it really is. As I have said here and to many passengers, I am fortunate to be driving in fairly well-behaved Seattle. Working in a real city like New York or Chicago it would be daily "Octopusville," with both male and female customers requesting more than I am interested in providing. Too many people I find think life is some version of television programming, not understanding in my case I am real flesh and blood and not some image beamed into the cab's interior.
Fun stuff, huh? Not really, taxi brothers and sisters, not really, no, not at all. Release me from this mobile asylum. I can't take it no more, no more! And more than that, I simply neither want or need it. Crazy!
San Francisco Taxi
Recently I have been made aware of how organized the San Francisco taxi industry is. Watching two "you tube" videos outlining what is wrong about about "rideshare" companies (Uber, Lyft) tells me these folks have their act together. What particularly impressed me were the association managers taking clear and defiant positions regarding Uber and Lyft incursion into regulated markets, something tragically missing from Seattle's taxi associations. If only, is all I can say, Seattle's capitulation forever haunting us.
To that end, I am visiting San Francisco's taxi world May 10-13th. I am looking forward to it. Despite everything, I like taxi. At least I understand it, and that of course being a slight understatement.
Seattle Taxi Rebellion?
Yesterday, half-dead from working too late on Monday night, a fare from Seattle to Olympia sweetening the pot but lengthening the taxi day, I attended a driver meeting voicing various issues concerning Yellow dispatch. "No business" appears to have finally aroused the taxi proletariat. Glad to both see and hear and witness it. We'll see where it proceeds. As anyone familiar with taxi knows, it takes much to get the ordinary drivers attention. It has been "got" and thank goodness for that. About time is all I can and will say.