The definition of maelstrom is twofold at least, one being a violent or turbulent situation; or if upon the water, a whirlpool of the kind Jules Verne describes at the end of his novel, "Vingt Mille Lieues Sous Les Mers" (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). That taxi driving meets that first definition was exemplified Saturday night by a drunk mother and daughter team going home to West Seattle's Admiral District from a White Center tavern. The mother, in her mid-70's, was totally saturated while the dutiful daughter shifted from coherency to occasional mild incoherency. Initially the daughter was able to keep Mom under control but toward the rides' end Mom was actively tugging upon my right shoulder while repeating I was a member of ISIS.
How all this got started I can't tell you other than I appeared to not have taken their expected route (longer and more expensive) than the one chosen, taking them directly to their destination, 3303 California SW, turning right off SW Hanford onto California. Making this all the more surreal was simultaneously having dispatch (the Las Vegas Call Center) repeatedly calling me and asking about a very generic no-show occurring three or more hours previously.
Here is the chaotic scenario, the crazed mother assaulting me while screaming I am an Islamic terrorist and dispatch haranguing me with "what are you talking about?" I never did quite understand what dispatch was doing other than perhaps conducting some kind of daily no-show audit that is now somehow required. I am only guessing because taxi no-shows are as common as rain in Seattle so why dispatch would be sorting through hundreds of daily no-shows is beyond me. That they were checking up on me in the first place is insulting. Why was any of this necessary? Yes, I know some of our drivers are awful but making a blanket sweep just builds resentment, no one wanting or needing to be treated like some kind of "taxi child." As an effective approach to a real problem it just isn't.
After getting the the drunk pair safely out of the cab I called dispatch back, trying to make sense of what they were requesting. They had even sent me a message asking whether ______ ______ had been picked up. Who? What? And all this happening in the middle of my personal maelstrom. Call it oddly hilarious. Call it completely nuts. But also always call it taxi as I know it, insanity rolling upon four hopefully inflated tires. Ain't it all fun? Not really!
Quick Taxi News:
---Last week the US Chamber of Commerce's anti-union lawsuit against the City of Seattle was tossed out, the judge saying they had no standing and can not show how they have been harmed.
---Yellow Cab has reduced its monthly medallion lease rate to $425.00, that from an initial one thousand per month. Good for people like me but indicative of something bad afflicting Yellow.
----NPR local radio station KUOW reported last week of more Sea-Tac cabbie grumbling at a Port Commission meeting, operators voicing further unhappiness with the Eastside-for-Hire outbound service award. Clearly the Port never considered that they are asking current Yellow operators to enter a system that does not have a clearly established "taxi" dispatch, meaning their money-making options are further diminished. I believe the Sea-Tac cabbies are being requested to pay up to $10,000 dollars each to just stay where they are while accepting a less-than-positive business environment, including competing directly with Uber at the airport. Eastside has reportedly told the cabbies that they can take Uber calls to make up for the missing dispatch. Isn't that funny?