One could say, or might say that running any kind of business translates into something occupying more time than you wish though hopefully the payoffs out gaining deficits, resulting both in profit and peace of mind. Whether in my case that's true at this point I cannot tell you but if operating a business means no sleep and exhaustion then I can attest that is certainly true.
Specifically last Wednesday at about 7:15 AM I received a call from Tom, my day driver alerting me to there being something seriously wrong with the power steering, and that he was attempting to make it to the shop. Falling back to sleep I was again awakened at 11:00 AM with the bad news that an attempted repair didn't take and Tom was once again heading back to the shop. If there is anything a shift driver hates is car trouble, a kind of cancer eating into the day and any possible money making. I've experienced the pain myself more times than I wish to remember. In short, it is horrible, agonizing and every bad emotion in between.
Understanding that whatever was happening was more than Tom could or should handle, I leaped out of bed and into the shower, throwing on clothes and flying from Tacoma to Seattle knowing "there goes my day!" but since there were few good options I had no choice but to do whatever was necessary to get 478 back on the road. Upon my arrival the prognosis was now known: a high pressure power steering line was blown and without question had to be replaced. A simple issue but complicated by a scarcity of replacement parts, something that would drag the repair into the early evening.
Taking Tom back to his car, I drove up to White Center and visited not one but two auto supply shops, Shucks-O'Reilly and Auto Zone. O'Reilly's found that they had one and one only in the entire state of Washington sitting in their Puyallup warehouse and deliverable by 4:30 PM that same day. Telling me it was ordered but if I found the part elsewhere not to worry about it. So at least reassured the car would be repaired I still wanted it to be sooner than later if at all possible.
The Auto Zone employee had better news, that the needed part could be picked up at their Burien outlet just a few minutes south. Great, I said, and roared off to get the part. With a new line in hand I dropped it off with Taki at the shop and away I went to to take care of other put-off business, happy as a taxi clam that it had been so easy dealing with the problem.
Coming back nearly 2 hours later I discovered that Burien Auto Zone had given me the wrong line. Why didn't you call me, I asked, with Taki replying he wasn't able to find the telephone number I had left on his counter. Beyond frustrated I was again back at O'Reilly's where I was told no, the part hadn't arrived but was assured it would be there by 4:30 PM.
Now hungry I walked over to a local pizza shop, looked at my emails and 15 minutes later walked back to the store, chomping down piping hot slices. Five minutes later I now hopefully had the correct part and soon thereafter was back at the shop where Taki was inundated with anxious cabbies, who just like me, wanted their car to be repaired instantaneously. With failing light and cold coming on all I could do was wait, my fate preordained.
Finally around 6:00 PM everything was done and I was free to go and embrace an evening of cabbing which I didn't want to do. Along with a much needed oil change I was out $145.00 to Taki and another fifty dollars for the new line. All this also meant that my night driver had to call off, meaning I was out another sixty dollars.
Deciding to recoup some of my losses, and with Tom calling off due to a medical appointment, I stayed in Seattle and worked part of his day shift. Was it worth it? No, because I was tired and pissed that the two days I had planned were completely thrown away, poof! like black magic destroyed in a taxi instant, two days ruined due to a failed power steering hose. How wonderful it wasn't but there you have it, a very boring yet too typical taxi story---not exciting, not romantic, just mundane and tedious, tedious, tedious!
How Unusual---Fifty-four Simultaneously Happy Cabbies
Yesterday the City of Seattle held its orientation for all of us lucky taxi ducks who won a free City medallion through the most recent lottery. Usually more than three cabbies thrown together constitutes a moaning and groaning riot but not yesterday as a contented contingent of smiling cabbies gathered to receive Seattle's official largess. Telling us all we needed to know, with the most important date of having until March 31st, 2017 to put the cab on line, I have never seen a more patient or contented taxi crowd. My only wish was that more of my worthy brethren could have been included, knowing how nearly everyone desired a coveted license. Interestingly to me was that I was the only native-born and Caucasian driver in the room, everyone else immigrant drivers, starkly displaying the literal changing of the taxi guard that has taken place since I first started in 1987. They are a good and hearty and hardworking group of guys, building new futures for their families. I am happy for them. Good luck to all!
My new taxi number will be 1092. Years ago I used to drive YC 92. Am I making progress?
Auto Auction Info
Talking to some of my cabbie friends yesterday I promised some info concerning cars available by auction. Here it is.
James G. Murphy Company---Commercial & Industrial Auctioneers 425-486-1246
Register with them on-line. Good luck finding a cheap Crown Vic!
Editorial Postscript 12/15/2016
Thinking about it last night, I decided more elaboration was necessary concerning the demographic change amongst the taxi driver population, both here in Seattle and nationally. Consider the reason to be twofold, one of opportunity and lack of opportunity factoring in what is clearly an ongoing trend--immigrants from East Africa, Haiti, India deciding that taxi is a good personal choice both for them and their children's future. Call taxi then the opportunity and call the barriers put in front of professionals from so-called Third-World nations the lack of opportunity forcing them into a cab instead of where they truly belong.
As mentioned in previous postings, I have friends and colleagues who, trained as lawyers, agronomists, environmental scientists are instead driving taxi and not practicing their profession. Did you know that the average immigrant Seattle cabbie speaks at least three languages? While yes, it is true you can make upper-middle class money driving a cab, it still is a waste of valuable human resource having doctors and PHDs plying the the taxi byways. An applicable question will always be, "Who really wants to be a cabbie?" with the real answer, almost no one despite the inherent money and free time associated with the occupation. As my body told me once again this morning, it is a hard life.
Another reason there are so many Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali drivers in Seattle is due to European (and American and Soviet Bloc) interference in East Africa since at least 1930 and unfortunately continuing on to this date. Most don't know that Italy began what was the first modern saturation bombing campaign during its 1935 invasion of Ethiopia. The end result of nearly 90 years of international interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea has been a wave of immigrants fleeing never ending turmoil and starvation. When you begin to think everything is simple, please reconsider because real causes are usually not at all simple, instead complex with a long accompanying history. That is the reality, as it is, adding up to what we see today. There is a real reason why my friend Dawit speaks Russian. It is not accidental.