Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Everything That Isn't Fun About Taxi: Nearly Mashed By A Dump Truck!

Making sense of taxi is like making sense of the human experience: it doesn't always add up to something reasonable; or if it is considered reasonable, that very assessment must be suspect simply by who is making it.  One amazing example of that was taking someone from Dexter Avenue North just west of Lake Union and all the way to Bellevue and back again just to pick up a take out order.  

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked, and yes, he did was the answer.  Forty-five minutes and $89.00 later I had him back at his hotel with his Indian food order.  I could comment further but I will leave it at that, his culinary excursion my biggest fare of the greater taxi weekend.  I will say that, business-wise, this is the slowest summer I have ever seen.  More people and cars that ever before but it hasn't translated into more money into taxi pockets.  Whatever the cause, it is nothing good, that's for sure.

And what happened early Saturday night is past explanation other than pure recklessness because if I hadn't been in the far right corner of SW Thistle Street and 8th Avenue SW, the roaring dump truck would have slid up 1092's hood, killing me instantly.  While the situation was simple, the truck driver's actions were anything but, flying up the middle of a residential street and cresting the hill at 30-40 mph, making it nearly impossible to avoid a collision.  That I did attests to my having driven cars since I was 12 and plain, old dumb luck.  

As I said in my last posting, I don't want to do this anymore.  This very real question must be posed. Will I get out of this insane business before I am killed?  Stay tuned and hopefully I can respond in the affirmative.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Analysis Of A "Close Call"

Near accidents are a cabbie's everyday, and seemingly, our moment to moment reality, the cabbie exposed to death and destruction and catastrophe each time the car key is turned, the engine roaring to life reminding once again it is time to go and repeat ad nauseam what you did yesterday and the day before.   Who wants to do this?  I don't want to do this any more.

Even when you are not moving, it is dangerous, a fact exemplified by the death August 8th of a NYC cabbie, Mehari Bokrezion, who stopped upon a stand to rest and died from a heart attack, only to be found 18 hours later by his distraught wife.  His death reminded me that recently I found the business card of the late Bob Miller, a longtime Seattle cabbie who stopped his cab at a grocery store, getting out to sit on a bench, and dying there.  

Accident statistics for the United States tells us that a car accident occurs every 7-10 seconds, and every 14 seconds an injury occurs.  Every 12 minutes someone in America dies in a car accident.  If you don't believe this, last night I was driving on a darkened part of south-bound Aurora Avenue North, and suddenly, to my horror there was a homeless man running across six lanes and directly in front of 1092.  Slamming my brakes and jerking to the right I avoided the fool by inches as he dove out of the way.  Recently there was a Seattle Times article about how a large percentage of Seattle jaywalking tickets are issued to blacks (African Americans), with this insane and very lucky fellow falling into that demographic. Something the article didn't mention is that the majority of Seattle jaywalkers are homeless blacks daring you to hit them, a kind of very misguided protest.  

But what I want to analyze instead was a different close call occurring during a run to the airport Sunday morning, the kind of secret and unknown history no one ever knows about unless, as in this case, it is pointed out and examined.  In basic terms, it was something completely commonplace, my attempting to change lanes to the left, only to avoid a near collision with someone in that same lane.

What happened?  What did I do wrong?  I did glance to my left and only saw a white car a few car lengths back, and not the red SUV I almost hit.  Did I not turn my head sharply enough to get a complete view, somehow missing a vehicle in my "blind spot?"  Or did the driver not notice my turn signal and the big, bright Yellow cab inching to the left, entering the lane the moment I turned my head forward?   I will never know but I do know that more and more drivers appear to have no idea that "blind spots"exist, that location on the roadway just behind the driver concealing a car's close proximity.   This particular driver, aged in his early 70s, surely must have known about blind spots but perhaps not.  What he did know was how to overreact, honking his horn and in general acting maniacal and the complete fool

What it did do to me is have me once again examine my own driving, telling myself that regardless of anything, I am the one that must be in control.  Perhaps that reexamination saved the life of that deranged jaywalker.  Sure he was a complete idiot but that wouldn't helped the situation if he had been struck.  

All I can say is, 'let me out of here, please!"

Postscript August 16th, 2017

At least for me, one very interesting and surprising fact came out from all the news concerning the White Supremacist demonstrations in Charlotteville, Virgina, and it didn't personally involve the current president.  It turns out that one of the Alt-Right leading organizers, Nathan Damigo, spent four years in a California prison for robbing at gunpoint a San Diego, California cabbie named Changiz Ezzatyar.  Being a former Marine, and having served 2 times in Iraq, his defense held the claim that he is ill with PTSD, thus altering his normal behavior.  Just recently, during a Alt-Right protest in Berkeley, CA, he was seen hitting an unarmed woman in the face.  What will this guy do next is the question at hand.  As Trump said yesterday, these White Supremacists are good people. They are?  Is that really true?








Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Maybe Not Understanding At First Glance But A Real Taxi Poem

How can a poem concerning Haworth, England, Yorkshire be about driving taxi in Seattle?  The answer is simple because if I hadn't been driving a cab, hadn't been depressed and in a general "quite-out-of-it" state of mind, not for a moment would I have  found myself walking in Haworth with the woman I reference in the poem.  The poem is also inspired by something cabbies are always doing: reading the newspaper while waiting for the next call, two Sundays ago a travel article in the SeattleTimes featured Haworth and the Bronte sisters, taking me back to England and July 2001.

Many things from that era remain memorable and true, including the sad fact that if she hadn't been completely nuts I would now have a teenage daughter or son to be complaining about.  And as implied, if I too hadn't been nuts I wouldn't have allowed myself to be pursued by a waitress working at  a 24 hour restaurant where "steak and eggs, rye toast" was my usual order, eating out late and avoiding inappropriate relationships of various kinds inherent to the known taxi experience. Such is taxi as I knew it then and know it now, not much changing other than Uber continues to bedevil us, making taxi harder than I want it to be.

                     
                                                                  Haworth


                       What was I doing?  I didn't know what I was doing
                       but there I was, walking down the street with you in
                       Haworth.

                       Nothing you now did or say was surprising because
                       you stopped making sense from our very beginning
                       but that not dissuading me from avoiding the obvious,
                       not acknowledging what was evidently clear:
                       just how troubled you were.

                       Now over a year later walking down lovely Yorkshire
                       lanes you tell me once you were one of the Bronte sisters,
                       which one I can't remember but whether it was Charlotte,
                       Emily or Anne truly not mattering
                   
                      given the woman walking beside me has completely
                      failed knowing herself, and not so surprisingly,
                      not recognizing the man walking next to her,

                      someone suddenly a stranger and totally unknown,
                      puzzling her to just why he was holding her hand?  


             
                   

                   

                             

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Are You A Cop? Will You Tell Me If You Are A Cop?

Taxi driving is, and always will be about meeting people, people of course our industry, the transporting of people from a given point A to B.  Along with the actual physical body is the accompanying personality: who the individual is and all related behavior.  I often tell passengers that I meet everyone, meaning every kind of person possible in every possible state of mind and life circumstance upon our planet's surface steps into my cab; and sometimes I wish they hadn't, the experience just plainly more painful than I want to endure.

As I often say to myself, taxi is bad enough without this occurring, encountering a difficult or unpleasant person, exemplified this past Sunday by a young man in his late 20s coming from the West Seattle Trader's Joe's.  Not only did I have major problems just attempting to stop at the poorly designed parking but one glance at my customer told me everything I didn't want to know, obvious trouble was coming my way.

It was quite evident Trader Joe staff were glad to see this guy go.  Why?  Because he was clearly upset and disturbed in a manner not easily if ever resolved.  He was distressed and the source in part appeared to be a deformed and shrunken right arm, offsetting what was in every other way a normal body, the man not unlike a tilted pinball machine refusing to properly function.  I instinctively knew that he was unfortunately past immediate recall.  In other words this "goose was cooked" and there was no going back to the kitchen, this particular entree brunt to the proverbial crisp.

I initially remained calm as he kept abruptly changing our destination and route, wanting to go where no human, and especially no cabbie could ever take him.  And topping it all off, he kept asking if I was a cop. Having been through this kind of scenario before I just didn't respond, knowing crazy is crazy and there was no changing it.

Upon his persistence I finally joked that it "all depended on what his crime was" before I could determine whether he should be arrested.  That remark essentially had no impact other than to temporarily confuse him, quickly returning to having us turn this way and that in greater West Seattle. Finally, having had enough, seeing no end to it, I hit the brakes at Southwest Myrtle and 39th Southwest, saying "I have had enough.  It's over!"

Thankfully, understanding what I was saying, he peacefully paid and went on his way to where I have no idea.  He was impossible.  The situation was impossible and there was nothing I could do for the guy.  As I again sometimes remark, "I am not a social worker" and more and more I am glad that I'm not, letting someone else try to save this and any other distraught soul.  Besides I am too tired, having other priorities like closing my eyes and forgetting all about it, sleepy avoidance sometimes the best solution to the intractable.

August 1, 2017 Primary Results:  No Bob Hasegawa

Early election returns from yesterday's primary appear to indicate that my favorite mayoral candidate will not make to to the November runoff.  Just as I thought, Jenny Durkan and her $400,000 electoral war chest has surged ahead, with Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver in second and third place respectively.  As of this afternoon, 250,000 King County remained to be counted, I don't see Hasegawa improving much upon his 8.6 percentage of the vote.  Too bad but why have the son of  interned parents when instead you can have a former US Attorney who will adjust the mechanisms of local government ever so slightly?  Change?  What the hell is that?

Who will be Seattle's next mayor?  Durkan of course, anointed in an election where a mere 34 % of the eligible voters filled out their mail-in ballots.  And by the way, during the campaign it was found that Oliver has missed many voting opportunities but I bet she voted yesterday, casting for herself.  I guess she just needed some incentive.  That's understandable, isn't it?









Wednesday, July 26, 2017

South Carver Street? And It Was 2:30 In The Morning, Tuesday, And Certainly Not In the Mood For Surprises

It still amazes me that even after nearly 30 years plying Seattle's streets I come across an address totally unfamiliar to me,  and in this unusual case, a call at the 6100 Thousand block of South Carver Street located just off of Rainier Avenue South in the greater Rainer Beach/Skyway neighborhood. Though new to me, I essentially guessed where it had to be, and I was correct, South Carver intersecting Waters Avenue South, a local major arterial intersecting with South 57th Street, S. 57th acting as a kind of formal entrance ramp to that part of southeastern Seattle.

While it is true I have driven by South Craver, I hadn't noticed it, meaning I had violated one of my own taxi commandants:  remember the first time the streets and avenues you pass, because you never know when you will need to know where it is.  That I almost knew means I had downloaded part of the info into my taxi brain depository, understanding how S. 57th and Waters S. correspond.

Perhaps even more astounding is that the young man standing at the corner bidding his girlfriend goodbye actually expected a cab to promptly show up at what, in Yellow Cab terms, is the middle of bloody nowhere.  And he even had the exact fare in hand, nine dollars taking him almost to the Renton and Seattle boundary on Renton Avenue South.

One reason this week I focused upon the taxi mundane is that I have been ignoring basic taxi for other issues.  For instance I could have instead written about the great NW writer, the late Raymond Carver whose poetry is far better than his much celebrated short stories. So here it is, in quick passing, hoping beyond hope that some reader out there will investigate Carver's writing and say, hey! that guy could write a line or two.

LGBTQ Commission 

I thought I had made my last comment upon outgoing Mayor Murray but a further request by a prominent Seattle Gay/Homosexual organization for him to resign got my attention due to its dishonesty, since anyone remotely aware of gay subculture are aware of its less savory sides.  That someone as prominent as the American writer Allen Ginsberg, a 1974 National Book Award Winner spent much of his latter career promoting sex with underage children, should tell anyone interested that what Murray is accused of is something that is not only condoned by large percentages of the Gay community but actively seen by some as a political and human rights issue.  Ginsberg not only associated himself with NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) but even appeared in its pro-sex-with-boys documentary: "Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys."  Distasteful yes but unfortunately a reality permeating male gay culture which in short, says, to me, that this LGBTQ statement is disingenuous.  What else could it be?  How can they truly be shocked?  I don't know how they can be.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Recommendation For Seattle Mayor: Why It Is Important For The Local Taxi Industry To Support A Knowledgable Candidate

On Monday I voted in the Seattle mayoral primary for Bob Hasegawa (www.bobhasegawa.com). Why, you might ask, did you vote for him when there are literally 20 other choices to pick from?  Three of his opponents have major newspaper endorsements, all three media outlets deciding there exists someone more capable and qualified than Hasegawa.  Is that actually true?

Jenny Durkan (www.jennyforseattle.com), former US Attorney for the Western District of the State of Washington, is the Seattle Time's choice, feeling the very professional Durkan is the correct combination of intelligence, experience and political connections to remedy what ails Seattle. And if there is safe choice, Durkan is certainly that, positioning herself as the "proverbial voice of political sanity," in the very real sense saying vote for me because I know, beyond anyone, how to change Seattle dirty diapers.  But I believe it is not certain that Seattle requires a political nanny, shaking her finger at the electorate, telling us it is time to drink your cup of warm milk and go directly to bed.

Nikkita Oliver (www.nikkitaoliverformayor.com), a lawyer and local civic activist, won the Seattle Weekly's backing for mayor.  In a very well written piece, the Weekly coherently describing the problems now facing Seattle, and as to just why they feel Oliver is best suited to take on the arduous task of running a city of now over 700,000 residents.  Oliver has also got the backing of defiant members of The Stranger's editorial staff, four of whom openly objecting to the newspaper's official choice, preferring the more alternative Oliver to the clearly upper-middle class, and more conventional Cary Moon.   

As said, The Stranger's first choice is local engineer and urban planner, Cary Moon (www.carymoonformayor.com), a fairly unknown candidate despite her efforts to block the construction of the waterfront tunnel that will be replacing the current Highway 99 Viaduct Bridge. For me the most interesting part of her candidacy is that she lists having no income, somehow implying she is independently wealthy.  I suppose that gives her considerable free time to think about Seattle's issues and problems but again, that might make her more theorist than someone "living and breathing" the city's thornier urban headaches, Moon another potential "nanny candidate," prepared to gently scold all us Seattle children.  


Somewhat humorous, or leastwise I find it amusing, is that whenever I search out articles concerning mayoral candidates I end up finding them flanked by a smiling Jenny Durkan wearing a custom-made Jenny Durkan sweatshirt.  I guess this is what $321,630 dollars in contributions gets you, meaning that the big political and big business money is being put upon one particular horse.

I understand it because Durkan is a political thoroughbred, having been appointed US Attorney by Obama and whose father twice ran for governor.  Whether she can come down from the mountaintop and mingle with the peasants is an open question, something the current mayor, Ed Murray could never do, superiority and arrogance his adopted middle names.  But if you like smooth, Durkan should be your pick, a filtered cigarette of a candidate, worrying about nicotine and other adverse affects later.  How could Durkan be bad for Seattle's health? 

The one odd aspect of The Stranger's July 12th endorsement of Moon and and other candidates are the use of words like asshole and f_ _k and f_ _king in their article.  I have noticed a long time ago that these folks like seeing themselves as both hip and outsiders, giving the finger to all and everyone, which makes their choice of Moon both curious and funny.  This is also the local paper featuring sex ads for you and me and _____ too!  I do recommend that you check out the new secondary Oliver endorsement in the Stranger online edition, featuring a saucy and spunky Oliver photograph, provoking my biggest question concerning her.  Just how mature is this woman?   I do wonder.  

Getting back to Mister Hasegawa and why I voted for him, it comes down to his family background and what he has done both in his working and political life.  It is a very personal bias that I trust people more who have worked, and I mean having really physically worked for a living.

Hasagawa once drove UPS trucks and led their union to victory when UPS told them they were now suddenly expected to lift twice the weight as before.  One strong point for Jenny Durkan is that she once taught school and coached basketball in Alaska, something my father also did in northern Alberta, implying that she probably understands something about the human experience.

Hasegawa certainly does, simply due to his family being interned by the FDR administration during WW II.  Need  I remind everyone that President Roosevelt was considered a raging liberal, someone to this day disparaged by the majority of Republican  party members.  Just as the it was the good liberal Seattle Council members who voted to uncap Uber, so it is in our nation's history---money, fear and ignorant public opinion often prompting both so-called conservatives and liberals to make bad and erroneous decisions.  It was none other than President Bill Clinton who set the tone for the current welfare policies, where the needy are treated as if they societal bank robbers stealing from the public good.

I can report that Hasegawa responded back to me today to an email written a few days ago, telling me that in the State Senate he spoke against Uber sponsored bills and has been in contact with Teamsters 117 concerning related issues.  If for no other reason, this is why you should vote for him because it appears to be clear that voting for Hasegawa is a vote for your own future and the future of your family.  But let me say, that regardless of who you ultimately vote for, join the democratic process and cast your ballot.  From my personal experience, there is nothing more important than voting your conscience.

A New & Improved Mike McGinn (www.mcginnformayor.com)?

Like the label upon a box of breakfast cereal, McGinn, in a statement today, said that he too is new and improved, suddenly more humble and wiser since he is now older, which is an odd statement, somehow implying Seattle voters were unwise to elect the younger (and dumber?) version of himself.

Given the incredible Seattle traffic congestion his polices have caused, it is surprising he is again asking voters trust his judgment.  And let's say he is again elected mayor, and four years from now we are again subjected to a new rationale to why he failed the city, how then are we supposed to react to yet another "heartfelt" apology?  What worries me most about the now more edible McGinn is that, just as in the recent past, he will remain oblivious to voter indigestion, voting once again for McGinn a new kind of electoral cannibalism, with McGinn eating us!  What a scary thought.

A Final Comment Upon the Outgoing Mayor

With new more alleged details coming out this past week from the Seattle Times concerning Ed Murray, one current Seattle Council member and at least four mayoral candidates advised Murray to resign.  Other than accusations, there is no bonafide evidence that the did anything to anybody.  Yes, while the reports about long ago sexual impropriety are shocking, none of it is conclusive, and from what I can see, will never be proven.  Isn't the fact that his political career is shattered and his good name sullied not revenge enough for the political vultures picking at his exposed corpse?  It is truly distasteful and speaks to the political amateurism in Seattle posing as professionalism.  As I often comment: ya gotta be kiddin'!

What these bozos don't realize that disturbed, mentally ill and emotionally distressed people have a pronounced tendency to act crazy and deranged, and often cannot be trusted to be anything but that.  I discovered that upon my first professional psychiatric job way back in the autumn of 1974.  It isn't that the patients and clients I met back then were bad people.  No, that wasn't the case at all but the majority of folks I worked with were chronically mentally ill, with all that implies, their profound illness often controlling behavior and subsequent judgment.  So despite having no love for many of Murray's political decisions, especially the uncapping of Uber and Lyft, I still hold some sympathy, seeing him as some character out of Shirley Jackson's famous short story, "The Lottery" as he is ritually stoned to death.  Not nice.  Not nice at all.















Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Could I Do Any Worse?---The Seattle August Primary Season Is Approaching

As more than 20 mayoral candidates line up at the primary starting gate, only two will make it to the general election, meaning your vote in the upcoming primary election is essential because we are past the point where we need a true taxi advocate in the mayor's seat.  While outgoing Mayor Ed Murray has, overall, been a decent mayor, rating a C grade from me, he was a complete disaster in how he dismembered our local taxi industry and promoted TNC/Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft over our needs and interests.

That he, like so many municipal and county administrators, by simply not comprehending in any real way the menace posed by the monster Uber, miserably failed both the American taxi industry and similar taxi-like services and their  passengers and customers, thus creating a situation seeking uncertain resolution toward a problem not of our own making.  When considering your mayoral choice, please consider if that particular candidate will be at best neutral in their overall policy decisions, and not making things worse, as the past five Seattle mayors, Rice, Schell, Nickells, McGinn and Murray have, comprising a 27 year long span of at best mediocre, and at the worse, complete incompetence---the WTO and Pioneer Square Mardi Gras  riots and the giving away of an invaluable NBA franchise heading the sorriest examples of an abysmal list.

Public policy should not, and I repeat, should not be some conflated version of "pin-the-tail-upon-the donkey" because too often the administrators involved end up looking like the proverbial "horses' ass," with the voting public kicked squarely in the buttock.  While slapstick comedy worked quite well for the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy, public and governmental policy is neither a movie script nor comedic routine.  While trying to find a serious candidate who understands this obvious point will be difficult to locate, still, despite the low odds, we must continue attempting to both find that correct candidate and keep communicating our thoughts and political aspirations.

Already there are two mayoral front runners: former United States Attorney Jenny Durkan and former mayor Mike McGinn.  The big money is pouring in for Durkan,  ensuring she will reach the general election.  The second slot is more uncertain, with McGinn being penciled in due to his familiarity with the voters.

While McGinn is clearly a nice guy, he is the mayor whose bike-lane polices have clogged the already un-drivable streets, McGinn somehow not noticing that Seattle now has 200,000 more permanent residents, translating into at least a 40-50 percent increase in citywide car ownership. Where are we going to put all these cars when lanes have been eliminated and on-street parking greatly reduced?  

If interested in viewing his handiwork, trundle down to the east-bound Pike Street at First Avenue and see for yourself McGinn's failed version, how the heavy traffic is now funneled down one narrow lane.  Just as the pin-the tail game is played with a blindfold on,  that is good description of McGinn's governing style, closing his eyes and hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, for those of us who can see beyond our nose, remain appalled at the results, McGinn destroying reasonable traffic assess at one of the nation's most popular tourist destinations.

Again, if this were comedy, it would be funny.  But since it is governmental policy it is farcical. Something called the INRIX Parking Ranking announced today that Seattle is the fifth hardest city in the entire country to find a parking space, saying the average Seattle-lite spends 58 hours per year looking for available parking.  If you find that to your liking, then do vote for McGinn because he is the individual who eliminated miles of on-street parking.

And if you are curious, there are over 35,000 recognized American cities and towns, meaning a fifth overall ranking means you have truly screwed up, a kind of reversed efficiency.  I personally at  this point have no one to recommend but remember the name of Washington State Senator Bob Hasegawa because he might be the one candidate who is not sold out to special interests.

The reason I entitled this week's posting the way I did is because I know, beyond any doubt, that the majority of folks managing the City of Seattle, are clueless, and dangerously clueless at that.  This point was reinforced Monday when I took a passenger from the train station to the 2300 hundred block of1st Avenue.  Given the amazing congestion now clogging both directions north and south-bound on 1st, I chose to take north-bound (its one-way) 4th, turning left (or west-bound) to access that part of 1st Avenue.

Five years ago this would have been an easy task but no longer because those idiots in Seattle City government decided to transform the arterial Bell into a glorified park, restricting access and the ability to turn both left and right. Avoiding that mess and a myriad of potential  moving violations I picked Wall Street to turn west but even that wasn't the best choice due to the no-left turn sign posted at 1st and Wall.

Even what would be the final choice, Clay Street, doesn't work either since it now closed  west-bound due to construction at 3rd.  The only legal option left then is to go 6 blocks out of your way and turn left onto Broad Street off of 3rd Avenue.  I would wager any amount you suggest that NOT ONE INDIVIDUAL in the entire Seattle City government knows they have created this kind of complication for what used to be a very simple matter.

The best thing about this particular fare is that the old soldier told me that the US Army in 1955 were taking him somewhere downtown Seattle when he saw a red convertible being chased by a motorcycle cop who suddenly flipped into the air after colliding with a seat cushion tossed out of the car.  Now that was when Seattle was a real rough and tough city, and not the wimpish suburban center is has now become.  Could you imagine anyone in Seattle now disobeying the good officer?  No, neither can I.

And do I want to be mayor of Seattle?  No, but if I were you can bet I might understand just a little bit better the real down-to-earth issues facing the Emerald City.   Instead I would rather run for Congress in Toledo, Ohio, representing the honesty of a rough and tumble, Rust-Belt City.  Both of my grandfathers worked in the local factories there, supporting as well as they could their large families.

Back then life was more black and white sans the grayer areas now known as excuse and obfuscation. In the other words, my grandparents lived in the good old (and bad) days when corruption was shoved in your face minus pretense.  Back then, you knew exactly what they were thinking and doing to you, which is quite unlike today when simultaneously government says "I love you" while cutting your throat with high property taxes and of course, no parking spaces for the car whose licensing just cost you a King's random.  Just be glad you will have access to better public transportation in 2022!  Isn't that great!

Postscript Wed July 13th, 2017

Today's Seattle Times On-line edition has a very helpful guide to all 21 mayoral candidates.  I encourage everyone to check it out.










Thursday, July 6, 2017

She Scared Me! & Other Small Horror Stories

What I find so successful about Edgar Allen Poe's stories and poems is how they often capture human personality as it truly is, Poe of course presenting our more confused, distorted and sinister sides---accurate psychological profiles years before Freud and the advent of modern psychiatry.   While debate continues about just what motivates human behavior, there is one, unavoidable truth:  as a fellow homo-sapien you are surely going to be affected by what another member of the species does, whether or not you want it to,  or like it,  because it is going to happen.  And of course taxi is all about human interaction, voluntary or not, you instantaneously receiving a concise introduction to who just entered your cab, the invitation reading: welcome (or not) to my world and all my assorted pluses and minuses and personality-based bugaboos.  The inspiration for this brief preamble was a police call in the Fremont ushering forward a very drunk woman concealing herself behind a car:

"Get me out of here," she exclaimed, "it is all too crazy!" And so I took her home to an address almost parallel to where I found her, an address on the other of the canal located on the northern face of Queen Anne Hill.  Taking three minutes to get her there, she announced that her husband would be paying the almost seven dollar fare.  "I know he won't be happy with me," she commented, "we are just two days away from our first wedding anniversary."

Understanding her state of intoxication I waited at the open door while she looked for the money, asking her husband, also sounding drunk and hidden from view, where his wallet was.  After taking a couple minutes she reappeared with a five-dollar bill prompting me to say, "That's fine, it's enough." which elicited a spreading of her arms into a wide U, signaling she was about to embrace me in a passionate "bear hug." Scaring the "hell-out-of-me" I swiftly avoided her octopus arms and escaped back to 1092, wanting no part of what she was offering.  And there was her husband, sitting a mere four feet away!  Heaven help us all is my best comment upon the subject.  And good luck too because they are going to need it but perhaps not as much as four-year old Andrew who is clearly involved in a living hell not of his making.

Andrew

My newest book, the nearly completed "To Age 13," is all about a child, me, who is repeatedly victimized by less-than-aware parents, which is why Andrew's situation for me is all the more poignant, understanding too well his personal dilemma.  His father seems okay but his mother is entirely another story.  I will never forget Andrew's anguished face.  It is not funny.

I picked up Andrew and his father at the train station, both of them having just come up from Portland, Oregon, their destination an address in the Magnolia neighborhood.  The two of them kept up a rousing dialog, Andrew clearly a bright and aware child.  All seemed normal until the father told me we were heading for Andrew's mother's apartment building, where he had left his car.  Suddenly comprehending the situation, we actually passed the mother walking with her new boyfriend.

Stopping, it turned out that Andrew would remain with his father for the afternoon while the mother wanted me to take her and the boyfriend over to a Ballard pot shop.  Witnessing various interactions between all concerned is when I saw poor Andrew's pained face.  I didn't want to see his intense suffering but I saw it and will never forget, his face a permanent photograph in gallery of my mind''s eye.  All I can hope is that Andrew's young wisdom is somehow transferred to his adult self.  Best wishes, my young friend!

More Uber

Post- 4th July fireworks the passengers at Queen Anne's Kerry Park wanted to go to either North Everett or 130th & Greenwood Ave North.  Most recently Uber riders, they were avoiding the Uber surge by taking a cab, the Uber surge rate to their Everett address being $188.00, greatly surpassing my estimate of $95-100 dollars.  My meter to their Greenwood condo was $26.00, which got me a nine dollar tip on top.  What was Uber asking for the same ride?  $66.00.

Postscript Thursday 5:30 PM---They didn't get me but got my money instead!


Today I stayed in Seattle so I could attend my moving violation court date where I was represented by Doug Silva.  Doug negotiated a deal where I pleaded guilty to to non-moving violation and in return receiving a reduced fine and nothing on my driving record.  Though it cost me, including Doug's fee, a total of $275.00, it would have cost me much more in increased insurance costs if I had been found guilty of not obeying a traffic devise.  I did enjoy my post-courtroom conversation with Doug, someone I have now known for nearly 20 years.  Thanks Doug!  And what a crazy world it is!









Friday, June 30, 2017

Back In Tacoma---Thoughts About Recent Uber Developments And Revisiting Old History: How The Seattle City Council Opened The Door To Uber & Lyft

Before I comment upon Uber and its recent changes, I think everyone reading this blog might be interested in knowing more about where I have just been traveling, especially if you like waterfalls and roaring creeks, you too motivated in wandering south-bound down I-5. The biggest factor impacting my recent trip was the intense heat wave affecting northern California in and around Mount Shasta.  The best way to express it is that  average daytime temperatures at Lassen Volcanic National Park were in the low 60s degrees F. before exploding to the high 90s F., twice reaching 99 F. All this meant that we required shade to cover us and water to dip in, which thankfully were both in large supply southeast of looming Mount Shasta, a peak even higher than Mount Rainer in elevation.  If you find the heat too troublesome, you will experience some profound relief once the sun goes down, with early morning temperatures dropping down to the low 40s F., a more that 50 degree differential between day and night. Bring a warm sleeping bag.

My can't miss recommendations for this general area are Burney Falls located in Burney Falls State Park; and the three water falls--Lower, Middle and Upper found upon the McCloud River.  There is a wonderful 15 mile river trail bordering the McCloud which has easy and quick access points to the three falls.  The actual walking distance between the falls is less than two miles.  Do it, like we did, early in the morning and enjoy the scenery and wild flowers while avoiding the later afternoon hordes.

One tip for visiting Burney Falls, and thus avoiding the $8.00 day use fee, is to visit at early dawn and have these amazing falls both all to yourself and for free.  Some excellent camping choices are Butte Creek and Trout Creek camp grounds, both minus fees while providing large and fairly private sites.  At Butte Creek, located just east of the Lassen boundary, we had personal access to the creek, finding a good sitting place where we cooled off in the rushing water.  Due to the record snow falls, all the rivers and creeks and steams are bloated to near capacity.

If you have some spare time the next couple of weeks, it would a good time to visit this part of California for yourself.  You will be happy you did.  And if you do pass through Mount Shasta City, be sure to visit the Sacramento River Headwaters City Park located just about a mile north of the small downtown.  Bring a water jug and fill up at the spring.  The water is both plentiful and free.   Another interesting local phenomenon are groups of post, post, post 60s young hippies gathering in the park attempting to revive memories of mid-1960s summer days of love and marijuana and singing Dylan and Cohen to the heated air.  And HG Wells thought there was only one kind of time machine!

Current Uber & Revisiting City Council Decisions

While many will celebrate the ouster of Travis Kalanick as Uber's day-to-day manager, I advise that you don't cheer too loud because, as I said in last week's posting, you are only going to see a more streamlined and efficient company.  And if you think Kalanick influence will suddenly evaporate, think again as he owns millions? of Uber shares so in reality, he really hasn't gone anywhere other than one step to the right, or to the left if you prefer.   Will Uber suddenly become a more moral and kinder and caring company, more responsive to it's independent operators needs and wants?

It is highly doubtful, and if you need proof, I advise you read the Quartz Media online article, "Locked In---Inside Uber's Unsettling Alliance With Some of New York's Shadiest Car Dealers," a true exposure of how much Uber care about their operators.  In brief, you will find how Uber, in partnership with some very questionable car dealers, are preying upon immigrant populations who don't completely understand what they are doing when signing their signature upon the dotted line. Many Uber operators in NYC find themselves committed to weekly paying $500.00 or more back to the dealers, something that can span three years and more.  I also referred in my last posting to Uber as the "New Plantation."  Read the Quart article and see how I wasn't exaggerating.  If anything, I was understating the situation and just how bad it is for many of the Uber operators worldwide. Check out stories about Uber drivers in Kenya, who after working all day, and after paying all their Uber obligations, end up earning five dollars.  No fun I would say.  No fun whatsoever!

And who do we have to thank locally for inviting Uber (and Lyft) into our transportation world? None other than the good LIBERALS sitting a few years ago upon the City of Seattle's City Council, voting 8-1 to lift off their 250 car Uber & Lyft operator cap and provide unlimited (and mostly unregulated)  access to Seattle's and King County's streets and potential transportation ride customers. And again I want everyone to remember that City Council member, Kshama Sawant, that great self-proclaimed guardian of worker's rights voted to open the Uber Pandora Box.  You might also remember that it was Ed Murray, the now out-going mayor, who initiated the process to convince the City Council to toss away its own much discussed TNC operator cap.  It remains a mystery why they did it, as it was done minus plausible explanation.

And what did Murray dangle before the local taxi industry to go along with him and cut their own throats?  The tradeoff of all those leased medallions becoming real property was the bait, something that should had happened decades before, and something that should have never been part of some "devil's bargain."  As we in the industry know, what was once worth $250,000 is now down in value to something like to $18.000.  What a great deal it wasn't for us, along with all our lost business to 14,000 plus Uber and Lyft operators.

Briefly continuing upon that topic, I want to say to the reader who wrote that I am not fighting for driver's interests, is that at one point I was set to become then GM Tommy Key's assistant, something that was blocked by Yellow's managerial board.  Why wasn't I hired?   Because, in my presentation, I told them that we had to immediately file a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, clearly spelling out what I saw coming, which all unfortunately came to past.  That they made a huge mistake in going along with the City of Seattle's plans is shown in the their now very diminished company.  They were warned and they didn't listen.  It is that simple.  And of course, who paid the ultimate cost?  All the lease drivers and single owners.  What is new?  There is nothing new.

Mount Shasta City Taxi

Seeing a cab sitting in the shade, I walked up to the driver and inquired about the local business.  He said they have about a three-month long season, almost entirely dependent upon the flood of tourists pouring through.  How much are the insurance costs for this two cab company?  $300.00 per car per month.   I found that odd given that I pay $505.00 per month for me and two drivers on YC 1092 but that is the way it is, insurance companies pooling the nation's cabs into one pool, making this tiny cab company through the nose.  Oh well!  And by the way, their per mile rate is $2.50.
















Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Greetings From Mount Shasta City, CA---I Have Already Used My 4 Yellow Hours

Greeting from northern California.  I am on the second day of 12 days upon on the road.  Meeting 'she-who-can't-be-named"here, last night we slept near towering Mount Shasta, the reputed home of aliens residing within the bowels of the great mountain.  The weather is clear and hot and in a few minutes we will be off to view some water falls.  No, no men or woman from Mars, just a bunch of local space cadets.

Locally the big news is that it is now difficult at the Yellow garage to just get your flat tire changed and repaired.  Saturday a friend found this out when he took his Yellow Fleet cab in to get another tire and was told by the new mechanic that "sorry, there was nothing he could do!" given that he had already given Yellow that days' quota of hours.  After pleading with him, he relented but that not really helping, as there were no spare tires on hand, and only after a search through the wrecked cabs did they find one.  I'll let you make your own assessment of the situation but I am certainly happy that I am no longer dependent upon them for a cab.  And in terms of where I am going to have 1092 maintained, it is certainly not their garage.  

Nationally the news is all about Uber's management implosion and how they have been insensitive to nearly everyone and every situation confronting them.  I don't know how this is news, since from the very beginning all they have been telling every one is "F_ _ k you," telling entire countries to just "go to hell!"  The real news is if local American municipal governments finally started telling Uber to "screw off!" and begin repairing their relationships with the taxi companies. 

Do I think that is ever going to happen?   No, I don't.  And you might again ask, what do I think is truly going to happen?  That all those folks who have invested 70 billion dollars in Uber are going take over, making Uber ever more efficient.  

And what will happen to the American taxi industry.  I see them limping along for the next 20-30 years, providing service to the poorer sectors of American society and all those completely disgusted with Uber, an entity I have ingloriously dubbed "the New Plantation," meaning pre-1861 American Southern plantation.  The idle rumor is that all Uber operators all now have a reproduction of Jefferson Davis upon their dashboards.  Now that just can't be true, can it? 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

From The Very Start Of My Cabbie Experience, Beginning In 1987 ,Taxi Has Always Been, And Remains, Like This

I know I have made comments similar to this in the past, but given that I appear to have stirred up a minor taxi "hornet's nest," by my revelation that late night WAT van service is spotty at best, I feel a reminder is necessary.  Back in 1987, and now thirty long years later, the making of money minus true and real customer interests, was, and are, is what the taxi industry is all about.  Why Uber and Lyft made such immediate headway is the confounding (and amazing) fact that transporting passengers safely and efficiently from point A to B remains secondary to every other taxi industry priority.  All the majority of people I have met in the industry want is MONEY, meaning as much MONEY as they can get minus doing MUCH of anything for it.  This assessment also includes the majority of my taxi friends and buddies.  Maybe it is the current societal sentiment that each individual deserves everything minus real and honest effort, calling it the new Facebook reality that everyone warrants the instant silver spoon, you and me and everyone, like the English Queen, deserving and getting by upon an annual 25 million dollar stipend.

And the why of this, the explanation is simple as taxi pie: almost no one I have met either wants to drive a taxi or be involved in the industry.  All the taxi industry is for them is a means to make MONEY and little else.  Examining taxi through this prism you will find this to be true.  Often you hear that someone wants to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer but when can you remember someone saying that they want to solely be a cabbie minus any other profession?

Individually the reasons are many but the results are the same: the taxi industry is, at least by a 90 percent percentile, composed of people who don't want to be there, and in many cases, desperate to get out.  All of this adds up to what I have been observing: a lack of taxi wheelchair van services during late night and very early morning service hours.  When you really don't care, you don't care and that is the reality despite the monetary assistance provided to local taxi WAT providers by the City of Seattle and King County.   While some might call me harsh, I say, like playing a game of basketball HORSE, prove it by making the basket, from this point forward, minus all excuse, ensuring that when someone at 3:00 AM needs at WAT van ride to Harborview Hospital, they get one.  Don't carp, don't complain, don't point your finger at me.  Just prove it, making it happen in the middle of the night.

Last week I paid $528.29 to renew 1092's annual taxi medallion, $500.00 of which going directly to City and County coffers.  The remaining $28.29 went directly into the van operators pockets in recognition of their valuable service provided to our overall community.  And truly I personally don't mind supplementing them when they are doing what they are supposed to do but when they impact folks like the Canadian couple I met at King Street station, needing an unavailable van at 11:00 PM, then I become resentful when it is clear that WAT drivers are not keeping their commitment to the handicapped and disabled community.

As I just said, too many members of the taxi driver and owner community want it ALL minus doing anything for it, providing "lip service" and not much else.  It is true concerning what I just said: the majority of guys DO NOT want to drive a cab, only doing it minus other well-paying options. Throughput the the greater Seattle and Tacoma metro areas, you find scores of East Africans and East Indians working at gas stations and 7/11 stores, arduous positions paying very little but requesting a lot.  It is a bad situation.

Taxi instead pays much more, and for those in the know, proving an upper-middle class income of over $100.000.  Since that if true, I personally expect all cabbies of all stripes to do what is asked, what is required: pick up that waiting customer day and night regardless whether they are walking or occupying a wheelchair.  It is part and parcel of the taxi agreement we all signed up for.

So my final word is just shut up and do it! and be damn well happy you are making the good money you are.  Personally, this moment finds me exhausted because I just worked my "butt off" the past three days but I made some "good money, honey!" so I won't complain, taxi being just what it is and nothing else: HARD WORK!

Editorial Note & Correction From Last Week

In last week's post I reported that the current PSD general manager also heads the Seattle WAT van group.  I misspoke.  He hasn't had held that position for at least the last three years.

Postscript Wednesday 06/14/2017

This morning I talked with a taxi buddy who is also a WAT owner, someone I count on as a true and reliable friend in the industry.  While acknowledging that at times there isn't enough late night and early morning van coverage, he said the issue has its beginnings with Yellow's departure from providing Sea-Tac taxi services, those services now provided by Eastside for Hire and its cab affiliate, E-Cab.

The old arrangement was thus, with the Yellow WAT operators qualified to work Sea-Tac, it allowed for a far more functional 24/7 operation, meaning there was enough work available to adequately sustain the WAT night-shift drivers.  With Yellow's loss of the Sea-Tac provider contract, it translated into fewer available fares and into fewer drivers willing to work the later hours.  So while everyone acknowledges that later hour coverage could be better, they are having difficulty coming up with a permanent and viable solution.

My friend went on to say that WAT van operations are expensive, saying that he wouldn't be able to operate without City and County supplemental funds.  Recently someone driving for him crashed the van, meaning he immediately had to come up with a replacement, a van often costing between $20-25 thousand dollars. I remember him flying clear across the country to pick up his new van.  In the taxi business, if you are not working, you simply have no income.  It is that basic, and stark.

So yes, why it is true coverage could be better, WAT operators are seeking resolution.  From my personal experience, taxi can be a very lonely world, with all the accompanying burdens falling directly upon your poor head.  As I have repeatedly said, no one (in their right mind) would call taxi fun.  It isn't unless pain and suffering are provided new definitions.










Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Yes, Yes---Crazy Crazy Taxi And Its Nutso World Presented Just For Your Reading Displeasure

I am getting the hint that some of my long term taxi industry readers are more interested in the sometimes "down and dirty" details of good, old insane taxi, and not at all interested in wayward Eskimos or Rosa Parks' ghost hitching a ride down her namesake street.  Given that, at least for this week, I will focus on industry interests and occurrences. I am sure many of you can relate that I might have tired of repeating, ad nauseam, items and issues that never resolve but fester into the infection that is known as taxi.  "Why embrace illness?" is my general feeling upon the subject, more interested in recovery than remaining a steady bedside attendant.

Back in the years 1982-1984 I did many "suicide watch" shifts at local psychiatric units.  All this taxi stuff  seems all to similar, remaining alert less dumbbell taxi again does something both stupid and fatal.  A good/bad example was finding out last night that Seattle Yellow taxi DOES NOT have 24/7 wheelchair van coverage for those who might require it.  The situation was twofold last night and early this morning when two requests for WAT vans were left unfilled. The first situation was by far the worse, as a couple was stranded at the train station at 11:00 PM waiting for the nonexistent van. Calling Farwest and Orange was no better, Farwest too having no vans available and Orange Taxi simply not answering their telephone.  This is "big city" taxi at it's best?  Give me a god damn break!

The wife was in a motorized scooter, and these were the final results, given there was no van and no real alternative to what turned out to be a bad solution.  I took the wife and their luggage to the Hotel Five at 5th & Blanchard while the husband maneuvered the scooter down Seattle's unknown streets to the hotel.

Another Yellow cabbie, a real nice guy from South Sudan, walked along side the guy for a couple blocks while providing precise instructions. It was the Williams' 50th Wedding Anniversary but unfortunately receiving a not-so-nice present from Seattle's combined taxi industry.  Making it even more egregious for them was that their travel agency had booked then into the "Pineapple Hotel."  That there no such named hotel, except perhaps in Hawaii, was obvious.  They had no address and no telephone number.  It was the great South Sudanese cabbie who figured it out, calling Hotel Five to confirm their reservation.

The other WAT request was a 2:00 AM request in the Rainier Valley.  The reason I knew about it was due to dispatch error, dispatching a regular cab instead of the requested van.  Earlier, dispatch got me screamed at over the telephone by a panicked brother trying to get a cab for his endangered sister, dispatch providing me an address on the 7500 thousand block of 21st Avenue SW when all along she was at 24th Avenue SW.  Turns out dispatch was training a new employee and he was making multiple errors that were only known of course when somebody like me called to mention that, once again, "things weren't right."

And perhaps making this lack of WAT 24/7coverage even more dubious is that the current leader of the WAT group is none other than the current Puget Sound Dispatch general manager.  One defense could be is that all of us, both owners and drivers, are independent contractors, meaning we all decide our own hours, when we work or not.

While yes, that all being true being true, it just can't mean that WAT service is not there when someone needs it.  The solution I think is fairly simple, asking for WAT driver volunteers to cover those late potential service hours.  It reminds me when I was a lease driver and complaining about not having spare tires available 24/7. The response was, "you will never have 2 flat tires on one day." When it happened I was faulted for calling the tow truck.  Amazing, isn't it?

Other Funnies:

--- I was almost killed 2 weeks ago when a driver ran a red light at about 60 mph.

--- This past weekend my taxi computer broke off its mount/base and I drove for two days with it cradled in a web of rubber bands.

---  2nd weekend in a row I nearly created a riot, this last time due to a driver thinking I was taking his passengers at the train station.  What is true is the majority of the immigrant drivers remain so culturally befuddled that "misinterpretation" is commonplace.

--- Rookie Yellow cabbie loss $400.00 when the junkie in the backseat noticed that the idiot drivers had his wallet laying on the front seat.

--- Dispatch was looking for a Yellow driver who drove away from an accident near Sea-Tac.

--- In the realm of taxi comedy, a computer-generated message kept telling us in no-uncertain terms can we give someone a blank receipt.  Only problem is is that it is the only means we have of giving out our dispatch number 206-622-6500.  I guess some drivers were selling blank receipts which must mean ALL OF US are doing that.  Oh so much for the life of a petty criminal!

--- A taxi buddy apt rent went up $200.00 this month.  He doesn't know what to do.  The entire State of WA doesn't have rent controls laws due to state-mandated laws.  Nice, huh?

So everyone, are you now sated, having gotten a generous portion of taxi as it really is?  Yeah, who wants to write about this nonsense?  Not me I assure you!










Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Smile From Another World And Time

Meeting two Alaskan Eskimos Saturday this past afternoon brought me back to Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, the Cree Indian community where I lived  for two years beginning in August 1964. " Fort Chip," while still located on the North American continent, was a world quite separate and apart from Todd's Trailer Court, where we had been living, Todd's another kind of different and alienated world, situated just east of Aurora upon the eastern Colorado prairie, similarly socially isolated like Fort Chipewyan, proving once again, as if further evidence was required, that discrimination prospers everywhere in any and all environments.

Due north of Edmonton by approximately 350 miles, Fort Chipewyan is a historic fur trading post founded by Peter Pond at the southwesterly end of 170 mile long Lake Athabasca in far northern Alberta.  Why my father took us way up there to the northern tundra is one story.  And another of many other stories were the Woodland Cree themselves, relative innocents haphazardly floating upon an artificially created culture constructed (and operated)  jointly by the Canadian government and its religious surrogates, the Roman Catholic Church, two less than benign institutions slowly strangling the Cree minute by hour by day by year.

This is what I saw and lived peripherally, witnessing an ongoing anguish and abuse translating into the day to day lives of a people imprisoned by another, the local Cree forced to transform from what they were into something that was never intended: from an aboriginal people designed to live in the frozen wilderness that is their special home to instead, forcibly adopting a lifestyle imported from French and British Europe and brought to Canada.  But no, they were told, you must be someone and something else, and if you die, and if you go crazy, well, so you do---adapt  or perish, no other option made available.

Which brings me to Robby and MJ, two Yupik Eskimos I met late Saturday afternoon, two individuals adrift but currently assigned to a seafood processing ship introducing them, and for the very first time, to a state in the lower Forty-eight.  Robby came first, coming out of a Ballard bar needing to cash a check because the not-so-friendly folks at the Ballard Bank of America branch refused to serve him due to a firm 1:00 PM closing time.  Taking him to the Greenwood Money Tree, our next destination was to to pick up a passed-put MJ who was sleeping off a drunken bout somewhere behind the Ballard Fred Meyers store.  Due back at six, they were both facing a 16-hour shift off-hauling frozen hake.

Coming out of the Money Tree, Robby suddenly announced that he wanted to go to a strip club. Intervening I strongly suggested that instead we continue on to the sleeping MJ, which Robby quickly agreed was the best plan.  They were a couple, and I assume married, as I later saw a wedding ring on MJ's hand.  I have no comment upon Robby other than he too had been drinking.  I did request that he give up his bottle but refusing as we drove toward the Fred Meyers.

Finding MJ behind a large shipping container, we got her up and eventually in the cab.  One motivation for MJ's afternoon binge was the sudden news of a best friend dying in her sleep a mere five days previously, MJ's constant tears testament to her grief.

Taking them to Starbuck's around the corner, we all drank coffee and talked about what had been happening.  With both lacking sleep, neither were looking forward to their upcoming long shift. Beyond some trifle arguing, they were fairly amiable, and pleasant, both polite to me.

Upon understanding that the meter was still running, MJ pressed us to go, not pleased that it was nearing 60 dollars.  Dropping them off at the Pier 90/91 gate, MJ gave me a innocent smile 30,000 thousand years in the making, coming across from Siberia and the Bering Strait to the Norton Sound, and as I said, transporting me back to Fort Chipewyan and one person in particular, the sixteen year old Dorothy Cardinal singing the Herman Hermit's hit to me "Can you hear my heart beat?" and yes, all these years later, I can.









Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Does Holland America Cruise Lines Treat Its Foreign Passengers Like This? & The Philippine President's Avenging Angels?

One major positive of driving taxi is being immersed in life in a highly unusual way, suddenly aware and involved into matters normally outside your experience, scenarios you would have little to no idea about--- other people's lives as distant as our orbiting moon.  And what might be unique about my blog is its sometimes element of secret history, facts and personal details concerning the average person, quite often describing life as it truly is, and essentially unknown, for  you and me and everyone during this first part of the 21st American Century.  These next two examples, one about Holland America;  and the other concerning an international prayer group composed of older Filipino women holding their annual conference, is what I am talking about, encountering people and situations in a manner, as I have said, that is uniquely part of the taxi driving experience.

Holland America

Late Saturday afternoon I picked up a cruise ship passenger from Saint Lucia who had been kicked off the Holland America ship because he had failed to obtain a required Canadian Visa due to one scheduled Canadian port stop.  That he didn't know one was needed appears to fall solely upon the business shoulders of Holland America Cruise Lines.  The gentleman had done all his reservations online and never saw anywhere in print stating he must first obtain that very necessary Canadian Visa due to being a citizen of a country not having a corresponding formal "no-Visa needed" agreement with Canada.

One would logically think that Holland America would either have some kind of software coming into play when a foreign customer booked a cruise, fully knowing what would happen if the customer didn't have the required paperwork; or if not any kind of online pop-up, something clearly in writing warning people what they must have before boarding the ship.  The Saint Lucia resident said that he wasn't the only one that day told to leave the ship, he and a hand full of other foreign travelers, including a woman from China, being escorted off the boat to whatever fate beyond all care and concern.

If having their trip cancelled wasn't bad enough, even worse was the treatment received from Holland America  employees, being refused any refund along with having to pay for the cab ride back to the airport.  In the past, it was my experience that Holland America would provide a taxi voucher to the customer but evidently that is no longer the case, the blame and responsibility falling solely upon the aggrieved customer.  Mr. Saint Lucia said he had just lost the entire cost of the trip, a figure of over $2000.00.  That he was angry is clear.  And also insulted and confused that this could happen to him.

And what about the Chinese passenger, now stranded in an unknown city, minus hotel and airline reservations?  I truly don't understand how Holland America justifies this kind of treatment and response.   Do they not think that, unlike United Airlines, they will not be held accountable for treating their customers like numbers, and not like the living, breathing humans that they are? Despicable corporate behavior is my comment.  And totally unjustifiable.

Filipino Prayer Group El Shaddai

"God is more than enough!" she told me, the saying apparently a theme of her completely now international Roman Catholic Charismatic prayer group, "El Shaddai DWXI PPFI," founded by Manila (Makati City) radio station owner Mike Velarde.  Started in 1982 in the Philippines, this very orthodox Roman Catholic group has spread across the theological world to where it now has over 8 million members, giving credence to what I keep saying about people: you can convince them to become and believe anything and everything.  Even my late 1st cousin, Ed from Toledo, Ohio, a truly bright and modern individual, to his last breath believed that "Mary" was in his life, holding his spiritual hand.

My front seat passenger, along with her backseat friends, were all on their way to a Seattle waterfront hotel to attend what is a yearly gathering of her fellow "El Shaddai" members.  Now living in Maryland, she was part of the Washington DC chapter.  Originally from the Philippines, she, like so many other Filipinos, has travelled the world looking for work, having lived in the Mideast and elsewhere.  Currently she is taking care of an elderly woman in the DC-area.

What really struck me about her was her support for that murderer of his people, current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who at last count has acquiesced to the killing, minus trial, of nearly 4 thousand suspected drug users and drug dealers in his country.  On the scarf she gave me is an emblem of a dove.  Raiding slums and indiscriminately killing people appears to be contradictory to any peace loving dove but she justified it by saying these folks deserved what they were getting.  I asked her if poverty wasn't their true crime, and if Duterte, if he was truly interested in justice, would instead provide real financial assistance to the hugely impoverished Philippine population?  She thought that was a good idea.

The New 1092 Struck on 4th Avenue

Poor Gabriel, on my second full day, was hit by a tourist in a big Jeep near 4th & Virginia. Thankfully, other than black markings left by the Jeep's bumper, there was no damage.  I am letting it go, and not requesting any money from the driver.  Just glad it was very minor because otherwise it would just consume more time than I want to give it.  Did you know that an accident occurs every 7 seconds in the USA?

Taxi Cartoon

I have tried to find out but can't confirm whether the cartoonist Peter Kuper ever drove a cab but in his 2000 collection published by Eye Press, "Topsy Turvy," on page 72 he has a cartoon entitled "My Checker Past," which I can relate to, having driven Checkers my first 2 taxi years.

Divided into four boxes, the first shows the cabbie approaching  his 1978 Checker Cab, saying, "and let me tell you, she was one in 5000..."

The second box shows him driving the cab DT,  the caption in part saying, "We kept wild hours..."

The third box displays a female passenger and "Through I've picked up a lot of women over the years, she (the cab) has remained my constant companion..."

The last box shows the back of the cab while driving up a street, "There will never be another like her.  On July 26th, 1999, NYC's last Checker cab picked up it's final fare."

My first NYC cab ride was in a Checker Cab, Jan 1990, with "she-who-can't-be-named" taking a cab from JFK to her first home in Brooklyn.  The driver was a real cabbie.  I remember that!

Postscript Wed 05/24/2017

My friend Stacy emailed Peter Kuper, asking whether he had ever driven a cab.  Kuper responded back saying, no but he rode in a cabbie friend's Checker Taxi in 1982, thus inspiring the cab cartoon.
















Friday, May 19, 2017

Riding With Rosa Parks' Ghost & Putting On A Cab & Eating At The Rickshaw

Last week's trip to Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, while jammed into too tight of a time frame, will forever live with me, even if I never return but as I have said, I believe I will be moved to the Midwest, at least the majority of my physical belonging, by summer's end.   Describing Detroit is difficult simply because it is many worlds orbiting around an over three-century long history.  Detroit is vastly interesting and complex, a cultural mosaic that is as American as apple pie,  Thanksgiving Dinner and of course that All-American icon, the automobile---the Ford Motor Company and the City of Detroit forever connected.

A real estate agent kept asking "where did I want to start my search?'  Given I knew nothing about Detroit, other than idle rumor presenting itself as fact, I picked a street named after that famous fighter for civil rights, Rosa Parks Boulevard, and started driving into the possibly the greatest urban devastation on the planet.  That it was both startling and unforgettable goes without saying the obvious.  As I drove past miles upon miles of collapsed buildings and destroyed landscape I imagined a shocked Rosa Parks riding beside me.

"Well Rosa, what do you think about all this?"

"Joe, I think that despite all rhetoric to the contrary, the civil rights movement has failed to accomplish what we set out to do.  While you now can sit anywhere on the bus you want to, if the bus takes you home to what looks like a bombed German city during WW II, I don't see how much progress has been made since the 1950s."

"Rosa, are you saying that racism is at the heart of this amazing neglect of a major American city?"

"I sure enough am!  If Detroit had been majority white this would not have happened.  They let this city die because all the whites were in the suburbs.  What we see should only have been written in a science fiction novel, and not manifested before our eyes in the 21st Century."

And with that Rosa Parks vanished, and I was left alone in the rent-a-car to contemplate upon a modern American disaster.  How long will it take to rebuild, if ever, this crumbling, burned out shell of a city?  20 to 50 years is my guess but I doubt if Detroit as a whole will ever be rebuilt.  While the area near the art museum is rebounding, the rest of city appears to be clearly deteriorating minus any real effort to stop it.

I was told there are $350.000 condos in the DT center.  Again, it is clear that while the rich are only getting richer, the poor in Detroit have been assigned a living hell.  If you don't believe me, then you too fly to Detroit and drive those insane miles down Rosa Parks Blvd.  You too will see the huge abandoned cathedral, stained glass windows broken out, past splendor now open to wind and rain and snow.  Unbelievable.

My New Cab

I now have another car, a 2011 Crown Victoria, as my new 1092.   I was going to describe all the "headaches" involved in putting it on but given that I again running out of time, let it suffice to say that the mistakes of others resulted in me going nearly insane as usual. I will say that the City of Seattle was not the problem, and Jan, doing the final meter test, was as usual, friendly and cooperative.  And the car has been dubbed Gabriel, after the angel, by "She-who-can't-be-named." Yes, good, Gabriel, please protect us all, sheltering all who enter 1092 beneath your protective wings.

Rickshaw Chinese

Saturday night, finding myself late in the north-end, and not wanting to go all the way back DT to the Honey Court, I ate at that longtime Chinese establishment, the Rickshaw, joining all the usual patrons who were singing Karaoke.  The place is dark anyway,  given there are no windows, so there I sat, trying to read the NY Times while regaled by mostly bad American pop music sung by Rock & Roll hopefuls better left to the Rickshaw and other such dives.

Looking around, it was obvious I was surrounded by those I usually meet post-bar in the cab.  They all appeared to be having a good time.  Me, I was eating a too dense egg foo young and mediocre "deluxe" won ton soup.  I too enjoyed myself, immersed as I was in current American "let's drink until we drop" culture.  Be glad they take cabs instead of driving home themselves.  I know I am.












Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Greetings From Romulus, Michigan

What happens to the over tired cabbie?  In my case I sleep 14 hours after pushing it to make it out the door and to Sea-Tac Airport upon a too crowded Monday morning 5:30 AM.   Believe it when you read that the Seattle-area has some of the most crowded roadways in the world, let alone the good, old USA.  If I hadn't known that Military Road South runs parallel to I-5 I would have been completely screwed.  Amazingly to me I found stretches of Military Road completely absent of other drivers.  As I have discovered long ago, the majority of Seattle drivers are devoid of imagination, all obediently following each other in "apple-pie order."  Not a recommended mindset when having to really get somewhere and finding your normal route obstructed and slowed.

Regardless, I got to the airport in plenty of time.  And even better, since I appear to be a good Alaska Airline customer, I was once again granted a TSA Pre-check waiver, meaning I was allowed to speed through airport security minus any invasive scrutiny.

The supreme irony is that only in these situations, boarding an airline, do I ever find myself treated as someone less than suspect.  Time and time again, where ever I go, I am subjected to "profiling" due to my lack of recent haircuts, police and others thinking there must be something wrong with me, given my ongoing choice to not look like them.  At least Alaska and Delta Airlines know that I am an "alright customer," above and beyond suspicion.  But if they also know I am a bit of a shaggy taxi dog I can't tell you.

And what the heck am I doing in Romulus, Michigan, which is where the Detroit Airport is located? Other than breathing the Midwest air I am checking out both the Detroit and Toledo, Ohio areas for houses large enough to contain my 7000-plus books.  For those who might think I am just your average hoarder, I recently turned down a bookstore-owner friend's offer to take "all" of her stacked-up inventory of stored books not popular for quick and easy sell.  No, all my books are hand-picked, many of which have been read or are slated to be read if I live long enough to have the time to sit down and read, read and read some more.  Yes, yes and yes, I am a bore, all I want to do is read, so bar and lock that door, and please, don't knock as you will just make me sore!

Yes, it is damn true, million dollar houses in Seattle are going for $50,000 in Toledo.  Why?  Well, while the reasons are many, they certainly do outnumber the potential dollars in my pocket.  Toledo is of course where everyone in my greater Blondo/Rick clan was born, thousands, beginning around the year 1900, bred and born in the Hungarian neighborhood of Birmingham.

As for little, old taxi me, I sprouted in late 1953 in that once-small but now very suburban western Washington town of Puyallup.  At the time my father was finishing up his degree at what is now known as Puget Sound University, a school  located in nearby Tacoma.  But yes, I am looking at Toledo, where my mother and all my grandparents and uncles and aunts are buried, and where I might be living at least part of the time.

And I am also checking out Detroit because the property prices are even cheaper, and if you can believe it, have spawned an urban gardening and farming revival located directly within the city itself.  "She-who-can't-be-named" is also very interested, bugging me to visit some of those Detroit organic farms and gardens, which I plan to once I finish this posting.  While I still hope to own some large acreage or big parcels of rolling prairie eventually in some place like southeastern Montana, moving away from Seattle to someplace much more affordable would be a start.

I envision all this being completed by summer's end.  And what about my driving taxi in Seattle?  I see this as a step-by-step transition.  I will remain in Seattle only as long as I have to.  If circumstances allow me to stop driving a cab I will gladly give my recently won medallion back to the City of Seattle, more than happy to never drive a taxi again.  I for one do not want to sleep the remainder of my life away, forever recovering from the exhaustion that is cab driving.  At age 63, the "wear & tear" is too obvious, dragging me in total down, down, down until I too am buried six feet beneath the ground!

Feds interested in Uber's Greybull

Uber, those transportation pirates, might be in serious trouble due to using software, dubbed "Greybull," to avoid law enforcement detection both in Portland, Oregon and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   The US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation exploring what, if any, laws have been broken.

Recent reporting in the NY Times certainly infer that Uber could be in big trouble.  Only time will tell, but if nothing else this intervention by the Federal government should assist in tempering Uber's corporate behavior.

And to think so many have called the taxi industry lawless.  If we are, which sometimes seems true, we remain pathetic amateurs.  The best I can do to avoid detection is to turn off my top-light while speeding down I-5.  Does that truly help?  I seriously doubt it.

Local Bar Association

I received a letter stating that, since the Emerald City Law Group contacted me by letter, they did nothing wrong.  My question remains is how researching my private info for commercial purposes is legal and allowable?  And were the statements made in the letter sent by the law group true and verifiable?  I will be asking the bar to explore these and other issues.  As I have stated, I did not contact these folks and never wanted them to.  Just where and how they got this permission is something I am very interested in finding out about.

And one last thought.  Just as it has been found to be counter productive having the police investigate themselves, could this be a similar example of something better left to a more completely uninvolved agency?   While not implying anything out of the ordinary, the bar response certainly has me wondering just what in the legal world is going on?  Again, I didn't ask for any of this, having it thrust upon me by the Emerald City Law Group.  Instead of feeling protected, I feel victimized.  Not a good nor positive sensation I can assure you.














Thursday, May 4, 2017

"What In This Wide World" Happened To Mike?

Taxi, for better and often worse,  is an extremely intimate affair---two to five minute-long rides translating into quick and animated relationships, often special and memorable, arriving at the destination ending what could perhaps had proceeded for hours, if not years.  In other words, in a very brief span of time, you quickly get to know and become involved in the lives of complete strangers.

One recent example is Tina, a woman I keep transporting between the homeless camps and the Airlane Motel, and then once more back again to the bushes or whatever else she might be going, our ten minute rides a Birdseye view of Tina's ongoing struggle at maintaining any semblance of humanity dignity.  For me, while I may never see her again, I can't help caring about her and her situation, perhaps calling it human to human recognition of another individual and their plight to live and survive.

Mike, whom I saw again on a Tuesday afternoon as he staggered into the cab completely drunk, is another one of these folks generating my empathy and concern.  That he suddenly turned into a kind of monster was shocking to me, and why I decided to spotlight his story---a man who is now drowning after many years of remaining fairly safe and sane while standing upon more or less solid ground.

Picking Mike up at N. 85th & Greenwood, I was surprised that he wanted to go to the 3rd & Pine MacDonald's and not his room at the Seals Motel.  For at least the past year I have been transporting Mike from the Seals to various destinations and back again, getting to know him somewhat well, Mike a survivor of a serious industrial accident, having lost his entire left arm.  Our relationship over the months had, until two days ago, always been extremely cordial, Mike making a point of giving a good tip.  Again, it was a real surprise when suddenly Mike became somebody quite unlike the person I thought I knew.

Having fallen asleep, the trouble began once he awakened, making a few odd remarks but nothing unusual considering  how drunk he was.  I suppose it was a mistake on my part to not question him when Mike suddenly decided to change his destination to 3rd & James and the shelter where he was now staying.  Yes, some great upheaval has completely altered his life but just what I never had the time to find out.  And now Mike was instantly on the attack, angry that we were not at MacDonald's but DESC.

Asking him to consider that perhaps the alcohol was affecting his actions, I told him to "just give me $25." as I backtracked to 3rd & Pine.  Unfortunately my kindness and patience wasn't appreciated because Mike was now pretty much out-of-control, belligerent and surly, telling me to "wipe that stupid grin off my face."

Readjusting my parking place closer to MacDonald's, Mike paid me with a debit card while demanding a receipt.  Upon receiving the receipt he proceeded to examine it thoroughly, clearly and intentionally doing all he could to delay his exit, all his actions saying "f__k you!"; that I am going to do anything I want except perhaps getting out of your cab.

Understanding full well that this was complete madness, I said "Enough! Enough!" and swung around and opened his door, telling him that" I have had the patience of a saint" but now it was time to leave.  At the precise moment he started getting physical, three SPD cops showed up and escorted Mike out, asking if he would like to go to detox.  Having already accepted another fare,  I didn't stick around to see the conclusion but I did hear one officer mutter that he didn't need to be critiqued, Mike obviously now turning his wrath upon them.

Calling the tavern back, I voiced my concern, expressing that the bartender talk to him upon his next visit.  No, I wasn't mad.  Instead I only wished Mike a better conclusion given his present dire circumstances.  I speculate that somehow the money he has been living on has disappeared but how that happened I will probably never know.  in one sense, what occurred is just like the taxi I know and hate.  It is crazy and remains crazy.  Regardless of the money, driving a taxi is "nuts" and you can quote me upon that, compassion and sanity all pouring down the taxi drain!  Good grief! Charlie Brown, Good Grief!








Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Forever Guilty---Not Even The Roman Catholic Church Is This Mean!

You probably don't understand this but every moving violation ticket ever issued to you remains a part of your  permanent life record, transcending death.  Imagine you are at the fabled Pearly Gates awaiting entry and that long forgotten speeding 35 MPH in a 30 MPH Zone is brought up.  It is that bad, perhaps denying you eternal rest and the soothing songs of celestial beings caressing your once burning ears.

Dismissals, usually your only option other than paying the ticket, mean nothing because in any future case you can guarantee they will be held against you and used as further evidence concerning current guilt.  Read, and listen closely when someone in the news is reported as having done this and that, and quite often you will be told, other than a few tickets, that the individual up to this juncture has never committed a  serious crime.  But for some odd reason, at least odd to me, the person's list of issued tickets are somehow now pertinent to his/her current status, coloring him/her a particular shade.

Just why, I ask, is an alleged traffic violation given such overwhelming value, a value that never, ever receives exoneration?  You can be charged with murder and found not guilty.  You can takeover a Federal Wildlife Refuge, armed with the most deadly weapons available, all the while threatening Federal employees and destroying public property and still be declared innocent.  Yes, steal millions from clients, commit numerous war crimes, even sexually assault someone but you, innocent until proven otherwise, can walk free and clear when utilizing the best lawyers to defend you.

But attempting to get a verdict of innocence in traffic court is nearly impossible, a dismissal of charges usually your only chance at the slightest vindication.  Just remember, that doesn't make you innocent of that alleged U-turn or speeding violation. Instead, it means, that by some technical point, attorney gymnastics or officer error you have been allowed to avoid the consequences of your terrible misdeed.  But as I repeat, that  doesn't mean that it will ever be forgotten or forgiven.  That is not how it works.

And all this is true because those avenging angels called police officers have decided you are worthy of society's wrath despite reams of both recent and past evidence that police bias and misconduct has led to nearly countless questionable and illegal tickets and arrests, both here in Seattle and across the country. As the late Yellow Cab driver superintendent, and retired Seattle Police officer Barry used to tell us, when he was a cop, beating up suspects was a matter of course.  What could they do about it was the general response.  If they questioned why, the blanket excuse of resisting arrest worked every time to justify breaking an errant nose.

Transferring this to moving violations, of course this means that the officer's word is ironclad and irrefutable.  How can you question the sainted?  It isn't possible.  Even if they lie in their report, saying you confessed on the spot, no matter how unlikely that is, it remains their word against yours. So how can you win?  The truth is you never win, that ticket now part of your flesh and blood. Fun, huh?

As I implied in my heading, even those divine persecutors of all things evil, the nearly two millennium old Roman Catholic Church, offers more exoneration and relief than your average American court. What an improvement it would be if, instead of standing before a judge, you were allowed the benefit of the old-fashioned confessional, it working something like this:


"Yes, my son, you have some traffic sins troubling your automotive soul?

"Yes, father, I must confess I do."

"Then, go ahead, tell me all about them, remembering God is all forgiving, his son having died so you don't have to."

"Thank you father for your consoling words.  I do feel reassured, and trust I will be forgiven.  I must say it has been a rough week.  Monday I did ten U-turns but always making sure there was no oncoming traffic.  Tuesday I went ten over the speed limit on Aurora Avenue North at North 45th though any fool knows 40 MPH is not a just limit.  Wednesday I blocked the south-bound lane of Broadway East & East Republican due to someone flagging me at the north end of the block. Thursday a passenger living near Northgate, at about NE 92nd and 1st NE, decided that leaving one solitary hour before his flight was somehow reasonable, meaning at times I exceeded 80 MPH more than once just to get the fool on time to Sea-Tac.   Friday I screamed some profanity at some idiot who cut me off, making me slam my brakes, tossing all my stuff onto the floorboard.  And finally, Saturday night, after repeatedly warning the drunk that he had to stop telling me how to drive, told the guy he just had to leave.  And so he did, but not before telling me to go to hell!"

"There, there, my son, I can assure you will not be going to hell, not at least for the sins you have recounted.  While yes, you have sinned, at the same time you were just operating normally in what we all know is an insane workplace.  So, given the circumstances, all your sins are forgiven.  Your penance today is to read Robert Frost's poem "The Code"  and Gerald Manley Hopkins' "The Windhover."  In addition, please read William Watson's "World Strangeness" at least 3 times.  God knows he would have made a much better Poet Laureate than Alfred Austin. May you find peace and solace, my son.  May God stay with you.  You are forgiven and are  free to go.  And watch out for all those crazy drivers!"

"Thank you, thank you so very much father!  I feel so much better!"  Thank you for your kind understanding.












Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Crashes, Break-Ins & Springtime Baseball Has Sprung---A New Cabstand On Atlantic Street

Everything remains per usual in Taxicab Land----my taxi buddy E. destroys his cab on the freeway while swerving  out of the way avoiding yet another collision, his cab hitting a wall.  This after a month ago being hit head-on and damaging his cab's front end.  And all this after he was rear-ended by an Uber driver.  He is still trying to figure that one out after the Uber's operator's insurance carrier responded by saying he only held a personal not commercial policy.  In other not-so-pretty words, the guy was providing Uber rides minus viable insurance.

Lately I have been telling passengers, once the topic is broached, that before you go anywhere in an Uber or Lyft, first request to see their COMMERCIAL insurance policy.  If he/she can't, time to get out of the car. And after this conversation I ask my customer to guess how much I pay annually for insurance for me, Tom and Raymond?  The answer is $6000.00, and this with clean MVRs.  Again, another good reason to avoid all moving violation tickets because they hike up your costs.

At one point I believe Yellow's annual insurance rates were averaging ten-eleven thousand per car due to keeping on too many accident-prone drivers.  So one could say that regulators nationwide are allowing Uber and Lyft to endanger everyone concerned because of very poor insurance accountability.  As for my buddy E., he continues to have to pay and pay for the privilege of avoiding instant death while plying the taxi streets.  Good luck is all I can say!

And adding further outrage and to an already insulting business, you aren't even safe when your car is parked, as my 2012 Chevy Sonic was, at our taxi exchange point and broken into, the left-side passenger window smashed to smithereens.  For the past year we have been exchanging the cab near the intersection of S. Hudson & Colorado S., just across from what once was the entry to the Yellow parking lot, the thieves getting nothing of real value except what is truly valuable to me as they quickly swept though the two glove boxes, taking what they found.

Oddly, they also grabbed the Sufi prayer beads an old Sufi Holy Man gave me during a 1999 visit to Istanbul, Turkey, something I kept on my floor-installed gear shift.   All I can and will say is that I hate junkies, finding nothing amusing about addictive and destructive behavior.  While safe "injection centers"are all the recent health rage, does anyone ever ask these folks where they got the money to buy the heroin?

I am now thinking of a good alternative to our current location.  The corner around 12th & E. Jefferson used to be popular place to park your taxi.  That might be a very good choice.  If there is a positive to this incident, its that there is a very good chance, thanks to an adjacent business, All-City Fence and their 24-hour surveillance cameras, that the break-in was caught on film.  I will be filing a police report tomorrow.

New SafeCo Field Cabstand a Home-Run!

Something logical finally occurred when the City of Seattle put a two car cabstand on the Northwest corner  of South Atlantic Street & 1st Avenue South, placing it directly across from the Mariner baseball stadium.  The only problem was Monday, after the game, I found two Uber operators parked there.  Perhaps one of the police officers standing mere feet away will begin issuing tickets.  Boy, would that be another kind of home-run!

Falling in the "what took them so long" category

A new Yellow computer-generated message is now telling everyone that there are now penalties for dumping calls, saying a third offense means termination. How many decades did it take for this to become official policy?  Regardless, the newly stated stance concerning driver accountability is welcome, having personally grown tired of cleaning up another driver's transgression.  As I always say, just serve the bell and see what happens, one ride often leading to another.  Too basic a taxi equation, I know, for far too many of my fellow Yellow cabbies---now that I know my taxi ABCs----are you now proud of me?  No, I am not, your taxi illiteracy hurting me and everyone.

A real case of blind injustice

Thinking about it, the  cop who issued me the recent U-turn ticket also, in an inappropriate moment of generosity, gave me permission to further break the law by telling me I could proceed two blocks further north-bound on 3rd Avenue to take my right turn on Marion Street.  The only problem with that advice is that during the morning and evening rush hours, all vehicles other than buses are limited to driving one block and one block only on 3rd, allowing you to take necessary turns.  One could say then that his advice was totally contrary to his previous action of issuing me the ticket, and that it appears he felt an in-general permission to do whatever he wanted.

Unfortunately, that has been my overall experience with police in Seattle and King County, holding a discretionary permission to punish in one situation and in another, do nothing whatsoever.  While it might be impossible to regulate human behavior, it cannot be called fair.

And yesterday, a District Attorney located in San Bernardino County announced that the killing of a blind and mentally ill man holding a knife and rock was justified by the City of Fontana Police. They knew he was blind and schizophrenic  

How can a blind man holding a weapon other than a gun truly pose a threat to anyone?   Why not take a broomstick and knock the knife away.  Or just hit him in the head with the broom.  How could he stop you?   Instead he was shot dead with an AR-15 rifle.  If interested, go on-line and look at the various AR-15 rifles.  They look nothing like a broomstick.

No Longer a Hippie?

Over the weekend I picked up a woman originally from Germany who had written a book about Hippies and the 1960s.  Obviously having a personal interest in the subject I gave her a card with my email address on it, telling her she should email me because I knew she would like to know about this book about New Mexico communes I have been reading.

So far, she has not contacted me, which makes me think that, while she maintains an interest, she herself is no longer a hippie because the hippies I have known, especially back in 1969 and the early 1970s, were incredibly open to new contacts and people.  I personally have many stories, including ending up on a commune in 1970 while passing through Abbotsford, BC, Canada.  Two of my fellow hippies, Rick and Micheal, were living in Canada due to the American draft wanting them, against their personal wishes, to join military service.

Regardless, here is the title of the book which might intrigue you.  If new to the subject, the accompanying essays could be of great interest.

"Irwin Klein and the New Settlers---Photographs of the Counterculture in New Mexico," edited by Benjamin Klein.   University of Nebraska Press  2016

It really brings a pretty much long, gone era back to life.  As it turns out, "she-who-can't-be-named" moved to New Mexico and lived the rustic existence for a few years around 1970.  When I was 12/13 I lived in Grants, New Mexico during the 7th grade in 1966/67, Grants a rough & tumble town located along the legendary Route 66 Highway.

As near as I can remember, I did not see one hippie in Grants during that period of time.  In fact, contrary to peace and love, I was involved in 3 fights my very first day at Franklin Junior High.  But I did learn how to drive when I was 12, certainly a kind of hippie sentiment, my father flaunting society's morals and standards.

No, Dad, wasn't a hippie in the usual sense, just alienated and crazy, and I mean really, really crazy. Fast forwarding to late 1969, Dad could be found driving a cab in Denver, Colorado.  All I can say, he was eminently qualified.