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.















Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beware! Emerald City Law Group Is Reaching Out For You!

It is never good getting a moving violation, in this case a U-turn ticket while serving a $5.50 HopeLink fare from 3rd & Cherry up to a First Hill methadone clinic---getting nabbed by a motorcycle cop when there was absolutely no other cars around.  But, as I know too well,  that certainly doesn't stop anyone from issuing an unnecessary ticket.  There can be craziness upon the local roadways 24 hours a day but a simple and benign U-turn is somehow deemed worth the time and trouble, plus of course blocking the bus lanes while the ticket is issued.

One could call my attitude self-serving but I will never, ever understand the necessity because I know there isn't one.  It simply doesn't exist, ticketing should be about public safety and nothing else; and not, as in this case, the iron-clad application of rules defying reason and commonsense. Seattle has been infamous for issuing jay-walking tickets at 4 AM.  Why, the usual out-of-town visitor protests, why did you give me this ticket?  To those of us whom are long-time Seattle residents, we know the answer, and it ain't a pretty one either.

And can you believe  Officer C___ even offered me legal advice, telling me to check the middle box because the magistrate issues warnings every seven years.  The only problem with his suggestion is that  it equates to being an automatic admission of guilt to the alleged violation; meaning by checking that little box I was giving up every legal right I have to fight the ticket.  Can police legally give legal advice while simultaneously issuing citations?  Logic also dictates that if the officer felt  what I did warranted only a warning, why didn't he just tell me just not to do it again and leave it at that?

But no, it wasn't the officer's suggestion rubbing salt into the wound, making me question just exactly what is going on here.  Instead it was receiving a "solicitation of service" letter to my home address from an entity calling itself the "Emerald City Law Group," and its owner,  who I assume is an attorney, Stryder Wegener.  I am sure you have heard the pubic warnings about scams perpetuated through the mail and over the telephone. The alarm rang upon my opening the letter.

 My very first thought was, "How in the world did these people have access to my private information?"  And when I called them at the number provided, they refused to tell me.  What the gentleman did repeatedly say to me was "Do you want us to represent you? all the while it being perfectly clear I was calling them because I was gravely disturbed by their unsolicited letter.

The letter itself, which includes my Seattle Municipal Court case and reference numbers, attempts to convince me that hiring them is my best option.  One quote is particularly telling:

"You can always fight the ticket on your own.  That costs you time to go to court (at least a half day off of work), time to prepare for court (several hours), and your changes of winning are slim."

If that isn't manipulative, I don't know the definition of the word.  They go on to say that they have an excellent track record of winning cases, providing the figures of 1,857 winning cases to only 38 cases loss.  Of course they provide no evidence proving this is true.

So what is true about about Emerald City Law Group and their attempt to sign on new clients?  At the very least their actions appear to be a blazon invasion of personal protections, acting upon some mysterious permission that they can and will do anything they want.  Whether they have broken any laws is something I hope will be determined by whatever responsible authority.  I have already filed a complaint with the State of Washington's Attorney General's Office.  They in turn referred me to the local bar association.  I will also be filing a complaint with and/or against the City of Seattle as some important questions need to be answered.

Is what Emerald City Law Group doing permissible and legal?

Are the records of alleged moving and non-moving violations,including jay-walking tickets, public or private information?

If private, how did Emerald City Law Group access the information?

If public, just how and why is this kind of information, including addresses and telephones numbers, freely available to anyone who wants it?

As said, I and the driving public require real answers to these questions.  That the letter from Emerald City Law Group is, to my way of thinking, predatory, is beyond any doubt.  Did I in any manner voluntarily provide them with my private information or request they contact me?   The answer obviously is not at all, having never heard of them before receiving their letter last week.

Again, that this is a serious invasion of personal privacy is clear.  The only remaining question is whether Emerald City Law Group will be held accountable.  I will keep you posted.  I am looking forward to knowing their response.  As should be clear, an issued ticket is never a trivial matter.  And Emerald City Law Group's actions only underline this reality.  Beware, and remain aware, is my advise upon this and other situations regarding traffic violations.

And if, like me, you get strange letters in the mail from unknown lawyers, whatever you do, don't sign up with them.  Instead, like me, contact the City of Seattle and others, asking,"just what the hell is going on?"  A good and pertinent question, I am sure you would agree.












Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Where Would You Be Taking A Cab From A Homeless Shelter On A Monday Morning 2 AM?

Okay, it was two in the morning and I was both done, and done in, ready to gas up 1092 and head home but, as cabbies are wont to do, and given that refusing a fare is against our religion, something akin to blasphemy, I accepted a call at the Pioneer Square Union Gospel Mission, thinking they couldn't be going much of anywhere at such an hour, more than likely to the Shell station down at 5th South & S. Dearborn for cigarettes and sodas. But where they actually wanted to go, and where I took them, was the Tulalip Casino in Maryville, Washington, a fare totaling $104.60, a lot of money for folks residing at an homeless shelter.

Who these people really were I couldn't truly tell you because I had almost zero conversation with the pair, a couple more intent upon themselves and their joint mission toward a successful gambling session.  The woman was heavy, approximately 350-400 pounds or more heavy, upsetting the usual expected equilibrium making for a safe and manageable ride.  She also left a strong fecal smell upon her departure, requiring a twice concerted wiping down of the rear seat.  The male version of the two was mostly quiet, only occasionally coughing.

Other than the unusual starting point, the ride was usual and mundane, no argument about payment or anything else.  As for me personally, I was exhausted but, as I said, I wasn't going to pass up $100.00 even if it meant an additional sixty minutes or so of suffering and fighting to get through, all too typical when it comes to taxi, driving cab just many versions and levels of hell-on-earth where guardian angels are too few and very far between.

"She-who-can't-be-named" comment upon the whole affair was "There is something wrong with this world!" Hard to disagree with that assessment, when the truly impoverished throw their money away, the good after the bad.  I can only hope they hit the jackpot and zoomed to a better and kinder universe.  I also can only wish and hope that indeed that was their early morning fate, winning a bunch of money and, in celebration, taking a much needed shower along with quickly heading to the nearest laundromat.

Uber Unleashed Upon the Unsuspecting

On the front page of the Monday, April 3rd, 2017 edition of the New York Times, there was a featured article by Noam Scheiber concerning Uber entitled "How Uber Pushes Drivers' Buttons,"  describing in detail how Uber, through its app, manipulates drivers to work longer hours, thus increasing Uber profitability. Two quotes from the article I find especially revealing, unmasking Uber's underlying motives.

""By mastering their workers' mental circuitry, Uber and the like may be taking the economy back toward a pre-New Deal era when businesses had enormous power over workers and few checks on their ability to exploit it."

Another is a quote from University of Washington law professor, Ryan Calo:

"Uber officials," he said, "are using what they know about drivers, their control over the interface and the terms of the transaction to channel the behavior of the driver in the direction they want it to go."

All I can say is that if you are an Uber driver, watch out! because Uber is out to manipulate the hell out of you!   And if you don't think it is true, well guess what, Uber has already won, taking over not just your brain but your entire physical body, you suddenly no longer human but robotic, responding favorably to every Uber command.  Scary, huh!?

Meanwhile, at the Airport

All along, the cabbies who transferred to Eastside to work Sea-Tac have been complaining that their dispatch system wasn't functional.  Finally, Eastside admitted that it is true, saying it is now finally up and running.  All I can say is, who if anyone amongst the Port Commissioners are overseeing Eastside operations?  If there is said person, they might be due for a new set of eyeglasses.

Objective Criteria?

Yellow it seems is forging ahead toward a change to a new DDS-based computer dispatch system.  My one question is why are so many owners interested in doing this?  Can they provide objective criteria proving this very expensive changeover is necessary?   And what about accountability?  Will anyone be held accountable if it proves too be a very bad decision?

In other words, as usual, will all the consequences be felt solely by the lease drivers while those who made the decision will go asleep each night totally unaffected?  If that is the plan, it is a poor one, one that should not be accepted.  Instead, can we please consider all consequences before proceeding forward?  That is all I request, little else.















Thursday, March 30, 2017

Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo---Huh? Or As Sylvester The Cat Would Say: Sufferin' Succotash!

As I keep saying, until I am completely and permanently disconnected from the wonderful world that is taxi, everything that might be and is "stranger than fiction" will continue to embrace me, and a truly poisonous entwining it is, similar to a 23 foot python swallowing me whole.  As I mentioned last week---a  fellow cabbie both harassed and maligned by some fool for no reason whatsoever---last weekend I too had a similar experience, my big crime of the recent Century being dumb enough to check out a call at the 1410 East John Safeway.

That it turned into what I am about to describe says everything about taxi, at least the side that is odd and odder and getting stranger, it appears, by the day if not every ensuing second and minute tick, ticking away. And all I can say, repeating that appropriate commentary by the that great furry black & white philosopher, Sylvester, and his ever relevant: sufferin' succotash!  I couldn't agree more.

Driving up to the most likely suspect, an older woman pushing a walker  who responded, no, the cab wasn't for her,  but wait a minute, the passenger who had been waiting was now standing at the bus stop at the other side of the store. Taking her lead, I made a full circle around the Safeway, coming back around on East John but not finding my passenger, if one had ever truly existed, which I doubted.

But working upon the premise that you never know, fully assuming that the lady was probably mistaken, and again turning into the Safeway driveway for a last glance, a shortish, plump gentleman sporting big black-framed glasses pointed back into the store  Once again I meet the same woman, again saying that no, she was waiting for a Metro Access Van, not a cab. And give it a break already--- there wasn't anyone waiting for me at the bus stop!

During this fairly innocuous exchange, the not-so-shining knight in rumpled clothing shouted, "Stop harassing her," the guy suddenly and instantaneously violent, quickly approaching my cab all the while chanting that famous 13th Century Buddhist prayer, "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo," popularized back then by the Japanese monk Nichiren.

When I tired to explain myself, he again chanted "nam-myoho-renge-kyo" in an attempt, near as I can tell, to transform all immediate suffering he might be experiencing to some expectant bliss.  Flustered with this nonsense, I finally responded that "you are out of your mind" which, while probably true, did not appear to assuage his suffering in any measurable degree.  I then tried to reason with the fellow but muttering something "beneath his breath" he, thankfully, just walked away, perhaps searching for that next eternal Banyan tree around the next Safeway corner. Should I hope for something to fall on his head?

I wonder what comments Tweedy Bird would have had upon the subject, Tweedy America's resident cartoon Stoic, regarding our un-feathered world while residing in a less-than-gilded cage.  As is obvious, the average cabbie can be doing nothing whatsoever yet will still be targeted simply for being a cabbie.  I think somewhere therein lies a life lesson.  I wonder what it could be?

No Glory

Transmission issues continue to plague my cab, what is simple isn't, and making it worse.........

Taki's Yellow Cab Shop is Closing

Yes, after nearly 20 years, Taki, Yellow Cab's mechanic supreme, is fleeing Yellow Fleet after just over a year in the new location, due, it appears, to many unresolved issues with current Yellow Fleet management  Taki is mad as hell! and next week is heading back to his homeland, Vietnam, for a 3 week vacation.

 That it complicates my life cannot be understated because neither he nor good Randy could figure out the seemingly electrical problem compromising 1092's overall automatic transmission function.  While I hope we can limp along until his return, I will be accelerating my reach for a newer replacement car.

Uber Threatens to Leave Seattle

Uber, unhappy with the City of Seattle's progress toward an unionized Uber workforce, has said it will stop operating in Seattle if an actual union is formed.  If they do go, maybe I'll start a new TNC/ride-share company, calling it Blubber,  an app devoted to trimming the fat from customer's wallet's. I envision it would be very popular with the "carrot & celery" crowd.  Why we would be gluten-free too!

And Speaking of TNC Companies

A rider I had the day before wanted to go to Lynnwood on Tuesday during evening rush-hour but was concerned with the cost, saying he was thinking of taking Lyft instead because they quoted him $25.00 for what could be $60.00 in the cab due to traffic.  I told him to take Lyft but to be conscious of the Lyft reality, forcing the driver to an hour-long drive minus their fee and gasoline in addition to how long it will take to get back.

In January 1863 President Lincoln freed the American slaves.  Most recently, Uber and Lyft, far smarter than Southern Plantation owners, have convinced millions of men and women worldwide to voluntarily enslave themselves.  And to pay for their own enslavement. Wow! what a great deal!  Can you believe it?

DDS?

I couldn't believe it, when I heard it, Yellow Cab and the single owners planning on bringing back a new version of the DDS dispatch computer system, this after changing over to our current system and nearly destroying the company with more confusion and mishaps that I had lost count.

Over-my-dead-taxi-body is my initial response.  Some not very wise folks have suggested that we can even choose between one or the other, keeping the old system in our cabs if we want to.  Huh!?




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Taxi Potpourri----Various Fragrances Sweet And Vile: Welcome To The Odoriferous Pile

Ah yes, Spring is now official---deciduous trees and blackberry vines are now budding, with forsythia and ornamental cherries presenting early blooms for our mid-March pleasure.  Accompanying this seasonal greening symphony are subtle perfumes announcing to both insect and human alike that pollen and scent is in the air.  Oh yes, if only, if only all fragrances were subtle or sweet, accenting the brain like Wordsworth's immortal daffodils.

 If only but no, the world I share with fellow cabbies is often toxic, diesel fumes and blatant insult our accompanying atmosphere. But too there is also kindness and expressed interest mellowing out the sour, gently anointing the unexpected brief pleasure and occasion caressing hour. Such is a cabbies' life and times upon the blacktop in the darkened night and dawning day.

The Taxi Gods Wag a Finger, Warning Do Not Harm or Insult the Good Driver

Example # One:

Twice this past greater weekend Karma took my side, saying, minus all doubt, please to not injure the good cabbie, all he/she doing is making every attempt to do what we do, transporting passengers Point A to B as efficiently as possible.  When the drunk woman from that venerable West Seattle Tavern, "The Pogi" became mean and controlling, not "taking" but "commandeering" the cab, using her "I am paying" as her gun, I turned around and took her back.  What she is like minus too much beer I do not know but at that given moment her worst nature was on full display.

What occurred after that was instant vindication, getting a late evening airport fare, and I was off and running, even getting a last 3:45 AM airport run which made me 17 minutes late getting the cab back to my day driver.  My fare from Mercer Island to the Fremont I will spotlight in a few paragraphs down.  Truly amazing was this quick succession of great fares.  Interestingly, when coming back from the airport the first time, I was again offered a pickup for the same "Pogi" troublemaker.  I called dispatch and politely declined, not wanting to find out how another hour of drinking had improved her saturated temper.

Example # Two:

Yes, amazingly it is true, Yellow is indeed paying too much money  (I believe it is $6000.00 monthly) to Amtrak for our exclusive access to King Street Station.  This makes me wonder why I and all my fellow Yellow-ites are subjected to incidents like the one occurring Monday night when two well-dressed upper-middle class fools (man and woman in their early 70s) refused to move their blocking $60,000-plus car when it was self-evident that an entire line of cabs were attempting to move up and pick up passengers.  They were truly out-of-their-minds, angry that I would ask them to just move forward 30 feet.  The woman laughed, derision and disdain her misplaced crowning glory.

Passing them by, I picked up a gentleman going to the closest hotel possible, the Yesler Best Western, allowing me to fly back to the train for other possible customers.  Arriving back there was a line of folks waiting, and, what would you know, just like the Sunday incident, I was instantly offered compensation by a fare to the Sea-Tac Marriott,a pleasant couple from Idaho flipping me a fifty dollar bill for my efforts.

Why that privileged couple felt they could and can do anything they want anytime they want is anyone's guess but I it looked like to me that, for them, they were the new American Brahmans and I was just another unwashed Dalit.  If karma has any say, I have no doubt they lost a bunch of money in another Monday Wall Street panic.  At least I had a kindly nod from observant gods in the know.  Thanks!

Usually Only Pooches are Allowed

Something occurred that I have never allowed in my nearly 30 years plying the taxi byways: allowing a passenger to transfer from the back to the front seat, that privilege previously only granted to dogs of all persuasions. Picking her up on Mercer Island just off of East Mercer Way,  we immediately began an interesting conversation, she a Sanitation engineer based in Switzerland who travels all over sub-Saharan Africa creating sanitation systems for those in the greatest need.

Heading west-bound on I-90 she started to maneuver up to the front seat because it was hard to hear me in the back. Previously only hungry dogs and either the insane or the drunk or both have tried to make it across that sacred barrier.  That she is not insane prompted me to quickly pull over and let her up to the front.  We talked about schizophrenia and dropping out of high school and how people are formed psychologically.

That this was a singular experience goes, I suppose, without saying.  That it all ended up with a fifty dollar bill was the taxi cherry atop an interesting fare.  As I always say about taxi: you never know and man! that is certainly true.

Stench!

An unpleasant odor it is when a cabbie must, first, fight Uber and others to get upon a designated cabstand, and compounding the insult, an insane person interferes.  That this happened to a longtime cabbie who once owned and ran his own taxi company says that, regardless of your experience and taxi seniority, bad and stupid things can and will happen.

The situation was simple but is now more complex.  When telling the two offending drivers that they must move from the Terry & Republican cabstand, some crazy person across the street began yelling and flipping the driver off, shouting that the drivers should stay  where they are.

If the veteran  cabbie made a mistake, it was walking over to the guy's car and taking pictures.  What this resulted in a few minutes later was the fool calling dispatch and saying the cabbie had "hit and run" him.  He even went as far as filing an official complaint with the City of Seattle.

While a true pain-in-the-ass dealing with this kind of nonsense, it is good that the _____ went so far to identify himself, leaving him open to various kinds of prosecutions and legal action.  I have recommended that the cabbie go legally after the guy, knowing full well he will be completely absolved by the City.

Yes, this is the kind of bullshit we all must deal with daily.  And making this worse is I haven't seen nary one time in my 30 years an offending motorist ticketed for sitting upon our cab stands.  Yes, we will be cited by the City for all kinds of petty offenses but stopping idiots from clogging our stands they never do. Such is our world but must it be our constant fate?

I suppose we all know the answer.  Too obvious to not understand that priorities, being what they are, nonsense will continue until it doesn't, but as is said, don't hold your breath, blue not a natural color.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Great Unraveling---An Examination Of Current Industry Health

Introductory Note:

Since my recent experience of almost being Seattle Yellow Fleet's (Yellow's cab side) operational manager, and hence, receiving a birds-eye of their operations, I felt it time to explain, from my many years of experience, just how Yellow and the other Seattle taxi associations arrived at where they currently find themselves.  To say it is a complete mystery, or solely Uber's fault, would be incorrect, given there is a traceable history taking us from when the local taxi industry was relatively health and thriving, to where we find ourselves today---commercially wounded and bleeding money.

And I also want to dispel any misunderstanding to why I backed down from a position that potentially would have affected positive change at Yellow.  The answer is simple, because I realized it would have been impossible to both manage Yellow Fleet and drive enough hours to support myself.  A much larger salary would have changed the equation, allowing me to fully concentrate on the job at hand. While fully sympathetic to Yellow's current financial woes, sometimes expenditures are necessary to rectify current issues. In this situation, it appears Yellow Fleet's very survival could be at stake.  Hopefully the training program I plan to have up and running by the end of April will bring in enough new drivers to stem any pending closure.

Another important point pertaining to the views expressed in the following essay, is, that unlike many of my colleagues, when I am in a taxi I am a true-blue cabbie, and not just someone driving some version of "service-transportation" vehicle.  Believe me, there is huge different between those of us who want to be there and those who don't.  In short, I am a cab driver, which, despite all dispersions to the contrary, is a noble calling, providing essential services to all and everyone. My response to all those who fail to understand this, is to say "screw you!" having tired of dumbbell rhetoric and nonsensical opinion. Who needs it?  Well, we as an collective industry certainly don't, and I am sick of being wrongfully maligned.

While certainly holding criticisms of Seattle's various taxi associations and some individuals involved, I ultimately respect what we are collectively attempting to do: transporting all of humanity from point A to B in an increasingly congested workplace environment.  The following analysis then is meant not as unbridled criticism but more, I want it to be seen as an attempt to focus everyone involved in a joint effort to resolve obvious issues languishing in front of our noses.

While at times I certainly have displayed  irritation and frustration, ultimately my affection for all involved remains unlimited, caring as I do for all those toiling beneath the top-light, recognizing that we are all in this together, various parts equaling one united effort. As has been said countless times over the modern centuries, divided we fall, united we win.

And that is my ultimate desire, a taxi industry beneficial for everyone concerned, rising from the dust and ruin to new unencumbered roads.  Again, all I ask, is for everyone to join me in this effort, and make some money in the process which of course must be our individual goal.

The Great Unraveling

From a historical perspective, my story might begin from very origins of early 20th Century motorized taxi services, when motorized cars replaced replaced horse-drawn hackney carriages and hansom cabs.  Many large companies, including the Checker Car Corporation located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in an era where private car ownership was exceedingly rare, began running large fleets of taxicabs in America's larger cities like New York and Chicago, providing a kind of speedy and personal transportation never before seen.

If there was a problem associated with this arrangement, and there was, it was that the companies wanted to make money, money being their foremost prime objective, the transporting of people being secondary. And taking us up to now, that primacy, the making of money over any and all other considerations, is where we remain.

Recognizing that, in 1975 the City of Seattle and King County decided that the best way to balance out the situation was to deregulate the taxi industry locally, hoping beyond hope that right-minded individuals would lead taxi to equable compromise. What happened instead was complete anarchy, which is why I begin my story from that period, when Seattle's great taxi experiment blew up in its face, setting the tone of what we are today---a cannibalistic industry consuming itself.  If Seattle's cab industry wasn't in an unraveled state before deregulation, it certainly was thereafter, with all  of us grasping for threads.  As the present situation shows, it is not the most effective way to operate.

What deregulation exposed, beyond any doubt, is that the tradition established earlier in the century remained intact, embraced by newer generations of cabbies---greed, or the making of money past all other priorities---having become the industry's calling card. And it certainly wasn't a phenomenon isolated to Seattle, New York City's egregious medallion system inflating their taxi license plates to over one million dollars each, an incredible sum for the privilege of operating a cab in NYC.  What this showed was an overarching philosophy, saying that commonsense be damned, money, the grabbing of as much  money as you can, is always justified regardless of consequences, everything else secondary---customer service, safety, anything other than making money the very bottom of the taxi totem pole.

Beginning my entry in the business back in the fall of 1987, I soon saw what I have just expressed to be completely true, having cut my finger on the exposed steel belting of my cab's left front tire telling me everything I needed to know about the efficacy of typical taxi operations.  Later, when driving for Farwest Taxi, this same notion was further verified when, upon returning a cab back to the lot due to safety issues, a mere hour later I saw that very same cab back out on the street once again, Farwest shouting out that it didn't care one iota about its passenger's well-being, money, the making of money its sole priority.

Further industry unraveling has been the clear withdrawal of support from municipal, county and state regulators.  What so many cabbies in Seattle and NYC and everywhere in the USA failed to understand is that their shenanigans were in full view of shocked industry regulators and administrators, the taxi industry as a whole operating as if they held some unwritten permission to do whatever they wanted, never fearing overt consequences.

That they were wrong  in this unfounded belief is displayed locally with decisions to 1, force all single owners to join or form an association; 2, create the flat-rate for-hire industry; 3, overturn the Seattle City Council's law to cap Uber and lyft; and finally, 4, lose the Sea-Tac contract to Eastside Flat-rate For-Hire.  The Port of Seattle was furious that they potentially lost up to five million dollars due to alleged Yellow Cab improprieties. Again, didn't those operating PSD at that time realize that what they were doing was in plain view, open to examination and criticism?  Evidently not can be the only answer.

I could list more specifics but I don't want to malign many whom I consider friends and fellow colleagues. If Yellow and other associations cannot be called criminal, they certainly can be called both self-serving and sloppy, operating as if their eyes are closed.  During the past year, Yellow Fleet and Puget Sound Dispatch have been downsizing essential personnel, making it even more difficult to both serve our customers and address daily issues that are a constant at the taxi door.  And when problems are pointed out, denial and obfuscation is the usual response, our unraveled industry a mess of uncoiled twine upon the taxi floor.

And when will all the loose ends be tied back together in some kind of cohesive ball?   Only when priorities are changed, understanding that investment must be put back into the business, both monetarily and personnel-wise, rebuilding what is broken down.  For too many years, associations have used the taxi industry as their personal ATMs, funding their lifestyles upon both the sweat and blood of ordinary cabbies and the good faith of our customers.  With the transfer of both drivers and customers to Uber, new approaches must be taken.  What was done in the past has failed.  There can be no argument.  Our industry is grasping for breath. Who will provide the needed oxygen?  Just who will do what is necessary is the great question facing us.  What about you?  Do you have any answers?

Why Is Gasoline Costing More?

Locally gasoline prices are now on the rise.  Why is the question, when per barrel costs yesterday 03/16/2017 were listed as $47.72, down a full $6.00 from a week ago.  The issue is the old one, an oversupply upon the world oil market.  In other words, worldwide we are experiencing an oil glut, with too many producers and not enough customers.  Then why are we currently paying more than necessary?  Greed?  Stupidity?  Asshole-ism?













Monday, March 6, 2017

Two Breakdowns In Five Days---Going Nuts But Not Nervous

Wednesday the alternator went out, meaning I had to fly back to Seattle and deal with a broken down car on a major roadway.  A pain but early yesterday, meaning about 11:00 AM Sunday morning I noticed what no cab owner wants to see: a slipping automatic transmission.  The only good part was that I was able to make it back to the shop in second gear, thus avoiding a tow.  Wednesday night we had called for a tow but disappointingly I was actually able to beat the tow truck to the cab, allowing to me skip the tow and get the cab both started and back to our usual parking place.

Nobody should have to wait an hour, especially when you are blocking traffic near Costco on 4th Avenue South.  There are more details but given a couple bad choices by Raymond, I was truly ready to kill my friend, more angry than I have been in a very long time. Yesterday I stopped by his house and shared some strong coffee. Peace again reigns supreme. He is a good guy and always pays his lease. Who can ask for anything more?

This second breakdown is more than inconvenient due to this week I am transferring 478 to my new 1092 medallion, translating to having to shift everything around an extra day.  At the moment it is 10:40 AM and I am still in Tacoma. Taki (the lead mechanic and shop owner) said the used transmission should be in by sometime noon, one-o'clock. And here I am composing the blog ,which this week will be necessarily shortened.

Who has time?  I have no time, on top of having to get everything changed over to # 1092 so Raymond can work Wednesday night and Tom can drive Thursday morning.  I am glad they both can afford to miss a few days.  Me, I have make up for the $800.00 I am paying today in addition to a bunch of smaller costs associated the the medallion change.  Ah yes, as has been said perhaps billions of times, oh the joys of business ownership!

Given all this, my detailed explanation why I decided not to run the Yellow Fleet side will come next week.  If only I had two simultaneous bodies!  What a help that would be.  And by the way, I'll tell you a secret.  I hate taxi!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Taxi Hours----1:30 AM-4:30 AM Sunday 02/26/2017 & Back Down To One Hat---Deciding Not to Do It

The taxi roller-coaster, no, not the amusement park kind, was clearly in operation this past weekend.  Ah yes, the financial spills and thrills of an up and down and up business model---ain't it just exciting--- experiencing the daily (and nightly) unknown?  No, no it isn't but to provide all those who might be interested in knowing, the following is a peek into three select early Sunday morning hours, succinctly expressing the adage "God! you never know what will happen next!" which forever will be an accurate taxi truism.

And talking to folks Tuesday with Yellow's Puget Sound Dispatch side, they said "our accounts receivable are up!" which might be true but the sad and actual reality is that our off-street and hotel cab stand is down the past two months by at least 50 % or worse, meaning all of this is part and parcel of the roller-coaster. When telling M. that I will put her in a cab so she can see (and feel) the situation as it really is, she declined, she, and everyone one else I know in both in management and the taxi lobbyist world responding the same: "No, no, I can't do that!"

But I guarantee you that if they did obtain their for-hire license, plopping their buttock in a cab even once a month, they would be singing a far different taxi tune. God help them during their first traffic (police) stop, though in truth I wouldn't wish that kind of misery upon anyone.  What can you do when an officer is screaming at you, scaring you have to death concerning all the dire possibilities?  The answer is very little other than hoping for the best and wishing for the person to please disappear as quickly as possible.

Given my new twin position as both management and driver, I know I will have a huge advantage straddling both sides of the taxi fence, both realities smacking me in the face.  And wouldn't you know that once again this weekend I had to deal with an overly aggressive drunk female passenger, someone falling in the more traditional "permanently pickled" category, conscious yes, but similarly completely out-of-control.  What am I, some kind of human taxi punching bag?  Well, it seems to be true, making me dismal, if not totally black and blue, and if I had a taxi lawyer, perhaps I would sue.

Anatomy of 3 Taxi Hours---1:30 AM-4:30 AM 

Fare # 1---1:30 AM

Stuffed after eating my meal of the day at the Honey Court: clams in black bean sauce, I set off from Chinatown about 45 minutes before official bar-break wondering where to go and what to do when I get a call in Madison Valley for a house in an alley located at 30th & East Harrison.  Calling, it should have been easy to locate them but dispatch had the info as house behind a white fence when in reality it was a white house behind a metal fence, resulting in a few minute's confusion.

Once all mystery was dispelled a couple gets in the cab going all the way to the Motel Six situated at 160th & Pacific Highway South, just about a mile north of Sea-Tac proper.  Not quite believing my good luck, off we went, getting off at the Southcenter exit and heading up the hill to Pac-Highway.

Turning off the meter once we got to the highway, I got $42.00 and a big thank you from the passengers, telling the couple who happened to waiting for a cab that, "He is a great driver!"

Fare # 2---1:50 AM

What the young couple were doing standing there at the Motel Six I never asked but I assumed that they had been repeatedly  passed up because they were young and black, which for many cabbies means passing them by.  Me, I pick up everybody, and who cares about other cabbie's stupidity! taking them up to South 246th & Pac-Highway.  The young woman asked if I was a Sagittarius, which I admitted that, yes, I was part of that good fraternity. She said she knew by my "vibe."

On the way I pointed out the Chevron Gas Station where the kidnap victim had leaped out of into the safety of my cab, a memory forever staying with me.  A few blocks past the station I turned right off the highway, leaving them off on a darkened street.

No, they were not dangerous, only people wishing to get home.  I got them there.  And it was beginning to rain.

Fare # 3---2:10 AM

Ready for a nap, I pulled off  in a parking lot, quickly dozing off.  How long I slept I couldn't tell you but I was awakened by a fare offering, telling me Dave was waiting at 180000 International Boulevard (Pacific Hwy South).  What that was I wasn't sure but thought it might be  the Sea-Tac 13 Coins 24-hour restaurant, which turned out to be the correct guess.  By this time the rain was vigorous, saying the storm was here to stay, at least there in the south end.  Dave was going home to Burien, and ten minutes later, and $15.00 dollars with tip, I had him there.

Fare # 4---2:20 AM

It was now readily apparent I was the only Yellow cab in the greater Sea-Tac area as immediately I was again offered a fare, this time at Southcenter---four young drunken kids not understanding which side of the mall they were at.  After some questioning, I figured out where they were, four slightly damp and silly people heading to north Renton on the east side of Lake Washington.

The ring leader of the quartet thought he was a comedian, which he wasn't, and regardless I too tired to laugh.  And besides, he wasn't funny, something fully displayed by his question of why was I now going 55 MPH? Given that the rainfall was now the proverbial "cats and dogs" I said "didn't they tell you in driving education to slow down 5 MPH during hazardous driving conditions?  Making it worse, the not so comical clown was sitting in the front seat, annoying me more than usual.  $25.00 with tip and glad to be rid of them.

Fare #5---2:37 AM

Instantly I get another call, this time a very early airport run from the 9800 thousand block of Rainier Avenue South, a location directly across Lake Washington from where I had just vacated.  Not quite knowing the exact  location, and not getting a response to my calls, I peered through the murk before fairly easily finding the waterfront address.  Leaping down the steps, the door opened to multiple bags and passengers on their way to Loreto, Mexico, a 5:00 AM flight explaining their early departure.

Getting them to Sea-Tac minus any delays resulted in a very pleasant ride and $40.00 total for a $26.00 fare.  Viva Mexico!

Fare #6---3:30 AM

Having enough and heading back north to close out my day, I got yet another call as I nearing downtown, this time a club in the opposite direction  south at 2905 1st Avenue South.  Knowing that there should be, as usual, a fleet of patrolling cabs  trolling for errant drunks I headed out there anyway, but lo and behold these 2 guys from NYC were actually still there, faithfully waiting for their yellow steed taking them back to the Thompson Hotel at 1st & Stewart.

We had a good conversation about NYC and cab in general, resulting in 20 dollars for a ten dollar fare. I was glad to have it, thinking it was a good way to end the night.

Fare #7---4:10 AM

Having just finished gassing up at 105th and Aurora Avenue North, the night that wouldn't end finally concluded with one last forlorn soul, having missed his final bus, taking him to 120th & Roosevelt NE for ten bucks.  God! was I glad I could finally call it quits and sleep, which I did just after 5:00 AM but not before I had to pet Roxy, my sister's very insistent dachshund, Roxy my usual early morning greeter when I stay in Seattle.

Ah yes, true taxi reality and over $168.00 for three hours work.  If only it was always like this, but can I please be a little more awake?  That would be taxi sugar and spice and everything cabby nice!

One Hat Again

Yesterday I trained and today I quit, writing a letter of resignation even before I signed a contact.  Too much, too much is the quick answer, along with the realization I would not be getting any sleep.  If anyone, who is extremely experienced and willing to untangle the knots, please do apply.  They need you!

Postscript 03/03/2017 9:55 AM:

With more time, I will more fully explain my reasons behind declining on what first glance looked like a wonderful opportunity to both assist, influence and shape the Yellow Fleet side of Seattle Yellow Cab in particular and the combined association as a whole.  What became clear on Tuesday is that they wanted me to do the duties once done separately by my friend Abebe and the superintendent's office.  On top of that I was expected to be there seven days a week.  All I can say, that for me personally, already up to my neck in work and projects, it is not feasible. More next week.











Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Will Now Be Wearing Two Hats

"What you should do is start running as fast as you can in the opposite direction!"  Larry the Mechanic

I have an announcement to make which I have very mixed emotions about. While it has been clear for a long time I have remained interested, in my small way, in making needed changes concerning the local taxi industry, I never thought (not realistically at least) I would be asked to directly contribute by entering management, but this past Monday, that is exactly what happened when I accepted the task of managing the taxi side of Seattle Yellow Cab.

Yes, whatever my job title is, be it general manager or operating manager of Yellow Fleet (formally known as the BYG Co-op), I have entered a period when Yellow is going through a time of great transition, with the request made for me to shepard the taxi lambs to greener ( dollar green) pastures.  And most importantly, creating a permanent financial solvency by putting more drivers in the cabs and keeping them there for more than a few days.  In short, I have been asked to put the taxi jigsaw puzzle back together again.  At least it isn't Humpty-Dumpty I am trying to paste back together.

For those wondering why I was chosen, explanation one is that I have been planning, as mentioned in previous posts, to begin a comprehensive training program at Yellow, so in one sense a dialogue was already ongoing between me and Yellow Fleet. And finally, like the recent Swedish Hospital CEO change, replacing a non-physician with a very experienced doctor, Yellow decided it would be best to have a "long-in-the-tooth" cabbie in command. That fact, along with my proven track record as someone who once negotiated successfully with the State of Washington over L&I charges, is why I was asked to facilitate the repair. If everything is about money, then it was clear that I once saved everyone a bunch of money, of course endearing me to anyone paying attention to something that might have bankrupted the entire State of Washington taxi industry on the whole.

Do I think I can accomplish what at first glance seems formidable, if not impossible given both present and inherent obstacles and hurdles blocking easy and quick remedy?  Yes, my answer is in the affirmative, only because, no matter how wounded Yellow might be, we still retain a very significant customer base which can be, and must be, built upon.  But, as I am gaining quick understanding about Yellow Fleet's current situation, I now understand I will have to act quickly during March and April to stem the bleeding.

While the situation isn't particularly positive, it's not like it was in the past, when some mistakes and miscalculations seemed to be either intentional or systemic, more recent errors appearing due more to inexperience and a lack of coordination between Yellow Fleet and Puget Sound Dispatch than anything else.  It appears that some issues can easily be put to rest, with others taking a bit more tinkering.  Again, gaining ground quickly by the end of April is crucial, with the end of August telling everyone just how well, or not, we are doing collectively as a taxi association. If we are not doing well after six months, I am sure I will be chased out of town all the way down to Mexico.

And what will this effort require, making Yellow Fleet financially strong again?  Coordination and cooperation from all concerned, meaning all the drivers and owners and, most importantly, the dispatch side of Yellow operations, Puget Sound Dispatch, allowing us to do what we must most urgently need to do--- creating more 24 hour, around-the-clock business. Even getting close to the old normal will help immensely. Who wants to sit hour after hour staring at the dispatch computer?  No one, I can assure you of that!

It may sound obvious, and that's because it is, because at the bottom of all of Yellow's ills and problems is inconsistent business for all the cabbies out there sitting and driving around.  What made Yellow so successful was our once large business and customer base.  When the Blood Bank utilized Yellow as its sole courier, everyone was busy regardless of time of day and night. While it is true certain kinds of business will never return, assigned to the "Age of Taxi Dinosaurs," there are areas ripe for expansion, especially our Seattle to Sea-Tac business.  If we expand our "to Sea-Tac" customer base by at least 50% from where are now, we will be more than fine.  Cabbies will be smiling.  I can, with a second thought, guarantee you thatwill be true.

The same scenario, once having a large and successful customer base, and seeing it diminish, can be realled by looking back to the 1980s and early 1990s version of Farwest Taxi, which at that moment was the dominate Seattle taxi association.  And w hat killed Farwest?

Very poor management making bad and even worse business decisions, this occurring when a large group of arrogant owners (self-appointed know-it-alls) took over and destroyed the greatest account-based customer-base I have ever witnessed.  When you're dumb, you're dumb and these guys were the taxi  poster-child for unbridled idiocy.  On a given noon Monday through Friday there would be 50-60 bells alone sitting downtown crying out for cabs.  It was amazing.  Even more amazing is how it was all destroyed over an approximate 24 month period, fools plundering the taxi pantry, efficient in their inefficiency

And just what wounded Yellow, albeit not fatally?  Yes, management issues to some degree, especially in regard to not quickly adjusting to the competition provided by Uber and Lyft.  At various times day and night, Uber has taken 50 to 75 % (my own rough estimate) of what once was our off-the-street and bar-break business. While the situation remains dire, we still have a good percentage of brand loyalty left, something we can and must build upon and expand. While not completely writing off the "20-something, 30-something" customer demographic, I don't see it coming back anytime soon unless Uber's investors tire of annually losing billions of dollars.

But again, I believe innovative advertising and customer outreach plus greatly improved driver professionalism will begin to bring us back to even.  And I have given myself 12 months to do it, having given a year commitment and no longer.  I already have in mind a few able folks who might be interested in succeeding me.  Officially my duties begin March 13th, 2017.

In the meanwhile I will try to get myself oriented to the point where I won't be completely mystified come that pending second Monday in March. I also have to complete by that same March 13th my medallion change from 478 to my lottery acquired City medallion, number 1092. Yes, it is true, that unlike many folks making the transition from worker-drone to management, I will be both, making me somewhat singular in the everyday, workaday world, meaning  I will see for myself if indeed we are progressing forward or not.

So, as I began, I am, and will be seeking assistance from everyone connected to Mother-ship Yellow.  We are all in this together.  Unlike some examples from the past 20-30 years I promise to be completely transparent and, time permitting, always personally welcoming to everyone sharing their ideas and thoughts.

Yellow Cab, being more than one or two managers and supervisors, is a viable community of real living and breathing human beings.  I understand that.  I recognize that. And that will always be my administrative approach during this upcoming year.  If you ever think I have forgotten, please, please remind me and tell me what's what.  Again, if I fall asleep, be a friendly alarm clock and wake me up.  Though at times sleepy, when its time to be awake and alert, its time and that is just the way it is.

In other words, everyone, Good Morning, Seattle Yellow Taxi! drink that cup of coffee while turning on the cab. It is time to get going, having passengers to pick up and places to go.  And can I say, shall we have fun in this entire process here of operating a professional cab company?  I hope so, and shall we also make some money while picking up all our happy and satisfied customers?

Fantasy?  I don't think so. Instead, I believe success will be our ever present and growing reality. Spring is nearly here.  Pick a bunch of taxi blossoms and make a bouquet, presenting it to your passengers, pleasing them and you too, a taxi flower nodding ascent to the world.

Again, Good Morning cabbies! Good Morning! tossing out the old and welcoming the new! Good morning!

Seattle's Traffic Congestion 20th Worst On Planet Earth?

According to something called the INRIX Traffic Scorecard, Seattle's Metro-area traffic ranks 10th worst nationally and 20th overall worldwide.  Astounding if true, and after spending a little more time recently on the local taxi roads, I can literally see what they are referring to.  Two others ranking systems put Seattle's traffic nationally at 4th and 6th worst respectively.  What no one is talking about is why, why is this truly small metropolitan area so clogged with traffic?  One answer is geography, essentially locating a relatively large city amidst a mountain range.  Bad, bad idea.  The other is a lack of vision by city planners.  Yes, they are now attempting to catch up but guess what, they are, instead, falling behind.

This reminds of a local news item from Mayor Murray decrying about the homeless situation in Seattle, calling it a true emergency that must be urgently addressed.  Only problem with the mayor's concern is that he has done little to address outrageous rent increases.  In the Ballard neighborhood a friend's rent increased by $900.00. a month.  A recent passenger, now staying at an Aurora Avenue North motel, being in-between apartments, had his Ballard studio-apartment go from $500.00 monthly to $1200.00.  

Yes, locally, the sky is falling but whose fault is it?  Being dimwitted I think I know who is responsible.  Or maybe I just don't know anything, having dropped out of school so long ago I can't even write my own name.

USA 2016 Traffic Deaths Increasing Over Past Years

According to new data, the United States traffic deaths for the year 2016 were 40,200 give or take a few random bodies.  Yes, not only are the local Seattle and area streets more clogged, they are certainly more dangerous, driving around here becoming some deranged version of automobile dodge-ball.  As I tell anyone who is interested in listening, the only terrorists I meet are my fellow motorists who are making every effort to kill me and themselves and everyone around them.  Is this an exaggeration?  No, it is reality, as the recent national body count shows.

Just for example, how many American soldiers were killed over the three-year long Korean War?  23,000.

And what about the Vietnam War, stretching from 1959-1975?  58,000 Americans dying for what we will never know.  There have been individual years during the past three decades where up to 50,000 people have died upon America's vast roadways.  While one death is too many, 40 to 50 thousand killed is far beyond acceptability.

So while the Federal Government worries about a few errant individuals you can be sure one of your fellow red-blooded Americans will soon try to kill you.  But please, don't take it personally, they have places to go and things to do.  They gotta move and you are just in the way.  And if you are either injured or killed, that, brothers and sisters, is just how it is.

State HB 1917

Whether it will ever become law, who knows but down in Olympia, Washington's lawmakers are back at  work, and one bill of interest is trying to get the fees Sea-Tac cabbie's are paying down to a $2.00 gate from the current $7.00 gate.  Why this can be controlled by the State is beyond me but I for one endorse the idea because, as I have said in the past, they (the Sea-Tac cabbies) are, plain and simply, paying way too much.  I have also heard of infighting between Teamsters 117 and some who are advocating for the change. What's truly up and truly down I can't tell you but once again, as the old story goes, who ultimately pays the price is the cabbie and no one else.

WA State Bill SB 5620; Just what is Uber & Lyft trying to do?

Again, the Seattle & King County taxi industry owes a great thank you to The Seattle Weekly and staff writer Sara Bernard for keeping us informed upon all items Uber and Lyft.  In its Feb 15th. 2017 edition, Bernard writes about the combined Uber and Lyft effort to shift regulatory authority from the municipal and county to the State, making it even harder to get a grip upon the ever elusive Uber.  That SB 5620 waters down regulations should go without saying.  The taxi industry lobbyist Cindi Laws says "This is a giveaway on the magnitude of a Boeing tax giveaway."  And I would agree with that, meaning SB 5620, if becoming law, would further hurt the already wounded Seattle and area taxi industry.

What I find most interesting is not Uber's efforts toward self-preservation.  No, it is who is named as the primary sponsor, that being WA State Senator Curtis King, a Republican from the very rural, eastern Washington town of Yakima.  As I said in an email to King, why is someone from Yakima working to promote and expand the very urban Uber?   I for one think this is a very good question.

If you have any questions you would like answered, please email the good senator at curtis.king@leg.wa.gov.  On his website he says he wants to hear from you.  So take him at his word and tell him what you think.  From what I can see, regulation of Uber and Lyft is currently abysmal.  Can it get any worse?  I believe it would if Uber and King have their way.

I should add that the same thing is also happening in the state of Iowa, with Republicans in control of both the State House and Senate.  The sitting governor is also a Republican.  Just like Senator King, his fellow Republicans in the "Hawkeye State" are attempting the same thing, writing legislation that ends municipal control.

Again, Sara, thanks for trying to keep all us sleepyhead cabbies awake.  It is appreciated.










Thursday, February 16, 2017

Even The Unconscious Must Pay Their Cab Fare

It has been said that beneath human civility lies the primitive nature, a hidden animal ready to pounce and devour the unsuspecting.  And in the introduction from the 1930s radio series, "The Shadow," the narrator poses the question, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"  His reply is that the "Shadow" knows. And I can now add that perhaps I too know all about it.

Taking it even further, I give you the three following quotes from Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Eric Berne, Berne being the founder of the therapy modality I studied for three years back in 1974-77, Transactional Analysis. Here in Seattle, our TA studies, taught by my mentor Molly Johnson, were aligned with an  associated  psychological umbrella called Radical Therapy, Radical Therapy itself a TA offshoot founded by Dr. Claude Steiner in Berkley, California.

Back in 1976 I met the famous Steiner himself at a TA conference outside of Iowa City, Iowa.  At its height our Seattle-based therapy collective had nearly 200 members including a physician I remain convinced to this day was a government informant.  It was those kinds of days, Molly and her various friends and followers chased out of the state of Indiana.

Radical Therapy operational theory was that therapy is a political act, translating into that all human interaction holds a political basis or foundation.  Whether true or not, that is what we were all talking about way back then during those very different of times.  Ah yes, what mysteries, not to say confusion, lurks in the brains of both men and woman?  Do I really want to know the answer to that question?  No, I don't think so.

"The tendency of aggression is an innate independent instinctual disposition in man....it constitutes the most powerful obstacle to culture."----Sigmund Freud

"Man's task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious."----Carl Jung

"Awareness requires living in the here and now, and not in the elsewhere, the past or the future."  Eric Berne

I mention all this due to a short ride from the Dock Tavern to an address a couple miles away near the intersection of North 45th & Sunnyside Avenue North, having quickly turned into an instant nightmare, with the young woman, clearly in some kind of altered state of consciousness from it seems an unfortunate combination of alcohol and drugs, first refusing to pay the eight dollars owed, then physically attacking me, both hitting me in the face and knocking off my glasses.  There are many inherent lessons contained here, but most importantly for me is that I must pay attention at all times regardless of how tired I am.  If  perhaps I had been paying better attention I would have noticed how disconnected she was, realizing how unsuitable she was as a passenger.

I have met others like her, individuals who are "blacked out" on their feet, making it impossible to communicate in any normal way, their overall quality (and state of mind) being violent aggression melded to a childish immaturity. If you can think of a worse combination, I suggest running as fast as you can in the opposite direction.  I assure you it isn't anything you want to be involved with.

My only excuse for all of this is the usual taxi exhaustion blanking my mind at a time I truly needed to think quickly, forgetting to both send message 57 indicating I had an "emergency" and not hitting the emergency button next to my knee.  I truly wanted the police to respond but at that moment my telephone screen had gone blank, allowing me to accept calls but not to call out.  Since the fare was small I should have just let her go but in my lack of wisdom, deciding to keep the doors locked in a misguided attempt to hold the idiot accountable.

One step I sometimes take in situations like these is to take the person back to where the fare began but again this was a bad idea because the woman was completely berserk and clearly dangerous.  On the way back to the Dock I got the bright idea to ask a group of "twenty-somethings" to please call the police.  To my dismay they collectively refused, not having the ability to comprehend that something quite serious was occurring, or to put it another way, were confused by the woman screaming, and grew suspicious that the horrible cabbie was going something "mean and awful" to the innocent and victimized passenger.

When it became clear they were all about to become righteous vigilantes I kept going but stopping when I came across another Yellow cabbie, telling him to call the police.  While waiting there, some of the heroic "twenty-somethings" came running up, with one offering to pay the fare.  Handing me a ten, I gave him back his change.  Given half a chance I would have told him I would now take the young fool back to her address but he and his comrades appeared more interested in saving the day so whom am I to argue?

My only vindication is that suddenly they had her on their hands, having to deal with the unconscious zombie that she was.  Given that, I am sure they all had a good time. How do you communicate with a blank wall? From my experience you simply don't, walls very poor conversationalists.

Later I found her debit card on the rear floorboard, along with a drug pipe and various cosmetics. Anyway, if there is ever a next time, I am letting the fruitcake run where ever they like.  I still remember a similar case, upon getting the guy to pay me, I last saw him running down the street screaming at the "top of his lungs." But hopefully, if there is a next time, I will be more alert and never, ever let such people into my cab again.  While she was attacking me I clearly pulled a muscle in my back.  Oh yes, isn't taxi fun?  No, I wouldn't say it is, would you?

My final comment is that the lack of assistance from the kids on the corner reminded me of that famous murder in New York City dating from March 13th, 1964, when Kitty Genovese was stabbed repeatedly by Winston Moseley while people ignored her blood curdling screams.  Would they have responded if I had been repeatedly stabbed?  A good question for which I have no answer for but since I didn't the time to count all those kids, I still think there were fewer than 37 of them.  God lets hope so is all I can say!

Hey, if someone asks to call 911, just do it minus any attempt toward unnecessary analysis.  No, heroics aren't required but commonsense certainly is. What is that?  Well if you don't know I give up, tired of explaining the what should be as obvious as, is said, the nose on your face. You do know you have a nose, don't you?