The rarest of events happened late Wednesday night when my friend Ted was both robbed and made to leave his cab, with the two assailants driving away in his taxi. The short version of the story is that a man approached the cab in a darkened place beneath the Alaskan Viaduct (State Route 99) with a rifle wrapped in a blanket, forcing Ted to stop. After robbing him, the man and his female companion drove off. Making this bad story worse was the response of the Seattle police, refusing to do an immediate search because Ted didn't know the license plate number but given the cab was, one, a big Yellow Ford Crown Victoria, and two, the taxi's number 516 clearly posted on the sides and rear, it should have been somewhat easy to spot but no, SPD has their procedure and there would be no deviation from established policies, of course allowing the couple to get away.
One surprising part of the story is that the criminals knew enough to turn off the cab's computer, meaning dispatch lost the ability to track it. Twice the car was spotted by Yellow cabbies but in one case my friend James hit a big pothole which unfortunately deflated two tires because if anyone could have stayed behind the fools it would be James.
Regardless of anything, Ted thankfully was not hurt and the cab was found the next day and is now currently sitting in a SPD parking lot, scheduled to be released sometime Monday or Tuesday. This is the first time in my 30 Seattle taxi years I've heard of this happening, meaning that while Seattle cab driving will drive you crazy your chance of being murdered is very small unlike in cities like Chicago and New York. But given that it happened to someone with more taxi miles and years than me also says something, suggesting that Seattle is changing for the worst, not the better.
The Seattle Police Department Likes Uber?
Damn was I surprised when picking up at last night's Seattle Mariner's game at SafeCo field given the SPD's indifferent to me and ALL THOSE UBER & Lyft CARS blocking traffic around the stadium. The usual story is the past has been harassment from Seattle's finest but last night they didn't say a word to anyone as I picked up three times, my last passenger taking me to Bellevue and $42.60.
Clearly SPD has been told to lay off the Ubers and consequently, at least for the taxi moment, we cabbies too are also provided a free pass. Why I am so pleased that if I see Uber's founder walking down the street I might even kiss him. As yes, instant love or maybe not, the chance of infection too great even for a toxic ridden cabbie to take!
When You Can't Authorize your Credit Card
A major drawback of taxi dispatch computers is when they crash you are left without any option except to wait it out. Last night we were all presented with a unique scenario when it wasn't at all apparent the system was down when we did the commonplace, authorize a credit card payment, me and everyone else getting the message, "Buffeted Transaction," meaning the computer authorization was in an "intermediate stage" which until last night resulted in quick completed authorizations. Talking to friends and colleagues it seems all of us all didn't understand what was happening, that the transactions were faulty, endangering our ultimate payment.
Unfortunately this might all turn into a huge argument with Puget Sound Dispatch if it turns out that hundreds of credit card authorizations failed to process. Too often in my many years all responsibility is always put on the cabbie even though it isn't our fault, having done nothing but pay our fees and trust the associations to treat us fairly. Our weekly $180.00 must come with some guarantees other than heartbreak. When the computer goes down, how is it our responsibility? I would like to know.