Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Worst No-Show & An Ignoble Accomplishment

What would taxi driving be without the no-show, that instant heartbreak sullying the taxi romance?  Well, it would be a hell of a lot sweeter.  Saturday I had two substantial (one an airport run) no-shows in a row but neither matched the Sunday late afternoon version.  Luckily 24 plus years has toughened me. This is also a good example that bad things happen to the most experienced of cabbies, no one immune from the taxi venom.

I got belled into Children's Hospital for an ASAP DSHS run to Yakima, WA, paying a wonderful $376.00. Arriving at the Giraffe entrance folks at the front desk called and said the child and mother would be down soon.  I got the call at 5:15 PM and was at the hospital in three minutes.  I have been to Yakima three times and was looking forward to the drive.  The pass over the Cascades was clear.  I was ready to go.

Soon it is 5:40 PM and no passengers.  Another call tells me to wait another ten minutes.  Slightly unusual but not completely.  Finally at 5:50 PM I find what the problem is.  The child has a special wheelchair/car seat and the concern is that it won't fit in my Crown Victoria.  I call dispatch who calls DSHS who eventually responds with the confounding "send a larger car" though the larger car, namely 478, was already there.  It is decided that a nurse would come down and inspect my car.

An extremely nice young woman finally makes it down to me in total tears explaining that she had requested a wheelchair van two hours previously.  Long and the sorry short of it is that I lost the fare and a full hour.  Whether I am compensated for my lost time is very questionable.  I put in my request already knowing the answer.  I was on call. I couldn't leave.  And what do I get?  You know what I got!  A swift kick in the old behind.  At least the nurse shed a few tears for me.  Sympathy is not a bad payment.   The cabbie will take empathy anywhere he/she can get it, as rare as a golden nugget hidden in a swift-flowing stream.

Who Was Insulted?

She who can't be named plowed through a month of postings and especially noted my mention about mild lunacy concerning picking up packages.  What I failed to mention was that a complaint was received saying I was rude and I was taken off bloods for at least a month.  Of course the responsibility falls completely upon the cabbie.  One mustn't object to being treated like a thief.  I call it an ignoble accomplishment because it is unusually the most rabid of taxi drivers that are penalized.  Me, why about three years ago I picked up a "hot" blood heading to Whidby Island and since the last ferry had departed I was compelled to drive all the way up to Deception Pass and then down the length of the island to the hospital and the waiting patient, all after I had been driving the entire day.  Was I rude then, or were they just not paying attention.  You know the answer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Taxi Physical & Taxi Safety Presentation

Today I renewed my taxi for-hire license for hopefully the last time, at least what I term a serious re- licensing.  If I get out of this crazy business on my own terms I have the intention to renew every year though I might never drive again.  Even if I am selling tons of books I still want to be remembered and never forgotten as the taxi driver I will always be.  As I told a nice guy  originally from NYC I took on Sunday from West Seattle to some wine fest at the Seattle Center, "once a taxi driver, always a taxi driver" as he drove for 2 1/2 years while putting himself through college.  He added that an uncle of his helped solve a taxi murder in Queens.  Some might remember that in the mid-80s taxi and livery cab murders were averaging over fifty a year in the Big Apple!  Thankfully the criminals in Seattle are polite and leave taxi crocodiles like me alone.  They take one good look at me, remain well-behaved and sometimes even tip, just thankful I just didn't take one big bite and rip off their head.  Who says I ain't courteous?  You gotta be kiddin'!

Anyway, I first had to get my taxi physical today, my final step toward renewal.  Most of us go down to this doctor's office in the International District (Chinatown/Little Saigon), plunk down our $50.00 and go through the most laughable examination possible.  They scared me twice by telling me I weighted 198 pounds and that my blood pressure was 180 over 80.  The assistant used some kind of automatic cuff and it was just wild.  The doctor remeasured me with a standard cuff and came up with 120 over 70.  Given my history of being 90 over 60 I was quite taken aback.  And when I weighted myself at the West Seattle YMCA I was 176, still heavy for me but getting it wrong by 22 pounds is quite the accomplishment.  My eyesight graded out as 20/25 but I complained that I had trouble seeing the chart due to glare from the fluorescent lighting.  They also put me down as 5'8" so I also shrunk an inch.  That office is just a little bit nutty.  I asked why my hearing wasn't tested but for some reason Seattle/King County deciding it was no longer a necessity.  I suppose that their rationale is since they know we never listen to anyone anyway  it not mattering if you are stone deaf.  The gals behind the desk got a big charge out of my question and made  jokes, obviously enjoying themselves.  Anything to relieve the boredom.  Maybe next time they can put the blood pressure cuff around my throat.  Now that would be exciting!

The big improvement once I got downtown to drop off the good news was the instantaneous creation of my new for-hire license.  No more waiting for the damn thing to show up in the mail.  I told them I was impressed but some of the King County folks appear to be miffed with me over my disenchantment with the taxi commission.  I have made the egregious error of pointing out the madness that is the commission.  I would be gone already but for a request by my taxi colleagues to stay on.  Regardless, the long and short is that I am legal until the end of January 2013.  I think 2013 it would the perfect year for the memoir I am writing, "To Age Thirteen" to become a best seller. You know how I like synchronicity.

Taxi Weather

I am extremely pleased to report that Professor Cliff Mass, the local weather guru and University of Washington professor has agreed to participate in some kind of weather safety seminar/lecture directed toward the Seattle/KC taxi community.  As I have said previously, this is in response to Jack's death related to the black ice accident of January 23rd.  I want to get the attention of all of my fellow cabbies and bringing on a local celebrity hopefully will do it.  And all he is asking is for a donation to his education fund.  Good to know that there are still some nice people remaining in Seattle as opposed to all of the money-grubbing carpetbaggers who have destroyed Seattle economically, trying to transform this little place into NYC.  Hopefully the presentation will happen either in March or April.  The sooner the better.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cabbie's Reading Corner

I have decided to take Scott Simon's idea and apply it to myself.  So occasionally when I am reading something worthwhile I will mention it.  And those who are my taxi driver readers, please feel encouraged to recommend a good read.  I do promise I will not list everything I am or have been reading because my various agendas for reading a particular book may not lend itself for general perusal.  And my best current for instance and example is Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" which I am reading solely due to its vaunted place in literary history.  I like it but it is truly too wordy and the allusions are so obscure  as to be completely confounding.  Only a very-versed historian of 18th & 19th century France could truly understand what Hugo is referencing.  If that completely annotated version exists I want it!  Or maybe, if given the opportunity, publish one myself, though I won't be the poor soul doing the research.  It would take me a couple of lifetimes, at least!

No, the book I am recommending is fairly simple but wonderfully written.  The fourth chapter, entitled, "Reptile Love", is worth the entire book, which is "The Lizard King" by Bryan Christy, a expose about real-live reptile smuggling. Sorry to disappoint all those Doors fans out there as it has nothing to do with that rock & roll lizard king, Jim Morrison though I can admit to once standing beside his Paris graveside in August of 2003.. Vitals for the book: published 2008 by Hachette Book Group.  ISBN-13:978-0-446-58095-3.

And remember, you almost have to try to die from a rattlesnake bite.  Twice I have stepped upon rattlesnakes while hiking and both times the snake just got the heck out of there.  Snakes are nice if not particularly friendly creatures. They have their own way and manner of doing things.  Just like some taxi drivers I know.  I wouldn't pet them either!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Hours of Agony & Sea-Tac Ground Transportation Hearing

She who can't be named commented that my "grinding it out" moved a trifle too fast, glossing over the pain and suffering of those lost early Saturday morning hours. And she has a legitimate point, because sitting in that taxi waiting "for Godot" does seem like an eternity or somehow similar to the most existential of questions concerning existence: where will life take me?  Suffice to say, minute by minute ticks by, and especially for those confined to a morning or night shift, each fading minute translating into missed opportunity.  During that time I was reading the newspaper, constantly scanning the computer and chowing down on my snack of organic mashed potatoes and turkey.  But even so, the goal is to have that meter running and nothing else.  Heading off to the University District gave me almost an immediate position of "first car to go" but again all I did was sit.  Yes I was beginning to swear out loud.  I even pounded the steering wheel for some distracting melodrama. It was dark so no one could see me acting the lunatic!  I could go into far more detail but you have the pathetic picture. Sitting in the taxi for over an hour waiting for what we don't know is a minor version of Hell.  Maybe Rick Santorum's evil Satan had something to do with it.  Is Satan a Roman Catholic?

Sea-Tac Appeal Hearing

My friend Sorush M., a taxi veteran of over 27 years was nabbed with a $300.00 dollar ticket for the alleged crime of sitting on the ticket level trying to pick up all the customers that were no where to be seen that Sunday night of December 11, 2011.  I just happened to be dropping off just after an employee from Sea-Tac ground transportation  had confronted him.  Sorush was finishing up a credit card transaction and the fellow in question tapped on the taxi window demanding Sorush's taxi for-hire license.  It appears that the gentleman refused to identify himself which prompted Sorush to call 911 and request police assistance. I too tried to make sense of the situation, talking to the police that Sunday evening.

Fast forward to this morning to his appeals hearings which I attended as what I could describe as an expert witness on the behalf of my friend.  After Sorush's very emotional testimony I said that if I didn't know that ground transportation had police-like enforcement authority then clearly no other taxi driver could be expected to be aware of that particular mandate.  The four women on the panel were reasonable, and I think the chances are good that Sorush will be left off with a warning.  He took me out for Chinese afterwards.  Nobody likes going through these kinds of personal trials alone.  It isn't any fun.  I told the panel that the entire situation was counter intuitive.  Like me, Sorush just works the weekends.  His "day" job is being a civil engineer.  My day job is sleeping which I am about to attend to. May I not dream about taxi!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grinding It Out

Though my purpose is multiple, the primary reason I have been writing this blog is to show what taxi is really like, factual taxi, and just like the blogs name, it is an unblemished description of the glories or not of the total taxi driving experience.  Given that, today is a portrayal of what it takes to make money, to make or "construct a shift" as I call it.  It takes skill and a grim determination to make money despite all odds against you. This story begins this past Saturday morning at about 3:40 AM. You will see clearly all the fun I wasn't having.

I am booked in Zone 270, which is the greater area just south of the stadiums.  Still loading my taxi for the weekend I hear the computer beeping at me, offering me a fare.  It is in an adjacent area, zone 505, and despite some difficulty in getting the computer to  take my acceptance, I get the fare, an airport time call for 4:00 AM next to the old Farwest taxi lot.  Great I said but oh no! as I arrive, seeing that another Yellow cab has already arrived, a sure sign that the call was double-belled.  Sure thing as the passenger apologized over the telephone.  What happened is a too typical occurrence.  The passenger called to confirm his time call and the call taker put it out as a new call.  Happens all the time and the driver is impacted without any compensation other than getting your first position back.  All you can do is attempt to remain calm. There is literally no other option.  Getting angry achieves nothing whatsoever other than breaking your concentration.  That you don't want to do because the unbalanced taxi driver just topples off that high wire.  And there is no one to rub your head!

Unfortunately,  I became marooned in the 270, finally leaving after patiently waiting for nearly a hour.  Sometimes you just have to leave first up and I did, heading to the University District.  I was muttering to myself before finally getting a 5:30 AM time call to Sea-Tac.  Thank goodness I got $42.00 after losing almost two hours.  Okay, I say to myself, my weekend is finally started.  With only working 2 days a week, the pressure upon myself is intense.  I literally can not afford to fail.

Clearly it is a "slow-going morning" and I make it all the way back to the University District, a good 16 or so dead-head miles to pick up a young woman needing to catch a south-bound bus at 2nd & Cherry.  I get her there in plenty of time.  She was attending a remedial driving class in the city of Lakewood which is south of Tacoma. By taking the eight hour long class she beats her "running the red light" ticket.  I got $17.00.

Heading to the West Seattle zone 260  I quickly get a "freaked-out" gentleman who has been waiting nearly a hour and didn't want to miss his train to Vancouver, BC, Canada.  I think he was dumped.  I told him not to fear and got him to the King Street station in about 8 minutes.  He was extremely grateful and gave me a total of $21.00 for my efforts.

Noticing that there was a bell sitting in zone 152 (University Hospital) I bid for it then flew over there to deliver a package from U Hospital inpatient pharmacy to Children's inpatient pharmacy.  It is a bit of a pain as you have to get a security badge made up at Children's but hell! it was another $14.00 though I was beginning to burn a lot of gasoline flying like I was searching for fares.  That is what I mean by grinding it out!

Quickly got a fare in zone 155, a stranded kid at a bus stop, taking him for $7.00 just a block away from my favorite U District coffee shop.  All this running requires an artificial boost. 

Soon thereafter I get a much better call in the 155, a young yoga instructor going up to Lynnwood for an all-day yoga seminar.  With tip I had another $42.00 and I later picked her in the early evening for another $42.00.  Nothing like taxi miles adding up.  This particular weekend I spent over $200.00 dollars on fuel.  Lots of fun.

Calculating the time, I realized that I had better head back to West Seattle for my Vashon Island ferry personal which averages a cool $50-60.00 dollars during a quick 40 minute round-trip.  But it meant dead-heading a good 20 or more miles southward. .  I really like the couple, Shona & Michael, and this time it was $55.00 dollars.  I was catching up to myself.  All my complaints flew out of the taxi door. All I could do my focus and shut up and keep driving.  There was no alternative.

My next fare was a family going to San Francisco with their dog from the West Seattle zone 260.  Forgot the pooch's name but he was great, a very spirited dachshund-mix.  Nice people and wonderful dog resulting in $50.00 dollars.

Coming back I noticed the Queen Anne (zone 170) was moving and immediately got another Sea-Tac run.  This was more like it!  Bunch of young folks in town for job interviews. Another $48.00 dollars!

Coming back I got a Georgetown bell going to Belltown.  They were in these amazing Mardi Gras costumes, covered with beads and wearing masks and it was still morning.  A very pleasant couple translating into $22.00 dollars.

And there you have it, taxi at it finest or worse.  And as I have been losing the last paragraph twice over, I better stop before I lose my mind, which I am about too!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jack Update & It Is Hard To Win With The SPD

Last week I talked to Jack's sister Pam.  She confirmed that Jack's body had been cremated and the family is awaiting the delivery of the urn.  She also said that it could be between 4-6 weeks before the autopsy results are back.  I have the unfortunate feeling that this story, the hospital involvement with Jack's death, could take many months if not years to be resolved and concluded.  I hope I am wrong.  Pam said their initial idea about a funeral or memorial resolves around having some kind of wake at the Mecca Cafe, followed by a ceremony at that large cemetery atop the north side of Queen Anne hill, where Jack's ashes will be spread over his father's grave. Again, all news one way or the other will be posted as I receive it.  There is a donation box located at the Yellow cashier window for those who are interested in contributing.  The address of the lot is 74 South Hudson, which is about a half mile or so north of the First South bridge.

This evening I received a telephone call from SPD, telling me that my internal investigation complaint was not substantiated.  I did not expect it to be.  As the Department of Justice report pointed out, the SPD are prone to exonerating their officers regardless of the situation.  I just heard this horrific story of officer overreaction related by KOMO radio, the local radio news station.  If you are interested to know more I suggest you go to their website.  Clearly there are more serious incidents than the public can keep up with.  That the abuse appears to be institutionalized is confirmed by the Justice report.  The late Barry Fletcher relayed more than once that it was standard procedure to beat up the suspects as they were being arrested.  I know the feeling.  Boy would I enjoy punching some of my passengers in the nose.  I know for sure that many of my passengers would enjoy retalilating in a similar manner.

Tomorrow expect a posting concerning grinding it out as a taxi driver.  You might find it informative.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hey Scott Simon, Where Is That London Book Reading Cabbie?

I haven't heard this NPR radio segment for a few years now but the weekend host, Scott Simon, used to occasionally check in on a depressed-sounding London taxi driver and find out what he was currently reading. I think the theory behind this feature was that every taxi driver had "down time" between the fares and reading is a beneficial time consumer.  At least in the past it was not unusual to see a driver sitting on a  downtown hotel stand with his nose poked into a book.  That has never been my habit, as I am always nervously thinking about my next fare, scanning the computer screen for what is happening in every part of the city.  A newspaper is about as serious as I get, and even then I am putting it down every 30 seconds or so to read the MDT.

But read I do when I am not driving, and my current read is something I must recommend.  It is non-fiction and the full title is a "Reluctant Accomplice, A Wehrmacht Soldier's Letters From The Eastern Front."  The book is edited by the German historian Konrad H. Jarausch and the letters were written by his own father, Konrad Jarausch, the father he never saw, having succumbed to fever in January 1942.  I have not read anything like this in a very long time, reminding me of all those WWII autobiographies I read in 1967-68, forming the basis for my later conscientious objection application in 1972.  If you are interested in knowing about wars' realities written by someone who didn't want to be there, then this book is for you.  It was published by Princeton University Press in 2011. ISBN 978-0-691-14042-1.  Good reading!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Clearly I Have Had Enough

I will get to a taxi tale or two in a moment but what is truly concerning me is the "wasting of my time" that is taxi.  I have had enough, enough of unappreciative passengers, enough of inherent and disrespectful attitudes attached to the industry itself, and have had more than enough of people in positions of power not listening to me, even when theoretically they have put me in official positions to hear and consider my advise and experience.  It is the wise fool who realizes that the person he/she is talking to is to him/herself.  I am tired of bouncing off the walls of others' ignorance and inconsideration.  Thick as a Brick is not just a Jethro Tull recording, it is the too average brain.  Not nice to infer as much but truly enough is certainly just that.  "Ya gotta be kiddin'" is my answer to myself.  So all joking aside, I have to put myself in the position to get out of the taxi madhouse.  I will talk about those efforts in the coming weeks and months.  Suffice to say, dumb is stupidity when you know and then continue walking directly into it.  Not the brightest response to unwarranted insult.  What did I do to deserve this abuse?  Nothing.  No, I am pleased to tell you that original sin or soul abnegation does not exist.  I have not sinned.  I do not want this cloistered cell in a private hell, where forever I am fatigued and never completely well!  Yes, speaking of enough, enough of that.  "Goodbye To All That" was Robert Graves' memoir concerning WWI.  What will be my farewell address?  Farewell to ______________?  One day I will fill in the many blanks.

Taxi Weekend

Why is it that new drivers just don't understand not to turn off the MDT/taxi computer?  Perhaps it is poor training because that is what I found on an early Saturday morning.  When you turn the damn thing off it takes five to ten and sometimes even fifteen minutes for the GPS to return, allowing you to book into a zone.  "Dummy Down" is the not so humorous clown! not caring or imagining your agonized frown!  Obviously back again to the "enough is enough" refrain!

Part of my problem of recounting the various rides is simply they blend into  a stream pouring into a personal swamp.  I actually have to make a real effort to remember and sort it all out.  I can say though that declined credit cards are disheartening, and I hate even more submitting them repeatedly in the hope of finally getting paid.  I got a $23.00 decline on Saturday bar break.  Each new submittal is the reviving of unwanted nightmare.  I don't want this dream!

Picking up at the Ballard Smoke Shop (long-time, old-time bar), the Sunday afternoon drunk had a new red octopus tattoo on his stomach and sang a poor recital "Green-eyed lady, lovely lady" as he double-bird saluted me getting out of the cab broadly grinning.  Not a bad guy. Gave me ten for a five dollar fare.  Just another "garden variety taxi idiot!"  Am I being repetitious?  Enough!

Monday, February 13, 2012

TAG Minutes & Nothing More Than Mundane

Last week there were two scheduled taxi meetings, the taxi advisory commission and the group known as TAG, the quarterly advisory group sponsored by Seattle's Office of Consumer Affairs and hosted by Craig Leisy.  I and two primary members missed the commission meeting.  The hope and wish and desire is that King County and the City of Seattle begin to understand that the commission as it is currently composed and formatted is dysfunctional and unworkable.  My Seattle contact has not been getting back to me.  I do understand that politics are involved but the situation on the commission can not be ignored, or to put it succinctly I personally will be ignoring it as I am ready to tender my resignation.

After reading the TAG minutes it is clear that my opinion that day was not completely valued (or appreciated) as my reported statements are essentially poor fiction.  Here is some quick clarification.  I don't like being misquoted in part because the issues are important and obfuscation at this point is silly.

During the discussion concerning the massive onslaught of new "for-hire" vehicles, those non-metered livery cabs that are being newly licensed by Seattle and King County, it is stated that I said something pertaining to "resources for consumer safely." Huh?  What I really said and in some detail was that KC and Seattle have been issuing too many taxi for-hire driver licenses, thus creating this huge, unmanageable pool of drivers who literally have no taxis to drive.  I reminded Mr. Leisy that I have been recommending for the past few years either a limiting or an actual moratorium on new for-hire licensing.  We wouldn't want to interject commonsense into the conversation, would we?

During the discussion concerning taxi meter increases related to the L&I issue, Leisy has me saying that any rate increase would lower ridership and cause economic harm to the drivers.  What I actually said was that there was a real problem of definition between the State of Washington and Seattle & King County's position of what lease drivers are or not legally.  I believe that this inherent contradiction will ultimately lead to the issue being returned to the State by both the KC & Seattle councils.  Leisy does not enjoy hearing this.  I did say, in terms of economic impact, that with a corresponding rate increase, some drivers at Yellow could be looking at an additional cost of $3,600. dollars.  Mister Leisy said that the increase would easily take care of that.  An attitude like that is only generated by someone who has never driven a taxi.  May a rule be made mandating that every governmental official regulating the taxi industry first do a few weeks navigating the streets in a cab.  Then of course we might then have a realistic view of what is good or not for the average cabbie!

The last quote has me saying that I think everyone (all the taxis) should stay off the streets until they are drivable.  Double huh! on that one.  I said that Yellow and the other associations should have a "snow day" plan putting experienced drivers "on the road" to cover the business, not keep them off.  The question for me in all this is why should I keep participating in these forums when clearly my opinion is not taken seriously.  Yes, frustration is taking over.  Why should I care when no one else does, when obviously the advisory meeting are a pretense, a journey down a dead end highway. 

 Mundane Taxi for a Weekend

Maybe I could and will dredge up various weekend adventures but will wait until I am in another mood.  Give me sleep, give sanity, give me a peaceful moment and a pleasant cup of tea.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Barry Fletcher Funeral & Notes of Mild Lunacy

Barry Anthony Fletcher (02/02/44-01/30/12) was buried yesterday.  A fairly elaborate Roman Catholic mass was attended by about 100 mourners, including fifty or so from Yellow Taxi.  It might of been what is called a "high mass" but being an extremely lapsed Catholic I can't say for sure.  A driver and Barry's son delivered eulogies after the Communion service.  Everyone chuckled as the driver spoke of Barry's "SOS" requests for diet Cokes and other such refreshments.  Overall it was a good send-off to our taxi comrade.  One clear presence that was missing was the Seattle Police Department.  Much reference was made, including his officer photos, to Barry's career as a police officer.  That there appears to have been no official SPD representation was surprising to me.  Perhaps there were former colleagues amongst the audience, at least I hope there were.  The day was grey and dismal, perhaps suiting to the lugubrious moment and event.

Family members picked up Jack Magerstaedt's car on Wednesday, which had remained parked on the lot since January 23, the day of the accident.  I have the sense that the family desires their privacy but will notify everyone when the autopsy is released.  Rumor and anger is spreading throughout Yellow concerning HMC's handling of Jack's post-accident condition.  All I can advise is just to wait and see, as hopefully soon all of us will have more information enabling a more accurate and precise assessment.  As we all know, HMC is one of the top trauma centers in the USA.  Of course, mistakes can be made.  All I suggest is that we withhold judgement and comment until more facts are clearly known.

Margot S., Jack's long-time "personal", wrote movingly of their various conversations, including the topic of flowers, and upon one occasion Jack giving her a large flowering plant.  Who would have ever guessed that Jack was actually a closet "flower child!"  At the lot, Jack remained extremely private, pulling in and getting out on the road as quickly as possible.  For being such a long-term driver, he was virtually unknown.  Jack liked it that way.  For instance, Jack was born in Cambodia just after the end of WWII, a very interesting fact that Jack never mentioned.  Margot also sent me a photograph of the Mecca Cafe memorial marquee saluting Jack.  It is a great photo and something you will soon be able to view for yourself on this blog.

And to further punctuate my point about driver concern, my buddy Ali who shares 478, just called me to voice his trepidation concerning HMC's treatment of our friend.  He had spoken to Jack after his arrival at Haborview.  Ali can't understand how they potentially missed the truth of Jack's actual condition.  Yes, that is an understandable question, hopefully one that can be answered soon.  As I have said, any new information will immediately be posted.

Mild? Lunacy

Every taxi driver's primary complaint, regardless of country or city, will be the sometimes ill-treatment by some passengers.  Much of it is predictable knowing that that some clearly hold a discriminatory attitude toward anyone operating beneath the top-light.  That you potentially hold their life in your hands is something they don't consider.  You are of the servant-class and you better behave and understand your societal  position.  Here are two examples from the "lunar" weekend, both occurring in a row.  Yes fun comes in pairs!

The first incident comes with this admonishment: taxi drivers, keep that front seat passenger-side door locked!  There's always trouble when you don't.

It was a simple call on the Mercer-side of Seattle Center.  A couple of play-goers had requested a cab.  I got there instantaneously and saw the woman in a certain colored (it was noted in the computer notes) sweater was waving to me as she marched in a determined fashion through the exiting crowd.  Having not locked the door, she instead of opening the rear door opened the front allowing for my thermos to heavily hit the street and watch as the wind caught my newspaper and take it down the street.  Anyone normal and respectful would have picked up my now damaged thermos and apologized but no, not this individual, finding it necessary to address her only concern.  Obvious that I was the assigned taxi my only response was to have her pick up my thermos and get in the taxi as we awaited her husband.  Evidently she didn't expect such prompt service and it confused her. I appear to confuse people all of the time, by simply providing good and efficient service.  Maybe they shouldn't have such low expectations.  Regardless, my response shook my woman to her core, unable to regain any civility she might hold toward the lower classes. 

As I noted as I drove them to their very expensive retirement facility on First Hill, I was a trifle tired which in part explained my mood.  After that I was friendly, even giving the woman a pen to write with.  I thought she needed it to fill out some kind of payment or charge voucher but instead it appears she was busily writing down the cab number etc. because she certainly wasn't paying attention to the ride.  As I get to the destination I quoted the amount on the meter which was $9.00,then  turning off the meter to quickly get myself into Zone 230.  As she wasn't paying attention she yelped that it was too much, saying "Prove it!" essentially accusing me of being a thief.  She then started yelling that I was rude and began lecturing me.  I told that she didn't have to pay me but as her husband was already handing me the money I took it, not needing further insult to my already dented thermos.  So this is what the millionaire-class dish out,the coddled one-percent currently in the news.  All I can say is sometimes I just don't feel like being nice.  Call it a failing or call it taxi reality.  My earlier effort literally fell upon deaf ears as the husband had left home without his hearing aid and missed understanding the performance he had earlier attended.  When I asked him just what was wrong with his wife he said that she was surprised I had gotten to them that quickly.  Again, are you ready to try your hand at the taxi craft?

Soon after that uplifting interaction I was belled into a facility that plays a peculiar game: even though it called Yellow for a package pickup the personnel act as if the driver is attempting to steal the package.  I am not joking.  Instead of the package sitting there within easy reach like it is at every other facility, the folks here have the item set away from the window, awaiting the driver's correct response to where the package is destined.  This might be reasonable if they were sending out multiple packages in a given hour but during the past five years six-twelve hours will pass before they request a single package pickup.  In other words, this particular facility has made the commonplace into a deranged guessing game.  Already irritated by the last interaction, I didn't immediately cooperate.  And adding further insult,the package went five blocks.  But why take offense you say?  You know you are a human punching bag.  Take those hits to the chin!  Com' on, wimp!

At Least the Taxi Gods Remain Kind

I have eluded to taxi synchronicity and during the Saturday bar break, it came though again, my last fare taking me north to N. 128th & Greenwood Ave N., a mere short mile from my resting place.  Thank ye gods!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jack & Barry Updates & A Werewolf Would Have Enjoyed This Weekend

The funeral for Barry Fletcher is set.  It is scheduled for Thursday February 9th, 2012 at 11:00 PM at Saint Vincent De Paul Parish, 30525 8th Avenue South, Federal Way, WA.  Call the Supt's office, 206-343-4381 for additional info.

This afternoon I talked to Jack Magerstaedt's niece Theresa.  Currently the family is awaiting the autopsy report.  She clarified some of the puzzle by telling me that Jack had been found to have a separated esophagus, caused? by the impact.  It appears that acids destroyed his stomach, leading to the statement that he had no functional digestive system.  This of course brings up the question of what Harborview knew or not about his true condition.  The family has yet to decide about wakes or other such arrangements.  I will post all new info as soon as I receive it.  Theresa is in procession of Jack's cellular telephone and is accepting calls and questions.  The number is 206-769-3855

A regular passenger of Jack's, Margot, sent me a very moving description of her various rides and discussions she had with him.  I will reference them tomorrow in a new posting.  The Mecca Cafe put a message up on their marquee: "This One Is For You Jack--RIP."  Many it appears will miss the grumpy Jack.

Pre-Full Moon Insanity

Yes, the average werewolf would have enjoyed nearly being pulverized not once but twice in my first 24 hours this weekend.  I will spare you the details but running a red light at 50 mph 5-6 seconds after the signal had changed is not reasonable.  I don't know why I hesitated the first time.  I chased down the second offender, a young woman driving a 60s VW Bug.  "I'm so sorry!  I'm so sorry!"  Yeah, all of us are!  Madness!

It was like this all weekend, roller-derby on rubber wheels, fools enjoying the early moonshine.  Yes, I made money.  I did extremely well.  Maybe later I will be in the mood to provide all of the exciting details.  Maybe!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RIP Jack & Barry & Adios Mexico City!

Both the driver Jack Magerstaedt (born 09/29/1945) and the BYG/Yellow Superintendent (and former driver) Barry Fletcher died on Monday, January 30th, 2012.  It was a double blow to the industry, something that we are still coming to terms with.  Barry unfortunately had been dealing with various health issues for years but just after his very recent retirement another ailment, pulmonary fibrosis raised its ugly head and he was taken from us in a matter of days. Barry was very popular, always the complete gentleman, regaling us with tales from his days with the Seattle Police Department.  We will miss his presence.

The story on Jack's death is not as definitive.  Harborview Hospital will be performing an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.  I spoke to his niece Shannon and she had an interesting report.  The current story is that upon impact an ulcer or ulcers broke or burst or were perforated, there upon releasing toxins that eventually killed him.  Shannon said, that Harborview stated, quote, "He had no stomach."  I am not sure what that totally means but it appears to imply that Jack had some very serious underlying heath issues.  Jack smoked cigarettes and drove Ali, the night driver to madness by leaving ashes all over the front seat.  Jack indeed was incorrigible, truly a taxi curmudgeon, his grouchiness legendary but now there just might be an explanation.  An irritated stomach is no laughing matter though very occasionally he cracked the rare smile. Knowing that he was a morning regular at the Mecca Cafe located in the lower Queen Anne, I dropped by yesterday to tell them the bad news.  They of course were shocked to hear that Jack would no longer be coming by for his customary cup of coffee.  Knowing that Jack had a long list of regular customers (personals, as we call them), I wish I had some way of informing them of Jack's fate. Anyway, as soon as I get word concerning the autopsy and any funeral arrangements I will post it immediately. 

Adios Mexico City

I wanted to make a final comment and give the contact information to the great dentist I had the pleasure of meeting.  This was my fourth visit to that wonderfully crazy and vibrant city and probably will be returning in six months as Dr. Fuentes is now my permanent dentist. I must also compliment his fatherly colleague, Dr Roberto Wallentin, that master of the root canal. He has been doing root canals since 1972.  That man is a magician.

Mexico City was just terrific. Most would consider it a contradiction that a city of over twenty million could simultaneously retain such a personal warmth.  The Mexicans truly reach out to others, even strangers like me who can barely say good morning in Spanish.  I had a very positive experience and if I wasn't so tired I would describe in detail the many wonderful interactions that both me and my friend Mark had.

Contact info for Dr. Jorge Fuentes.

Address:  Luz Savinon 727, Col Del Valle, 03100 Mexico, D.F.
Telephone: 5523-3615  5669-3435

He has a website which comes up if you "google" his name.

And yes, taxi was taxi upon a slow weekend.  Exhausted after my Mexico jaunt, all I wanted to do was sleep. Biggest fare of the weekend was $65.00.  No complaints! other than I was in a cab.  The new 478 is solid car, with everything working.  A Crown Victoria like its crunched predecessor, it had just over 148,000 miles when I got into it.  The late 478 had over 368,000 miles before smacking into that wall.  Tough cars, those Fords!