Monday, September 24, 2012

Eleven Thousand Crashes Are Okay?

Over the local radio I heard a State of Washington official gushing over  2011 statistics that there were ONLY 11,000 vehicle accidents that year.  He thought it was a great improvement.  Maybe he owns an  auto body repair shop on the side.  His comments tell me what I have come to know: governmental attitude is at times neither correct or accurate or based on sound logic.  This week the City of Seattle city council will begin discussing a problem that the City of Seattle created, namely the poorly thought out "for-hire" vehicle industry.  That everyone (meaning both the taxi industry & the for-hires) have been victimized is not recognized.  Government cannot be a kind of party game, playing "pin-the tail-on-the-donkey" as suddenly everyone becomes the ass.  Not efficient use of time and money.

What you see in the taxi is literally everything, including the historical vestiges of the Spanish-American War.  Go back in time and the US wants Spain out of the Americas (and every place else.) They create a conflict, win Cuba and even get the Philippines.  Ever wonder why all those Americans were in the Philippines in the early part of WW II, which eventually resulted in the horrific "Bataan  Death March" where both Filipino and Americans were brutalized by the Japanese?  The Americans occupied the Philippine Islands in 1898 (Mark Twain & others protested) and during the next few years murdered over three million Filipinos whose only request was freedom.  Add American oppression and Spanish Roman Catholicism and what you get are two culturally destroyed Filipino women who despite my best efforts cannot comprehend that I both knew where 910 Marion is and how to get there.  With more time I could do (and would like to) a comprehensive analysis of the women's neurological makeup and how it intrudes in their decision making.  Instead I will just say that it isn't reasonable to perform what I would call "cultural lobotomies."  Back in 1976 I actually worked with a woman who had been "administered" an "ice pick" lobotomy.  What was done in the 1950s was literally to take a sharp object and scramble the frontal lobe.  What a wonderful medical procedure.  In a real sense that is what happened to these women.  Not quite a pretty picture as the Ramones "I am a Teenage Lobotomy!"  Life isn't always a joke.  I'm not laughing.  I will tell you that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Intelligence Isn't Enough

                                                   Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
                                                        And grow forever and forever.
                                                   Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
                                                   And answer, echoes answer, dying, dying, dying.

                                                                                        Alfred Tennyson

My friend Frank Morgan's death has resonated, or as Tennyson states, echos inside my mind, or if you wish, heart and soul.  The reason is that though death comes to all of us it is perhaps wise forestalling its icy grip.  Beyond all doubt Frank was brilliant and talented, in general an extremely capable person.  With his kind of innate talent and intelligence Frank held the ability to do almost anything.  Knowing a trifle about Canadian politics, having myself lived nearly four years north of the border, I am convinced that the Canadian public would have appreciated Frank's handling of the country as opposed to the current Prime Minster, someone not dissimilar to the current Republican hopeful this side of the 49th Parallel. For those who don't know,  Frank was born in Manitoba, eventually drifting to the West Coast. This is when I recognize that often intelligence alone isn't enough to sustain and guide, as Frank did something essentially very dumb which ultimately proved fatal. When all of his bodily alarm bells were ringing, not only did he not heed the warning, he failed to take the measures necessary to completely put out the fire.  Now it is clear that sometimes one's best efforts comes to naught.  That is not what I mean.  During the first of Frank's two extended stays at the rehabilitation center, I told him that I will tell you once and not repeat it: you have to quit smoking (tobacco).  During that first stay he was rehabbing what was left of his left leg.  During the second stint he was attempting to heal what remained of his now solitary foot, having lost the toes.  It was a grim reality.   Diabetes can be like that.  But when you don't take the necessary steps and precautions  enhancing total recovery, it is clear that something has been lost in translation from doctor to patient.  I have unfortunately seen poor decisions made before by individuals who theoretically know better.  My own father watched a growth on this right arm enlarge for six months before seeking medial advice.  Six months later he was dead.  My father was exceedingly bright but infamous for poor life decisions  poisoning both career and family.  So why isn't being smart enough to resolve important issues?  Why then can someone like Frank or my father be as dumb as a rock? It is perplexing.

Transferring this question to taxi driving, the situation is equally puzzling.  Though one could say all cabbies are crazy we can never be accused of  lacking grey matter.  Especially now with the huge influx of extremely well-educated immigrants, our taxi driver community contains a capable bunch of fellows (with a handful of fearless females added to the taxi crowd).  Yet given our collective high I.Q. we still stumble along making very questionable decisions.

Clearly this question of the benefits of intelligence is something that merits an entire book and perhaps one day I will write it.  All I know is that the late summer sun is shining and I want to enjoy its fleeting warmth.  I have finished the cold and hot soaking of my bum right ankle.  I had an acupuncture treatment yesterday, one in a twice-a-week series I am doing to take care of years of abuse.  My ankle has been swollen and sore for over a decade.  When is intelligence not enough?  Just ask me.  I am as dumb as any brick.  And my poor ankle is paying the price for my anatomical illiteracy. 

Late Post Script:  I was wondering if someone might question my routing to Boeing Field and indeed this evening taxi buddy Stacy (renown Seattle taxi guru) piped up, saying, "You went the wrong way!"   I disagreed, telling Stacy what he already knew, that with the 1st South Bridge being a drawbridge I could have been stuck for a good 10-20 minutes if it had suddenly opened for boat traffic.  If there were any interest, Stacy and I could go on a local debating tour regaling over the nuances of a given route from A to B and perhaps back again.  As I told him, if there is any chance that a bridge could open, you must err on the side of caution.  Stacy of course knows all of this.  I told him how on Sunday I just barely made it across the Ballard Bridge to my Magnolia airport call, the crossing bars almost plunking faithful 478. Such is the reality living in a city crisscrossed by rivers and lakes and canals.  If 478 had wings, I would fly!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Slight Contradiction & See Me On the Travel Channel?

The new meter rates minus all the doomsayers appears to have had little impact because the 20 cents per mile increase inspires neither comment nor notice.  The rate is now $2.70 per mile up from the old $2.50 which translates to one additional dollar every five miles.  So far the passenger public appears okay with that.  The "five dollar" trip or fare representing the usual short ride remains intact as the meter clicks in at $5.10 or $5.40.  "Give me five" I say and the response is the usual six bucks.  I filled over three trip sheets this weekend which probably translates into "when someone needs a taxi they will take one."  Fairly simple logic here.


The contradiction relates to dispatch policies and what service perimeters are being applied or not.  Last weekend I had two separate customers refuse to get into the taxi because I had arrived too early.  Turning on the meter and waiting wasn't acceptable.  One fool actually told me to "F_ _K Off! all because I arrived at his Alki neighbourhood door in 2 minutes.  How dare I?  How can providing good and quick and efficient service be unacceptable when the constant lament is that the taxi never shows up.  When I asked that there should be a policy concerning these kinds of refusals I was literally laughed at and told no, the passenger has the right to not only tell me to go away but request another taxi.  The problem with this kind of attitude is many.

Anyone who has been on hold at Yellow taxi waiting for the call taker to take down your request has listened to "our GPS will send you the closest cab" which is an inherent acknowledgement that the closer the cab the faster it arrives to your door which is what we all strive for.  Another aspect to this is that dispatch has essentially declared war upon Yellow's entire group of drivers for the very crime of providing poor and indifferent service.  Given that, it makes no sense whatsoever to punish excellent service, saying that efficiency is inconsequential.  It could be said that despite some innate temperamental flaws I am more or less the model cabbie at least in terms of making the entire process of picking and dropping off almost seamless.  I make it happen quickly.  I am not playing games and in a moment I will  give you an example of just how I approach the problem of reaching a "bell."  It is nonsensical to say we have a particular service model then do nothing to support that very model you at least rhetorically say is your ultimate goal with every dispatched taxi.  It is the "Alice in Wonderland" model when no means yes, fat is thin and gravity, instead of keeping your feet safely planted upon Terra Firma releases you into the atmosphere and soon like the late Neil Armstrong you are walking upon the moon!

Now an example of how the professional taxi driver does it.  I challenge anyone to say that this is poor service.  How can it be?

Yesterday morning I am coming back from Sea-Tac and receive a zone 505 bell sending me to the United Parcel Service terminal at Boeing Field, 7575 Perimeter Road South.  At the point I accept the call I am northbound State Route 509 putting me about 6-7  circuitous "driving" miles from the waiting passenger.  The key to this kind of adventure is the beginning or starting point.  I am located to the southwest and the passenger is on the northeast side of Boeing Field.  I call the guy and say you''ll see me in 7-8 minutes.  This is when the fun begins!

I continue north-bound flying toward the 1st South bridge but instead take the first right hand turn available at W. Marginal Way South.  From there turning right again I'm onto SR 99/599 heading now southeast toward the S.116th & Pacific Highway South exit which in turns puts me northbound allowing me to turn right onto Boeing Access Road which transitions into northbound Airport Way South. From there I had about 2/3rds of a mile to go before running parallel to Perimeter Road South.  Got all of that? Happily I arrived in exactly eight minutes and then boom! off again to Sea-Tac.  Who the hell! can argue with that kind of service?  How could it be said that I had done something wrong and should have been turned away?  Clearly anyone can tell how much an opposite opinion might be worth.  Not worthy of the expended breath!

Feeding the Beast?

This morning about 12:45 AM  a production crew from the "Travel Channel" got into my taxi and off we went upon a "simulated" ride to Beth's Cafe, the 24 Hour dive up on Aurora Avenue North, located just across from Green Lake.  The only problem is that they wanted me to be entertaining and I was nearly out of my mind.  They weren't in much better shape.  We drove around and I told them how passengers love to molest me etc.  Evidently their viewership enjoys minor deviancy.  By the time we got to the Executive Inn the meter read twenty and I was flipped forty.  I was reminded of Buck Owens and "they are gonna make a big _____outta of me!"  Ah yes the distorted and exhausted limelight, or is that yellow moon beam blinding my way?  Doesn't matter either way as my eyes are completely shut with little incentive to verify competing realities.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Your Inattention Is, Ahem, Suicidal

This harangue is directed to all of you local single owners and drivers who refuse to pay attention to all of the extremely important issues that can and will affect your livelihood.  This morning on the telephone, when a taxi buddy made it clear that he didn't understand that the new meter increase and the pending raise in the leases were all connected to the L&I insurance coverage that began last January 1st, I had a rare loss of temper.  He called me when I was in the middle of working on a writing project that is causing me trouble.  But regardless of being temporarily idiotic I am genuinely frustrated by the lack of attention being paid to very important occurrences that could deeply affect the industry.

I will again spell it out quickly.  The meter and lease increases are directly related to HB 1367 (the State legislature) which authorized a series of moves resulting in all of the single owners and lease drivers being covered and protected by Labor & Industry insurance.  You got that?  Contained in HB 1367 are measures allowing meter and lease increases to cover the costs related to L&I coverage.  Do you have that?   Now if you have a serious accident your care and lost wages will be covered.  Do you understand that?  If you haven't noticed, nothing is free.

And the City Council hearings slated for September 28th are about the lease increase AND also about important new rules governing the "for-hire" vehicle industry.  Better than attending the hearing, email council member Tim Burgess at  Tell him how you feel.  Do it soon. Do it today!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Having Reached A Critical Juncture

I firmly believe as a local industry in its entirety we have reached an important juncture, perhaps even a point of no return.  Now that the Labor & Industry driven meter rates have been implemented, and with extremely important hearings concerning how the City deals with the "for-hire vehicle" industry slated to begin September 28th, I believe there can be no looking back for our local industry.  Government on three fronts, state, city and county have pushed us to the brink, dictating what and how we will function and operate.  It is time we say no, this must stop; no, you can't control us anymore.  It is clear that we must have more input into our own destiny. Yes, we do have the City & County Taxi Advisory Commission of which I am now Chairing but as I have said before it is a flawed entity that cries out for new restructuring  and formatting.  I will never say that the local government officials are bad or even misguided.  Their reality is simple. They have too much upon the bureaucratic plate to deal with.  It just isn't possible despite how many hearings they might convene to understand our industry. Because that is true we must begin to have more say in our own operations.  I will be suggesting to the City & County that a new advisory board separate from the current commission be created.  I will also be asking the State of Washington to create a statewide taxi industry advisory board.  I also want these new boards or commissions to have regulatory teeth.  My commission experience from the last year tells me that unless you hold real governmental authority you are only grasping thin air.  This is not acceptable.  I am failing my constituency.  This cannot continue.

At Frank's wake, a long-time industry figure lamented to me about the driver group that had again been  awarded the WAT (wheelchair) vans from the County, reinstating their responsibility to serve the handicapped community.  He said they have failed miserably and are simply not interested in serving the very customers that they were mandated to assist.  I do know that King County officials are aware of the situation but my friend asked why had they been given them (the WAT vans) in the first place? I told him it was simply a question of politics, that a former Port of Seattle official had led their reinstatement.  Again, all of this is further evidence that local officials are overwhelmed.  Instead of making the best choice, it appears they made the worst.  And again, always again welcome to taxi as I know it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Quite Anacortes

She (who can't be named), before bidding me goodnight Saturday said your next fare (originating from Ray's Boathouse) will go to Anacortes.  For those not in the know, Anacortes, Washington is a small city located approximately 75 miles north of Seattle, well known locally as the ferry terminal and gateway for the San Jaun Islands.  Back in 1990 we had a few memorable days there together, bowling and drinking malts.  She was wishing me a good fare.  Back in 1989  Christmas eve picking up a guy at the Greyhound going to Vancouver, BC, Canada I got his okay to take her along which resulted in celebrating the near holiday with her over Chinese so she knows personally how much difference a long ride makes.  We have our own private rituals.  When business is slow I call and request she make a 'Holy" sacrifice upon the sacred altar, sometimes suggesting one of dogs she often sits like Nina that very talented and famous whippet residing in Arcata.  No, no, no, she replies, not Nina! or Dorie! or Antar!  Recently I got this great fare going to a Sea-Tac area hotel from that Ballard landmark, the "Boathouse" but not this time.  Sometimes even directed celestial requests leave the taxi gods unmoved. 

Sometimes dumb doesn't near the actual  descriptive reality of some passengers.  Dense.  A head packed with sawdust far more apt.  Standing at the street entrance to a popular restaurant they made the simple complicated.  Attempting my trademark u-turn idiot drivers were everywhere being the Seattlites they unfortunately are, transforming the simple into the hazardous and insane.  Going perhaps 3/4 of a mile doesn't stop the male of the party from directing me.  Not taking a hint I then announced that it was now a five dollar ride and I'll just get them there.  Encountering congestion that only prolonged the agony I made various maneuvers getting us out of the mess and these fools home who never quite understood that shutting  the _____ up is the best communication.  I know people have been ________for far lesser transgressions.

And I suppose just to test my endurance, I am next directed to a Magnolia address which was on 26th West, not 25th Place West, where 3 drunk and chemically altered young men climb in.  I knew they were trouble and cursed my fate for having wasted nearly 8 minutes driving in circles until figuring out where these fools actually resided. Too often this species of passenger choose to believe that a given taxi ride is improvised theatre and the driver is the enthusiastic audience.  This is related to the unsavory attitude that cabbies are public property populating a year-round hunting season.  Similar to a chorus first one sang out something about knowing that he won't get layed tonight with then the two others adding refrains which somehow (I am not making this up) became "pocket pussy in the glove box!"  Ha Ha Ha they roared! The trio grew progressively louder, changing tone and tenor and direction which now included me, as they now had me _________ the "pocket pussy!"   This is when I turned onto the shoulder and told them they were attacking me and it had to stop.  Fortunately one of then was sober enough to understand that I wasn't joking and got the other two to stop.  This ebb and flow continued to Capitol Hill.  Of course it was difficult to get them out of the cab making this totally bad fiction a dysfunctional and too real essay and recitation upon privileged culture better flushed down the 21th century too silly American toilet!   This is when I  request divine ( or any other variety) of intervention.  No, I don't want your tip.  Keep it!  Our country fought how many wars and struggles to preserve this type of immaturity?  I don't think so.  I hope not.

Meter Increase

Last night and this morning we saw the accumulation of years of negotiation and travail translated into the great rate change of 2012 as all 554 Yellow cabs had to have their meters altered and rate sheets changed all before 4 AM when the City inspectors arrived to seal the meters.  Taki and his mechanic cohorts performed well, averaging about 3 minutes per cab.  It was a sight worthy of the Indianapolis 500, a coordinated symphony serenading the taxi midnight hour.

Goodbye to Frank

The wake went well.  Lynn wrote a wonderful autobiography complete with photos which truly did Frank's life a sweet justice. Thanks to all who showed up and donated at the cashier's window for Frank's final passage.  Lynn was deeply appreciative of everyones' combined generosity.  Despite his legendary surliness Frank was a sympathetic soul which as hard as he attempted could not remain concealed.

Friday, September 7, 2012

You Never Know Because You Don't

Packing up for my taxi weekend this afternoon reminded me, as it always does, that this could be the last time I see for what for the moment passes as home.  I don't mean to be morose or pessimistic.  Rather my response is realistic intimately knowing as I do taxi realities, a car accident especially and instantly ending my life.  Of course violence is also that menacing twin taxi reality.  Wednesday a taxi comrade of many years told me of his helplessness when a few years back he couldn't find a driver to respond to his request to check out a driver in distress.  Stacy said "if only" someone had responded the driver's life might have been saved.  Four young men are currently serving 30-40 years each for that murder.  For better or worse all of us cabbies in every city in every country are solitary sailors sailing upon uncertain taxi seas.  Trouble abounds in every taxi nautical mile.  The barometer is rising. The Sirens are not singing.  They are screaming.  And the rocky shoreline beckons, reaching out, requesting our last and fatal appearance.

As I locked my door I was very conscious that if it wasn't me opening the door again it would be her whom I have oft referred to as "she who can't be named."  In early August she set upon a book shelf my bronzed first shoes. More than a condominium or apartment my place in Tacoma is a free form, unintended shrine to my life so far.   Knowing that she would be the one attending to all the loose ends a sudden death presents disturbs me.  Our twenty-two year association has created a firm bond.  Everything I own goes to her.  I know how I would feel if the reverse were true.  Intimacy is wonderful and with it comes many permanent, unbreakable ties that remain bonded even if the individual you know and love and cherish is gone.  There is a reason why there are all these songs refraining that love remains eternal.

All this is why I both love and intensely dislike taxi.  It is a rough and tumble world with few guarantees other than physical and emotional exhaustion.  In less than twelve hours I will be back at it.  I will of course endeavor to be careful.  I always am but as I have repeated many times, given the speed I am moving you can't be careful enough.  Taxi will always be taxi and that is about as profound as I can be upon the subject.  What can the coal miner say as he descends down the darkened shaft?  Perhaps that the yellowcanary will whistle an uninterrupted tune.  And life will taper away gradually to a peaceful end.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Cabbie Reading Corner: Mary Wollstonecraft, Ernest Hemingway & An Amazing Poem About the American Japanese Internment

Both my eyes and nose have been stuck in many books ranging from 100 year old poetry books to examinations of neuroscience.  Perhaps my most exciting discovery was a newspaper clipping of a poem obviously written in the early 1940s sarcastically commenting upon Executive Order 9066.  I'll include that poetical historical relic at the end.  I found it in the pages of "Magic Ring, A Collection of Verse" revised edition published in 1937 and edited by Ruth A. Brown.  An even older book I've been reading nightly is something published in 1909, volume VIII Poems, The After School Library, edited very warmly by Mary E. Burt, the series put out by the The After School Club, Philadelphia.  It contains many old favorites and cost me 25 cents.  Last night I read that very important essay concerning women, "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" by Mary Wollstonecraft, she being the mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, the author of "Frankenstein."  Given who her mother was I am thinking that perhaps that famous horror novel is more allegory than anything else, the monster representing the typical male?  I could see the connection.  What is amazing about Hemingway's "Indian Camp" is how much story is contained in a mere 2 1/2 pages.  One might question his sentence structure but not his craft. The story displays the ability of the veteran journalist which he was. I am also reading something written by David Eagleman, "Incognito, The Secret Lives of the Brain."  Good and interesting and important information.

Just who is Will Grozier, that book reading London cabbie made famous by NPR's Scott Simon? All I can find are his recommendations, nothing about the man himself.  Most recently, just prior to this year's Summer Olympic games, Mister Simon had him on demanding that he give the world the definitive book list concerning London.  Why Grozier would be expected to be an instant expert on anything and everything say more than I wish to know about Mister Simon.  I am interested in Grozier because his vocabulary is not typical of cabbies let alone the average Joe and John or Judy and Mary prancing down the boulevard.  Though I can say from personal experience that the well read individual carries a workable dictionary in his or her brain.  Ask me for definitions but not the spelling.  I could never be that quotable insect, the spelling Bee!

The internment of the Japanese will forever be an insult to American democracy.  What happened in 1942 and 1943 cannot ever be repeated.  Did you know that those Japanese Americans who failed to answer yes to questions 27 & 28 on the internment questionnaire were sent to Tule Lake, Nevada, a real and actual concentration camp complete with machine guns pointed at the residents?.  Question 27, asked of young and old alike was whether if drafted you would serve in the armed forces of the United States. This was asked of 80 year old women.  Question 28 asked would you disavow any and all loyalty to the Emperor of Japan, this of many who were born in the United States.  I have always wondered what would have happened if these kinds of questions had been asked of my grandparents, all of whom originated from AXIS countries.  Would they have asked my Sicilian grandfather Blondo if he held any loyalties to LL Duce (Mussolini)?  They probably would have found him very suspect given he couldn't speak English.  That makes you an instant spy!

Now here is the poem by Barbara M. Harvey.  Don't wince at the title as in the first half of this century in the United States the word "Jap" was part of general usage and practice, part of the colloquial  lexicon.  Before I end I find it important to note that today is the birthday of Arthur Koestler, author of "Darkness At Noon" perhaps the best book ever written about demented Communist authoritarianism.  If you haven't read it, read it.  You will be glad you did!  

                                            Oh, to Be a Jap, Now That Spring is Here!

                                            I would like to be evacuated, in the Demo-
                                                   cratic way!
                                            To go to some quiet valley, for the dura-
                                                    tion to stay.
                                            I would like to be part of a trekking
                                            (You betcha, with all expenses paid.)
                                            Oh, I would like to travel, as a guest of
                                                    Uncle Sam:
                                            To live, and do a little gardening ) on the
                                                    American plan.)
                                            Away from air raids and sirens, tax in-
                                                    stallments, and tireless automobiles.
                                            Back to the farm! Depending on good old
                                                     wagon wheels.
                                            For springtime on the  desert is the time
                                                     I long to be:
                                            Seeking new landscapes beyond each dis-
                                                     tant tree.
                                            Mother Nature beckons her children:
                                                     bring your easy-rocker and stay.
                                            Up here you don't have to worry about
                                                     the F.H. A!

                                                                           Barbara Harvey

Nothing like realism.  If I find out anything about Harvey I will tell you soon.  As a London cabbie might say, Good Reading!           




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Taxi Natives Are Indeed Restive

Just a handful of drivers in the cashier line today made it extremely clear that a rebellion is brewing. Those bitter few were evidence enough that without cooler heads prevailing ugliness could ensue, the issue quickly taking a dangerous turn. The solitary topic were all those "for-hire" drivers picking up on Seattle streets this Labor Day weekend. Post University of Washington  Huskies football game there they were in full force, operating in full view obviously unafraid of any kind of enforcement. As I have noted previously passengers are accepting their presence as legitimate taxis, showing no hesitation upon entering their vehicles.  The cabbies today were rightfully furious.  They have had enough and so have I of a situation gone feral as clearly it is going to take a major intervention to prevent further intrusion into our customer base.  The open question is who is going to provide the effort necessary to bring this festering problem to a logical and permanent conclusion?  It is difficult to see, despite Seattle's renewed and avowed intervention how local government alone will resolve the ongoing conflict given they were  the culprits who created this issue.  Somehow, in whatever manner necessary we in the local taxi community must begin taking the lead.  I will not at all be surprised that it all ends in a class-action suit against the City of Seattle and King County.  This plague of locusts is their doing.  All I ask during the course of the next year is that everyone please understand that the new for-hire industry has also been victimized.  Clearly the for-hire licenses were released minus any planning by Seattle or KC concerning just how these new businesses would operate and sustain themselves.  I will soon be requesting the City and County market and impact studies.  Frankly I don't believe they exist.  To say that their actions have been sloppy would be kind.  How can the City of Seattle require taxi licensees to form associations yet release for-hire vehicle licenses to single operators?  Seattle's mess is now our inheritance. Soon you should be seeing a petition.  Sign it.  And remember only one signature per driver.  To win we must at all times remain professional.  Once there are one thousand to fifteen hundred signatures copies will be made and separate sets will be delivered to both the city and county councils and the mayor and the county executive.  If we remain united and organized we will be victorious.  Don't despair.  Instead move relentlessly forward, army ants marching in unison.  Patience and virtue will win the taxi day!

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Rosy, would you please get out?" & Other Blue Moon Tidbits

Despite the title this past weekend was quite tame as foreboding full moons go.  Some deranged driving cropped up late Sunday afternoon including a Metro (City & King County) bus driver who attempted to knock me out of my lane in full view of many witnesses.  Given that I drove Metro part-time way back in 1983-84 I am both highly sympathetic and tolerant but that performance my friends was a bit over-the top which will result in a letter sometime this week.  Other than the soon to be described Rosy and an irritating situation at Children's Hospital Giraffe entrance it was far more peaceful than usual.  Folks tipped excessively and were generally kind and friendly.  At dinner last night taxi buddy John unfortunately had more of the moon than he wanted, recounting various tales including a maniacal driver who upon squealing to a stop in front of him, leaps out of his giant pickup and stupidly protrudes his head into John's driver side window.  John who at times is perhaps too passive often attracts this kind of nonsense.  Monster versus monster is how one survives out here.  The impenetrable wall is the best defense which is why the big city cabs have those barriers.  I'm glad I scare people but when you are twenty feet tall with menacing fangs it comes with the taxi territory.

Rosy was my second ride of the weekend.  All she was doing was a five dollar ride from a friend's subsidized High Point townhouse to 32nd SW & SW Webster.  Reluctantly leaving her friend she decided she liked me too.  Being a trifle drunk explains some but not all of her behavior. Even after declining her veiled suggestion she continued to remain planted in the back.  "Rosy, if you don't leave I will have to take you to the police." which had a station about eight blocks away down the hill.  "Take me!" she said so off we went, honking at the first officer I saw.  Last I saw of Rosy she was entertaining the unfortunate cop who just wanted to go home.  My prognosis is loneliness extenuated by the moon.  She was lonely.  I was just working.  Pay me in advance and I will gladly sit there for an hour and talk all about it.  But sixty minutes is about all I can take.  There is a good reason more formal therapists charge $200.00 an hour.  Listening carefully is a lot of work.  All I want is jump on in and get the heck out!  And please don't forget to tip!

Amateur dispatching causes all kind of trouble and confusion which is what I encountered too early Saturday morning at Children's.  I got belled in to an account fare and there I sat.  I called the telephone number, getting no response.  Getting my no-show I just sat waiting for my next call and who knows the passenger might miraculously turn up.  Happens all the time in these situations.  Being patient and reading the newspaper I turn around and there was another Yellow taxi.  Instantly recognizing that oh no! I bet he's here for my customer I got out and approached him.  Yes he was there for the same customer and unlike me he had spoken to her.  That was because unlike me he had received the correct telephone number but why it had been double-belled I don't know but by his response I could tell he also had information that I hadn't received: Michelle's destination.  His belligerence told me that one, he knew that the fare was legitimately mine and two, she was going somewhere far, be it the airport or elsewhere.  Even after I got dispatch on the line and said "Here, talk to them." he rolled up his window and fumed, refusing to hear reality.  Soon thereafter down came Michelle and minus any hesitation I made sure she entered my taxi.  After sitting 30 minutes I didn't care where she was going but damn well she was going with me.  Her destination was Sea-Tac and my best trip of the weekend.  But the snafu was all caused by dispatch.  I don't blame the other cabbie with being upset.  We were both victims, surely just two of many during the typical taxi day.  I certainly don't enjoy being rough and tough especially with a fellow comrade of the roads.  It is all bullshit.  Again welcome to taxi as I know and don't love it, the fun and games only ending when you close that taxi door one last time.  Others, like the late Frank, depart the industry only by expiring.  Not the best alternative.