Monday, January 28, 2013

The Wolf Moon Was Howling

NPR's quick daily peek at the universal sky, "Star Date," made a reference to the current full orb as the "wolf moon."  The reason why I missed but this past Saturday a speeding black Ford Mustang passed me on the narrow shoulder nearly forcing me into merging with an equally reckless gasoline tanker truck, almost making me into a barbecued cabbie. Makes me glad I have life insurance!  My start earlier in the day  was similarly  inauspicious as first I was given a County-only bell in Zone 500, something my car wasn't qualified which turned out to be the infamous White Center Safeway and of course the long suffering and waiting customer wasn't there.  Directly after that nonsense I received a HopeLink call in Zone 265 which turned into a no-show and 25 minutes tossed into the taxi abyss.  By that point I am sure the Wolf was grinning, having a grand old time, wasting 45 minutes of my day.  Wag that tail, old Wolf, wag that tail!

Literate passengers the ride makes as there was  a librarian convention in town this weekend, approximately 15,000 book-oriented conventioneers enjoying the city and tipping the cabbies.  Thanks in part to them I filled three full trip sheets (26 fares per) and had a reasonably successful weekend despite the moon affiliated mayhem including two fares resulting in quick termination.  Overt masculinity will be the death of the world or at least the demise of civility.

One of my last rides was very complimentary, remembering me from two years hence.  He had moved to Texas but said he had been a passenger of mine many times, complimenting me on my ____________.  Ah yes the yin and the yang, the sweet and sour of it.

From the Munson Motel to my taxi was the transference of trouble, as Susan gracious but drunk and smelling like one huge opened can of tuna sought my assistance in addressing her lamentable and unfortunate state of affairs.  My taxi reeked for hours even after intervention.  She needed another motel room but complicated everything by not having any ID or at least she could not find it. Going through her belongings failed to retrieve it.  Her purse was filled with loose cash including many one hundred dollar bills.  Dropping her off at Tai Tung I was later called back to pick her off of the floor.  In addition to a martini she had pulled a bottle of wine out of her bag, downing its entire contents. She agreed to entering detox and finally 3 hours later they came and got her.  What had the Wolf been drinking?

This upcoming Friday I visit the office of Sally Clark who is the current president of the Seattle City Council.  We will be discussing the for-hire car issue, not that I am that interested in the subject but intervention is necessary.  I would rather sleep.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Visiting the Seventh Floor

Today I had a conversation with a McGinn mayoral aide.  It was McGinn who appointed me to the taxi advisory commission, allowing me a voice however small addressing the local governmental process.  Today, after learning last week that the "for-hire" industry had hired a former deputy mayor as a lobbyist, I felt compelled to firmly present our view (the local taxi industry) of what they are doing and why.  Most don't know that as an eighteen year old I took on the United States government and won, having been granted my 1-0 conscientious objector status by my Adams County, Brighton, Colorado Selective Service board in November 1972.  I say this only to state the obvious, that I am willing to stand by my convictions, by what I believe is right and just.  Back then in 1972 I was facing two years in prison as I was planning on refusing induction if I didn't achieve my exemption.  Again, I am not afraid to take a stand and live with any and all consequences. Another fact that most don't know is that in 1972 I was only three years removed from near permanent "landed immigrant" status in Canada.  In other words I didn't have to argue with the American government, instead being welcomed back across the border.  But I refuse to be pushed around.  Hiring the new lobbyist has upped the ante. As the saying goes, they are now playing "hard ball."  I personally think that is not the best or productive decision or approach to take.  I have reached out to the "for-hire" folks and a few minutes ago I sent a conciliatory and friendly email to their primary lobbyist.  He is a good guy and I told him that we the industry are interested in a just resolution. As I said this afternoon, the "for-hire" drivers must stop picking up off the streets within Seattle's city limits. They must begin operating within the business parameters that have been set for them.  I understand their difficulties. I and others within the taxi industry are willing to talk about their situation. As Obama yesterday reached out to all Americans, I suggest that we too extend our hands to each other.  A much better option than filing lawsuits.  We need to talk.  Let us talk!

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Was Still Cheerful At Four In The Morning

Soon after I wrote last week's posting I threw myself into bed only to emerge soon thereafter and plunging alas not into a soaking pool but a taxi.  My first fare, an employee of Smarty Pants in Georgetown gave me twenty-five for an eleven dollar ride.  Boy! I liked that, then unfortunately one  no-show and one cancellation later there I sat upon Beacon Hill attempting to remain sane while I sat and sat going nowhere quickly.  Eventually after putting in a zillion hours I achieved some monetary goals chiefly due to outlandish tips similar to my first fare.  Why I couldn't you tell why folks were so generous.  I really am a taxi curmudgeon, growling at the slightest provocation though I was more relaxed this weekend, perhaps the healing waters' lingering qualities soothing the wolverine soul.  Regardless I survived the black ice and fog obscured roads to be sitting here now relating the usual taxi  trial and tribulations.  Was it only luck or perhaps my 47 years of driving a car that got me past the ice assisted crash in the north-bound Battery Street tunnel?   Another close call and then on my way, madness magnified by sudden sweat and not just theoretical blood.  My father gave me little to nothing but he did teach me how to drive a car well when I was twelve.  I still remember sliding on gravel in the Canadian Rockies when I was fourteen.  That and hundreds of thousands of road miles later aided my avoiding the two young women pleasantly chatting next to their crashed vehicles, oblivious to the real danger sliding around them. Amazing!  In general drivers this weekend were far more blatantly reckless.  Why?  I will never know why, another series of life's mysteries vanishing into the ether.  All I know is that walking down snowy paths is both more pleasant and productive.  She even hit me with a snowball.  Thank you very much.  And again, Happy Birthday too!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Waterfalls & Hot Springs: Gaining Perspective

Nothing like walking past roaring waterfalls and soaking in thermal hot springs to both cool the mind and warm the soul.  These last five days I have been doing just that, having joined "she-who-can't-be-named" on Monday to celebrate her birthday. We spent two nights in a cabin at Silver Falls State Park just east of Salem, Oregon and another two nights at the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat Center which is about ten miles outside of the tiny town of Detroit.  Silver Falls is just short of amazing and cheap, cabins going for $39.00 per night.  Breitenbush is $75.00 each which includes a cabin, three all you can eat organic meals and 24 hour access to various outside soaking pools plus a wet sauna.  We preferred Silver Falls being solitary types, Breitenbush at this moment having about 105 guests in addition to about 50 staff members.  In my youth I lived in places with less population. If you also like snow you would enjoy Breitenbush in January, as it was truly a winter wonderland, something out of your favorite Christmas card.  We stomped through the snow on various paths and roads taking in the refreshing air.

When I left Seattle a somewhat questionable lawsuit had been filed and in general the taxi industry is in a minor uproar.  More on that next week.  Four taxi-related meetings last week tells me I have my hands full.  On Tuesday I meet with a mayoral aide which I will elaborate on later next week.  All I can say is that I wish and hope all of my fellow taxi colleagues can get away soon from the madness and gain some perspective.  Yes making a living is important but having it lead to an early death isn't what is required.  There are other realities. At the alternative mecca that is Breitenbush they would tell you all about it.  Even if you are not interested in talking to anyone you can always close your eyes and melt away in the mineral springs.  It is a good idea.  I highly recommend it. And those waterfalls are wonderful.  Today we actually stood behind thunderous North Falls. It was a terrific time. You too can practice your swordsmanship with icicles of your choice, a highly non-lethal sport!  Never too late to be child, adult matters and concerns bordering on the tedious. Living and experiencing life is what being alive is all about.  How often must I repeat it?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What Taxi Does To You

Today I and a long time friend and once fellow taxi driver celebrated our recent December birthdays together at a not very good Italian restaurant.  His well known vulnerability was pronounced today, money being just one of a series of issues.  Having last week discovered that the Sea-Tac version of Yellow Taxi needed numerous night drivers I left him a message concerning that.  But no, even extreme poverty can not tempt his return to something that appears to be scarring.  Being hit and then blamed for an incident with a city bus was the last taxi straw.  Having personally watched the buses' own video footage it was clear that the bus driver was exceeding the speed limit, failing to yield.  That experience plus having a Washington State Patrol officer chase and stop him upon the extremely dangerous West Seattle Bridge for only for a seat belt violation instilled in him a sense of dread manifesting into the permanent. Nothing it seems can entice him to return.  I even suggested that I could put on a taxi in Tacoma, providing him a seven day a week car for just over my cost.  It would mean that he would have a reliable vehicle and not the questionable pickup he still owes me in part for.  Instead he is deciding to remain in Seattle plying his various drumming gigs, hoping for the best, searching for that hit-making band.  I certainly support him in doing this over returning to the streets.  Who wants to be perpetually exhausted, struggling to put two coherent sentences together which was my damaged state this morning while chairing the first taxi advisory commission meeting of the new year.  Any real functionality was pure pretense.  Weekly, taxi takes me over its knee breaking me into two.  You might call me taxi bi-polar, attempting to mend my broken opposites.  People constantly ask me what do I do with my five days off?  Repair is the answer, repairing the damage.  My friend and others I know have taken a different track, refusing to reenter a thankless and frustrating occupation.  During lunch he kept repeating how he knows so many (taxi drivers and industry) folks who have died.  Yes it is a rough business.  It is nearing the anniversary of Jack's fatal accident.  I miss Jack's extremely sour sense of humor.  One down and how many to go?  I know I don't want to know the answer.  I just want out.  My goal this year is to get an advance.  Just like my friend I have had enough.  He is just smarter that's all.  Twenty-five plus years of gasoline vapors have pickled my once healthy brain.  I guess someday I will make the most interesting museum piece, mummified by exhaust, a twenty-first century King Tut minus the crown, modeling instead a Yellow dunce hat once common amongst a particular species, "taxius stupidius" roaming the local environs.  I am sure I will be well worth the price of admission.  It would make all of my trouble and pain worth it, I think!  How could I be wrong?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcoming in 2013: The Advent of Infant Culture

Cursing the prolonged full moon achieves little except joining the chorus, last night's chilly festivities an exclamation point to over two weeks celebrating the febrile, the stupid, the inane.  I started this New Year's Eve shift tired and disinterested still in disrepair from the weekend.  Saturday was a push throughout, with the weekend destined for financial disaster save for Sunday's intervention, one of my best short shifts ever.  Maybe that was just that like the  current full moon, laughing at me, twisting my nose. labelling me the idiot I am.  The Sunday Seahawk game loosened up the business terrain, at one juncture having four consecutive rapid-fire thirty dollar fares in a row.  But throughout yesterday and the past two weekends too many alcohol marinaded fares snarled at the taxi moment, a persistent surliness marring the pastel holiday fabric. This morning my taxi was physically attacked, denting the left passenger-side door, one wonderful individual even chasing and pounding the trunk. When you are too drunk to get in, you are, regardless of all wishful thinking. The driver, my friends, decides who get in, not the passenger, quickly administering a mental sobriety test.  Too many fail my fairly lenient standards.  Part of the problem were the inadequately clad post-midnight thousands clambering for rides in the freezing 30 degree Fahrenheit early morning. It is not an exaggeration that perhaps five to ten thousand revelers were trying to get into my solitary taxi.  This was Five O'clock Manhattan minus all sophisticated patience, chaos the amateur celebrant's theme, desperation the prevalent emotion resulting in hysteria and minor hooliganism. I suppose when you are culturally breast-fed, never weened from the mother's teat, you reside in perpetual primary school from first to final breath.  This is your kindergarten existence.  This is your permanent delusion.  Go to the Space Needle cheering the midnight fireworks.  Drink until you are soaked. And never give a thought to what actually might be or is or can be, potentiality a perverse notion, substance a hamburger seasoned and favored by secret and mysterious sauces.  You are a modern early twentieth-first century coddled and pampered American citizen.  And like the big baby you are, tantrum is your favorite pastime, histrionics a personal anthem, your will and testament to misguided and wasted privilege and screw you, I Am The Most Famous Person In The World Though I Have Done Nothing Whatsoever To Warrant It.  I am an American and I am a fool.  Pay me my monthly pension and give me a new car!  I am wonderful, I am a heat generating star!