Monday, July 29, 2013


No complaints about the money this weekend but damn so many obstacles arose that I was nearly spitting blood.  First I just miss a call while loading my cab, getting "booked off."  I then take a call in Zone 295, a DUI passenger waiting at the South Precinct which cancelled as I pulled up.  I then get a Zone 290 time call that for some odd reason was given a 20 minute lead time.  I call the number and getting no response, get myself cancelled only to get the damn thing again, deciding I will just go check it out, and just lucky I didn't get shot by the owner of the house who was frightened out-of-his-mind someone was knocking on his door at 4:10 AM in the morning.  Clearly I was given a wrong address and possibly the wrong telephone number.  It was one of those kinds of addresses that would have matched in Ballard or West Seattle or View Ridge depending on the directional.  All this nonsense destroyed a full forty-five minutes, setting an unfortunate theme.  Having seen this before I dub it the "lingering full moon."

Frank, our later general manager, pleaded that I don't air our "dirty laundry" so in deference to him I will just say how-in-the-hell does an Alki-area address, the 2700-hundred block of 57th Avenue Southwest, be listed as 1702 Alki Avenue SW, calling it the "main Alki Beach?"  For those in the know this particular call taker placed the beach actually across from the water.  If this address existed it would be something like "1701" or some other odd numbered address.  When you don't know you just don't.  Welcome to taxi!

Sunday morning greeted me with a taxi that wouldn't start.  I'll skip the gory details but a hour nearly passed before I got a jump start.  Now faced with a noon start  I was saddled with a mountain of pressure to get it together instantaneously.  It was initially tough but by 4:20 PM dropping off at Sea-Tac for the third time in four hours I had averaged over fifty dollars a hour, those three good trips saving my rear!  Taxi is not, as I keep saying, for the faint-hearted!

My weekend ended with a Boeing Field call, sitting in the dark for a full 30 minutes as the air service dispatcher kept telling me contrary information.  Finally as I am giving up the passenger opens the door and off to the Sea-Tac hotel we went, an apt ending to a profitable but nutso! weekend.


All I wanted to do was leave but early this morning I helped two drivers out, one who needed assistance getting his car out of an impossible parking jam, the other requiring a jump start.

It was the second guy, veteran of 14 days total driving a taxi, who knew nothing whatsoever about cab driving.  I was swearing under my breath "that this is criminal, criminal!" because he was completely helpless.  He didn't know how to open the hood, etc.  A thief will eat this guy alive.  Thank you City and County for putting the innocent in harm's way!

Demonstration is on!

Don't forget. the protest is on for noon Friday August 2nd at Noon.  We need everyone to be there!  Tomorrow I am going hiking in the desert, ready for honest rattlesnakes.  At least they have no hidden agendas, never misdirecting their venom.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Be Aware: Seattle Taxi Cab Demonstration Friday 08/02/2013

Okay, I know so many of you out there are sick of the excuses the City of Seattle makes about enforcing the rules governing the "for-hire" cars and the limos and all of the new entrants like Lyft and Sidecar.  Now, on Friday August 2nd, between noon and 2 PM you and your taxi are requested to converge on Seattle's City Hall to peacefully drive around and around the building for as many times you find necessary.  The message all of us will be sending is simple.  We demand that the City of Seattle begins following their own rules and regulations regarding all kinds of for-hire vehicles and services.  I know you are tired of having our business stolen while the City does little to nothing about it.

The timing of the demonstration is tied to the scheduled release of the demand audit by Cooper & Mundy at the City Council on Thursday, August 8th, at 2:00 PM.  Please attend that too if possible but the Friday taxi rally is more important.  It is supported in part by the Teamsters Union and we need hundreds of taxis from all of the associations to show their collective support.  I too will be out there in a Yellow taxi leading the charge.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"The Code" : Sending A Message

One of the great books in American poetry history, "North Of Boston", was published in 1914 by Robert Frost.  Some of the greatest poems of the 20th Century originate from that book.  Poems like "Death of the Hired Hand" startled me with a conceptual originality unlike anything written before  The majority say that modern American poetry began with Walt Whitman, with others saying it began even earlier with Edgar Allen Poe.  Though Poe's deranged work especially is a big favorite I say that more or less the modern era and medium began with Robert Frost.  Ezra Pound wrote a very short but famous poem lauding Whitman but I agree with the British writer Robert Graves that Frost was America's first "complete" poet. 

"The Code", a poem about rural justice comes from "North of Boston."  I still remember my reaction way back in 1974 when I began consuming books and good writing in general.  That summer was in part spent reading the majority of Hemingway's important books.  Frost's poetry, amongst others also took on a major impact.  That next year I met the woman I would later marry whose favorite poem was Frost's "The Pasture" which is one of the sweetest and gentlest poems ever written.  Frost then has been part of my internal life, my internal consciousness for a long time. 

"The Code" struck me as a succinct and correct expression of "cause and affect" between two humans, about what happens when communication fails and the sometimes ending results.  Again its concept and approach to the "poetic problem" told me that when applying the correct measures of imagination and genius and "a thorough knowledge of the language" great writing can occur. The poem tells you that insensitively can generate justified yet unfortunate response.  Its core lesson and message is that life is a serious business and should be gently attended to.  And that there are behaviors and attitudes that never will be acceptable.  Life and actions are consequential.  There is no way to get around the obvious.  No one would want tons of hay dumped upon them though I am sure, like the farmer mentioned in the poem, it would get your attention.

Saturday I encountered a situation where I was insulted to the quick, with the passenger completely oblivious to the damage being done.  That this all happened instantaneously in a span of of 2 1/2 blocks says everything about what taxi is and can be. Too many individuals have the misconception that taxi driving is an occupation reserved for the cultural feeble, sometimes providing a tiny minority with the permission to totally disregard the cabbie as a cogent and viable human being.  I met one such person this past Saturday afternoon.  It was not a pleasant meeting.

The background to this and my response is that some people, no matter the effort made, can not and will not provide what is regarded as "ordinary recognition" of another human being.  Preconceived ideas, from whatever source not allowing the person to regard others as equals, especially those they see as coming from an inferior class.  This attitude sometimes prompts the person to take over, to begin directing because the other person involved couldn't possibly know what they are doing.  Cab drivers receive this treatment all of the time because unlike other members of the transit infrastructure, airline pilots, ship captains, train engineers and bus drivers, we too often are not considered to be professionals, holders of great knowledge and skill. The only place that this appears not to be totally true is in London, UK.  Everywhere else the cabbie is a cultural cipher.

In Seattle, what lends to this misconception, to this is myth is the monthly licensing of individuals who can neither drive a car let alone a taxi.  My personal pleas for better and more thorough training or an outright moratorium on licensing new drivers has fallen upon deaf bureaucratic ears.  The simple adding of a verbal test regarding addressing and routing (how you get from point A to B) hasn't been implemented though clearly it would eliminate at least 95 % of the new taxi for-hire driver license applicants. 

There is probably no regulated profession that does a poorer job in vetting its applicants.  If the medical professional held such a low threshold all the ill patients would die.  If the same attitude prevailed in the airline industry, jets would be crashing daily.  What Seattle & King County has done is dilute the driver force to such a major extent that all of the cabbies, including myself, are painted with same brush.  When an unsympathetic passenger gets in my taxi they just assume I am an idiot and begin their relentless bullying.  This is where my reference to the Frost poem comes in.  The underlying "code" to all human behavior is respect.  No one enjoys being trammeled upon.

Another important point is that I have a mental checklist regarding passenger behavior. I have a hard and fast rule that when after too many checks are marked off the ride is over.  I am there to provide an efficient ride, nothing else.  I am not looking to be your punching bag, your lover, your entertainer, your clown, your savior, your psychiatrist or any of the other various roles you might request or ask for.  I am just like the pilot of the Alaska Airlines 737 you just boarded to take you to San Diego.  I am a professional.  I will get you there.  Buckle up and relax.

Three adults and a child got in at about Third and James, and a key point, facing downhill or west.  Immediately the first thing the "man in charge" said to me after responding to "Where are you going?" is "Turn around!"  What this told me is that, 1) he had no respect for me, 2) he was accustomed to being in control, and 3) the chance that any of this would change was about nil.  He had given an intersection in the Madrona, and another key point, never gave the address.  Passengers are by local ordinance required to give addresses to the professional driver. I never had the opportunity to get that far.  And he also said the intersection improperly.  By the way it is a mistake to point out anything to this kind of person.  Since they are innately superior they resent any correction. 

He had said "Thirty-seventh & Union."  When telling me to turn around I made a joke, which at least his mother and brother laughed at, that instead of heading east I was going to drive all of us into the Puget Sound.  This was my gentle way of telling the guy to "back off!"  Doing a quick U-turn I told him that the intersection he gave me didn't exist, quickly telling him that 37th & East Union does, emphasizing to everyone that the directional on the addresses in Seattle are all important.  Without the proper "Northwest" or "Southwest" or "East" et cetera,  you often have duplicate addresses.  It is my modest effort to educate the "passenger public" because most have no idea how the addressing works. 

On Sunday when a couple said we were picking up some friends at 15th & Columbia I said you mean "East Columbia, don't you?"  I asked them if they had found that offensive and instead replied they had just been having a conversation about Seattle's addressing system and found my comment useful.  I gave them a quick primer before we reached their friend's house.

The Saturday ride invoked quite a different response.  The man suddenly became compulsive, not wanting to admit that it was East Union.  Instantaneously we had a performance, the guy even making hand motions indicating the intersections, even after his brother told him I was right.  That this became a taunt, something he was beating me up with, was not reasonable.  Having violated so many normal expectations, understanding this was going to continue for the nearly three, slow miles to their destination I pulled over and told them the ride was over.  We had gone a total of 2-3 blocks.  I was told he had just been joking.  I told them that it clearly wasn't a joke.

Once they got out they treated this like it was the "crime of the century" shouting and insulting me and taking pictures.  They called and complained.  I told the Supt I will not be insulted.   I looked up the behavior in the fourth edition of the "Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders", finding something like what happened listed under "personality disorders."   The guy just couldn't stop himself. 

As I keep saying, this blog is all about taxi as it really is, unblemished and factual. Too often people think the cabbie is public property, something that can be berated, grabbed, poked, molested and they don't like being told that it isn't true.  I think it is past the time, that like the airline industry, we have our own version of "air marshals."  A big dog with sharp teeth would be acceptable.  A little growling would do the trick. I would love to have an Airedale puppy!

Monday, July 15, 2013

900 Miles

This week it is screw the issues because this weekend it was all about what taxi is truly all about, meaning making the real money, and this was one weekend when the dollars were ripening upon the taxi trees. My first fare was a bartender leaving the Georgetown Sub-Pop music festival heading to Greenwood District and boom! $45.00 with included a ten dollar tip.  That is how it continued all weekend. I was told that I drove by a three-cab call at the University District Deca Hotel that took a bunch of Japanese golfers down to a course in Lacey which is just north of Olympia, the state capital.  That my friends is a $200.00 more or less ride.  I would not be surprised if the same cabbies brought them back.  I myself had a 5:30 AM ride to Bremerton which required a ferry ride.  What a beautiful morning it was for a sixty minute ocean voyage.  I will never argue with $181.68 minus the ferry fee.  One-way with a passenger is now $24.00.

The music venture was electric. Swoop down and instantly a twenty or twenty-five dollar ride. It was hard to go wrong that night, potential passengers swarming the cab.

Sunday morning too started off with a taxi bang as my very first fare from zone 105, the Northgate took me to Everett for fifty dollars.  One snafu was the incorrect address I was given.  The passenger was instead across the street but walked over to the exasperated driver and said, "Hello, I am going to a motel in Everett!"  That made me happy even though the unnecessary confusion didn't.

My favorite local ride is always "Take me to my hotel, then on to Sea-Tac" and it happened twice on Sunday afternoon.  A lull prompted me to head back to where there were waiting fares in West Seattle but thinking, "Why not first pass by the Mariners game because you never know."  It was only the third inning but there he was,walking northbound down 1st Avenue South, an older gentleman searching for a taxi and waving at me.  First to the Hotel W, then the airport.  It was his third game in a row, taking in the Mariners versus Angels series for the Toronto Blue Jays, scouting for potential trades.  He pitched for the Dodgers in the 1940s.  He was a baseball encyclopedia, regaling me with stories. Truly a nice guy!  For all you Mariner fans, "Edgar Martinez wasn't just a good hitter, he was a great hitter!"  And by the way, what has happened to the SafeCo Field taxi stand?  Last Sunday at least it was filled with parked cars.  Does anyone still wonder why I resigned from the taxi commission?

The second originated at a Ballard tavern, first to the Pan Pacific Hotel then on to Sea-Tac.  They were  "pushing it" a little bit and I had to fly.  Seven minutes to the hotel and 15 minutes to Sea-Tac, 22 minutes total which included picking up the bags, Mount Rainier smiling at  us all of the way. What was interesting is that they called ahead to have their luggage ready to grab but instead they had been placed in the trunk of an Orange Cab.  What that was all about is something better explained by the folks at the Pan Pacific.  If anyone hasn't noticed, bribery is rampant.

By Sunday midnight I was ready to have a real sit down meal.  The 24-hour "Square Knot" Diner has become a Sunday night/early Monday morning favorite but first a call in the Wallingford took me to Bellevue and fifty bucks.  Paid for dinner!  And checkout the "Square Knot.  It is a great place.

Upheaval at the Sea-Tac Feeder Lot

When in the mood at I will tell you about the big change-over which, when explained,
is taxi cab condensed.  For once, a long-time taxi guy was put in charge to run the operation.  Maybe there will be less shouting.  More later.

Nine Hundred Taxi Miles

And before I forget, I drove the equivalent of Seattle to San Francisco.  I am still waiting expectantly for the real thing.  $200.00 in gasoline is the same regardless of the destination.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Letter From The Mayor

I finally received the letter from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn thanking me for my two years on the taxi commission.  It had been mailed June 21st and first went to a wrong  address.  It was even signed which impresses me, finally getting some official recognition. For those who have been faithful and loyal readers of this weekly taxi testament, you know that I feel all my hours, weeks and years of advocacy and activism have essentially been flushed down the bureaucratic toilet.  I do realize that I have had active support from many in the local governmental sphere.   I thank everyone concerned. My mayoral liaison, Kenny Pittman has been greatly supportive and efficient.  It wasn't his fault that others share neither his insight and energy and commitment.  And for a few minutes we had the involvement of Dan Pike, a former city of Bellingham mayor.  If he had remained in KC Licensing I don't believe I would be writing this, his political skills honed and polished.

One line in particular I find noteworthy. "Your involvement, especially during the early formative years was invaluable."  I truly appreciate the acknowledgement.  Given that, I certainly have had second thoughts about leaving the only forum the local industry has to address our needs and concerns.  I did not make my decision lightly but personal time issues and constraints plus the inaction I saw prompted me to leave when in reality I didn't want to.  I have never been someone to back away from a confrontation.  Negotiate, yes. Seek viable compromise, yes again.  But inherent flaws in the process have created unnecessary impasse and obstruction, the commission meetings themselves fraught with frustration.  I again lost my temper during my final appearance. Clearly it was time to go.

The subject warrants a thorough examination but a few sentences must suffice today.  There are at least two major obstacles currently facing Seattle's taxi industry.  The long history of not understanding how the taxi industry functions has led to a series of regulatory missteps, perhaps the worst being the premature deregulation back in the late 1970s which set the tone for what we face today.  Again, I will leave the details backing that opinion for later.

And directly concerning the taxi advisory commission itself, it was set up for failure by an unwieldy internal structure and by poorly made appointments.  Attendance is abysmal which is made worst by having members who have never driven a taxi.  How can they know what I know?  And when the response is "that they don't need to know" then now you see the problem. 

This in brief is what I have gone up against and primarily why I decided to leave, structural issues rendering the commission impotent.  Major adjustments are necessary but I have no faith that any are forthcoming in the near future.  I wish the current commission  members the best of luck because I know they will need it.  My last wish is for the entire taxi community to remain supportive of their efforts.  If support fades so will the commission.  We do not want that to happen.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't Buy A $5.00 Hot Dog With A $100.00 Bill & Other Sad Stories

This edition comes to you via special request from "she-who-can't-be-named."   Telling her a bit about the "hot dog" tale prompted her to call me back and request to have me tell you all about it.  Since it was upon her encouragement I started writing this blog, it is the least I can do for her, relating this lamentable anecdote of blatant injustice that otherwise would remain unreported.  I rarely recount the various incidents and encounters because that is what taxi is minute by minute, each new passenger  having his or her comprehensive history.  But in this case I feel it is in the public interest to know.  If any reporter was interested in following the case, a simple check of Saturday local police precinct records should get you on the trail.

Personally, at the very least I always attempt to remain civil if not overly interested.  I justify my disinterest by making every effort to provide my passenger of the moment the most efficient taxi ride possible.  Late last night after I delivered three Birthday revelers from the 1600 hundred block of North 45th to the corner of 12th & East Jefferson, a young woman commented that "it was like I beamed them there" reminiscent of "Star Trek," I was that quick.  Part of my "taxi" professionalism is to try to give everyone the same ride throughout the weekend regardless of state of mind and body.  The party goers gave me a twenty and a grateful thanks.  To me that is pretty much what taxi is for me.  It isn't my lifestyle though I do appreciate what it has provided me these past 25-plus years.  The instant stories, though many remaining with me, come and go down the taxi river.

Expensive Hot Dog

The young black man was angry.  We were already late for him, receiving the computer message that he had already left his house and was walking down Cheasty Boulevard.  He breathlessly recounted his tale of misery and woe to a friend punctuated by "yeah n__ger" over and over.  The encapsulated version is that he was in Belltown Friday night or early Saturday morning and paid for a hot dog with a one hundred dollar bill.  I am guessing that something must have been momentarily distracted the transaction because when the dread-locked kid asked for the change the vendor said no, that he hadn't been given a century note.  Police were called and a rookie officer responded questioning the young man, "Are you sure you gave him a $100.00 bill?" instead of doing a real investigation and actually searching the offending vendor.

Getting more and more upset resulted in my passenger being taken to Harborview where he was stripped "butt naked n__ga!" and strapped nude to a bed with a catheter up his penis.  I was taking him back to his car.  He never got off the telephone the entire ride but I told him to "report the officer to internal investigation."  I can only hope he does, channeling his energy toward some resolution.  I too have in the past have called the police only to be treated like the criminal.  Beware of the "first responders" because you might not receive the expected response.  It has happened to me more than once, teaching me I am better off dealing with any situation all by myself.

Fatality in Auburn

5:30 AM this past Friday a longtime "Cuddy Taxi" driver was struck in his cab by a drunk driver running a red light in a Ford Explorer. The cabbie was killed.  The drunk crawled out of his overturned SUV and ran for it, being overtaken two blocks away. RIP buddy!

Errant Bicycle

Picking up Jennifer at the Harborview Hospital ER I took her to Lang Towing to retrieve her telephone from her totalled car.  Driving northbound on I-5 at about Mercer Street she suddenly had to avoid a fallen bicycle lying on the roadway.  Swerving, she ran into a barricade, destroying her 2008 Chevrolet.  After the tow yard,I then took her to the west hill of the City of Kent. The police are looking for the driver who failed to secure the bicycle.  They have leads.

At Lang I encountered a taxi colleague, an East Indian driver from over 15 years ago, giving me a warm greeting.  Best thing to have happened this weekend, the recognition of what I have been attempting, the creation of trust and goodwill.  He started off with two tow trucks and now owns Lang.  Good to see him.

Why Don't They Tell Their Passengers?

Again I got belled to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station at about 10:30-11:00 Sunday night where I discovered approximately 30 people with piles of bags and luggage standing outside the station completely bewildered, attempting to get some kind of transportation downtown.  I triple loaded my cab, taking Mr. Wicket from southern Germany and two others to their destinations.  As I was leaving I watched the crowd struggle with their luggage while boarding a city bus.  I have left messages for Sound Transit to do something about this recurring scenario, SeaTac passengers innocently boarding the train thinking they are ending up downtown.  This is what happens when you apply logic to Seattle, the equation not adding up.  This was Mr. Wicket's first time in Seattle.  HOW-IN-THE-HELL-WAS-HE-SUPPOSED-TO-KNOW-THAT-THE-DOWNTOWN- BOUND-TRAIN-WOULD-STOP-SHORT-OF-HIS-DESTINATION?  Why don't they just announce that this is the last train of the night and take everyone DT?  Once that trip is completed then go out-of-service until 5:00 AM the following morning.  How difficult is that?  In Seattle it appears to be impossible but why is it impossible?  Can someone please explain?

A Lighter Note

My father once drove a Ritz Taxi cab in Denver, Colorado.  A passenger, Patrica from Denver I had picked up at the train station told me "proudly" that she had been born in a Ritz taxi in 1963.  Glad she lived to tell the tale.  Ritz Taxi back then had a fleet of Brown Checkers.  Beautiful cars and spacious enough to accommodate an unexpected birth.  She was delivered not by the driver but a nurse.  We can't do everything!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An End To A Personal Era

Yesterday was my last day on the Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory Commission, having resigned effective end of June.  I attended this month's meeting because my City contact requested I stay until a replacement is found.  That idea changed when Kenny told me that the mayor's office had issued a letter thanking me for my service and that I was no longer officially a commission member.  I am still waiting for that mayoral missive. Kenny still does not have an adequate pool of candidates.  Is there anyone out there willing to make a commitment?  The commission needs you.

The irony is that I remained the Chair one last time because the vice-chair, my long-time colleague Manjit failed to show up again, making it three consecutive meetings in a row we haven't seen him.  As I have pointed out before, I am the only member with a perfect attendance record. How can anything be achieved when no one shows up?  The answer to that question is more than obvious.

Overall it was a good meeting minus much overt conflict.  The one major disappointment was our guest from HopeLink, a very nice guy who knew little to nothing about the working relationship existing between HopeLink and the local taxi industry.  As it turns out, he has only been at the agency for six months, HopeLink essentially sending us an inexperienced rookie.  Why did they do that?

For those who don't know HopeLink is a non-profit agency managing transportation services for the needy and disabled.  Using private donations and government-based funding, it coordinates and arranges  rides for visits to hospitals and dialysis centers and methadone clinics and doctor offices.  Much of what they do is vital and literally life saving which is why I personally continue to service HopeLink account rides despite some real difficulties related to them.  That is why I requested a presentation in the first place, to achieve some resolution. 

Jon Winters, the mobility coordinator HopeLink sent to talk to us, did leave with a number of questions to be addressed by his superiors but unfortunately serious issues were left hanging just like they always are.  Amazingly HopeLink acted just like they always do, providing us with another "no-show" while we wait endlessly for even temporary repair.  This is not acceptable though of course we have to accept it.  What other choice do we have, allowing instead the ill passengers to sicken and die?  Is anyone paying attention?

Their response unfortunately is not surprising, my long experience telling me nothing is ever satisfactorily resolved when the taxi industry is concerned.  All issues are allowed to fester, infecting the entire taxi body.  That is the primary reason I am pulling back from all active industry advocacy.  No one is truly listening.  I have had enough.  I request assistance but it never arrives.  There is no 911 number to call, being left to perish marooned on the roadside, a tow truck arriving weeks later.

Yet though I know leaving, for me, is the correct decision, I depart with truly mixed emotions, a complex chemical morass of anger, sadness, frustration and regret.  My affection for my fellow drivers remain.  Let no one doubt that.  I wish I could have done more.

The kind of systemic and institutional dysfunction I have faced is a looming, blank wall.  The maintainers of this barrier wave from above, shouting, "How are all of you doing down there?  The weather is just fine up here!"  For them everything is fine.  They go home every night after a mere eight hours behind a desk providing sage advice and guidance to the unwashed.  None of them have ever driven a taxi and never will.  Nonetheless they know more than I do.  Just ask them.  They will tell you all about it.

That is why I give up.  I can't take it anymore.  Being insulted and molested by drunks is one thing.  Insults from the privileged anointed few is another.  I will not do this any further.  This has not been a give and take dialogue. Very far from it! 

Instead we have dictatorial mandates disguised as negotiation.  This is one fool then who stops being one.  I made every effort to be accommodating and cooperative.  And where did it take me? No where is where it took me, only to long waits and dead ends.

Despite the worst of traffic conditions, cabbies always reach their destination.  What I have found during my seven plus years actively working on local taxi issues is that all conversation with the bureaucrats is a circular detour. You never, I repeat never arrive at your expected destination.  They tell you first to "turn right," then changing their tactic and now instead it is "go down that road, then turn left and left and left again...." until realizing, as I now understand it, this is an ongoing spontaneous comedy,a stage play, with the taxi industry, the taxi commission and everyone else the butt of their humor.  I for one am not laughing.  I am leaving the theatre.  None of this is funny. 

And who is paying good money for this sorry performance?  Why of course the all of us obediently paying our fees.  Is there an alternative?  I ask again.  Is there an alternative?  I don't see one upon the taxi horizon.  Just pain and obfuscation dished out over and over and over again.  This is reality?  They must be joking and I can guarantee they are.   They are not serious.  They do not care.  Goodbye.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brazen Lyft & Aborted Romance

A  rhetorical question.  What happens when you open the door?  The answer varies because it depends on literally where your home is situated, or more broadly the philosophical question you are addressing.  If you live in an urban setting, you keep your door locked because too often unwanted trouble will walk in unimpeded.  In small towns many people keep their doors unlocked, allowing friends to come over and borrow a cup of sugar.  In Seattle we have a developing situation caused by an overt decision not to enforce existing laws and regulations. This first became apparent about three years ago with Seattle's release of the "for-hire" vehicle licenses.  The drivers began patrolling the streets illegally picking up passengers, and minus some tepid enforcement, have become a more accepted part of the transportation infrastructure.  We complain but to no avail.  All we receive is "lip-service" and the surreptitious sticking out of tongues, insulting our intelligence.  If you don't know the definition of impunity, look it up.

Over the past year new entities have sprung upon the scene, Uber, Uber-X, Sidecar and Lyft and others offering what is essentially unregulated taxi service.  Despite the clear illegality and the obvious dangers to the rider public the Seattle City Council, the King County Council and the Seattle Mayor's office have sat on the sidelines watching these new services gain momentum.

 This weekend I saw a Lyft driver cruising Capital Hill both Saturday and Sunday, clearly attempting to nab some of the potential thousands of taxi passengers wandering around.  Don't doubt that I can tell whether someone is soliciting passengers or not, twenty-five years in this business tells me all I need to know.  Who was there to stop him?  No one of course, no one whatsoever.  All of us in the taxi industry are saying that the only thing gaining the bureaucrat's attention will be a horrible accident and then we will find out that the driver wasn't properly insured, with the passenger left to sue Lyft or Uber.  This is predictable.  It is only a matter of when, not if it will occur. 

Yesterday a passenger told me about her friend, a town car driver that was hit by an uninsured driver last year.  His passenger was seriously injured but there was little to no coverage.  She didn't know the outcome of the story.  This illustrates the hazards  the local governments continue to ignore.  Beware of officials who think they care about you.  Let something bad happen and you will instantly discover just how much they don't.


It was busy this weekend, the Chicago Cubs in town and especially, the Gay Pride weekend and parade predominating activity.  Pride Week translates to rivers of beer consumption.  What does that mean for the taxi driver?  Amorous passengers of course.

I picked up the two guys in the greater University District, taking them to Capital Hill. One was particularly animated, squawking similarly to one of my favorite birds, the Yellow-headed Blackbird.  He did a fair imitation.

Arriving at their Bellevue and East Pike building Mister Yellow-head decides I am handsome and must hug me.  Reaching his arms around the front seat he attempted to communicate his attraction, with me leaning away from him the best I could, suggesting that this wasn't the best of plans.  When I informed him that most drivers usually aren't as civil, he asked what would they do, and "of course, sock you in the nose!"

His friend was appalled, telling him to stop. Latching onto him, he literally dragged him half way into the street, the drunken infatuate now wedged between the front and back seats, his feet minus shoes now protruding up into the air, his arms sprawled on the sidewalk.  I laughed at the sheer stupidity, drunks always so entertaining. 

Drive a cab and you too can be desirable, a piece of meat served upon a yellow platter.  Garnish with parsley, please! I am now part of the marination" nation slathered with butter and sauteed a golden brown, consumed by the general public and the usual clowns!  No, the rate sheet is not a menu.