Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dictating The Conversation

It is clear that the Seattle City Council and Seattle's related administrators and regulators feel they have both authority and permission to shape our industry in any manner seen fit.  It is disconcerting to have people who have little understanding concerning your reality say that they know all about it while refusing to acknowledge their knowledge is purely theoretical.  Their presumptive attitude is insulting, not that they care. I call this the middle class/upper middle class disconnect, expert in everything regardless of the obvious, the product of lifelong pampering and coddling. 

Sally Clark, during her KIRO radio interview two Saturdays ago, said in response to the interviewer that she understood "she had to scrub the taxi drivers."  Really, Ms. Clark, I will be seeing you out at 74 South Hudson, soapy bucket and and brush in hand, "scrubbing down" all and everyone passing by?  Her statement says it all, the City of Seattle dictating the conversation to the local taxi industry. As I told a group of "taxi principals" yesterday afternoon, this must stop before it is too late. 

During a quick presentation I outlined

1)  What our current situation is,

2)  how we arrived here, and

3)  what our options are.

The attendees were very receptive, understanding like I do that we are under the administrative gun, and the good people at the Seattle City Council are about to pull the trigger.  I requested the meeting because, knowing everyone like I do, I wanted to remove any vestige of complacency.  We are in the fight of our taxi lives.  I told them like Paul Revere of old, I was out on my taxi horse sounding the alarm.  The British, I told them, are not just coming, they have arrived and their rifles are leveled at us waiting to fire.

While some might be optimistic, similar to the sentiments relayed in today's Seattle Times, that the arrival of a new mayor and Kahama Sawant, the self-described Socialist, is a bureaucratic game changer.  We  shall see.  I will be reaching out to them next week.  Stay tuned!  

Note 01/07/2014: Typos now corrected.  Give me sleep!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Title Request: Hoping This Is My Last Renewal

"She-who-can't-be named" requested the title after I renewed  my taxi for-hire driving license for hopefully the last time.   Given that I will be seeing her on her birthday in just over two weeks, I want her to be pleased.  Of course what she really wants is to see me completely out of the business.  I am making every effort to make that happen.  As is totally clear to me, I am no longer amused.

And one reason for that is that King County issued a new directive concerning license renewals, stating you have to renew an entire month in advance, which explains why I drove downtown and plucked down my $150.00, cash only. Are they afraid our checks will bounce? 

 My warning letter was issued on December 24th.  Today is the 30th.  My license expires on January 31st.  Thanks for the advanced notice!   There were a lot of drivers renewing today.  I always enjoy rubbing elbows with my taxi brethren, my kind of worn-out people. 

My Kind of Wages!

This weekend was tough meaning I had to work extra hard to make my usual money.  By early this morning I was beaten down.  Sitting "One up" in Zone 180 (the Westlake) I was parked in front of the Holiday Inn on Dexter Avenue North cleaning out the cab. 

This couple walks up and asked where the La Quinta was?  Having a sour experience they leaped out of one taxi and wanted me to take them the rest of the way.  Since I was doing nothing I said I would take them the three blocks for nothing.  In seconds I had them at their motel.  Insisting on paying me they gave me thirty bucks and Happy New Year!  I liked that, averaging a cool $10.00 dollars per block, a salary I believe  would well support my desired lifestyle.  A few weeks of that and I would begin thinking I was Bill Gates though maybe not,  tipping better than he does.

Almost Bellingham!

Parked near the Seahawk Stadium nearing half-time I got belled-in to 1st South and South Railroad for a "take the drunk fan home!" Seahawk charge who I was told was going to the city of Bellingham, give or take 70 to 80 miles north of Seattle.  It was a screwed up call and I never found the person.  Instead Seahawk security gave me a couple going to Renton Highlands.  The boyfriend was drunk.  Thankfully his companion was sober, having only imbibed hot chocolate.

Nearing the I-5 & I-405 intersection I stopped and let him vomit upon the roadside.  You know, the roar of insane traffic flying by is something to be missed, reminding me of my youthful hitchhiking days.  They were my best fare of the weekend but Bellingham would have been wonderful, it being over ten years since I've gotten a ride up there.  Years ago I would have been depressed missing the fare but now I understand taxi and how there are no guarantees until you have the passenger in the cab.  As I tell anyone interested in hearing it, the only taxi guarantee is a swift kick in the butt!  And that my friends is the damn truth.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve

And I can only hope and pray to the taxi gods that this one is my last.  I know "she-who-can't-be-named" will concur.  Ten years ago I drove that particular holiday with the flu.  It almost killed me.  Nothing like taxi! 

And I think I am repeating myself!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Once The Dust Settles, The Question Always Will Be Why Did They Think It Was Worth The Bother?

Saturday afternoon I heard the Seattle City Council President being interviewed on KIRO-FM, the monitor accusing her of stifling competition.  Yesterday in the December 23rd edition of the Seattle Times, their lead editorial "City Council Rideshare Plan Hurts Innovation" rails against any suggestion that Lyft, Sidecar and Uber-X should be subject to the same kind of regulation governing all commercial and public transportation infrastructure in the United States, be it taxi companies and airlines and trains and buses or horse-drawn carriages traipsing through NYC's Central Park.  The mere suggestion of any kind of parity ignited a firestorm of criticism.  Why would government, they shout, intervene against an economic and cultural innovation revolutionizing  transportation as we once knew it, labelling it as blasphemous bureaucratic overreach.

Beyond the blather and hyperbole the question persists just why should any Federal, state, county or municipal official accept an unlicensed and unsanctioned incursion into a regulated industry?  Radio personalities, especially one making constant reference to the "disco jacket" he was wearing, can be ignored but it is a different story when the editors of a newspaper touting its "Nine Pulitzer Prizes" embrace the uninvited illegal entry into a regulated market. 

Minus local licenses and permits the ride-share industry entered urban transportation markets across the country in cities like Seattle and Denver and San Francisco and Austin, thumbing their noses at anyone questioning their purpose and motive.  With religious-like fervour they chanted their new app-smart phone-based dispatch services were metaphysical in scope, expanding mind and spirit all the while simultaneously building community and cooperation. Turning reality upon its head, Lyft and its ilk have suddenly become the aggrieved party, thwarted in its gratuitous attempt to  free the rider-public from taxi-bondage.  If it wasn't so sad it would be humorous. 

How and why can this be true?  I suggest that everyone grab their nearest Webster's and look up the definition of "criminality" because it is clear what the ride-share industry is doing, first staking a claim then acting surprised anyone would object.  What comes to my mind are images of post-American Civil War carpetbaggers descending upon a devastated South and more modern, corporate raiders taking over an unwilling company.  What I find puzzling is why are these millionaires muscling in upon the very modest taxi industry, taxi never to be confused with multi-billion corporations unless perhaps you add up all those over-valued medallions in NYC.  Whatever the final outcome is, I will always wonder why anyone is bothering with such small economic potatoes.  It is a mystery.

Perhaps the most misleading part of the Seattle Times editorial is it missed that the City Council ride-share proposal essentially destroys the local taxi industry as we now know it, opening the market to unlimited numbers of quasi-taxis.  Missing entirely in their argument is that the current proposal allows any holder of a City of Seattle for-hire driver license to drive beyond any 16 hour per week limit. 

What the City Council is really saying is that anyone, Lyft, Sidecar, Uber-X, you, me, the "fool-on-the-hill" can contract with 100 drivers with City of Seattle for-hire licenses and operate unfettered in Seattle.  It also appears, unlike taxis, you can set up whatever rate you wish. 

An example of that just happened when Uber-X and Alaska Airlines teamed up this week to offer totally free rides to Sea-Tac on the 23rd and the 24th.  How can the taxi industry compete with free rides?  We can't and no small business owner can.  What may be true is that the ride-shares are the transportation equivalent to Walmart, underpricing the competition and killing the local business community.  Is this what the Seattle Times is advocating?  It appears to be whether they know it or not.

The City of Seattle Responds

Last week I got what essentially was a formalistic response from the City Attorney's Office, advising me to contact the very same parties who are not enforcing current City of Seattle laws and regulations.  I found that curious and will be sending a detailed response later this week.

More interesting was an email I received from the City of Seattle Customer Service Bureau saying they will be contacting me and actually issued me a tracking number monitoring my complaint.  I can only assume my comments have gotten someone's attention which is logical considering that the City of Seattle is potentially and theoretically liable for millions of dollars in potential damages.  Again, I will keep everyone posted concerning any new developments. 

Happy Holidays everyone!


Monday, December 16, 2013

"I Don't Want To Hear Anything More About Taxi For the Next Thirty Years!"

That quote is from "she-who-can't-be-named" who has had enough of taxi, or more precisely, my too many years involvement in this not quite sane profession.  How can I disagree with her?  I too am tired of a repetitious story chanting known themes.  Last Friday's Seattle City Council hearing echos in my mind, still disbelieving they remain unaware their newest proposal would destroy the industry locally.

At the hearing itself and in an email, I have asked the Seattle City Attorney's office to intervene.  What started over three years ago as the needless introduction of the "for-hire" licenses to our market continues in the renegade invasion known as Lyft, Uber-X and Sidecar.  We require some answers.  I will report to you as soon as I have them.

My only hope is that finally we in the taxi industry are united against a threat that can ultimately destroy the livelihoods of thousands.  The difference between us and the ride-share drivers is basic. This is our profession, not some kind of economic hobby supplementing an outside income.  I believe it all comes down to respect, or clearly the lack of it.

The Never-Ending Scenario  

Getting in the taxi he first needs me to break his 100 dollar bill so he could finish whatever transaction he was conducting.  Returning, his first request is a flat rate.  Refusing that, we continue to Burien but he will not or can not tell me precisely where we are going.  This does not stop him from every few blocks telling me to "keep going." 

After a few of these directives I tell him he has to stop while he steadfastly refuses to say where exactly we are going.  Entering the heart of Burien at South 148th and Ambuam South I ask him again again just where are we going, saying I have to know.  He had said "there were some children waiting" making it strange he didn't know where his children were. I no longer trusted that this ride was in anyway normal.

"Oh now you want directions?" he snaps.  With that response I tell him to "Just get out! and he does, understanding I've had enough, eating the $14.00 dollars on the meter.  It's good I can be intimidating, cutting short trouble. 

Just what was this fellow's agenda?   Nothing good is all I know, nothing good taking me for a ride.  As I keep telling such clowns like this guy over and over again, "I am a taxi driver, not a social worker!" but they continue to not believe me though I think this particular person began to get the correct picture.  He was afraid of me.  Good!  Again, welcome to the fun and games that is taxi.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unlucky On The 13th: Quick Snapshot of Today's City Council Hearing

Today the Seattle City Council held yet another hearing regarding their pending  legislation regarding taxi cabs and for-hires and the transportation network companies (TNC), or which heretofore were more commonly referred to as ride-share services.  What they are proposing will effectively inundate the taxi market with as many TNC cars as any billionaire seems fit.  They are proposing that anyone can create a maximum100 car TNC company through a pilot program expiring Dec 31st, 2015.  Given there is no limitation of how many individual TNC companies that can be formed we are looking at the possibility of an unlimited number of quasi-taxis being added to the market.  Knowing how rabbits breed, we will soon be overrun.

Along with this is a list of easily met insurance and other requirements which essentially translates into the deregulation of the taxi industry.  Why would anyone want to keep operating expensive taxis when instead all you need to do is rig together a minimum of 15 cars and you are in business minus any real capital outlay? 

Amazingly their justification is the extremely flawed Cooper/Mundy demand study.  I told the council today that they needed additional evidence but I am doubtful if they are interested in understanding taxi reality as it is and not how they are imagining it.  Like mad scientists they are bent on blowing up the laboratory.

The potential consequences if this TNC proposal goes through are dire.  You have read it here first.  We in the Seattle and King County taxi industry are facing a life or death dilemma.  How we respond to this threat in the next two to three months will determine our fate for years to come.  This new TNC is nonsensical.  We are in serious trouble.

My advice is to contact everyone you can think of, the new mayor, individual city council members, the City of Seattle's Attorney's Office.  Start contacting and start complaining before it is too late.  Our window of opportunity is very small.  The time to respond is now before tomorrow disappears forever.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Option 3 Dissected

As the regulatory option discussion concerning "Option 3" nears a conclusion I think it time I discuss the potential ramifications minus allegory or rhetoric.  While others, including friends move toward discussion and compromise I remain appalled at what I see as the potential dismantling of an industry, something that is clearly unwarranted.  Having stated earlier that the situation we are facing is wholly artificial, our own  "Gulf of Tolkin" incident, I am alarmed at what I view as the hypnotized masses walking forward toward an contrived oblivion.

 I will be discussing the "how and why" of  "Option 3", its history and why it can only be viewed as unacceptable.  Hopefully everyone will see my conclusions as non-biased, based solely upon factual analysis.  Again, as said in earlier comments, I am not placing the blame upon fellow victims like the "for-hire" and "limousine" industries.  Though while not supportive of their continued operations, I feel a settlement, especially concerning the "for-hires" is essential.  The blame for what everyone is dealing with lies solely with local regulators and administrators.  But first more history concerning all this should be helpful.  This juncture is not accidental, the combination of mistakes and miscalculations made over a series of many years.


"Option 3" is a misinterpretation of history, taking all of the negative facets of taxi and turning them on its head.  In other words, "Option 3" is history turned upside down, serving only as reconcilable solution if you believe a convex image is not distorted but real and actual.  When blame is your operative view, then of course the taxi industry is criminally dysfunctional, justifying all punitive responses.  Understand that at least in Seattle all the decisions affecting the industry the past 40 years have been made by people who have never driven a taxi.  What we see today are the missteps of the past masquerading as verifiable reality.  Call it a distortion.  Call it false assertion.

If you really want to know what will happen if "Option 3" becomes reality I suggest reading, which can be found on-line, a 1983 article written about the City of Seattle's 1979 deregulation of the local taxi industry, "Seattle Taxis, Deregulation Hits a Pothole," by Richard Zerbe.  You should also check out Goldy's April 11, 2013 Stranger column about failed taxi deregulation where he quotes from a 2001 report originating from Craig Leisy's Consumer Affairs office , explaining why deregulation was/is a bad idea.  The study also states the dire impacts of deregulation.

One important point to consider is that the 1979 deregulation only affected taxis.  The outcome was so disastrous that the industry was re-regulated a short five years later.  What is so scary about "Option 3" is that it expands the market by allowing 200 "for-hire vehicles" to convert to "taxi licenses" and allows unlimited numbers---thousands?---of ride-share vehicles to operate legally in Seattle. "Option 3" also adds fifty additional taxis to the mix.  By reading Zerbe's well-researched piece and the City of Seattle's own report one might conclude that 'Option 3" is not an option at all unless your goal is to destroy the local industry.  As I keep saying, our local market demand will never sustain that level of intrusion.

As is often said, history is an able teacher, and failing to heed history's lessons can be both foolish and dangerous.  History in this case tells us a broad deregulation is not the answer.  The answer, I will be presenting, lies elsewhere.

For-Hire Vehicles: Why They Are Not  The Answer To Seattle's Taxi Market

Approximately three years ago a decision was made to put in place a "de facto" deregulation of the taxi industry minus any consultation with extant taxi associations or current industry leaders.  After refusing to consider releasing additional taxi licenses, the City of Seattle's Office of Consumer Affairs encouraged the release and purchase of nearly two hundred "for-hire" vehicle licenses.  King County in turn opened the "for-hire" spigot, allowing for what I understand to be an unlimited number of county-based "for-hire" licenses to be created.  The unfortunate consequences were many.

City of Seattle licensed "for-hire" vehicles come with a limited operational mandate,
forbidding them to cruise for passengers within Seattle's city limits, thus removing any direct "street" competition with regulated taxi cabs.   City of Seattle based "for-hire" drivers can only legally receive passengers through dispatched calls.

Knowing this, the Office of Consumer Affairs decision to release the "for-hire" licenses was curious and dumbfounding, because they were released without legally requiring affiliation with an association or having a proven dispatch system.  What the City of Seattle did then was encourage the creation of TWO HUNDRED separate businesses with no ability to legally operate.  Why the City of Seattle did this is yet to be answered.  So far no one has accepted responsibility for this bone-headed move. 

Unfortunately two hundred new business owners found themselves instantly burdened with operating costs similar to taxis but having no ability to pay those expenditures.  The City of Seattle neither conducted any cost analysis or business planning prior to releasing these licenses to the public. Nor did they offer any guidance or assistance to the naive people who purchased them.  In short the City of Seattle failed its own governmental mandate to protect and serve its citizens.  The results of this failure has been catastrophic, impacting both the new business owners and the taxi industry.

The "for-hire" owners had to make a choice.  Given that it takes years to develop a successful business model, they either had to give up their licenses or go to where the money is, meaning taking the risk of picking up passengers illegally upon the streets of Seattle. 

Fast forward to now, and minus any real enforcement, the "for-hire" vehicles are now an established but completely illegal fixture.  All requests made to the City of Seattle to suspend licenses have been completely ignored, making the City of Seattle in some form accomplices to the documented theft over the past three years. 

As far as I know nothing like this has ever occurred before in the history of  Seattle, open criminal activity allowed to continue 24 hours a day year after year unabated and without the intervention of regulators or administrators or the police. If the equivalent armed robberies or rapes or muggings or setting up of unlicensed restaurants occurred, the ensuing public uproar would be thunderous.  People would be fired and resignations demanded.  Investigations would be conducted and perhaps officials would be indicted.

 But of course nothing like that has occurred in relation to this situation.  Incredibly, as part of the solution offered by "Option 3" these very same thieves are to be allowed to become fully licensed taxis.  If I didn't now the facts I would find all of this fictional but it isn't.  This is operational reality.

No, "for-hire" vehicles are not, and never have been the answer to what might be perceived as a transportation infrastructure problem, meaning the sometimes lack of taxis at particular hours.  The simple solution has always been to dual-plate or regionally-plate all the current taxis save the fifty King County-only licenses issued to Green Cab.  Given that they have never operated under the original issued-mandate, their licenses must be rescinded.

Similarly the "for-hire" licenses should be eliminated, allowing for some damages awarded to the owners.  Two key points here.  For the most part, the for-hire industry has never totally operated under their known operational mandate.  And everyone should remember that no one forced anyone to buy the "for-hire" licenses.  Anyone buying them clearly knew that, as the rules stated, they were prohibited from picking up "flags" in the City of Seattle.  Despite their protestations, they have no case. 

Everything they have done, from buying the licenses to operating illegally within the legal boundaries of Seattle, has been voluntary.  If anyone from the City of Seattle told them directly, or implied that one day their licenses would one day convert to standard taxi licenses, we need to see the written proof.

Ride share Vehicles: Why They Must Be Eliminated

Everyone should remember why transportation services like taxis, buses, trains, ships and airplanes and jets are regulated.  It is all about public safety.  Read your daily newspaper and you will regularly find articles about ferry boats sinking in the Philippines or buses driving off cliffs in Peru and Ecuador, often with great loss of human life.  I have been on those buses in South America and I can personally attest to the danger.  What is happening is that the regulators in those countries are not paying heed to public safety.  In the USA we know better or least we should. That is why these new ride share smart-phone based apps are a non-starter.  Just because there is a new technology doesn't mean you alter the entire regulatory and business history of an industry.  It doesn't make sense. 

Imagine that someone decided to dispatch private airplanes to customers utilizing a similar kind of app used by Lyft or Sidecar.  Why many might think it was a terrific idea you can be assured that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) would immediately step in and block the potentially dangerous practice.  But when the City of Seattle and King County were presented with new app-based car services, what did they do? Nothing, they have done nothing at all to protect the public from illegally operated transportation services.

One of the reasons given is that some segment of the local population likes them.  Using that justification, perhaps the City of Seattle and King County should allow unfettered use of heroin and cocaine and child pornography because a sizable percentage favors that.  One of the primary purposes of governmental authority is to provide guidance.  Even with the overwhelming support of marijuana legalization, only recently have two states voted to legalize small amounts for personal consummation. Federally you can still be thrown in prison for a very long time.  Government then uses it authority to protect both the public and regulated industries.  Oddly City and County government has openly decided not to follow their own laws and rules and regulations regarding the upstart ride-share industry.  The question is why.

"Option 3" opens up the Seattle market to unlimited numbers of ride-share vehicles.  If the owner of Amazon, a known billionaire and a backer of the ride-share industry, wants to put on one thousand new ride-share cars he will be able to do it under "Option Three."  Scary, and there will be no effective regulatory authority to stop him.   "Option 3" holds the potential then to effectively kill the local taxi industry as we know it.   This makes no sense whatsoever.

Where is the Demand?

Ever since the release of the Cooper/Mundy demand study, the City Council has kept up a steady drumbeat for the need of more vehicles to service this new and ever expending consumer base.  As I have repeatedly pointed out, one of the studies major flaw is that it never once considered or mentioned the essential disappearance of what once was a taxi mainstay, package deliveries.  This past weekend I had one solitary package when ten years ago I might have had 20 or more on a given day.  What Cooper/Mundy failed to do was the math, subtracting the business lost from the perceived increase, which it seems to me keeps us at about 1990 demand levels.  Now business could increase but most of that will be seen only for a few months of the year or during certain times of a given day.

It is a deadly game opening the market to unlimited competition because many will simply have to give up and do something else.  At this point I don't even support "Option 3s" idea of licensing 50 new taxis.  I am unconvinced they are currently needed.  As I said, dual-plating all the existing cabs other than Green Cab will fill in the current gap in the market, that is if that gap really exists.  One study proves little.  More collaborative evidence is required.


"Option 3" not only ignores reality it creates one that doesn't currently exist.  There is no need for new quasi-taxis to be added to an already depressed business environment. The town-cars, which I haven't mentioned, must be brought in under some strict regulatory authority.  The "for-hire" cars, if they are allowed to exist, must operate under their original mandate. 

And enforcement must begin immediately against the illegally operating for-hires, town cars , and ride-share services.  The City of Seattle has the authority to stop all illegal activities.  It is time it begins following its own laws and halt the predatory practices currently impacting the Seattle and King County taxi associations and their owners and lease-drivers.  It is time for fairness to be applied to an important and vital industry.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One Example Will Suffice

I will forever find it irritating that those who are making decisions for our local taxi industry have no clue concerning our pervasive reality.  Insult to injury is that they do not consider it necessary to know while expecting us to both respect and follow their instructions.  Amazing, isn't it?  

It is clear it comes down to one dimension only and beyond any doubt local administrators and regulators have little to no respect for us.  They will deny that but the proof rests in their actions.  Unless they are stopped, they will be decapitating our industry locally, leaving it to us to mop up our own blood and bury the dead.  Anyone close to this story knows this is true.

While the City of Seattle contemplates our destruction, our story, our reality continues.  Sometimes one example says it all, clearly illustrating what all of us endure.  A conversation overheard late Thanksgiving paints the too typical taxi picture, saying it might not be wise subjecting the innocent to this kind of garbage. 

Purposely picking my taxi up late Thanksgiving evening, thus allowing an early 4 AM start in the north end, I accept a South Park fare I saw sitting far too long in Zone 505.  Going to a house shrouded in deep fog on the 800 block of South Sullivan Street I pick up a gay couple, two guys going home to Capital Hill from a Thanksgiving feast.  Unfortunately they had much to comment upon, and unless I tell them to shut up, I was going to hear it regardless of choice. 

Professional discretion aside, there are very few instances where the driver can tell the passengers to end a particular conversation.  Certainly profanity and any threatening talk allows for intervention.  Beyond that, you just have to bear with it, no matter how obnoxious your passengers are.  In this instance, one of the two gentlemen was beyond the pale. He was simply a fool, dinner wine loosening his wagging tongue. God help the cabbie!

It was this "dinner guest that" and "those lesbians were so ugly" and she said she "hadn't taken a bath in three years!"  On and on for the more or less eight miles to Denny and Melrose.  Everyone at the party, over 20 guests, were targeted for their venom, no one escaping their scurrilous scrutiny, the couple commenting upon haircuts and mental stability and fashion decisions. The idiot was also a backseat driver, not respecting  me or anyone else.

Finally pulling up to their apartment building Mr Gossip makes one last comment, saying those lesbians were so ________ but at least (meaning me) you are "easy to look at."  Wonderful!  Every part of him speaks, including his penis.  Why do I have to hear his penis talking, his distorted brain being quite bad enough for one Holiday evening.

Welcome to taxi my friends.  It is a fun world where you learn everything you never wanted to know concerning demented humanity.  And of course all those City Of Seattle folks know all about this.  Ask them and they will tell you, reassuring you to the bloody end!


Monday, December 2, 2013

O My God! I'm Married To The Cab!

While too many are clambering to get into a taxi or quasi-version the reality is that driving a cab is brutal especially when you starting stringing together a few days in a row, ensuring that all you are doing is sleeping and eating, living and breathing taxi.  Today marks my fourth day in a row, when just in over two hours I will again be beneath the top-light working the Monday night Seahawk game.  Pity the poor guys and gals who do this day in and day out, not just in Seattle but everywhere around the taxi world.  Upon dropping me off at the airport, my last Mexico City cabbie made a sign-of-the-cross with my tip in hand.  That gesture says it all.  Taxi is not heaven on earth but instead usually an urban manifested hell!  Always again, welcome to taxi as I know and hate it.