Monday, October 13, 2014

A Strange Weekend I Would Have Rather Avoided

Coming back from Lake Kelema and Steamboat Rock and Northrup Canyon Nature Preserve I was unfortunately greeted this weekend by post-full moon madness in all its demented and shining glory.  It would have been preferable not switching taxis four times over or receiving my first moving violation in nearly four years.  Since all this trauma was clearly avoidable, it was the lamentable influence of the moon making it optional, too many choosing confusion and mayhem over quieter and saner approaches.  One understands after their initial introduction that taxi is innately chaotic for all the sorry reasons known too well to us veterans of the craft.  But it is also apparent that too many others disproportionately embrace behavior better left to infants crying over clabbered milk.  Just because its served doesn't mean you must quaff it down like Heavenly Nectar delivered by the Gods.  As is all too obvious, be careful whom you pray to, malevolent and mischievous spirits mutely waiting  in the celestial ether seeking the gullible and unbalanced, all too happy anointing all unaware takers with disorienting spells..  Sanity remains rare.

Not knowing that 478 was locked in the shop, I wasted 20 minutes before comprehending  the real situation. Why didn't anyone tell me the cab was down for days due to computer issues?  Poor communication continues to plague Yellow.  A simple email would have notified me but no, that's too simple and basic.  Making it worse is, when later in the day, calling and asking whether 478 was ready to go, I arrived only to find out it wasn't true.  Making it all the more serious, when finally taking the cab out I discovered too late that the computer issues were not resolved as told, necessitating yet another transfer at 4:00 AM.  I parked 478 with the expectation that it would be repaired later in the day, giving the shop all morning to make it right.

Later Sunday afternoon Larry, a lead mechanic told me, "I don't work on computers!" fating me for yet another transfer to a different cab.  If it had been repaired properly in the first place I would not been put through the laborious task of shifting all my taxi gear multiple times plus gassing up the tank and driving how many miles back to the lot.  Each minute taken is yet  another lost opportunity to make money, taxi seconds precious, not something to be squandered.

Crowning the "Mad Hatter-ness" of the weekend was receiving a ticket for responding to the call for cabs needed down at the Amtrak station.  Located adjacent to the Seahawk Stadium, I know well the procedures dealing with all of the police posted for traffic duty during a game day.  Allowing us in is usually perfunctory, SPD knowing Yellow Cab holds exclusive rights to picking up there.

Not seeing anyone barring the gates I assumed I could proceed forward. Wrong! as a cop flew at me in an unmarked car, acting like I was attacking the White House!  Angrily rushing out of his car, the officer was completely beyond rational conversation.  Explaining I was simply heading in to pick up waiting passengers had no influence upon his behavior or demeanor.  He appeared to enjoy punishing me, the "bad" cabbie trying to pick up customers.  Half an hour later they were still asking for 40 cabs, meaning there were a good hundred or so passengers standing there in line wondering why they weren't getting a taxi.  I am sure many blamed us for the unusually long wait.  How could they know that instead it was a failure perpetuated by the City of Seattle, poor planning cementing their fate.  I hope no one was attempting to make a flight.

Capping it off, while writing  me out a ticket, an Uber-X "Black Car" was allowed in, making the entire experience surreal.  I will be sending a copy of the ticket to Seattle's new police chief.   I believe she will find my description interesting.  It might be time to de-criminalize taxi driving.  I can only hope she agrees.  If anyone is still wondering why the Federal Justice Department intervened into SPD operations, you should only drive taxi for a few minutes, and soon, at your own peril, you will quickly understand all too well, the reasons why no longer mysterious. You will know beyond all reasonable doubt.

A Comment Answered

A reader wondered why I haven't been reporting the upheaval, pain and turmoil connected with PSD/BYG's disjointed introduction to their new computer dispatch system, perhaps implying my silence is intentional.  Understanding that people want to know I will say that I have been working behind the scenes seeking remedies to real and serous issues.  Like everyone else, I have not remained immune to the less than pretty debut.  I have made my opinion known.  Tomorrow I am meeting with someone who, together with me, is interested and vested in finding permanent solutions.  The true cause is cultural, taxi-culture too often myopic, not  able to see beyond its own nose.  Many times I have attempted to be the local taxi optician.  I have written prescriptions.  It is unfortunate they haven't been filled.  I agree fully.  The situation needs to change quickly.  There is no other option.  The problems could have not arrived at a more dire juncture.  With autumn's arrival, business is slowing.  The Alaska cruise season is over.  Drivers are suffering, unable to pay their leases.  I agree.  Improvement is needed.  I will keep you informed on any and all progress.  I know it is hard staying patient when after working your butt off you have nothing to show for it.  It is not a good story.   I am making an attempt to rewrite it.


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