Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Taxi Essay: Seattle's Mayor And His Betrayal Of The Local Taxi Industry

Recently listening to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray commenting upon a local controversy concerning the dry-docking of a floating Dutch Shell oil rig, I was reminded once again how savvy of a politician he is.  While acknowledging the divide between us concerning Seattle's governance of Seattle and King County's taxi industry, I recognize that he is the most capable and competent mayor Seattle has had since at least Charles Royer (1978-1990), and Wes Uhlman (1969-1978), who survived a 1975 recall attempt.  Until Murray's election we have had a veritable mayoral chamber of horrors over a 24-year period beginning in 1990 and ending in 2014.  In apple-pie order those scary mayors were Norman Rice, Paul Schell, Greg Nickels and Mike McGinn. 

Rice stood out for ordering the physical eviction and crack-down upon a group of activists occupying the Pacific Hotel on the corner of 4th and Marion, the Seattle Police violently tossing them out.  Perhaps appropriately upon leaving office, Rice immediately transitioned to the post of CEO and President of the Federal Loan Bank.  He also made unsuccessful runs for Congress and Washington State governor.  Last year I saw him and his wife at the Canis Restaurant waiting for a stretch limousine, the valet shouting at me because I was somehow impeding "His Honor" while picking up a lesser diner. Shame on me for failing to recognize greatness directly in front of me!

Paul Schell oversaw the twin municipal disasters that were the disruptive 1999 WTO protests along with the infamous 2001 Pioneer Square Mardi Gras riots where a young man was beaten to death.  That he was a mayor quite "over his head" was too obvious for him to last more than one term.  I will always best remember Schell for using his position as head of the Port of Seattle as an excuse for frequent visits to Europe upon Port business yet somehow each time conveniently ending up at his cottage in the south of France.  How this man ever became mayor remains a mystery to me.  I also remember when he recommended that everyone utilize taxis as "their second car" while simultaneously allowing his police force to terrorise us, issuing rapid-fire tickets.  A fun era it wasn't. 

Nickels of course allowed the NBA franchise to leave town even though two years remained on the Key Arena lease, dooming multiple lower-Queen Anne businesses once dependent upon the Supersonics.  Even worse was his handling of the huge snowfall in December of 2008, paralysing the city for nearly two weeks, a lack of adequate snow removal leading to his own departure, failing to even survive the primary.  Citizens still joke how his residential street in West Seattle was the first to be cleared.  His son's personal tragedy of stealing $5000.00 from an Indian casino only deepened Nickels' personal malaise.

Mike McGinn was an idealist minus an usable compass, coming into office with a hopeful agenda developed in part as a Sierra Club chapter president.  Favoring bicycles over cars, McGinn feeling that any accommodation with that "devil automobile" could not be part of his environmental religion, got into an immediate fight with the City Council over proposed plans to dig a massive tunnel replacing that 1950s concrete dinosaur known as the Viaduct span of State Highway 99.  That the project was already approved and funded didn't sway McGinn, objecting to the bitter end, and unfortunately, sabotaging his now preordained one term tenure.  Still he has left his mark with bike lane projects on major arterials like 2nd Avenue downtown and the First Hill section of Broadway Avenue, complicating the daily commute for tens of thousands Monday through Friday.  Like so many visionaries of his kind and ilk, he lacked both commonsense and mundane eyesight, somehow not seeing that Seattle is a city squeezed between two huge bodies of water (Lake Washington and the Puget Sound) and the mountainous foothills of the Cascades tapering into Elliot Bay and the Sound (now popularly referred to as the Salish Sea).  McGinn was "master of the mess" and it will take successive generations to repair the damage.  My favorite McGinn monuments are the part-time or late-night cab stands sitting idle throughout the city.  I might even use them myself occasionally if only SPD would begin ticketing all those cars illegally parking in those ill-fated stands.  If only, if only but course they haven't and never will.  In 28 years I have never seen one ticket upon the violator's windshield. How is that possible?

Especially compared in relation to McGinn's amateurism, Mayor Ed Murray is the consummate career politician, having spent first 11 years in the Washington State House of Representatives, and then, from 2007-2013, in the Washington State Senate.  From my handful of visits to Olympia, it is completely clear that power and money rule the roost, which accurately explains why Murray chose Uber over those orphaned children, the Seattle and King County taxi industry.  In his mind, and I don't blame him for this assessment, taxi is the hamstrung racehorse and and Uber a corporate Seattle Slew.  He knows who to put his" money on," liking what he see in those Silicon Valley Uber jockeys. 

During that interview aired over NPR radio, Murrary, alluding to his fight to achieve gay marriage rights, said progress is incremental, that by questioning whether Shell Oil had the proper City permits he was acknowledging that fossil fuel dependency, perhaps far in the future, someday will end, an assessment I completely agree with.  He also added that he bore no malice toward the State of Alaska and its current economic reliance upon oil and natural gas revenues.  Murray was conciliatory, he was sincere but most of all he was effective, simultaneously taking a strong position while reaching out to any and all possible opponents.  Of course you do this when facing one of world's largest and most powerful companies.  As I said, Murray is savvy, knowing where his political bread is buttered, of course fully explaining his approach to Seattle's transportation needs.  Seattle's taxi industry historically has proven itself to be inept.  Again, why embrace a loser when you have an new "up and comer" on your block?   The answer is obvious.

Even so, it is hard to justify what Murray did to a regulated industry.  If he had instead de-regulated taxis, allowing us to compete equally, I would have applauded the move.  But no, Murray embraced Uber, and even worse, knowing who he was dealing with, invited the taxi industry into negotiations that gave nothing away.  In other words, Murray, the smart and capable politician he is, knew that taxi would walk directly "into the punch" and be knocked out.  He was also extremely wise to exclude anyone who could take a punch to the head and remain standing. Murray knew where he wanted to go and he went there, not caring how much damage he caused to an already crippled industry. As he saw at both the State House and Senate, it was and remains survival of the fittest.  While I am sure he would not mind if we survive our current hardships, he won't be crying if we disappear.

And if we do vanish from the face of the taxi planet, who will we blame?  Uber?  Murray?  The Seattle City Council?  No, there will be only one group of individuals who will have been responsible.  Ourselves and no one else, alone in our incompetence and dysfunction and stupidity, Murray just the convenient hammer nailing our self-constructed coffin shut. 

If anyone disputes that, I say, think again.  The sorry truth is is that we are suicidal and have done little to change our distorted psychology.  We are on the edge and Murray's hand is pushing upon our backs.  Are we ready to both leave the cliff and push back?  I don't know.  I like to think so but that too could just be delusional.  What is true is that Murray isn't going anywhere.  He will be reelected.  About us, like I said, I don't know.  What kind of industry we will be by next May I can't tell you.  If historical precedent remains true, at best we will continue limping, not roaring down the road.  We are in trouble, and Murray is not are friend.  That is something I do know for sure.  He is not our friend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

good-god-almighty-taxi-is-completely-crazy-and insane-too-and-the-truth-is-there-is-nothing-you-can-do!

It Never Ends

I probably said it before but here it is again, and of course you can quote me.  Whatever taxi could be and is and will remain for the foreseeable future is a kind of organized anarchy that almost accidentally getting anything done.  Why be intentional when you can leave everything instead to happenstance?  While some might view that as an exaggeration, you probably haven't, like I just have  this past Saturday, waited in the early morning for an anxious hour wondering when your taxi would finally arrive back so you can damn well get started.  

What was all wrong about this story---not getting fully paid for the hour lost along with being "short-tanked" $8.50 in addition to an implausible explanation?  Well it is pretty simple.  If you are lying you might remember that your every block can be tracked as you are first seen near Volunteer Park on 15th Avenue East, then 30 minutes later somewhere downtown on 2nd Avenue, and finally, at 4:40 AM flying up I-5 north-bound to Shoreline.

Finally arriving back at 5:00 o'clock the "so-sincere" driver tells me he couldn't wake-up the drunk in the back seat which, according to him, explained everything.  The big problem with this type of "moth-eaten-cloth-of-a-story" is that someone had to be directing him on his cross-city journey.  Does he really want of us to believe that, 1), the drunk, got in the cab and gave him a specific address in Shoreline, Washington, then 2), passes out while the driver goes every which way until finally, 40 minutes later, starts heading in the correct direct, and 3), the passenger's wife had to help him get her husband out of the cab, and 4), and to make it worse, he was never paid, and 5), he had to short me $5.00 because he didn't make any money?  Like too many people I meet in this business, they keep mistaking me for some kind of social worker.  While it is true I have held similar positions in the past, now I am just another "ruff & tuff" cabbie more than prepared to knock you head off!

His credibility, as if he had any to start with, was furthered tarnished by my discovery he had repeated this trick with another driver.  But being the nice guy  I occasionally am I told him to call me sometime to receive a quick tutorial upon taxi methodology, namely how to deal with all those drunks passed out in the backseat.  Do I think he will be calling? No, but I can guarantee I will have him spoken to.  While both anarchy and accountability begin with the letter A, there can only be one of them applicable to this situation.  Can you guess which one it is?

 And if think I am cynical you are correct because realism, not fantasy is called for.  When I got to the cab lot that Saturday morning the last thing I was interested in was a poorly conceived fairytale told by a bad narrator.  If I have to have my time wasted, please let me do it myself.  I know all about driving round & round in circles!

And as if that fool wasn't enough......!

So I am already in a foul mood, it's past 5 AM, but again, being my usual accommodating self, I took a driver who needed a ride home up to Capital Hill.  Last weekend I had taken the same guy home on a early Monday in my own car, free-of-charge, so now the IDIOT has to GIVE ME DIRECTIONS because of the route previously taken, that is 99 north to Seneca to Second to a left turn on Cherry, then left onto 1-5 and getting off on Denny Way and boom! there we are at Belmont East & East Harrison.  I choice that route because the lot is about one long block off 99 and there is no traffic at 4 in the morning.  What does the ignoramus say to me (and he knows I have been driving taxi over 25 years)?  "Oh, I didn't think you knew the way."  Oh really, I don't know about I-5 which I have been on one billion times?  Anyway, I wasn't very nice and made sure he paid me the complimentary ten dollars.  As I told him, as we drove by, "I lived at 226 Belmont East in 1978 and I rented at a house at 614 Summit East in 1974."  In other words brother, I kind of know the territory and you are just another taxi cipher!  Give me a break or should I instead break your neck?

Taking Away a "Wenenatchie"

Both of us were sitting at the West Seattle ferry terminal waiting for our Sea-Tac fares when the nice Yellow van driver told me that Yellow dispatch had taken away his King Street Station to Wenenatchie, Washington ($400. plus) fare from him because they had belled it an hour early. Instead of just asking him whether he would be interested in waiting, they cancelled the fare, re-belling it a mere 45 minutes later.  That he was upset was an understatement.  I know the feeling because 26 years ago I lost a Wenenatchie fare when driving at Farwest Taxi.  Since I know everyone I took it upon myself to alert the head of dispatch concerning the situation, hopefully preventing any future incidents.  Anyone experienced knows that often the long fares are slow developing, meaning a 30-45 minute wait is not unusual.

I think he knew my name

Sunday I am dropping off this nice guy from Kansas in the University District, doing my best avoiding the mess that is the annual University Street Fair.  A big, black SUV honks, wanting to get by the corner but there is plenty of room so I just motion with my arm to go around.  The driver finally moves around, and as far as I could tell, cursing my name because he is none other than a fellow Yellow cabbie driving his own Uber X car.  I just laugh and tell him he should know how  to drive by this point.  Recently I have been getting lots of passenger comments that the Uber drivers don't know what they are doing and where they are going.  What a big surprise it isn't is my comment.

When I told "she-who-can't-be-named" this funny story she said it wasn't funny.  "Don't tell me any more cab stories!"  Hey that ain't nice!

You Definitely Want to Take Customers to Uncle Ike's

The customer came out of the Madison Renaissance hotel  on a mission.  He wanted to buy some legal marijuana and was told Uncle Ike's located at 23rd and East Union was the place to go.  Damn was I pleased to find out that the doorman checking IDs was handing out $12.00 car-wash cards, saying we give them to all the cabbies bringing customers our way.   You  better believe I will!

And that criminal defense lawyer from Alberta gave me a $29.00 tip.  Believe me I'll gladly take that too, along with the fresh carton of raspberries he bought me while waiting for him at the grocery, needing eye drops to conceal his now bloodshot eyes.

Sock in the Nose

Suddenly the past couple months young guys on a Capital Hill Saturday night have been trying to wash 478's windshield.  When objecting this time the kid said the service was free.  I responded by saying that "socking him in the nose" was also free.  He and his companion quickly left.

And all those waiting for the Uber insurance info

I'll have it for you in a week or two.  I'm both tired and very busy, a very poor combination.  Thanks for your  patience.

A Final Note

As you probably noticed, the posting this week is all about taxi as it really is, not talking about the many issues facing taxi and just why the City of Seattle isn't telling all those town-car drivers sitting at the north end of SafeCo Field to move along.  I can't imagine why not! 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tired Writing---Taxi's Inevitable Aftermath

Taxi drivings' physical and mental costs are many.  Ask any cabbie in any city or country and they will tell you, "taxi is a grind" which is undeniably our shared reality.  I say this while grimly acknowledging that these weekly examinations of "all subjects taxi" sometimes fall short in overall literary quality, at least not matching my expectations.  I attempt, despite all obstacles, to coherently express what I see upon the taxi streets.  My occasional failure is directly attributable to what I said, bodily exhaustion sabotaging  my best efforts, gibberish replacing possible eloquence.  As it's difficult to drive with drooping eyelids, that equally applying to writing, navigating down the grammatical road with a half-opened brain, attempting the mentally impossible.

My difficulty then is an inherent side affect of doing something better avoided, namely pushing oneself beyond usual sanity and endurance.  Often I tell passengers that taxi is a fatigued industry, saying everything is tired---the drivers, the owners, the cars, everyone and everything pushed past reason and rational commonsense. That I allow this, despite my best efforts, tarnishing and upending my writing, will never be acceptable, neither pleasing me nor, of course you my readers of these weekly tales and cultural taxi explorations. 

So take this not as excuse but instead, plausible explanation as to why when encountering less than satisfactory passages.  I am tired, only coming back to anything close to any true physical and mental resuscitation on Friday when of course the cycle again repeats itself, taking me back to the beginning, ready to check into the nearest hospital.  

This is taxi reality,and the reality of that cabbie rushing you to the airport after telling him, as a passenger told me last night, that her flight was leaving at 10:00 PM, with the time now 8:53 PM, leaving us very little time to drive the 26 miles separating her part of  Kirkland, Washington from Sea-Tac airport.  No matter my current state of mind and body, I had no choice but to instantly  transform into a race car driver, flying down I-405 in the dimming twilight.  It's no wonder I have forgotten all usual punctuation rules, not caring about semi-colons when zigzagging at _0 miles per hour down the freeway, the road ahead and nothing else your primary concern, prepositional phrases and sentence construction, not to mention deconstruction, the least of your momentary worries. 

The post-script to all this is that the south-bound entrance to I-405 was closed, necessitating a quick detour north, costing me three precious minutes we couldn't afford.  Regardless we pulled up to American Airlines at 9:15 PM, meaning she would now be on that flight to Philadelphia. Only a seven dollar tip?  Oh well, at least providing me a sincere thank you.  Like I told her, I enjoyed the diversion form the usual, rarely having to "display my driving skills." 

A Rude Awakening

I am taking a nap early Monday morning near University Hospital when suddenly I am awakened by a rocking motion.  No, not an earthquake but instead a young man, thinking the cab is empty and stupidly trying to break in. 

"Sorry, he said, I didn't mean to wake you up!"  Thinking at first he needed a ride, I instantly realized that wasn't the case, noticing he was concealing what seemed to be a 6-10 inch knife.

"What do you think you are doing?" I asked.  "What am I doing?" he responded, prompting me to drive away, my irritation giving away to his obvious relief  that he was not lying dead upon the street, instantly understanding his potentially fatal mistake.  Many cabbies are packing.  I am sure he was glad I wasn't one of them. 

Last Ride The Last Three Weekends

Every cabbie wants that last ride to be good one, and the past three weekends have rewarded me with decent trips.  This just past weekend, thanks to tornadoes in Texas and her cancelled flight, I took the business-woman from the Queen Anne to Sea-Tac at 3:00 AM.  Later in the day, counting my money, it was good I had that bit of late luck, bringing me up to a decent take. 

The previous weekend, washing 478 at the Brown Bear in the Fremont, I got a run in nearby Ballard to Sea-Tac, a woman going back home to Indiana for a visit, $68.00 including a $15.00 tip.  Wonderful!  I gave the extra-board cabbie driving 478 that morning $10.00 since I was 20 minutes late.  He was a "three-year rookie" and didn't want the money but gave it to him anyway.  Give him a few more years out here and I am sure he won't be as friendly.

The start of these happy occurrences happened three Mondays ago at 3:30 AM in the West Seattle while vacuuming 478.  What I thought would be a quick local fare from the area police station turned out to be a drunk Russian woman going way up north to Lynnwood.  Knowing my regular "day" driver Tom likes to get started on time I flew up the highway but was stymied by the unusual request of parking in a local park while waiting for her to be picked up by husband/boy friend.  Why I couldn't tell you but we waited long enough in the dark for her to notice that I was _____-looking.  Anyway, it was  worth $69.50 but unfortantely I was nearly 40 minutes late for Tom who had a 5:15 AM Capital Hill time-call to Sea-Tac waiting.  I threw him a twenty as Tom growled.  He made his time-call, no problem.

What "In the world!" Down at Pier 91?

Why I usually don't work the cruise ships was underlined Saturday when I got marooned with everyone else for over an hour.  Finally beckoned around to the front, we again waited before being called forward which would have been fine except, given the circumstances, the lead drivers should have pulled up short instead of obediently driving to the very beginning of the line, unfortunately creating an bad situation when one of the "loaders" decided to freelance and back load all of us patient cabbies.  While sometimes there are situational justifications to do this, there wasn't this time because it just wasn't busy and there were vans parked in front of me. 

Seeing that he was loading vans and cars behind us, I walked up, asking "What did he think he was doing?"  Thinking he ruled the world, he objected to any interference, even loading a car right behind me, saying "He is a longshoreman.  He can do what he wants!"  Poking my head into the cab, they responded, laughing, that they were not longshoremen.  The next instant we inadvertently brushed together prompting his "don't you touch me!"  Finally, after loading up 478, this person then comes around to my cab, saying "now touch me, now touch me, and see what happens!?"  Of course all of this was amazing and my question will always be, "How the hell did he arrive to the thought that he could do anything he wanted whatsoever, including fighting a cabbie in plain view?"  And people wonder why.............?   Stop wondering because it's obvious, isn't it?  Of course it is.  Everyone knows, which is the big problem, and believe me, it is a very big problem. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Commentary: Uber's Chief Product Officer---Convenient Idealism Perpetuated For The Innocent Masses

A couple of weeks ago on a Thursday, NPR's "Here & Now" radio news magazine aired an interview with Uber's new chief product officer, Jeff Holden.  While sounding like the perfectly nice upper-middle class person he is, he failed to display a true understanding of who and what he is representing, instead inaccurately presenting himself as a kind of technological angel sent down to untangle confused human transportation.  Like the protagonist in Marcel Ayme's (1902-1967) short story, "La Grace" (The State of Grace), who suddenly one morning awakens with a permanent halo, Jeff Holden initial presentation, while seemingly holy, espousing sweetness and light, is a poorly veiled self-serving defense of Uber's "corporate vision," actually stating that safety is their first concern. Ha Ha Ha!  A more seasoned listener like myself understands that, like any newly self- described evangelist, Holden is miming pernicious propaganda disguised as religion, hoping, like a more secular Billy Graham, that you too will swallow that metaphysical poison pill hook, line and sinker, suddenly becoming yet another misguided fish flopping helplessly upon the unyielding wooden pier.

With the well meaning interviewer unwittingly seconding as Holden's friendly "yes-man," Holden told the awaiting (and breathless) radio audience that Uber was saving the world.  Anyone interested in hearing all this yourself can go to "Here & Now's" website and search for their "business" interviews.  Searching Holden's resume on the web says it all, an already privileged man happy to be making big money, crowing his new companies virtues.  That none of Uber's executives will ever share their driver's experience toiling the streets goes without saying, the typical Uber driver little better, from my estimation, than modern indentured servants subject to their Master's whim and that new invisible weapon, the technological whip.

Anyone objecting to that less than savory cultural description should, I suggest, buy a new car and see for themselves.  What will you say when, after just a few days, you discover you have been permanently banned from Uber employment due to unsubstantiated allegations?   "I am innocent!" will be your response.  And what will Uber do?  Nothing, they will do nothing for you, knowing that you are completely expendable and utterly and instantly replaceable, also knowing fully that local municipal officials care as little about you as they do.  Plain and simply, you have been screwed!

Fellow cabbies are telling me that their Uber friends are working 18 hour days due to the low per-mile rates forced upon them.  Next week, after a few hours research, I plan on informing everyone about Uber's insurance situation, transforming rumor and misinformation into actual fact.  I think it is important that Uber's customer's fully understand what they are getting into.  Saturday I discovered that Seattle's venerable bastion of the "One-Percent," the Seattle Yacht Club, has an exclusive Uber contract to serve its members, " In six minutes your car will be here," they are told, all paid by the Seattle Yacht Club itself.  I guess that only makes sense as if any of this makes sense, the "super-wealthy" hobnobbing with the "super-wealthy." utilizing yet another sector of the modern servant-class. 

While not quite dalits, one could view Uber drivers as ever attentive mobile butlers and maids.  I blanch whenever I observe an Uber driver's ingratiating and servile smile.   It is not pretty, finding myself suddenly transported back to early-18th Century deep South Plantation America.  In Seattle the analogy is unfortunately perfect, the drivers all black, and all their passengers, white.  When anyone thinks about that 1930s Hollywood iconic film, "Gone With the Wind,"  does anyone ever remember the negro (African-American) servants?   No, instead it is suave Southern gentility kissing Scarlett O'Hara's lips!  And what is the color painting her lovely waiting lips?  Why, blood-red, of course!

Don't Take Your Passenger's Pre-printed Voucher!

One unfortunate part of taxi is dealing with idiocy, whether it originates from a drunk, a road-rager or your fellow cabbie.  Sunday I picked up a recent kidney transplant at University Hospital going back home to Issaquah, a good $60.00 fare.  The one and very major problem I encountered is that the cabbie driving YC 9 _ _ took the patient's UWMC Social Work Department return transportation voucher in anticipation of having the good fortune of taking him back. 

Two problems with this.  The first is that any experienced cabbie knows that nothing ever goes according to form, in this case the patient staying much longer at the hospital, meaning you can never assume you will ever see that passenger again; and second, you certainly don't take the return voucher because it isn't yours to have until the fare is completed.  Such a rookie and fundamental error should just never happen.  The afflicted patient, still recovering and slightly disoriented from his major surgery, was bewildered.  And of course made to wait longer than necessary. 

Since I didn't have the pre-printed voucher I had to fill out a blank charge-slip, writing in all the pertinent information.  Come Monday when paying my "turn"  I was given a mildly hard time for not having the pre-printed voucher.  How was that my fault?  Upon arrival at the hospital I called both dispatch and the supt's office, informing them of the situation.  I also left a message for the PSD GM.  That still didn't stop me from getting admonished for something completely out of my control.  Typical taxi is all I can say.  Will the Driver of 9 _ _ be held accountable for his actions?  I think I know the answer and you do too!  Does it ever end?  No!

More Police

Saturday morning and afternoon the area around University Hospital was dominated by the opening day of the "boating season" which is how I found out about Uber's exclusive with the SYC.  Getting a call to SYC, I found that SPD had closed the Montlake Bridge and surrounding area.  As far as I know, driving professionals can talk on their cell-phones when conducting business, which I was, trying to figure out how I would reach Linda, the passenger stranded at the yacht club on the other side of the bridge.  A cop saw me talking on the telephone and acted like I was plotting to "blow up the world!"  When I told him I though I was operating correctly within legal parameters, he did not respond favorably.  I plan on checking out the Washington State laws around this but whether I am right or wrong is it necessary to treat me like the nation's biggest criminal?  Where do they get this permission from to suddenly transform into legal monsters?  They can't be taught to act this way at the local police academies.  Why would prospective police officers be told to "over-react first" and "think later?"  I just don't believe it. 

April Fool or Fools?

On April 1st Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and members of the Seattle City Council met with US Secretary Tom Perez in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood to celebrate Seattle's first step toward an eventual $15.00 minimum wage.  What I am trying to understand, or maybe I do, is why Murray wants to reduce local cabbie's wages DOWN to $15.00 an hour?  For years our hourly gross has been much higher but with his intervention into the council's Uber bill, we are now facing a huge reduction in business.  Is this what is meant by a new minimum wage?  I hope not!

Editorial Note

May 6th 2915:  A friend noted that my "Gone with the Wind" reference might be construed as racist because, I think, I used the term "negro" instead of the now popular or politically-correct term of African-American.  In deference to that sensitivity, I have added African-American to that particular sentence.  I used the word "negro" as to the historically correct context relating to the film.  What do I really think about the movie?  Not much in terms of overall quality, viewing it as a sentimental portrayal of bad and stupid behavior, a kind of Harlequin romance come to the big screen. 

A simple question?  Why are handsome men and beautiful women used as romantic leads?  Hey, you know the answer, I know you do!  Why don't people object to that, saying you should use "average-looking" men and woman instead.  Can you imagine "Gone with the Wind" becoming what it did if the actors had big noses and funny ears?  That is all about I can say about cultural concerns.  Be concerned about all injustice or just shut the hell up, instead of picking what is popular at the moment.  Or maybe everyone thinks it is okay that "good-looking" people get to be rich and famous etc, while those not similarly blessed dig ditches and eat canned pork & beans, drowning  their sorrows drinking beer and watching football.  Go team!

My friend just emailed again, saying it was the description of "servile" smiling that might be misinterpreted as racist.  What I told him in response is that it should be obvious who is racist in this context.  What is happening is that the black Uber drivers are reacting to pressure applied by Uber.  One or two complaints and they are gone.  It is that simple. Don't forget that they now owe $20,000 for those new cars.  Most of these guys are also taxi drivers and I never observe them acting like that when they are in a cab, the sad performance for Uber and Uber only.