Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Covered In Doritos, Cheetos And BBQ Potato Chips

As I have said, and now repeat, there isn't a call I don't want to serve, regardless who the customer is or might be. Equal opportunity is my enduring taxi motto. While remaining my operational credo, there still remains basic standards all passengers must meet.  One, above any other, is that he/she is not manipulative on any level.  Manipulation translates into dishonesty which translates further into a real potentiality for trouble and danger. Past experience, some of it hard learned, has shown this to be true. It might seem surprising but that kind of passenger, the non-average customer, is rare simply for the reason that most folks call a taxi to get to where they need to go, minus any and all other potential agendas.

But when someone enters the taxi with other than pure motives, it instantly becomes clear because the usual taxi dynamic of "Hi, where are you going?" and the the meter "lighting up" is altered into the unexpected. One consistent alarm bell is "I want a flat rate." when one is not called for, always implying that they are not interested in conducting "business as usual," that something else is afoot.  While I could explain further the psychology behind the seemingly innocuous, this kind of request is an unnecessary nuisance and intrusion. Nobody has, and never will describe a taxi ride as some kind of cut-rate bargain. That is just basic reality. Taxis are expensive, explaining why most of my taxi rides have been in Mexico and South America and not in western Europe.

As I have said somewhere in the past, flat-rates are dictated either  by the City of Seattle or by negotiation between BYG/PSD and an individual or company.  Unless someone  is clearly poverty stricken, my passengers pay the going rate.  More than once I have bent to pressure only to have the fools pay the reduced fare with a hundred dollar bill.  That they don't notice the irony is something worth noting.

Manipulative people, I have discovered more than once, care little about consequences save what benefits them, depending upon accepted cultural norms and civility to circumvent all protest and hostility. In short, they expect capitulation, active resistance surprising them, nine out of ten times finding a compliant victim.. When told "No, I am not participating." they act shocked, pretending the "tables have been turned," the predator now the offended prey, you having done the harm, not them.  It is a predictable ploy.

The three young African-American women wanted to go to Everett from the Northgate & Aurora North Arco AM-PM gas station.  Depending on whether it is north or south Everett, the fare is usually a $50-60.00 dollar and sometimes a lot more.  And when you are tired, like I was at that moment, you truly want your pain and suffering and forced endurance to be worth the effort.

Getting into the cab, they first requested to smoke (against local and state ordinances) and wanted a flat-rate. Curious about what they were up to, I asked how much they wanted to pay?  Their $30.00 request told me everything I needed to know about them.

From my 28 plus years taxi experience I have found out that the majority of people requesting either a reduced fare or a fare estimate already know the answer, having traveled the route more than once in a taxi.  Asking for a 50 percent reduction is not reasonable, a kind of compliant robbery, asking that please, would you kindly pickpocket yourself?.  That they don't do this at the local grocery store says everything about them.  They are looking for a victim and you have just been nominated.  It is completely up to you to respond properly and decline their invitation.

Pausing for a few seconds, listening to the "resonance" of the situation, I reluctantly decided to terminate the ride before it began, understanding I was in trouble if the ride commenced northward. Upon telling them they had to leave he cab, they immediately began saying that "they would pay the entire fare, etc."

But what they didn't want to admit is that by requesting a flat-rate, asking for an indulgence not requested by my other 75 plus fares, they had "upset the taxi apple cart" and there could be no returning to an assumed normality.  I have tired that more than once, only to encounter a smoldering animosity making for an uncomfortable if not dangerous journey, with the passengers critiquing my driving and anything else they can come up with.  If  I want some version of Hell, let me deal directly with the Devil and no one else. It would be easier.

Not happy being told they had to leave, despite my offer to get them another cab, they refused to leave. That is when I called 911 and requested assistance.  One of the ladies got out to scream over the telephone at dispatch.  The other two, understanding I wasn't relenting, and that the police would eventually show up, got out, but not without a final protest, pouring bags of Doritos, spicy Cheetos and Barbecue Potato Chips all over the back seat and floorboard.  Even after a thorough vacuuming, I was still finding remnants of their attack upon 478's dignity.  Frankly I was just glad they were gone, their actions proving what I knew from the outset---they didn't have a lick of respect for me as a human being.  It was too obvious to miss.

Seeing a passing Uber-X "Black Car,"  the troublesome trio flagged the driver down and off into the night they went, minus insurance coverage of course.  Soon thereafter two patrol cars arrived, the officers helpful and friendly, which is a dramatic change from the recent past.  Witnessing the scattered snacks, they understood that, whatever happened, it wasn't a pleasant experience.  For me, it was just another in a long litany of unwanted episodes. As long as I keep driving, there will be others.  Maybe next time though the potato chips will be organic.  I would appreciate that.  And sanity and maturity would also be helpful.  That would be wonderful.

PS 08/19

I know many of you are curious about just what is happening at Seattle Yellow Taxi, given all the rumors and misinformation swirling  round the lot.  Next week I will have a full and as accurate report as possible.  One indication that the co-op as we know it is ending is that I personally will be taking over 478, leasing the medallion and taking full responsibility for insurance, car replacement, etc.  That this is happening just 19 days before I leave for Europe is a pain in the you-know-what, but there is no getting around it.  Everything is changing and only a fool ignores the obvious.

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