Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Coyote Running At 120th and Lake City Way NE

As any cabbie knows, there are all kinds of wildlife in the city, some human, some not.  I certainly prefer the non-human type as exemplified by the somewhat bewildered looking coyote running from east to west across usually impassable Lake City Way NE but if you have to cross, 1:30 AM on an early Monday morning is probably the correct time.  I was on my way to my last fare of the weekend, the strip club Deja Vu, a venue where the least cultivated human animals go.  If needing any further evidence, it was my attempted talking to the young woman who was sitting outside the door waiting for her ride home.  She relented to tall me my passenger would be coming out soon but clearly she felt she had to be "on the defensive" because of her status as what I am not sure.  She was just a very ordinary example of young American woman, proving to the world that strip clubs will take anyone who is willing to pay their rent and take off their clothes. Thankfully my fare was considerably brighter, and tipped me five on top of five.  Strip clubs appear to be miserable places, a societal lowest common denominator. I doubt if any self-respecting coyote, raccoon, opossum, crow etc. would enter those doors.  While naked is their reality they do nothing to flaunt or celebrate it.  They are natural, in their naturally wild state, not brooking any false arguments to the contrary, not interested in what us humans call civilisation, we, not they, the intruders.

Sea-Tac Contract Review

Port of Seattle will be announcing its decision the Yellow's contract renewal on-line December 3rd, 2015, and more formally, during a commission meeting December 8th, 2015.  The Yellow Sea-Tac drivers I believe should brace themselves for the worst outcome.  At best I think you will see a much reduced role for taxis.  I hope I am wrong but I doubt it.  We, my taxi friends, are a somnolent industry.  What wakes us up? Nothing, forever remaining asleep.  If you don't agree then why have you ignored the screaming alarm clock? You can't tell me you haven't heard its shrill bells.  I know you have.  The problem is that you don't know how to care.  You really don't, your empathy and awareness of self and others miserably lacking. After 28 years of watching everyone operate, that is my damning assessment. And I know you won't prove me wrong.  I know you.  I know all of you too well, it being a sad and sorry story, a tale of you own writing. Many know that I have tired to edit the narrative but I have been  ignored.  Now you get what you get.  At least you can't say you hadn't ever  been warned.  I know I sound disgusted.  Without any doubt I am, repetition boring, so utterly boring.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sad---How Can The Local Hospitals Be Stopped From Giving Taxi Their Unwanted Problems?

 The question, while simple, contains a complex answer.  Why do hospitals in Seattle and in the rest of the United States continue to both discharge and refuse service to patients in need?  While some might say that it is due to well-known medical insurance issues, I instead see it as more concerning institutional policy, literally the rules dictating admissions and tolerance toward difficult individuals. What I will never believe is that what I witnessed Saturday night at the University of Washington Medical Center was somehow accidental, an anecdotal incident unrelated to administrational procedure.

How can it be naive to say that a medical institution's first public imperative is to serve the ill regardless of malady, be it physical or mental?  Too often, like this past Saturday night, I have seen area hospitals act in a manner less that helpful to the problem presented.  One very notable exception is Harborview Medical Center, the four-state (Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana) regional trauma center. Even when faced with the craziest individual, hospital staff make every attempt to treat the patient. It is impressive, something that should be emulated everywhere.  And given that the two hospitals are associated, there is truly no excuse.

Saturday night  I was belled into the UWMC Emergency Room only to come upon Jeff, a man in his early 60s who was standing outside the entrance surrounded by bags and a guitar case.  Understanding that this was my customer, I was puzzled why he was outside, and not inside the hospital filling out some kind of form, as he was clearly doing.  A few words from the gentleman quickly told me what I was now dealing with.

Jeff, clearly a (thankfully) good-humored manic-depressive (bi-polar or borderline), was intentionally locked out of the ER, probably after causing some kind of ruckus. Staring at the assembled security staff staring back at me it was clear that they had no further interest in dealing with the disruptive Jeff, impatiently waiting for me to take their trouble away.  Any further evidence to this was demonstrated by the hovering arrival of two officers anxious to dispose of yet another annoying disturbance, their arrival hastening my efforts to get Jeff into the cab.

Did I want to take him any where?  No, of course not but I also saw that he was about to be tossed about and handcuffed, but being the misguided humanitarian I unfortunately am I decided to take on this walking question mark regardless of the ultimate consequences. I understood that it would both be painful and confusing but again, what could I do when the decision was already  made for me?

Very suddenly I was designated a human rubbish collector, emptying the hospital's human refuse bin.  At the very least they could have given me a charge slip ensuring I would receive something however minimal for my pain and suffering. But no, Jeff was a "self-pay," which was no problem according to him since he had eight-thousand dollars sitting in his bank account.  Jeff, while being totally out-of-his-mind, was completely accommodating, saying I was getting a one hundred dollar tip.  That was a nice thought, Jeff, it really was but functional reality overtaking your gesture, which was too bad but there is nothing to be done when madness replaces normal cognition.You needed to be in their care, not mine.

Making a long tale into something manageable, I will condense into brevity and abbreviation, cutting short what, like my ride with Jeff, seemingly could have extended into eternity, because, more than anything else, Jeff desired uninterrupted attention focused solely upon himself.  As I have found out over the years, mental illness, if nothing else, is a deranged selfishness sanctioning no other reality than its distorted version of what life is at that given moment.  And being distorted, that version can and will change sometimes in a split second, completely negating what was being said a moment before. While certainly not condoning the decision to toss Jeff back to the streets, I can understand the frustration generated and acted upon.  Usually these kinds of decisions hold little consequence, no one save the affected individual aware of an injustice afflicted upon the helpless. That evening the hospital made me an accidental witness to callous decision making.

After many attempts on various cards resulted in no money, it became self-evident that Jeff would soon be out of my cab other than for his two remaining twenty dollar bills that kept this saga going. Finally deciding he would pawn the valuable Gibson guitar he had along, we tried two Pawn shops but both were closed.  Along the way, Jeff kept asking me what  were some of my favorite bands and songs, singing to me Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers" and the Doors "People are Strange."  Jeff was amazing and I really liked him but it became abundantly clear no resolution would be reached this particular night, providing me no other option than the one the hospital decided upon.  Jeff would have to leave because everything he suggested, pawning the guitar or dropping him off at various addresses, never happened.

The final straw, when stopping at a Starbucks so he could "look something up," was his rushing at me, shouting, "you are not going to leave me!" which I did once he was inside the store.  I had offered to give him back $10.00 so he could have some coffee but responding "No, no, I will burn it!"

Anyway, nice guy or not, Jeff was impossible for me to deal with, which is why he became yet again someone else's problem. I can only assume that the police were called, and maybe, just maybe he received the 72 hour involuntary commitment that was required.  I might have said before that twice I have been hired as a MHP (Mental Health Professional), that is, someone who can make an official committal recommendation.  Intervention was certainly required but not by Yellow cab.  How can it be moral to abandon someone seeking assistance?  The answer is more than obvious, and lack of necessary funds is no excuse. Jeff required professional intervention.  He didn't get it.  Until he does, the cycle will continue or until he unintentionally injures or kills someone.  Then there will be intervention, and perhaps not until then.  Nice story, isn't it?  Again, yet again, welcome to taxi as I know and hate it, human stupidity beneath the shining top-light.

Hamster for President?

Two entertaining passengers described aspiring GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump as a "giant hamster wearing a toupee." While that isn't the most flattering description, far worst is the five year and running lawsuit against Trump and his "Trump University" get rich selling real-estate scheme.  It is claimed that 7000 peopled were defrauded up to 40 million dollars by folks utilizing his fame and celebrity to sell useless seminars and information.  Some of the claimants lost up to $34,000 dollars.  In at least two of the cases, Trump has been charged under the RICO racketeering act.  Mobster for president?  God who knows!?

Itchy toes

All of a sudden this past weekend my right foot had a sudden "fungus" attack, creating more discomfort than I have had in a long time. I mention it only to display the sometimes unknown misery associated with taxi driving.  Years ago, back in 1984, when first noticing a problem, I went to my "Group Health" clinic and, instead of being taken seriously, I was given a tube of Desenex .  As I can report, the "treatment" wasn't effective.

Note on Paris and Travel Security

The terrorist attacks of last Friday in Paris have me reflecting on my recent three pleasant days there.  My last morning walking around the "Gare du Nord" were my favorite moments in Paris, watching that great city awaken, the cafes opening and everyone having their early coffee and pastry.  It is unfortunate of course that madness overtook the city but when mythology overtakes functional reality, you appear to get this kind of situation.  During those three days I did see many armed soldiers walking the streets but clearly that wasn't enough to prevent what happened from occurring.

One security lapse that did get my attention was in Krakow when I was boarding my flight to Paris.  Twice I was not asked for my ID identifying me as the ticketed passenger.  By neglecting that simple procedure with me and others, anyone could have boarded that flight. Hopefully Easyjet is now more thorough.  It only makes sense given what has occurred.

Postscripts 11/19/2015

A flurry of incoming news has inundated this taxi reporter so I am adding to yesterday's posting instead of creating an entirely new report.  Just think if I was being paid for doing this?  I then could be truly organized and up-to-date and accorded the respect given to a working journalist . What do I get now?  Don't ask!

No, No,this can't be true: Cheap TNC permits vs Traditional for-hire licenses

Hopefully by next week I will have confirmation one way or the other but today I was told this astounding information.  If you apply for your standard for-hire license (for taxis and flat-rates) you will pay $280.00.  Apply for a TNC (Uber, Lyft) driving permit, which I am told allows you to drive TNC, taxi and flat-rate and you only pay a nominal sum.  What that is I don't know but I will find out.  Can this insanity be true?  Stay tuned.  What do you think?  Could the City of Seattle and King County be this disorganized?

Have the WAT charges gone the way of the dodo?

Rumor has it that we in the local taxi industry no longer have to pay the WAT welfare payments forced upon us by the City and County.  Is that wonderful news actually true?  Again, stay tuned to this taxi channel.

Past Due TNC report

City/County TNC annual report was due end of October 2015.  It is the middle of November and we are still waiting.

UW Post-game closure update

Pleased to report that the mystery surrounding the unexpected closure of the Husky Football stadium has been solved by the office of City Council-member Tim Burgress.  Nate, his legislative aide emailed to tell me that they had contacted UW/SPD traffic and were told a stalled metro bus caused the change in post-game access.  A plus to my question is that a discussion has begun about how to best address situations like this in the future.  Part of the response also stated that if taxi drivers had said they were going in for a fare they would have been allowed access but from my experience that night I was never given the opportunity to talk to the frantic officers directing a traffic tsunami. If you have ever been down there after a game you know exactly what I mean.

That I am appreciative of their efforts should go without saying. Thank you Mister Burgress!

Debit Card Update

I have been able to access my money at my bank minus any charges.  In reality it is an efficient system.  I could apologize for my bad attitude but my long experience dealing with taxi in general has left me jaundiced which I suppose is appropriate for a YELLOW cab driver!

Still a taxi pulse 

Tom, 478's day driver reported that on Monday he had 6 airport runs plus two 20 plus fares.  Just a few minutes ago, night driver Raymond first fare on a Thursday afternoon was an airport run from the Queen Anne.  And I can report that on Sunday my last fare was $89.00 including tip from the SPD East Precinct to Maple Valley. Then, not really working on Monday, driving over to the train station, my one and only fare took me to the Southcenter Doubletree and $50.00.  Some business remains.  That is obvious.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Barred From Our Traditional Workplace---Questionable Decisions Saturday Game-Night By The University Of Washington And The Seattle Police Department

Anyone familiar with my taxi history knows I started driving on the weekends back in the autumn of 1987 with a three cab association, Classic Cab, a company minus any real dispatch other than special requests made by individuals interested in riding in a genuine Checker taxicab,  It was an excellent introduction to "all things taxi" since not having an organized dispatch system forced me to figure all of it out "by the seat of my taxi pants."  If I was going to make money, it was going to depend totally on my ability to understand where the business was at any given part of the taxi day.  I would have to learn, minus formal  instruction, how to fish the taxi seas, studying the "schooling patterns" of the various passenger species swimming Seattle's streets.

Being the "restless sort," I didn't naturally take to sitting on downtown hotel stands waiting for undetermined fate, good or bad, deciding my fortune; instead intuitively comprehending that passenger volume increases your potentiality for taxi success.  I found that sporting events, like football and basketball and baseball games, especially when taxi was the only transportation option, usually translated into a reliable source for ride-seeking customers, often providing business otherwise absent. When the teams are winning, you too will score your share of taxi home runs and touch downs.

This late 1980s time period just  happened to be UW Husky football coach Don James' heyday, a boon era when those "big and bad" and top-ranked football Huskies chewed up and spit out its pigskin opponents each weekend, game-day Saturdays becoming my personal taxi "gold mine," providing me business from morning to the late of night, numerous crazed fans storming the taxi gates. While not always pleasant, the frenzied "UDub" fans supplemented my Monday-Friday "Day Job," attending to a psychiatric client community too dangerous to mention, perhaps preparing me for the taxi asylum and my weekend mobile milieu.  Suddenly I had more money than ever before, preventing any whining over letting my ex-wife have all of our savings, her selfishness nothing new to me.  That first Christmas minus her and her family, I instead traveled to Holland, Belgium, England and northern Wales, having a great time, taxi financing the journey.

It was a good time to be a Seattle cabbie and working those Husky weekends, taxis allowed both direct access to the front of the stadium and to the University Hospital, which at that time featured a four-car stand. While not always the friendliest, UW and Seattle police were generally accommodating, knowing that it was beneficial to have all those drunks in a taxi instead of erratically careening in their own cars.  Anyone clad in "purple and gold" and wearing a plastic penis nose on their face told everyone all they needed to know concerning their reliability.  These folks simply were nuts, alcohol-fueled lunatics, and the faster we could transport them away from the game the better. Along with making money, it was, and is, a genuine public service.

Unfortunately, coming back to the present, that recognition has evaporated, demonstrated by actions taken Saturday night by UW and Seattle police after the University of Washington and Utah game, blocking access to Pacific Avenue, University Hospital and the stadium for over an entire hour. Not only has that once sublime era of mutual cooperation and collaboration disappeared, it has been flushed down the bureaucratic toilet, perhaps never to be seen again, marking a relational deterioration threatening our very existence. If we in the taxi industry are to succeed and prosper, we must have free access to to our work space and customers.

Suddenly, last Saturday night, that operational reality vanished, making me wonder why and how this could have happened. Too typical of course was the total lack of communication from the City of Seattle, sending a clear message to the local taxi industry that we are unworthy of consideration given to other business communities.  If you think Boeing or Microsoft or Amazon would be so cavalierly treated, think again. It just wouldn't happen, the Mayor and the City Council rightfully fearing immediate legal action.  The best they get from us is one obscure, solitary blogger shouting against the beadledom sky.  Not very scary, I must admit. Even when impersonating a taxi driver, my fangs less than lethal, only shocking myself in the early morning mirror.

Still, regardless of the effectiveness, we have to respond, telling everyone involved that we are unhappy; and with the big game, University of Washington playing at home against their hated rivals, the Washington State Cougars, coming up soon on Friday, November 27th, we require complete and open access to our workplace all day long.  Anything less is unacceptable.

Yesterday I emailed Mayor Murray and City Council president Burgess.  That is just the beginning of my personal campaign to reverse what occurred on Saturday night.  I urge all of you to contact everyone I have listed below, telling them it is a violation of our for-hire license agreement, and possibly far more serous, a civil rights violation. All of us drivers and owners, whether we are driving taxis or flat-rate for-hire or Uber or town-cars, all hold City of Seattle business licenses acknowledging, that just like Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, we have the legal right to operate in our recognized work place.  Anything short of that is, from what I can tell, an illegal and arbitrary obstruction to our ability to make a living.  It is past time that we in the taxi industry sit down with the City of Seattle and examine their treatment and attitude toward a business community that is older and pre-dates Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon.  Before there where 747s and computers, there were taxis.  We must demand the respect we deserve, and of course, not taking the blame for dysfunctional taxi associations.  It is not my fault nor yours that local associations have operated inefficiently. We are independent operators and business owners.  We must demand the legal recognition that we deserve.  There is, and can be, no other option.  We are equal to all other businesses in Seattle and King County. It is time, minus all exceptions, that this basic fact is acknowledged 24 hours a day and 365 days a years.  It is basic. It is simple. It is our reality!

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray


Email----go to seattle.gov website and access "contact the mayor."

Seattle Police Department

Non-emergency number---206-625-5011

Traffic Division---206-684-8757

Go to SPD website and submit a general inquiry.

University of Washington

Ana Mari Cause, University President

206-543-5010     pres@uw.edu

Her Chief of Staff---Rolf Johnson


UW Police

206-543-0507     uwpolice@uw.edu

City of Seattle Customer Service


This should get you started and occupy your time for an hour or so.

New PSD Location

2901 South 128th Street.  Easy to find.   Just off Military Road South.  The shop is rumored to be closing December 15th.  Dispatch will be moving end of February.

Taxi Medallion Lottery Result---I didn't win

My unlucky number was 757 or something like that.  Middle of the pack out of over 1200 entries.

Election Results

It looks like all the Seattle City Council incumbents won except that today it was reported Bruce Harrell is up by only 2 percent, so there remains a small chance he might be ousted.  The good times is that some good people have been elected, meaning we might have an opportunity to influence future policy.  Maybe!

Sally Clark---Something wrong with this story

Was I hallucinating or was that ex-City Council President Sally Clark walking by my taxi at King Street station on a rainy Monday night?  If it was Sally, she looked directly at me without any howdy-do, though how can I blame her, given my at times combative attitude toward her and her former fellow City Council mates?  Did I tell you that she resigned from the council to take a high paying position at the University of Washington?  I could match her salary but it would take working 18 months straight which I ain't gonna do.

Yesterday, talking to a colleague on the phone he related a story how Sally Clark was tossed out of a Yellow Cab because she told the idiot driver she was only going 6 blocks and the fool didn't realize he had the Chief Arbitrator of his fate in his taxi.  She related this story to my friend as the final straw for not helping the dumbbell taxi industry.

I find two things wrong with this story.  One is that she told it to someone who has never driven a taxi for a solitary second.  Why not instead call someone like me who could have done something about it?

And two, if she was so outraged with this kind of stupid behavior, why then did she insist of dropping a complete day from the City of Seattle for-hire license training?  Why make a bad situation worse?   The truth is that for at least the past five years I have been lobbying and begging the City of Seattle and King County to create a comprehensive taxi driver training program, along with requiring that new applicants have held a Washington State drivers license for a minimum of five years.  What the hell do I know?  Well, when it comes to taxi, quite a lot, more than I want to.  Why listen to this taxi Bozo?  Clearly the City and County have found good reason not to.


I got a call from a driver colleague telling me about how he and others are considering starting an independent company that will service HopeLink and Seattle School Accounts minus Yellow dispatch involvement. Sitting for hours without a call makes you crazy.  Finally drivers are understanding that the situation is serious.  What took them so long to understand the obvious?

Taxi Commission Killed

Did I mention it already?  The stumbling, bumbling Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory is now defunct. While the official word is that the death is temporary, I do not see anyone "rolling away the stone." The taxi corpse is cold, prone, just like our business.  Oh well!

At least.......

With the move to the new building, BYG/PSD have changed how everyone is "cashed out" after turning in all of our credit, debit and account paper.  All of us "Yellowites" have been issued debit cards which is where all of our money is now going.  I have already told them I am not sure that they can do this but for the moment it is what we will be dealing with.  Everyone has been given an envelope with the card and accompanying paperwork.  That this isn't a popular development is a huge understatement.  Talking to the woman in charge of all this, she said something I found extremely funny.  Telling me that scores of drivers have come to her office screaming and shouting, she said, "At least you have opened the envelope."  Now that is just like the "taxi" I know and love.  When I told "she-who-can't-be-named" about it, I said, "Isn't that funny?"  And she replied, "There is nothing funny about taxi driving!"  How can I disagree?  It's true!

Communists taking over Gig Harbor?

Anyone driving taxi in the Seattle and Tacoma area has to deal with bridge tolling and DOT's "Good to Go" offices.  They keep making mistakes but what can you do when you are dealing with private vendors under the State of Washington bureaucratic umbrella?  Given that Gig Harbor is the closest Tacoma area office it has been my location of choice.  The problem is their inefficiency and general  lack of accountability, reminding me of past experiences in Iron Curtain Hungry and Yugoslavia, where the response was "we don't care because we don't have to."  I even experienced this a bit recently in the once communist Baltic countries.  When I told a worker today at the Gig Harbor office that I wanted names and numbers to address my concerns she advised that I go to the website, having no information to give me.  After that I told her "I surrender, you win!" she looked stressed and unhappy, not wanting to deal with yet another crazy "Good to Go" malcontent.  I keep thinking back to that bank teller in Skopje.  "How dare that I wanted to change some currency," was the look she gave me.  How dare that I expect the "Good to Go" folks not to screw up and cost me money?  Why I must be out of my mind?  How could I be so rude?!  Where is Winston Churchill when you need him?  Maybe Kansas but I don't think so.

New Insurance Problems Courtesy of the City of Seattle

Those nice people governing Seattle are trying to change the insurance rating requirements back to an A rating, thus making everyone pay more than what we already are paying.  Because I have 3 drivers listed on 478 in addition to myself my cost is now over $6000.00 a year.  Yellow is paying over $11,000 per car.  And now we should pay more?  And the sorry part of this is that Uber IS NOT required to up its costs.  Talk about something that isn't funny!  What the hell is going on?  Is there a conspiracy against all of us hard working cabbies?  One might think so is all I can say.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coming Back---Immersed In Everyday Commonplace America

Instead of the familiar, the world and life I have returned to feels foreign and alien, an involuntary response shouting I would rather be elsewhere; two taxi weekends telling me, if this is life I would rather be dead. This past weekend 478 was twice hit, first on Halloween Saturday afternoon, a car striking me from behind. And Sunday, while peacefully eating a snack in the PCC co-op parking lot, someone backing into me.

While both incidents were minor, with no damage either to car or body, I found the accidents symptomatic of the disease that is life in early 21st Century America, a life (or death) style I find boring, unworthy of active participation.  The young couple in the new 2015 Ford Fiesta were perfectly nice.  So too was the woman shopping at the co-op.

I shook hands the first time, and reassured the errant backer at the co-op that I never saw anything occur. Why shout when it is simply too stupid, all of  us joined "at the hip" in a symbiotic cultural agreement providing us confusion, anxiety and discontent.

Who needs it?  I  certainly don't, finding the commonplace unacceptable, clearly now, after over fifty sanity infused days traveling over Northeastern Europe, finding alternatives necessary and called for. How long can I remain whole before I again fracture into so many disassociated pieces, not wanting to again sink into irrevocable oblivion.  Whatever breaths I have left, be it tonight or the next twenty years, I refuse to inhale stupidity.  No thank you, I say, no thank you, madam or gentleman or Mister and Mrs Misplaced and Inane God, Devil or Mythology.

Today I drove a few morning hours after Tom, my day driver, called off to spend the day at the local Social Security office.  My second fare out of three total was a school run, taking two sweet kids on a long ride from NE 110th & Lake City Way to Honeydew Elementary in the Renton Highlands, battling early morning traffic mile after tedious mile.  Jason, the first-grader, related how, when "they were poor," the entire family (both parents and four children) slept in their car.  "It hurt my back," he lamented.  Indefatigable, he sang the "Honeydew" theme song.  Sweet yet sorrowful.  What a f__ked existence!  I shook their hands too, for a quick moment loving them for the innocents they were as they sprinted off to school and class, their cabbie nearly a half hour late.

So here I am and, for the moment and time being, remain.  What else could I be doing? Maybe growing crisp apples in the shade of the Carpathians.  Or more closely to what will probably happen, residing in the rolling prairie hills in Montana's southeastern corner bordering South Dakota, watching the pronghorn running free across the grassy plains.  I can salute that potential reality, watching the welcoming sun rise over the Dakotas, the morning breeze telling me that life once and for all is worth living, sharing my breath to a life I can finally and fully appreciate and comprehend.