Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Who Is Ultimately Responsible?---A Year-End Postscript

While I'd rather not point fingers or assign blame, isn't someone other than the driver liable for issuing for-hire driving licenses to the blatantly ill-prepared?  How can that not be true when the City of Seattle and King County are making the final decisions as to who is and isn't qualified to drive a taxi or flat-rate or Uber car?   By presenting a few anecdotal examples I'll let you the reader decide what is true or not.  If the regulators are not responsible, then does it fall completely upon the newly arrived immigrant or driver amateur  to solely understand something that is totally new to them?

As I have noted many times before, most professions demand clear demonstrations of knowledge and ability before certifying that the doctor or attorney or airline pilot  is ready to enter and practice their profession. But if "adding water and mix" is your sole criteria for licensing individuals then it is not surprising that too many of the new for-hire drivers are clueless, and moreover,  a clear danger to others.  Again, see if you agree after reading these few choice examples of what should be avoided not once, not twice but for all times in the future.

---Saturday a passenger told me about the accident she witnessed at the intersection of 3rd & Bell, when a flat-rate for-hire driver hit a pedestrian and attempted to drive off without lending assistance.  She saw all this firsthand because she was sitting in that very same flat-rate car which kept driving until she called the police from the back seat.  The driver was from East Africa, spoke fractured English and was at that point scared out of his mind.  I am sure he will never drive professionally again.  What will happen to him or his family I hate to think.  Thankfully it sounds like the injuries to the woman struck by him are minor but trying to leave the accident scene was a huge error.  As I keep telling (when the situation warrants it) many fellow cabbies, that even though you are now an American citizen, it doesn't me you can't be deported back to your home country.  I guess, unlike me, they never read the newspaper and the repeated accounts of felons sent back to where they never wanted to return.

---Picking up at a post-Seahawk game about a month ago the passengers recounted a story  how their young flat-rate driver neither knew where the Seahawk stadium was nor how to get there though their hotel located at 4th & Spring is only about a half-mile away as the taxi flies.  A nice young man, they said, but clearly not ready to be driving people around for a living.  They felt sorry for him.

---Sticking to the flat-rate theme, yesterday a passenger at the train station made sure my car had a meter because of recent experiences with those non-metered flat-rate cars, drivers providing him estimates usually 50 percent higher than legal rates.  Enjoying the ride home, he said that my kind of professionalism is underrated and unrecognized, meaning he was tired of getting ripped-off by all those drivers who fall in a different category.

---Not to leave taxis totally out of the maligned limelight, a passenger last night told me about a crazy, speeding Orange taxi driver who recklessly tailgated a city bus. "He scared me!"

---Two weeks ago I picked up a drunk young man whose Uber driver had dropped him off at the West Seattle ferry terminal, a location literally four miles from where he wanted to go.  Putting his destination address in his app request, he fell asleep only to be put out next to Lincoln Park.  Where  he needed to go and where I took him to was a house located in the 8000 block of 36th Avenue South over on Beacon Hill. Another lament was that his telephone had been left in the errant Uber and he didn't know how to get it back.

---That same day but later in the evening two party goers told me how earlier their Uber driver had scared them "to death" by insisting by not once but twice making a left-hand turn from a middle lane, their driver in this instance a middle-aged white woman.


So reader jury, who is to blame, who is responsible for these small and not-so-small instances of professional driver failure?  Last year there was a rookie Yellow cabbie who didn't know how to get his passengers from King Street Station to the airport, yet another example of what I am pointing out, a problem affecting all of the driving services regardless of what they call themselves.   My guess, if all the mistakes were listed from a given day, they might amount to the hundreds if not the thousands, unseen errors cluttering a given professional day and night, unknown to everyone but the frightened passenger clinging in terror to the back seat.  

And when will this kind of nonsense stop?  Clearly when, and only when Seattle and King County's licensing administrators recognize that what they are doing is neither reasonable or justifiable: licensing the unprepared to do something that is very difficult---taking passengers safely and efficiently from point A to B over Seattle's clogged and dangerous streets.  If the situation doesn't change, isn't it time to ask just why are they not changing  licensing criteria and polices?  It is a good question, one begging for an answer in 2017, not 2117!

Happy New Year!  Be safe!  And given all this rain we are having, no tailgating, please!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Did Everything Go As Planned?---A Quick Year-End Glance At The Taxi Year 2016

Assuming there will be no startling revelations during these last remaining nine days in this rapidly waning year, I will attempt to review much of importance occurring in 2016.  What promises had been made and subsequently broken; which dreams punctured and deflated?  Or is it easy to say that, as in previous years, the "taxi baby has been tossed out with the bath water?"  Early 16th Century German proverbs aside, it has been true that over the past few years, local taxi interests have been swept into a dusty corner where they remained ignored and unnoticed.  What about this past year 2016, can the same be said to be true?  Or have new and different attitudes prevailed, repairing the damage and associated despair?

Without question the year's two biggest events was the Eastside-for Hire changeover at Sea-Tac International Airport and the ongoing appeasement aimed at Uber.   What both developments quickly translate to is a further loss of taxi market and income, resulting in an overall financial hardship taking years to recoup, if when, if ever.

While the issuance of new taxi medallions should be considered an ultimate positive, too little and too late must be the final assessment, when sometime around 2008 three hundred or more cabs could have been added.  If that happened, more than likely the transportation phenomenon that is the local flat-rate for-hire industry would not exist, and the threat represented by Uber/Lyft might have been largely militated.

Mistakes made by City of Seattle and King County taxi regulators and administrators over the past eight years bring us up to where we are now, history coloring our current day to day operations. What will be most helpful in 2017 is for all of in the local taxi industry to recognize our present reality and both create and grasp all available opportunities. They exist, with only depression and our ever-present dysfunction preventing us from making some gains this upcoming year, however small they might seem, going forward always preferable to the opposite direction. .

When the Port of Seattle awarded Eastside-for-Hire the Sea-Tac new outbound service contract, they, intentionally or not compounded Seattle's original administrational  error of one, writing into existence the legal conception of flat-rate for-hire vehicles; and two, releasing into the local transportation sector over 250 City of Seattle flat-rate licenses or medallions, with King County issuing unlimited licenses minus any viable business options and plans. While nonsensical, this is what occurs when an administrative bureaucracy, managed by regulators having no prior experience in a given field are handed the keys and told you are now in charge, do what you will minus consequences.  And when mistakes are made, all questions concerning accountability are either  ignored, or worse, assigned bogus justifications, compounding error after error into what becomes an opaque, unresponsive wall

All this of course I've addressed previously but what it meant is that to survive, Eastside and other flat-rate companies essentially had no other option but to operate illegally within Seattle's city limits, providing some solvency until approximately  3 years later they were finally given legal legitimacy by Seattle and KC. But still, notwithstanding those actions, the collective flat-rate industry remains legally liable, and subject to violations, fines and compensatory damages from that roughly three-year period, given that neither amnesty or exemptions were granted (or for that matter, could be granted by legal authorities).  And amazingly, even knowing Eastside's history, the Port of Seattle still thought it prudent (and wise?) to award Eastside-for-Hire the five-year outbound contract, the ramifications of which still reverberate, clearly harming the over 230 independent taxi drivers then operating within the Yellow Cab Taxi Association service umbrella, Sea-Tac's previous outbound service provider.

What makes all of this the more confounding is that Eastside itself did not have within its initial control any metered taxis, meaning it would first have to negotiate with the very operators it had displaced.  In other words, the Port of Seattle awarded its outbound contract to a company it knew wasn't prepared to begin operations until it finalized agreements with the same supplanted cabbies. Putting it another way, the Port of Seattle made Eastside the winner, telling the losing cabbies you had no choice but to join your adversaries in a joint, cooperative effort.  I suggest everyone grab a dictionary and look up definitions for empathy and see if that applies to the Port's collective actions.

Making all of this even worse, the Port of Seattle knew that Eastside did not have an operational dispatch system for the now 405 taxis now signed up to replace the smaller Yellow cab contingent.  Yes, that correct, Eastside signed up nearly 180 more cabs to operate a now smaller market share due official Uber and Lyft availability at Sea-Tac.  Those additional cabs display the real desperation felt by many taxi medallion owners in Seattle and King County.  High operational costs and fewer drivers willing to cover shifts are forcing owners into a corner, making acceptable what was once clearly unacceptable.

As noted in previous posts, Uber and Lyft has gained nearly 50 percent of once was a more or less 90 percent exclusive taxi market share.  So the math here is further skewered against the taxi operators, with the 405 cabs divided into A, B & C sections, limiting their overall access to Sea-Tac to twenty days out of a given month, which is why the new E-Cab operators can be now seen languishing upon Seattle hotel stands, trying to make up for loss revenue. One E-Cab driver told me that their color scheme was confusing to consumers, many not realizing they were actual taxis.

Oh, and on top of paying $7.00 per Sea-Tac pickup (rising to $9.00 at contact's end)  regardless of ride distance, they are now paying Eastside $155.00 for an almost nonexistent dispatch.  A close colleague and friend of mine currently assisting Eastside has assured me that by this January, meaning a mere nine days from now, all 405 cabbies will have an revenue equal to last January.

While a laudable goal, I personally will be amazed if it is reached, something within the imagination of Lewis Carroll.   But if it isn't, there is only one party to blame and that is the Port of Seattle and no one else as it was glaringly obvious to anyone paying attention that Eastside would be hard put to create an up-and-running taxi company literally out of thin air.  That the Port of Seattle did this says everything that needs to be said about the Port CEO, the Port Commission and its overall management of outbound taxi services, all this, making cabbies pay $7.00 per outbound trip and the official opening of their direct competitors (Uber & Lyft) to Sea-Tac accessibility: that revenue stream is their only concern, and how it affects all the independent operators is purely incidental.

The Port of Seattle will deny this, and a few months ago I received a Port email verifying their concern but the fruit is in the taxi pudding, with the only question remaining is how can this situation continue without all the cabbies going completely broke?    Even with an impressive improvement from Eastside dispatch services, there still remains one very inescapable fact: that the overall market transportation of taxi-like services remains too small to sustain everyone.  That is the truth, with everyone one now fighting for a very reduced slice of operational pie.  To believe otherwise is to believe in a real and breathing Santa Claus coming down your chimney every hour with yet another fare to Lynnwood or Everett or Olympia.  Hey cabbies! this Christmas you ain't getting no sweet kiss beneath the mistletoe but instead a big slap in the face, reddening your nose just like Rudolf, your very favorite Uber reindeer!

Thus summarizing this nearly past year of 2016, I must say all promises concerning business equity have not been met, and grand dreams of renewed profits have been flushed down the toilet.  From the regulators, the best I see from them is a "wait and see" approach, hopefully understanding their embrace of Uber in particular has been wholly unsuccessful, and that holding Uber accountable is the only way to protect the transportation consumer.  It is past time that Uber accidents both locally and nationally are made public, along with consumer complaints.  That the City of Seattle and King County and the Port of Seattle continue to coddle Uber is something that cannot be condoned.  And as the recent experience in San Francisco shows, with Uber refusing to cooperate with the City of San Francisco and the State of California over required permits for self-operating cars, Uber continues to believe (and act) like it is above the law.

When will bureaucrats finally recognize the animal they are dealing with?  How much evidence do they need before they act in the consumer interest?  Currently in the Seattle Times newspaper, Uber is running full page ads against proposed unionization rules put forward by the Seattle City Council, not wanting the City of Seattle to recognize the reality that the majority of Seattle's Uber drivers are not the mythological part-time grandma of Uber promotion but hardworking driver professionals working 50-60 hours a week.

Will 2017 be the year that local administrators and regulators recognize functional reality as it truly is, minus rhetoric and wishful thinking?  One can only hope that they will all find common sense in their packages sitting beneath the Christmas trees.  Wouldn't that make, as the late Burl Ives sang, for a "Holly, Jolly Christmas" and of course for a Happy upcoming New Year!

Sunday Birthday Boy

While I'd rather not, I don't mind working on my birthday but one does hope to have  a little business sweetening the day but this past Sunday the outlook was indeed grim.  Coming toward evening I had rolled only $210.00, resigning myself to the day being a complete "bust" when in succession the fare dam burst and money rained upon my disbelieving head.

After Chinese at the Honey Court (and given an unpicked up call-in order by Shelly, my favorite waitress)  I headed up to West Seattle to gas up the cab but being offered a fare I accepted and off we went to Magnolia and thirty-three dollars.  Gassing up there and heading back to my personal car I was again offered a fare, this time at the Greyhound where a stranded Metro bus driver took me to Renton and another forty dollars including tip.  As all us cabbies know, we never truly know what is going to happen next so thank you "taxi universe" for remembering my birthday, a bright red bow tying up the day, singing me one last birthday greeting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Two Days Destroyed By Taxi Plus Necessary News For All Interested Taxi-ites

One could say, or might say that running any kind of business translates into something occupying more time than you wish though hopefully the payoffs out gaining deficits, resulting both in profit and peace of mind. Whether in my case that's true at this point I cannot tell you but if operating a business means no sleep and exhaustion then I can attest that is certainly true.

Specifically last Wednesday at about 7:15 AM I received a call from Tom, my day driver alerting me to there being something seriously wrong with the power steering, and that he was attempting to make it to the shop.  Falling back to sleep I was again awakened at 11:00 AM with the bad news that an attempted repair didn't take and Tom was once again heading back to the shop. If there is anything a shift driver hates is car trouble, a kind of cancer eating into the day and any possible money making.  I've experienced the pain myself  more times than I wish to remember.  In short, it is horrible, agonizing and every bad emotion in between.

Understanding that whatever was happening was more than Tom could or should handle, I leaped out of bed and into the shower, throwing on clothes and flying from Tacoma to Seattle knowing "there goes my day!" but since there were few good options I had no choice but to do whatever was necessary to get 478 back on the road.  Upon my arrival the prognosis was now  known: a high pressure power steering line was blown and without question had to be replaced.  A simple issue but complicated by a scarcity of replacement parts, something that would drag the repair into the early evening.

Taking Tom back to his car, I drove up to White Center and visited not one but two auto supply shops, Shucks-O'Reilly and Auto Zone.  O'Reilly's found that they had one and one only in the entire state of Washington sitting in their Puyallup warehouse and deliverable by 4:30 PM that same day.   Telling me it was ordered but if I found the part elsewhere not to worry about it. So at least reassured the car would be repaired I still wanted it to be sooner than later if at all possible.

The Auto Zone employee had better news, that the needed part could be picked up at their Burien outlet just a few minutes south.  Great, I said, and roared off to get the part.  With  a new line in hand I dropped it off with Taki at the shop and away I went to to take care of other put-off business, happy as a taxi clam that it had been so easy dealing with the problem.

Coming back nearly 2 hours later I discovered that Burien Auto Zone had given me the wrong line.  Why didn't you call me, I asked, with Taki replying he wasn't able to find the telephone number I had left on his counter.  Beyond frustrated I was again back at O'Reilly's where I was told no, the part hadn't arrived but was assured it would be there by 4:30 PM.

Now hungry I walked over to a local pizza shop, looked at my emails and 15 minutes later walked back to the store, chomping down piping hot slices.  Five minutes later I now hopefully had the correct part and soon thereafter was back at the shop where Taki was inundated with anxious cabbies, who just like me, wanted their car to be repaired instantaneously. With failing light and cold coming on all I could do was wait, my fate preordained.

Finally around 6:00 PM everything was done and I was free to go and embrace an evening of cabbing which I didn't want to do.  Along with a much needed oil change I was out $145.00 to Taki and another fifty dollars for the new line.  All this also meant that my night driver had to call off, meaning I was out another sixty dollars.

Deciding to recoup some of my losses, and with Tom calling off due to a medical appointment, I stayed in Seattle and worked part of his day shift.  Was it worth it?  No, because I was tired and pissed that the two days I had  planned were completely thrown away, poof! like black magic destroyed in a taxi instant, two days ruined due to a failed power steering hose.  How wonderful it wasn't but there you have it, a very boring yet too typical taxi story---not exciting, not romantic, just mundane and tedious, tedious, tedious!

How Unusual---Fifty-four Simultaneously Happy Cabbies 

Yesterday the City of Seattle held its orientation for all of us lucky taxi ducks who won a free City medallion through the most recent lottery.  Usually more than three cabbies thrown together constitutes a moaning and groaning riot but not yesterday as a contented contingent of smiling cabbies gathered to receive Seattle's official largess.  Telling us all we needed to know, with the most important date of having until March 31st, 2017 to put the cab on line, I have never seen a more patient or contented taxi crowd.  My only wish was that more of my worthy brethren could have been included, knowing how nearly everyone desired a coveted license.  Interestingly to me was that I was the only native-born and Caucasian driver in the room, everyone else immigrant drivers, starkly displaying the literal changing of the taxi guard that has taken place since I first started in 1987.  They are a good and hearty and hardworking group of guys, building new futures for their families.  I am happy for them.  Good luck to all!

My new taxi number will be 1092.  Years ago I used to drive YC 92.  Am I making progress?

Auto Auction Info

Talking to some of my cabbie friends yesterday I promised some info concerning cars available by auction. Here it is.

James G. Murphy Company---Commercial & Industrial Auctioneers   425-486-1246


Register with them on-line.  Good luck finding a cheap Crown Vic!

Editorial Postscript 12/15/2016

Thinking about it last night, I decided more elaboration was necessary concerning the demographic change amongst the taxi driver population, both here in Seattle and nationally.  Consider the reason to be twofold, one of opportunity and lack of opportunity factoring in what is clearly an ongoing trend--immigrants from East Africa, Haiti, India deciding that taxi is a good personal choice both for them and their children's future. Call taxi then the opportunity and call the barriers put in front of professionals from so-called Third-World nations the lack of opportunity forcing them into a cab instead of where they truly belong.

As mentioned in previous postings, I have friends and colleagues who, trained as lawyers, agronomists, environmental scientists are instead driving taxi and not practicing their profession.  Did you know that the average immigrant Seattle cabbie speaks at least three languages?   While yes, it is true you can make upper-middle class money driving a cab, it still is a waste of valuable human resource having doctors and PHDs plying the the taxi byways.  An applicable question will always be, "Who really wants to be a cabbie?" with the real answer, almost no one despite the inherent money and free time associated with the occupation.  As my body told me once again this morning, it is a hard life.

Another reason there are so many Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali drivers in Seattle is due to European (and American and Soviet Bloc) interference in East Africa since at least 1930 and unfortunately continuing on to this date. Most don't know that Italy began what was the first modern saturation bombing campaign during its 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.  The end result of nearly 90 years of international interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea has been a wave of immigrants fleeing never ending turmoil and starvation.  When you begin to think everything is simple, please reconsider because real causes are usually not at all simple, instead complex with a long accompanying history.  That is the reality, as it is, adding up to what we see today.  There is a real reason why my friend Dawit speaks Russian.  It is not accidental.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Better When It Is Busy

Suddenly, thanks to a Seattle Seahawks rout of the Carolina Panthers Sunday night, the slumbering weekend awakened to business anywhere and everywhere, beginning just before halftime and continuing into the early morning hours, celebrant fans embracing the 40-7 victory.  Instantaneously I was the ball in the taxi pinball machine, shooting all over from one fare to the next, no time to respond other than say "Git in!" and off we sailed down the road..

Flying around like that removes the usual misery, having no time to think other than considering best  routes from A to B and watching out for this weekend's amazingly wreckless drivers, which was never ending--- irresponsibility and madness an never subsiding theme.  You know it is completely nuts when unforgiving fools continued aiming for unlucky wrong-way one-way drivers, not caring if they smash headlong into the other car.  Thank goodness the hinted upon snowfall never arrived, perhaps killing off half of Seattle's drivers if it had, recklessness and ice a fatal combination.  I doubt if these drivers could survive in a place like Chicago, slip sliding into Lake Michigan off Lakeshore Drive.

For me Sunday night ended early Monday morning washing the cab in West Seattle, taking one final fare in White Center after watching it offered multiple times on the "bid" screen," understanding it  would be a long while before another cabbie accepted the call.  My "mission of mercy"  found a young woman just needing to get home but no one wanting to take her there.

My body was also not interested in any further driving, "screaming" at me as I got her home, my muscles "burning" from fatigue, with me telling her ten but giving me thirteen anyway.  And thanks, I was  glad to do it, and then a little bit  later, sleep, glorious sleep that ultimate taxi balm taking me down a car-less dreamy highway away from taxi and stupid, idiotic drivers attempting once again to kill me how many times over.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Special Report: Kicking Taxi When It Is Down----Is The State of Washington, King County & The City Of Seattle Waging A Vendetta Against The Pierce & King County & Seattle Taxi Industry?

A Special Report: Are State & Local Government Agencies Targeting The Seattle, King County & Pierce County Taxi Industry?---An In-depth Look at Potential Bureaucratic Overreach 

As to anyone reasonably observant during the past few years, especially to consumers of transportation services, I am sure it has not gone unnoticed that the American taxi industry as a whole has been under unprecedented pressure and attack from new competitors (and their governmental supporters) like Uber and Lyft, pushing taxi companies both national and locally into the proverbial operational corner---the recently announced San Francisco Yellow Taxi bankruptcy filing only one good bad example of what is happening everywhere. When and how the story finally concludes is anyone's guess. But what is clear is that there are many more chapters to be written.

Outside of the United States it is a different tale, there being many examples of national and local government  (Paris, Spain, France, South Korea) legally challenging Uber & Lyft business practises; wherein American borders it is an entirely different counter-narrative---local authorities and administrators openly siding with app-based companies.  Why they are doing this is open to debate but that they are targeting taxi associations and companies is indisputable, the evidence conclusive: it is open hunting reason upon the taxi industry, local officials seeking new trophies for paneled offices.

Some elected and appointed administrators clearly feel they are operating for the public good, revealing rampant criminal malfeasance.  But as my following report clearly questions, there doesn't appear to be an overreaching conspiracy by the taxi industry to defraud the local taxpayer.  Instead I believe you will see the opposite to be true: that a compliant and cooperative taxi industry has been targeted simply for existing, and no other verifiable reason.

I am looking forward to later governmental explanation and justification to this report, especially when the evidence is clear: Uber and Lyft are not made respondent to same and equal requirements.  Ultimately it will be up to the "rider public" to tell local government that this contradictory policy is both unfair, and most importantly, unsafe and dangerous, regulatory authorities failing in their duty to protect consumers in that most lethal of work environments: the American roadway.

One self-editorial note is that in preparation I talked to only one of the officials concerned, that being Eddie Cantu of KC Licensing.  While wishing I had the time to request and conduct interviews of all important participants, time and monetary constraints remain limiting factors, prompting me, as usual to operate "by the seat of my taxi pants."  While some of the information contained came from one primary source, I use the filter of 29 plus years in the taxi business to ascertain true and false and everything falling in-between.   As I often tell my passengers, unlike too many cabbies who are new in the business, I have been doing this "way too long" for my own good and physical welfare.  Still, all these crazy years have provided what I find to be unusual insight and perspective into the taxi asylum.  Am I inmate or psychiatrist?  Both is the real and honest answer!

Story One:                        The Strange Case of Ahdi Ahmed Matan

Investigating Matan's battle with the City of Seattle and King County over a denial of renewal concerning his dual (Seattle & KC) for-hire license, I am unfortunately reminded of Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyell & Mr. Hyde," Matan insistent he is only "one person" when evidence points to potential other operational sides of concealed personality..  What I find more interesting than Matan's clear contradictions is the contradictory behavior displayed by the City of Seattle and King County in administrating his case and appeal, Matan being one solitary individual while, quite obviously, Seattle and KC being a huge governmental entity answerable to over 1.4 million residents; meaning, that more than just being necessary, it is legally essential that all pertinent rules and regulations are aligned in proper "apple-pie order", but in this situation pertaining to taxi , this doesn't appear to be at all true.

As I will attempt to show, what is happening is more like a yowling cat biting its tail in a frantic concentric circle, round and round the agencies go, digging an ever deeper hole.  But if my reading of the situation is correct, it appears that confusion, not malicious intent, is the prevailing problem---minor bureaucracy gone amok over the governmental edge.

Back in August 1995 an agreement--necessitated by duel yet separate licensing agencies---between Seattle's Dept of Finance and Administrative Services and King County's Dept of Licensing stated that each department would administer each other's appeals, thus avoiding obvious conflicts of interest, notably Seattle's responsibility for vehicle licensing and King Cunty's responsibility for operational (for-hire) driving licenses. While regulatorily clear, with rules and directed practises written down, the actual appeals procedure has become implicitly confusing, with both departments, in Maten's case, ignoring their own procedural guidelines, with KC conducting Matan's appeal.

Instead, his appeal should have been done by the City of Seattle per the 1995 protocol. But making the entire process even more problematic, given that Matan held a dual (Seattle/King County) for-hire license, FAS deciding to conduct its own appeal of dismissal process.  Why either department acted as they did, as I said, is anyone's guess, thus mystifying Matan and his supporters. Possibly the only plausible explanation is that both Seattle and King  County didn't know how to proceed. Given the confusion, that makes perfect sense.

On top of all this was Matan's, in his initial reapplication process, failure to list all of his dismissed moving violations, something stated as just cause for denial.  What KC discovered was a multitude of dismissed violations over a three-year period, plus a previously un-revealed domestic violence charge. In hindsight, it would have been wiser to list everything as was required.

Instead of passing judgment I will reiterate a well-known taxi credo: whatever you do, do not operate your cab when upset or in an emotional state of mind.  As Matan's recent driving record attests, bad things happen when you do.  From all reports, he was going through versions of matrimonial turmoil resulting in distracted behavior.  Owing my own taxi career to a divorce, I can relate to the trauma involved when a marriage is crumbling away, falling apart.  Unfortunately there is little to no support for cabbies when things are going wrong.  Like the solitary satellites we are, we remain lost in space, disconnected from our home planets.

So while Matan does hold responsibility for his actions, so does King County for taking on an appeals process that is exclusively Seattle's alone, and not theirs. Currently the entire process remains under review, meaning the verdict is out whether Matan will ultimately retain his right to drive a taxi in Seattle and King County.

But let this situation serve as a warning to everyone, who like me, are making a living driving a cab or flat-rate for-hire car or even Uber and Lyft: keep your driving record clean or you too will  end up on the outside looking in.  Depending on government to make the correct decision concerning your particular situation might be a fool's errand, bureaucracy well-known for stumbling over its own procedures, rules and regulations. While stubbing their own toes they might unintentionally kick you in the knee, incapacitating your ability to walk.

To believe otherwise is to be blind.  Put on some realistic spectacles then, and see what is not just in front of your big nose but also looming upon the horizon.  Otherwise you might be bumping headlong into an immovable wall.  That is just how it can be, and is.  After reading this, never say that you weren't forewarned, because you have.  No one has ever said you must remain a big dummy.  You don't need to be, a dummy that is, and you can quote me upon that.

Story Two:                  Elephantine Thinking at WA ST Dept of Labor & Industry

While we all know that our favorite tusked animal, the elephant, never forgets anything, how is it that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry, through the personage of L&I Litigation Specialist Jerry Billings, continues to remember that now tiny (and barely existent) Pierce County taxi company, Tacoma Yellow and its alleged past indiscretion dating from the year 2008-09?  Oddly, the reasoning might be that when L&I coverage was required, a rule now legislated out of existence, Tacoma Yellow was the most cooperative and compliant of perhaps any other taxi association or company in the entire state of Washington, negotiating a separate agreement.

Or the other reason could be because Yellow's Chief Financial Officer at the time, Garreth Elisk, told L&I that the ownership group (now past) underpaid what was owed, even though it was Elisk himself who had signed the annual statement, signifying that it was a true and accurate document.  And perhaps the most important reason for  L&I's continued interest was the 4 million dollar payout to a Tacoma Yellow cabby seriously disabled in a shooting, meaning that L&I wants its money back.

All of this might sound fine and reasonable until you know that Tacoma Yellow has undergone ownership change and bankruptcy, and if it loses the case, has little to give the State of Washington save 18 very tired Ford Crown Victorias, worth at best maybe 20 thousand dollars in total.  That the State of Washington knows all this beforehand; and that approval for this misguided effort must come from both the Democratic State Attorney General and the Democratic Governor, makes the whole affair very questionable when the final outcome is predictable; or as the idiom and Old English proverb tells us: you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip; or bringing it up to date:you can't get money from a taxi company that no longer exists, meaning the 2008 version is long defunct---yellowing paper tucked away in shoe boxes in dusty closets.

Maybe it all comes down to Billings' reputation as L&I's most persistent departmental bloodhound, never giving up until his quarry is held fiscally responsible.  Interestingly, it seems that Billings himself knows there is nothing financially to be gained but nonetheless continues his quixotic pursuit.  An appeal hearing is scheduled for February 2017.

If anyone out there thinks L&I's position is completely farcical, you might contact the current L& I Chief, Vicki Smith, and tell her to call off the barking dogs.  Surely Labor and Industry must have more pressing cases than assuaging old grudges.  Logically that must be true but in so many of life's varied occurrences, logic becoming secondary to misplaced emotion, anger and mistrust ruling the day.

Story Three:            The Port of Seattle Requirement for For-Hire Vehicle Certificates: Why?

This particular story of applied double standards is a winding tale taking us from the Seattle mayoral office to the Seattle City Council chambers to the Port of Seattle Commission to somewhere hidden deeply within the governmental bowels in. Olympia, and just where that is I have no idea.  The current issue is that the Port of Seattle, namely Sea-Tac International Airport, wants all taxis and flat-rate for-hire vehicles to have a State of Washington "for-hire vehicle certificate," something relating to the DOR (Dept of Revenue) UBI (Unified Business Identifier) registration number.

The only problem with this is that the Port of Seattle is NOT asking Uber or Lyft to to do the same.  This all gets back to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray saying, as a favor to Uber, that the City of Seattle will no longer require this kind of certificate with cars operating in Seattle.  But, as far as I know, the complicating issue is that neither the City of Seattle nor King County bothered to officially change the requirement.  Further aggravating all this is that the State of Washington still requires cars operating as for-hire vehicle (taxis, Uber etc) to have for-hire vehicle certificates.

So what is going on here?  Is there a failure of communication between the various city, county, port and state governments?   And as I said, is there a double standard in operation, requiring one thing of taxis but not of TNC companies?  For me this is too typical when it comes to taxi, nobody, and I mean nobody truly paying attention or heed.  Why be attentive when it is more fun mimicking the ostrich.

And perhaps making the matter worse, I have been told that all those feral Uber drivers are hogging the 3rd floor pickup area, thus preventing any other operators from entering.  Rumor or fact, it appears that there are some interesting things going on at Sea-Tac.  What will the final conclusion be?  As usual, stay tuned and I will. attempt to keep all and everyone informed.

Update on Rob Stansell

Again, thanks to everyone who donated and supported Rob during his last days.  Rob died last week and yesterday, his remains were cremated.  Per his wishes his ashes will be scattered into the Puget Sound.  Also great thanks to Jenny Lachuta, Rob's landlord and friend who was instrumental in assuring Rob's last weeks on this planet were dignified and blessed.  Thank you Jenny for the compassion shown.  Good work!

And on a lighter note

CJ actually came through, that Fred Myers gift card holding a $64.23 value, not the $24.00 she told me it had.  It does confirm to me that she is indeed a thief but she is kind to cabbies, at least this time around.

Editorial Note 12/02/2016

When I mention those of us being big dummies, I must include myself because, though knowing better I still published my blog yesterday instead of waiting a day and further sleep.  Anyone who read the former version will notice the "tidying up" that was necessary and essential.  Do I like being an idiot?  The unfortunate conclusion is that yes, I do enjoy wearing that label, a sorry placard round my neck.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"whom calling" & Other Ancedotes, Amusing Or Not, From A Football Taxi Weekend

Rah rah rah! the home teams winning, the 5th ranked UW Huskies beating the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday night; with the Seahawks proving on Sunday to be the tougher bird, beating those Eagles from Philly, PA by a 26 to 15 score.  65,000 and 69,000 fans respectively meant that local cabbies too were true winners, the Husky game providing me with a $26.00 Kirkland fare which soon connected to a bunch of crazy kids going from Bellevue to Sea-Tac fare and netting $71.90.  That next afternoon the Seahawk halftime giving me a forty dollar fare to Shoreline; and in the game's declining minutes a ten dollar fare taking me to the Waterfront Marriott where I found a pleasant couple bound for Sea-Tac and another $50.40! Yea team, and teams!  "If taxi ain't about money, it ain't about nuthin!'" quips the homespun taxi philosopher.

Anecdotal Taxi

----whom calling

Calling the fare waiting at the Northgate and Roosevelt Arco I received a text back "whom calling," prompting "the cab" in response; and at the station discovering this most original character, CJ, who was  University District-bound to meet up with the he-is-going-to pay-boyfriend-taking-her-to-a-casino. Suddenly CJ decided that cash wasn't good enough for the $12.00 fare so instead I would be receiving 2 Starbuck gift cards, a $100.00 off a $160.00 bottle of wine card, and a Fred Myers gift card worth, according to CJ, $24.50.  Whether any of these cards are truly redeemable is truly an unknown, a question I will eventually answer.

Once she departed the cab I called and had her telephone number blocked, not overly pleased to be showered with questionable gift cards (the Starbuck cards date from 2015).  Coincidentally I  again encountered said CJ later that night at the same Arco and this time taking her 8 blocks north to her apartment building, netting some earphones for my short effort.  CJ might be a thief or something else questionable but having encountered for a second time around, I decided I liked her, CJ so pleasantly out-of-her-mind she is, CJ falling into the" I-give-completely-up" category. What do you do when you can't do nothing about something whatsoever?  Smile is my suggestion.  CJ is a complete "trip!" sweet and doing it in style like a very fashionable crocodile.

----lots of scallops

Sometimes it does seem "instant karma" is real because, when just minutes after this drunk young man went nuts, threatening me with "all kinds of awful things" when my meter receipt printer jammed, I found this scallop fisherman at the train station needing to go to up north to Mount Vernon.  Requesting a discount, we negotiated the estimated $170.00 fare into $120.00 and a 4-pound box of flash-frozen Bering Sea scallops worth more or less eighty dollars.  The sailor was a non-stop talker, unfortunately telling me he had two un-cashed $10,000 checks in his wallet with an even bigger one coming, making me regret the discount but hey, tonight I am making this great cognac and scallop recipe, so who's complaining, I am not complaining. Instead of bitching I will be very happily eating.

----number 38 out of 991

Amazingly I finally won a lottery, and good one at that, having the luck of being number 38 out of 55 new City of Seattle medallion (cab license) recipients.  There is a vetting process but passing that I will be transferring my new number to my current car.  I believe the yearly license fee is or was $600.00 so it means a huge personal savings, saving me over $4000.00 annually.  That it doesn't make any sense adding more cars to a completely saturated market is nothing I can do anything about--- typical, too typical of Seattle's taxi policies, nonsensical the operational word.  Before the Uber onslaught, the medallions were worth $250.000.  Now?  Maybe ten to twenty thousand.

----3 big stories brewing

One---WA State is trying to destroy Tacoma Yellow Cab

Two---The Port of Seattle is requiring much more from for-hire vehicles and taxis while potentially letting TNC companies operate illegally

Three---King County is using dismissed tickets (and the un-reporting of moving violations) as the pretext to deny for-hire license renewal.  There is much more to this, and more than one side of the story so expect a comprehensive examination soon.

taxi doggerel 

whom calling

who could it be

why it is a crazy


getting in my taxi

playing me for a


but I don't care

I operate for free

and for a million stolen gift cards more

I swear

I will take you


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Poltical Essay---The New But Jammed In Reverse America: A Quick Analysis Of Where We Are Going And Why

Personally, the news regarding the 2016 Presidential election has been deflating which is why I am in part deviating from my usual subject matter, all things taxi, and making a short analysis confronting the whys and wherefores of the surprising GOP victory, something I thought not possible simply due to American demographics. Boy was I ever wrong!

Demographics, defining the human population comprising a given neighborhood, city, county etc, is something I always preach about to fellow cabbies concerning the business logic facing us when deciding where and why to work particular neighborhoods and areas of the city and county.  Thinking I was some kind of "big shot" I applied a similar methodology to this year's election cycle.

Well, this swelled head has certainly been punctured, which has prompted me to figure out just how I got it wrong.  Being a cabby I meet "everyday America" daily, and because I am truly trying paying attention I erroneously thought I had my proverbial finger on the nation's pulse, somehow mistakenly thinking I am some 21st Century American version of the 19th Century Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville.  Call this essay then a small self-redemption.  I am unhappy having proved myself to be an idiot.  Maybe, like our country itself, I can turn defeat in something positive.  Damn I certainly hope so.

One local post-election positive for us Americans either visiting or residing in Mexico is how the Mexican peso has responded to the Trump victory, and that is to lose further value against American currency, more or less now averaging twenty pesos to the dollar.  Twice in two days we bought 4 tamale for 36 peso, or 9 peso each, translating to just under two US dollars.  Two to three tamale make a meal so this small example illustrates current US dollar buying power.  Local bus rides are the equivalent to 25 cents.  The bus ride to the La Gruta Hot Springs spa is about 75 cents.  In comparison my bus ride last Monday from Tacoma to Sea-Tac International Airport was $3.75.  Off-peak hours one-zone bus fare in Seattle is $2.50, peak hour being $2.75.

So if you are ready to escape post-election rhetoric and visit Mexico, this couldn't be a better time. I would not be surprised if the peso weakens even further in the upcoming months, politics in the USA potentially more unpredictable.  If nothing else, you will escape the usual shrill media onslaught.  One advantage I find by not speaking Spanish is not understanding conversation around me, which I feel is a blessing.  Too many times in the cab I have just wanted the fools to just shut up but there they rattle on---unintentionally sharing disjointed conversation and ideas I never, ever wanted to hear.  Here in San Miguel I usually don't understand more than a few words randomly spoken.  Hallelujah! the conversational God having set me free!

                                                 The only news I know
                                                 Is bulletins all day
                                                 From Immortality.

                                                                            ---Emily Dickinson

                                               "But my people!  We in this room---
                                               we Negros---have another mission that
                                               is for ourselves alone.  Within us there is
                                               a strong purpose, and if we fail in this
                                               purpose we will be forever lost.  Let us
                                               see, then, what is the nature of this special
                                               mission."-----the character, Dr. Copeland,
                                              speaking to an assembled Christmas party

                                              ---from "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"  by
                                              Carson McCullers

                                             The New But Jammed In Reverse America

During the 1948 US Presidential cycle, a breakaway group of Southern Democrats led by US South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond (1902-2013), formed what they called the States' Rights Party, known more popularly as the "Dixecrats."  Thurmond and his followers were similarly fundamental to the Republican Donald Trump constituency in that they objected to "Establishment politicians" who, in their view, had shifted from representing their true values and interests, thus no longer worthy of their support.

Reading the "Dixiecrats" party platform is illuminating, promulgating a racism shocking in its clarity, declaring racial segregation to be fundamental, and that totalitarianism (meaning the Truman administration) was intent on violating their constitutional rights, preventing them from keeping the races (blacks and whites) separate. In short, they were mad as hell that their country was becoming more progressive (or liberal) than tolerable, drawing a line in the political sand.  That they failed didn't mean they hadn't tried, collecting 39 electoral votes, and carrying four states and part of Tennessee, with Thurmond remaining a political irritant until his death at age 101, a remarkable if not always rational politician.

Returning back to November 2016 I see parallels to1948 and a still disgruntled America, with a large part of the voting electorate yelling long and loud their unhappiness through their incredibly flawed candidate, Donald Trump. Despite still facing serious criminal indictment, nearly 60 million voters screamed that Trump is their hero, their new symbolic figure and version of a political manifest destiny taking them to America's rightful place, domestically and otherwise, where high paying manufacturing job suddenly appear out of thin air and all the bad people (illegal immigrants, Muslims, welfare recipients) poisoning American prosperity and virtue quickly and rapidly disappear, creating a national purity unknown since 1776.

This they shout is their God-given right as true and faithful Americans, knowing better than any other citizens in American history how to correct a troubled and insulted nation.  But unlike 1948, these new rebels of 2016 actually succeeded with gaining power after chanting we shall return America to when it  was great--- Trump-ites, in their victorious frenzy, linking cultural equality and scientific-based reason and rationality to moral treason, something not unlike like the "Dixecrats" claim of totalitarian threats, a disease to be snuffed out and permanently extinguished. And by a plurality of electoral college votes, they have received a measure of validation the "Dixecrats" knew wasn't possible, Trump voters feeling that it is now their time to take control.

While personally abhorring readily assigned labels, I still understand that definitions can lead to helpful comprehension, explaining why I now offer two terms that, I don't believe, have been previously utilized, tossing the usual political monikers left and right, progressive and conservative into the cultural trash bin; suggesting instead that "stationary" and "mobile" fill-in as able replacements,hopefully providing some helpful insight to what people are saying and doing minus self-serving rhetoric and justification. Yes, new appellations countering old and unhelpful nonsense that only obstruct, but never assisting reason and commonsense..

Imagine, if you would, a stationary political approach as a pond or lake; and then view a mobile political stance as a stream or river eventually flowing down to sea or ocean. Obviously real lakes and rivers are extant ecosystems, substantial and sustaining in their own right, each containing inherent positive qualities promoting life and existence. Ponds and lakes, while often having watery outlets, clearly offering permanency of home and stability; with brooks, steams, creeks and rivers offering the fluidity of constant movement, sparkling oxygen entering the air---each aqueous entity holding embraceable validity.

                                          "I chatter, chatter, as I flow
                                               To join the brimming river
                                           For men may come and men may go
                                               But I go on forever."

                                   ---taken from "The Brook," by Alfred Tennyson

Stationary and mobile, taking the idea further, transitions into personal and cultural philosophy ultimately progressing into standardized and established beliefs, resulting even further into recognizable religious and political systems now embraced by the tens of millions, formulating societal dictates and governmental policies affecting us all, both in our native countries and nations beyond drawn borders.  Whether liking this or not, it is reality.

Again, this social phenomena I am calling mobile and stationary is then greatly consequential, sometimes benign, other times not, translating into laws and rules telling us what we do, should do, and what we definitely cannot do. Often these rules and laws are reasonable and just, but again, often they are not, either tainted by delusion or prejudice. When this happens, when the stationary becomes dictatorial, we are then literally held "stationary" or hostage by these same stationary beliefs.

Historically this has not turned out at all well, aggressive "stationary" nations like Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the 1930s & 40s causing immeasurable death and destruction. And it was during this stationary period, that the Papal State, Vatican City, came into being, when in February 1929, the Italian Fascist Mussolini and Pope Pius XI sighed the Lateran Treaty, thus providing Roman Catholicism with an irrevocable  religious and political legitimacy, its diplomatic and liturgical agenda an ever expanding universe, an theological empire spreading a tenacious, doctrinal net over an ever compliant human communion.

And again, it is not to say that all stationary tendencies are all bad because they are not, but, with the election of Donald Trump as president of a country like the United States, a well-known functional and dynamic democracy, we are already beginning to see a damming of those egalitarian rivers, impeding an unfettered flow down to the rational sea, altering a democratic torrent into a sealed and obedient reservoir.  This kind of event occurs when self-preservation becomes individually tantamount, something heard repeatedly with the chants of, "Make America Great Again" when clearly that is already what America is---the biggest economic, military and cultural powerhouse the world has ever witnessed.. One might find it difficult to believe but America is more influential than the three millennium-long Ancient Egyptian Dynasty or the Roman or Inca or Mayan empires ever could be---American tentacles gripping every country and land.

But for many of America's modern voting electorate, it just isn't enough, they must have it all---all the jobs, all the natural resources, everything the world has, it must be theirs---a berserk Monroe doctrine controlling and owning not the only Western Hemisphere but planet earth itself along with the moon, and that soon to be new American territory, planet Mars. Being devotees of "Star Trek" and Star Wars," they know our known planetary system is just the beginning, the American majority longing to conquer all existent galaxies no matter how many light years away.  And what exactly is a light year?  Well, these stationary Americans don't know and don't care, devouring everything in their path, growing ever fatter and obscenely obese, eyes bulging out of bulbous, misshaped Patriotic heads, panting for new conquests hiding just beyond the next shining star.




Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Greetings For The Third Time From San Miguel: For The Very First Time, Uber & Lyft Overtake Nationwide Taxi Industry For Business Travel Expenses

Again I am back in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the second time this year and third visit overall. Though very tired on this election day, I am glad to be here.  Yes I voted, having mailed in my ballot two weeks ago.  Yesterday my entire journey, including the shuttle ride from the Leon airport to San Miguel, took over 13 hours.

And getting a long ride early Sunday morning set me up for 4 hours sleep that day and 3 hours of nap time Monday before entering the friendly skies---a gentleman from the Northgate Transit Center needing to make it home to Mount Vernon, Washington, essentially 62 miles north of Seattle.  Taxi never changes, always unpredictable, one never truly knowing where that next passenger is going, which is why I always advise to answer that call and find out; like entering a lottery, you might end up with an unexpected smile.

Uber & Lyft Winning

A news item in yesterday's 11/07/2016 USA edition really grabbed my attention, stating that for a recent three-month period ending September, a study conducted by Certify, a travel expense software company, utilizing  more than 10 million ground transportation receipts, found that Uber and Lyft accounted for 52 percent of them.  The article, reported by Nancy Trejos, also provides quotes from business travelers expressing frustration with overall taxi service regardless of the city or airport.  While Uber in particular has recently gotten some bad press, their business model is expanding while taxi's is shrinking.  The reasons are many but one example occurring Friday morning is telling.

Driving up on Capital Hill I saw a pedestrian approach a Yellow Cab, talk into the window and watch the cab fly away.  I pulled up and found out what happened: the customer (African-American and two friends) having requested a ride to the corner of Rainier South and South Orcas in the Columbia City neighborhood. I of course told them to "just jump in" and got the $29.00 instead.  Why the East African cabbie blew them off is something I can only guess but it is well known in Seattle Cab-land that many but not all East African Immigrant cabbies discriminate against American-born blacks.  I am also guessing that it is the same Uber and Lyft driver population that is refusing to pick up American black customers. American-born black passengers still repeatedly tell me they continue to struggle to get a cab, even expressing surprise that I stopped for them.  It is a bad story.   

And all you Seattle cabbies out there sitting wondering why you can't make any money should ask your friends just what are they doing and why they are doing it?  It is a sad tale.  And as the USA reporter made clear, we are getting are butts kicked, there is no doubt about it.

Dying Cabbie Still Requiring Monetary Assistance

Robert Stansell, the Seattle cabbie, has seen his physical situation worsen and is now hospitalized for perhaps the final time. I am told he has two weeks to live.  Expensive pain medication is now required and Rob has no means to pay for it so once again friends and supporters are asking for help.  Most probably don't know that Rob returned to driving cab for about 3 weeks in a desperate attempt to pay his bills.  How fun is that, mere weeks from death but feeling the pressure to make a living?  God help Rob and us all!

Again, his GoFundMe account is


If you have the time, Rob is at University Washington Medical Center, 4NE, Room 4262. Go to the information desk in the lobby and they will be able to direct you.

Postscript Times Two

---Rob Stansell has been released from the hospital and been allowed to return to his apartment.  His situation is dire. It is estimated he has two weeks of life left.  Again, any and all help is appreciated.

---My favored candidate for the 7th US Congressional District, Brady Walkinshaw, lost to Pramila Jayapal.  I only mention this because the media is touting her as the first Indian-American voted to Congress but the problem is, no one says whether she is from India, which she is, or of Native American Tribal descent?   You might term it the revenge of Christopher Columbus and his discovery not of America but of a shortcut to India, or at least he thought, hence his calling the first people he met Indians.

 More correctly, Jayapal is an East Indian-American or South Asian-American, given that in the USA, the term Indian is more normally referred to Native American or First Nation tribal members.  If you dispute that, then who were the Chicago Cubs playing in the recent MLB World Series?  I rest my case.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Oh No! Uber, Uber, Uber Everywhere! (& Lyft Too)

Like Seattle's record 2016 October (nearly 10 inches) rainfall, Uber saturation is flooding the airwaves and physical space, reminding, if anyone needed reminding, that Uber must be, should be, and seemingly is, according to Uber, both your first transportation and now, employment choice. Tune into the radio MLB World Series coverage, and every commercial break you will hear that Uber is your ultimate "side-hustle" as they are calling it, saying even at this very moment you could be in your car both listening to the Cubs and Indians battle it out and making money, suggesting you are otherwise wasting your time.

 In a recent "The Nation" magazine there was a featured article describing Uber's efforts in promoting American school teachers as the new, ideal Uber driver, making up for income the otherwise deserving teachers are not getting.  What the article didn't say is why America's teaching core (and anyone else, for that matter) are suddenly qualified to be quasi-cabbies, inserted in a work environment where, world-wide, one million-three hundred people (1.3) are dying annually along with fifty million injured (recent WHO statistics), a work environment where approximately forty thousand Americans are included in those dire numbers..  No, nothing entertaining about these grim details---only economic gain for tow trucks, auto-body repair shops and undertakers.

Did you know a car accident occurs in America every 7 seconds?  Just for fun, look at your watch and time how long it takes you to read today's entry, then divide 7 into how many seconds and suddenly then you will understand why it just might not be a good idea to insert hundreds of thousands of amateurs into a professional working environment.  Is anyone saying that is how the teaching profession should be treated, when, just knowing how to sign your name qualifies you to teach English or Biology or American History?

And of course no one would refer to educating America's children as some kind of "side-hustle," equating teachers to  "pool sharks" hustling fools at the local billiards hall but imitating cabbies, that's perfectly okay.  I know Sarah Palin would agree with that kind of assessment, adding water and mixing allowing anyone to do and be anything, even to be president of the USA. Why not, guys and gals, why not?

Other newsworthy Uber happenings are again everywhere upon local and national and international media lips. Recently one Uber driver stabbed another Uber driver in the stomach with a big kitchen knife while both were waiting in the Sea-Tac holding lot.  Another is that both Uber and Lyft are suing the City of Seattle because they are being asked to provide the same kinds of data routinely provided by taxi associations:

---annual number of rides
---where rides begin and end
---percentage of rides originating in given zip codes
---how rides are requested
---crime reports concerning drivers and customers

Uber and Lyft claim this kind of commonplace information are "trade secrets."  A court judgment in forthcoming November 15th, 2016.

Another less than complimentary Uber & Lyft news item made the front page of today's Seattle Times and also sent to me yesterday online by the NY Times, that black (African-American) riders in both Seattle and Boston have been found to have longer wait times than white (European-American) customers.

This from a joint study published Monday by researchers connected with MIT, University of Washington (here in Seattle) and Stanford University.  The Seattle Times article (reprinted from Bloomberg News & written by Eric Newcomer) states that Lyft drivers hold the ability to cancel their call requests undetected; with the study also finding that women passengers were more likely than men to being literally taken "for a ride," just because they are female, perhaps calling it another kind of "side-hustle," women riders taken that extra mile whether requested or not.  I am guessing this "service" was provided by male but not female Uber and Lyft drivers.

Yes, yes, Uber and Lyft are everywhere, in our wallets, in our hair but taking women for an extra tour around the block, how can that be fair?  To find out the answer, you might want to call your local city and county and airport regulator and administrator.  Maybe they can tell you what you need to know but I wouldn't count on it, money, it might be said, obscuring their usually normal cognitive functioning. Yes they have a brain but since you don't represent Uber or Lyft will their response to you be the same?

Or to finish a bad rhyme, will they just be simply lame!

Postscript Nov 2nd

While Uber is certainly scary, even more frightening are the results of a poll reported in the current issue of "The Week" which said, while 32 % were concerned about global climate change, an even larger percentage, about 47 % of Americans were concerned about clowns and their potential mayhem.  All I can say, you better watch out because a clown is going to sneak into your home, turning on the bathtub faucet and flood the place, just like it is happening to some Pacific island nations in the southern Pacific Ocean.  Beware, those evil clowns are gonna get you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The 2016 Election Edition But Not Quite---Local Taxi Issues Too

As done previously, I was planning on making electoral recommendations but given that,  for the most part, the upcoming 2016 election is more statewide and national than municipal, I will confine most of my commentary toward politics in general, only peripherally focusing upon local candidates and issues. Finally I will end by expounding on more pertinent current taxi issues like the new taxi medallion lottery and Monday  night's mindless and unnecessary intervention by SPD's traffic enforcement, underlining once again the City of Seattle's inherent bias against its local tax industry.

Did you know that in 1948, there were not just two major presidential candidates but four: the sitting president Harry Truman, his Republican rival Thomas Dewey, States' Right Party Strom Thurmond, and Henry Wallace, the former vice-president running on the Progressive ticket?  Personally, I have always felt that one of FDR's greatest errors was removing Wallace as his fourth term VP and choosing Truman as his replacement.  Just as Gore would not have replicated Bush's errors, so would Wallace avoided Truman's amateurish decision making and policies.

While in part reminding of today's Libertarian Party and its outlook, the Progressive party platform in 1948 attempted to accelerate commonsense by proposing " an understanding with the Soviet Union and the United States;" removing power from "the war-producing elite;" repudiating the Marshall Plan, and amazingly, asking for the destruction of all atomic bombs, the immediate ending of segregation, and insisting upon better housing and lower food prices for everyone.  Other than eliminating the Marshall Aid Plan, something that quickly helped rebuild post-WWII Europe, the Progressive proposals, by modern standards, appear to be good ones.

These and other thoughts and quotes are taken from the book edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Fred Israel and David Frent, "The Election of 1948 and the Administration of Harry S. Truman," and published by Mason Crest, 2003. Two quotes from the Schlesinger intro are especially apt today.  The first quote, written in 1888, comes from  James Bryce (1st Viscount), later the British ambassador (1907-1913) to the United States; and the second from that figure featured on the American ten dollar bill, Alexander Hamilton.

"America suffers from a sort of intermittent fever---what one may call a quintan ague.  Every fourth year there comes terrible shakings, passing into the hot fit of the presidential election; then follows what physicians call the "interval; then again the fit."---James Bryce

"Beset as they are (the American people)...by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who pocess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to pocess rather than to deserve it."---Alxander Hamilton

I find the second quote especially applicable to the current GOP presidential candidate.  One of course can argue the merits of the various candidates but one thing is certainly true in my personal experience, and that despite being groped and hit at least twenty times over my many years of taxi driving, not once have I reported the attacks to the police, even ignoring the stalker who,on his last attempted contact, texted me photographs (none of which I opened).  That victims chose initially to ignore Trump's alleged attacks, to me, isn't surprising, probably not wanting to further involve themselves into something they never requested, but like me, remembering every unsavory detail. I always see the idiot kissing the windshield instead of attempting to get any closer.  Wise choice, don't you think?

Another amazing electoral fact I discovered recently was pointed out in the October 24th, 2016 Seattle Times edition of Jerry Large's column when he mentioned the exclusion of granted American citizenship to most Native Americans until the passage of the "Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, something also known as the Snyder Act as it was sponsored by a New York GOP Congressman, Homer Snyder.  But as Large also points out, it was not until the 1965 Voting Rights Act did Native Americans, as a collective group, fully gain their voting rights. Canada also had similar provisions concerning First Nation rights, Caucasians in both countries practicing  a similar discrimination unjust in its application and outlook.

Getting back to our election scene, my only definitive endorsement concerns the District 7 US Representative race, preferring Brady Walkinshaw over Pramila Jayapal, Walkinshaw seemingly more potentially proactive, especially in terms of addressing climate change.  Jayapal has been quoted that important climate change legislation can wait another two years, this after yesterday's report that the melting of the Antarctic Ice Shelf is accelerating.  I personally disagree, feeling we as a human species might already be on a suicidal course, and more delay only hastens our imminent demise but according to Jayapal, we have plenty of time.  Maybe the true source of her delay is that she doesn't like penguins.  I don't see why but its possible, maybe something to do with their black and white color scheme.  I can understand her annoyance.

Taxi News

In case you have missed it, the City of Seattle will be conducting a 2017 Taxicab Medallion Lottery where a total of 55 medallions will be passed out to the winners. The important difference from previous license lotteries is that the pool of drivers is limited to For-Hire Licence holders with a license number of 16586 or lower, meaning more veteran drivers will be getting the medallions.  Did they finally listen to me and others who have repeatedly said it only makes sense to include drivers who might have some clue concerning what they are doing?  Whether they heard us or not, that is what is going to happen. For better or worse, I have put my name in, if only for symbolic reasons and no other.  My other commentary, and one shared by many other drivers, is why issue medallions during a time when they are not needed.  It is a good question, one I am sure will remain unanswered.

As stated, the rules are clear and plain.  If you qualify you have until Friday, 5:00 PM, November 4th, 2016 to apply.  You can apply either online or get yourself down to the licensing offices now located on the 42nd floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower, Suite 4200, 700 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA.  If you don't know, that is the corner of 5th & Cherry.  But I suggest avoiding the parking hassles and apply over the internet.

As said, it makes far more sense to, like I did, to apply online.  Just go to the following address and the instructions are clear:


If you remain confused, you can contact Inspector Marrison at 206-386-0079 or email her at


Good luck!

Other news

Working the train Monday night I was not pleased to see all of us visited by a Parking Enforcement officer who decided that it was a good idea to make some of the drivers move on because they were not parked properly.  As I tired to tell her, the situation was caused not by the drivers but by the City of Seattle's allowance of new building construction that halved our available parking.  Why she even bothered remains, at least to me, a complete mystery because the taxis were not blocking anything, her enforcement achieving nothing other than sending a message we learned a long time ago: the City of Seattle hates us.

Adding insult to that injury was what was happening just a quarter mile away at the WaMu Theatre down on Occidental South, where multiple cars were allowed to park illegally on both sides of the street, creating such a narrow passage that even I had trouble getting through.  And who was sitting at the end of this automobile gauntlet?  Why none other than a bunch of Parking Enforcement officers evidently waiting for the "Chance the Rapper" concert to end, the officers exhibiting a tolerance clearly not shown to those evil Yellow cabs down at the Amtrak Station.  Again, why blame the cabbies because we didn't issue all those building  permits.  Why is it all our fault?

Post Script Oct 27th

I suppose it is some kind of positive when you are agreed with, in my case the Seattle Time today endorsing Brady Walkinshaw, calling him the most qualified candidate while terming Jayapal an opportunist who does not even reside in the 7th Congressional District.  Jayapal reminds me of my 20 days in Poland last year during their election cycle.  Though unable to read Polish, viewing the various candidate's posters provided me with a distinct impression of who they were and the political views represented, their smiles, as opposed to being reassuring, were often frightening.  And after the election, the newly voted in right-wing (and Roman Catholic) government began slamming down on individual rights.  It wasn't surprising, given their faces, their faces truly broadcasting who they were and are.  I'm not talking about pretty or ugly, I am referring to the massage conveyed, a message louder than words.  My suggestion then is take the time to consider a given candidate's face and develop an opinion much like your favorite pooch.  Are you wagging your tail, or snarling?  Bow wow wow!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Spanning From "I Hate This!" To "I Am Too Tired!"

With taxi driving there is always an extreme cost ranging from simple fatigue to overt agitation and of course everything in between.  Starting off early Saturday morning (1:30 AM) after negotiating a heavy rainfall from Tacoma to Seattle (over five recorded inches during a four-day span), my first thought is "I hate this!" which was further underlined by getting a flat tire as the noon train pulled in, costing me almost three hours; and then much later in the evening a tow truck entered my intersection nearly 3-4 seconds into the red light, again missing certain death by "how I avoided the fool!" I will never know but glad I had new brakes installed two weeks ago.

It never ends and it doesn't and won't unless I just walk away from this perpetual madness---a passenger last night refusing to understand, though repeatedly told, that the Motel Six located at South 160th & Pacific Highway South was not in the city of Seattle, thankfully his companion acting as some kind of impromptu interpreter.  Was the guy stoned or drunk or stupid or just plainly belligerent past reason and commonsense, his permanent scowl seemingly providing the answer.

I did enjoy the little girl (about 6-8 years old) who repeatedly posited the question concerning me, "Why is a woman talking like a man?" but hey, she might have a legitimate point.  The deranged pinnacle for my three wonderful days occurred while gassing up 478 one final time at 1:45 AM this morning then finding out I couldn't get my change because the 4th Avenue South Arco had locked its doors.  A group of irritated customers, most wanting to buy beer before the 2 AM deadline, were gathered at the entry, waiting impatiently to get in.  We could all see one individual ignoring us while mopping the floor. When the door was finally opened at two by another gentleman who had been concealed somewhere in the back, a near riot broke out upon his refusal to sell people their final post-midnight beer.  All I wanted was my change and to drive back to Tacoma before it got any later, finally getting to bed at 4:20 AM.

 Yes I was and continue to be "too tired" for anything but pushing through this day.  I am just happy that "she-who-can't-named" can leave for Mexico Thursday minus interruptions instead of visiting me either in the hospital or the morgue.  She will have a much better time soaking for hours at "La Gruta" just outside of San Miguel de Allende.  If I survive the next 3 weeks I too will be joining her November 7th, enjoying the healing hot water. Via Mexico!  Adios.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Refugees From The Sea-Tac Wars

Like any war, there are causalities.  The bruising fight for economic survival exemplified by the recent battle for Sea-Tac's outbound services have ripped a palpable bloody seam through the local transportation providers, a razor sharp knife severing head from metaphorical heart, irreparable wounds soaking red the airport tarmac, further damaging and weakening everyone.

What happened is not funny, as Bernard's Seattle Weekly article points out, Sea-Tac outbound service award to Eastside-for-Hire doubling Uber's advantage by expanding their customer base with the additional of 180 plus new service providers.  Yes, it is unfortunately true that all the former Yellow Taxi operators will be forced to provide service to the same company that is threatening their very existence, this due to Eastside's business and financial arrangements with Uber.

And adding  grave insult to the injury, they will pay Eastside a weekly $155.00 dispatch fee for the privilege. Of course this is not funny but nothing recently forced onto the Sea-Tac taxi fleet over the past year has been humorous, collectively backed into an operational corner by the Port of Seattle who keeps telling them everything is okay, just take your Uber aspirin and you will feel better in the morning.  Having met two Sea-Tac refugees over the weekend, clearly this is not true.

The two owner operators I talked to are part of a growing minority not interested in taking Sea-Tac's bad deal, instead returning to the taxi business operational world I share, one more traditional than the glorified shuttle service that is Sea-Tac's taxi service.  Both  drivers are experiencing problems acclimating to new taxi business realities, easy pickings off ripe taxi boughs long gone, hunt-and search the new  (and grim) business model.

One driver, lamenting the departure of all those "medical" HopeLink and other "fat & easy" account fares, fell back to yet another rumor, saying Eastside's connection with another Somali at HopeLink is the plausible explanation.  The other driver, a Punjabi operator, remembering me from the Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory Commission, said all of it---the loss of business and the Sea-Tac contract---was all my fault. While having difficulty understanding everything he was saying, it appears that, according to him, I am the one to blame.  I suppose this comes with being some version of "public figure" but if I truly had that kind of influence, everything today would be the reverse of what it is now, kissing Uber's unwashed foot.

What both of them are expressing is pain, the confusion and pain associated with ongoing conflicts ousting them from their preferred home, not unlike the millions of refugees fleeing war and devastation in Africa and the Middle East.  While not facing physical harm, they are dealing with economic death, their livelihood either taken away or altered to the point they were compelled elsewhere, certainly not liking what they see.

I know in the next few weeks and months I will be meeting more Sea-Tac refugees, hearing their anguish and despair.  What, for them, the loss of the Sea-Tac ultimately means for their future I cannot say.  Taxi, even in the best of times, is a struggle. Returning to the present tight business climate will not be easy, not in any way an easy transition but this is our shared reality, the situation facing us all.

Winter, I guarantee, will be harder this year, perhaps forcing many out of the business altogether.  But as usual, the administrators responsible will continue collecting their substantial salaries, giving little thought to the long hours all of us cab drivers will be facing, waiting 1-3 hours for the next fare.  I know I will not be enjoying myself, instead going slowly and progressively more insane, this prediction not only true for me but for all  my colleagues working beneath the Seattle top-light, no fun staring at the rain-splattered windshield, wishing that customers were in our cab instead passing us by in Uber cars, more than happy to be receiving a transportation bargain, oblivious to our suffering upon the roadside.  .  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

My Best Personal & Hooker And Pimp & Urination & Another Sara Bernard "Seattle Weekly" Taxi Article

Everyone in the taxi world loves their "personals," meaning passengers who call cabbies back for another ride.  Some drivers I know "live on personals," their regular customers filling in the gaps during slow dispatch and business moments.  Despite my 29 plus years on the taxi road, these kinds of customers are a rarity for two primary reasons.

One, which is fairly obvious, is that by normally driving just two days a week means I am not there when they need me. And another, while respecting my taxi skills, most customers don't find me especially likable, as least not in the usual sense, too much opinionation and irritation for most folks to deal with. And I don't blame them, knowing who I am and accepting I can be "too much to swallow," all very understandable.

Given this reality, it is all very surprising that I met a customer Friday afternoon who called me back repeatedly over the weekend, taking her to and from Seattle and Kirkland, the fares averaging seventy dollars one way when including generous tips.  Of course that is a big chunk of taxi change, quickly altering a slow day into something quite special. And who can I give thanks for these terrific fares?  None other than Yellow taxi and yet another screwed up ride.

Working Friday due to the upcoming University of Washington versus Stanford football game, I vowed not to take an account fare but stupidly did so anyway upon my very first fare offering.  What it all turned out to be was a messed up HopeLink call that was reversed in order, meaning instead of picking up at Swedish Cherry Hill, the passenger instead was waiting to be taken there.  No fun of course when you are trying to make a living dependent upon accurate call-taking.

Figuring out all this nonsense wasted valuable minutes but having seen other people waiting I called out "Does anyone need a cab?" and indeed someone did, and even better, needing to go all the way to Kirkland.  Call it luck or taxi divine intervention but whatever it was, good fortune coming my way.

Elaine, currently dealing with some profound issues concerning her husband, was now ready for for a little professionalism, this after two disappointing Eastside rides, and after finding me both safe and reliable, asked if I could pick her up in the morning?  Yes I could and did, and six rides later I can say I have never met a more kind or thoughtful customer.  Even better is Elaine utilizing both Tom and Ray, translating into mutual benefits all around, my initial misfortune turning into the best of possible outcomes.

Hooker and Pimp

Always my first goal is to present taxi reality as I see it firsthand, as it's thrust directly in my face, and these next two examples are certainly that, situations never asked for but there they are, unavoidable and extant.Yes, real Seattle taxi, unblemished, and for the most part, uncensored.

Did you know, due the vice crackdown on Aurora North, that the prostitutes have moved their trade west down 85th and other westward arterial streets?  Well I can verify that its true, and instead of an ordinary Fed Meyers shopper, a genuine hooker stepped in.  While somewhat surprised, who cares anyway? but it was when she borrowed my telephone that I became interested.

Talking to someone who was clearly her pimp, I suddenly was privy to the most brutal conversation. After a few minutes of this absurdity I angrily told her to break it off, unable to keep listening to insulting nonsense.

Given that the pimp was paying, upon arriving at our destination, we walked up a long, darkened driveway for the money.  Talking into a closed door, a disembodied hand thrust out with a twenty.  The woman, she was fine but the pimp is obviously a monster, a real monster.  Welcome to taxi! as I don't want to know it.


This sometimes happens but this time being far more extreme which I is why I am mentioning it. Again, taxi reality as I hate it, bodily functions screaming at the physical door.

It's about 5:00 PM Monday and I have to urinate, though at this point the urgency mild, not pressing, First one, then another coffee shop I stop at are closed.  Heading toward the Fremont neighborhood and looking for a friendly bush or concealed alleyway I get a call over in the Montlake on 24th East for a hair salon. Routing over the University Bridge I get there fairly quickly, thinking this is just "another local" but instead the young woman from Stika, Alaska is meeting her sister near the airport at the Southcenter Mall, meaning a fight through rush hour traffic and further personal delay.

Now nearly 1 1/2 hours later I head to the little park located just above the mall.  Painful yes but I survived. Nearby is a memorial plaque to a deceased employee and a newly planted tree, reminding life continues forward no matter how imperfectly, available toilet or not.

Great Taxi Article in Sept 28th-Oct 4th 2016 Seattle Weekly Issue

Sara Bernard's recent very well researched article "Uber Alles---The taxi industry is being taken apart by rideshares.  Could the airport contract be its last stand?" is truly worthwhile reading, providing an insightful look at a slow moving disaster.  The article details, in clear language, that despite protestations and denials to the contrary, the Port of Seattle has abandoned the taxi drivers.  If you don't believe me, read the article and see for yourself.  And why, why is the Port of  Seattle doing this?

From my point of view, it is clear and simple.  Other than one Port commission member in particular, who does understand, the rest are, just like recent versions of Seattle's City Council--- upper-middle class caste-ridden people who support and believe in supporting Big Business and Conservative Social Norms.  They say otherwise but don't believe them.  It is what they are and what they remain.  Uber, for them, represents what is best about corporate innovation, while taxi representing the very disposable past.  Bernard, for better or not, quotes me toward the end. Go to seattleweekly.com to read the story.

Yesterday I was distressed to find what I was warning about in last week's blog was now coming to pass, with both Eastside and Yellow double-dipping the Sea-Tac operators.  Not only do they now have to pay Eastside $155.00 for an essentially nonexistent dispatch system but Yellow is still demanding their weekly $180.00 because the operators failed to give a two week notice of departure.  Did these guys ever read their contract's fine print?  Clearly not, meaning these guys are "paying through the nose" for what, for what are they getting forking over all this money for?  Plainly they are paying for their own punishment, like they were some kind of criminals for just wanting to make a living. Nice, isn't it, but fair, no, it is not fair.

Yesterday, talking to a longtime Sea-Tac operator advocate, he gave me what I feel is one of the best compliments ever received, saying I was principled.  Thank you for that, man! because it is one compliment I can accept.  I attempt to be consistent, pleasing that someone noticed.  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Still A Lack Of Care And Concern & Sea-Tac Transition Update Plus An Idaho And Oregon Hot Springs Review---Places To Soak Body And Soul

I wish I could tell you that a real appreciation of taxi drivers and their contribution to America's overall transportation  is nigh but unfortunately reality is much different, Uber's transcendence a telling sign, signifying that many potential customers could care less if the cab industry altogether disappeared, merely a quaint memory not dissimilar to the horse and carriage, something anecdotal related by your grandparents before a winter's blazing fireplace. Yesterday a cabbie recounted a story how, after a woman stiffed him for sixty dollars, and pulling a "big gun" on him, the Renton city police decided pursuing the assailant wasn't their first priority.  Of course you can instead imagine their response if she had pointed her gun at one of them.

When you don't care, you simply don't, and that is what me and every other cabbie in America faces daily---a defined lack of caring except perhaps for our money.  Coming back from vacation in the mail I found a notice from the City of Seattle requesting $100.00 dollars, saying I had underpaid my business licence for the years 2013 and 2015.  But of course I don't mind, understanding, like the bad Bachman-Turner Overdrive song, any kind of attention is good attention.  Yes, that must be the answer, the City of Seattle loves me too. Ain't I gratified?

The Rush to the October 1st Sea-Tac Deadline

That it makes little sense to compress a process normally taking months into 2-3 weeks should be obvious but the Port of Seattle appears not to understand this.  With Saturday October 1st a mere three days away, Eastside is attempting the impossible in meeting the Port's deadline.  Few if any of the Yellow Cabs transferring to Eastside (E-Cab) have been repainted, potentially bringing in question whether cabs representing one company can now pretend ( least with its surface color) to claim to be another entirely different company.  Yes, the owners are, like me, independent contractors but it does appear potentially to be  an interpretative stretch.

But of course, expanding limitations or just plainly ignoring them is part of taxi tradition, where rules always apply to someone else but not us. I have openly wondered about insurance considerations but  have been reassured that all the transferred cabs will remain insured.  Given my own recent experiences dealing with insurance companies and their cohorts I can only hope that is true.  Beware of any entity whose sole concern is profit despite any and all rhetoric stating their prime concern is your safety and protection.

Though regardless of initial confusion, I am sure it will work itself out somehow given that money is involved. Each transferring taxi is paying Eastside a non-refundable $3,975.00 to achieve their new/old position at Sea-Tac.  While a lot of money, compared to the believed $10,000 paid by the drivers to Yellow during the last Sea-Tac transition, I suppose it can be termed a bargain.

There have been various ongoing conversations between the primary involved parties but acrimony having destroyed any constructive negotiations, like Israel and Palestine, the argument never ending. Who do we ultimately have to blame for the current state of affairs?  While knowing full well who bears the responsibility I will say this: the sleeping owner/driver population allowed the mice to play, our dreams becoming nightmarish. Oh so it goes, so it goes.

And making for a nice postscript, Eastside has to pay over $60,000 to rebuild the holding lot restrooms.  Like I said, so it goes, so it goes.

A List of Hot Springs

I think both of us got a little dizzy, trying to dip in as many hot springs as humanly possible during a 12 day long journey.  Forgetting to write down my initial mileage, I still estimate we drove between 1500-1700 miles, which at times made for hectic hours.

Regardless, our efforts plying down the byways introduced us to country new to us in both Idaho and Oregon, for me the Hart Mountain National Antelope (Pronghorn) Refuge being my personal favorite.  In order I am listing the hot and warm springs we visited.  While experiencing some disappointments, I would return to the hot springs trail in a split second but this time allowing a minimum of 30 days exploring the mountains and plains of  Idaho and Oregon.  I hope you too are inspired to join the hot/mineral springs hunt and soak your cares away.  You will be glad you did, soaking in a hot pool next to a wild rushing river, life, not at its worse but its best.

Cougar (Terwiller) Hot Springs---Very nice pools but extremely popular.  Located 53 miles east of Eugene, Oregon in the Willamette National Forest.

Burgdorf Hot Springs---A very rustic, commercial hot springs offering both cabins and day-use.  Day-use fee is $8.00 for all day usage, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  A very good deal.  Family-oriented for the most part. Located 30 north of McCall, Idaho. Cabins are a bit worn out but there is a very nice forest service campground nearby, Jeanette, where we camped.

Trail Creek Hot Springs---Three medium sized pools just off the Warm Lake Highway 19 miles NE of Cascade, Idaho.  Nice water but fatal for the small cold-blooded frogs floating in the pools.  Nice forested setting and reasonably quiet.

Molly Hot Springs---Just off a forest road.  Pools were too shallow.

Warm Springs warm springs near Cascade.  Short walk down a dusty road.  Too shallow that day for any real soaking.

Skinnydipper Hot Springs---Closed! by the forest service.  This famous springs located 5 miles west of Crouch, Idaho has been permanently closed due to misuse. Some fools started a major forest fire there in 2012, and three idiots died (ODs) in the pools.  One unfavorable aspect we discovered is that a small percentage of hot springs users think it is "party time!" when soaking.  We were sorely disappointed but avoided checking them out due to official notices threatening fines and imprisonment.

Pine Flats Hot Springs---Temporarily closed due to forest fire danger.  Near Crouch but closed for the moment due to nearby forest fires.  We were tempted to check it out but did not want our car to be towed away.

Kirkham Hot Springs---Campground with hot springs just off Idaho Sate Route 21.  The water is good but the setting isn't.  She soaked her feet and off we went down the road.  Located 4 miles east of Lowman.

Bonneville Hot Springs---Nice pools located next to a roaring creek.  We camped nearby for two days where we had our best "soaking" of the entire trip.  Very popular on the weekends. Located 19 NE of Lowman on Route 21.

Sacajawea Hot Springs---Series  of pools on the South Fork of the Payette River.  Good water but no privacy, located just below Forest Road 524.  Some good views of Sawtooth Mountains.

Barnes Warm Springs---Beautiful pool in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  My favorite of the all the springs we visited.  Not hot but a great setting, surrounded by trees and grassy reeds.  Located near French Glen, Oregon.

Antelope Hot Springs---Two pools, one developed, one not, located in the wonderful Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.  Good water but beware of numb skull campers! Nearest town is Plush, Oregon where you can get much needed gasoline.

Summer Lake Hot Springs---Like Burgdorf, Summer Lake is a very rustic commercial hot springs but, unlike Burgdorf, located in a big barn-like structure.  There is one large swimming pool with two smaller pools located outside.  Day use fee is $10.00.  It is located on Oregon State Route 31 six miles north of Paisley.  Nice water but it appears to draw "alternative types" who don't respect commonplace civility and behavioral limitations.  Drive and  park to see if the pool is empty.  If so, don't hesitate, jump in!

McCredie Hot Springs---Just off Oregon State Route 58.  Pools on both sides of Salt Creek.  Too close to the roadway.  We dipped but left soon after.  To be avoided unless you are desperate.

Wall Creek Warm Springs---We walked to it but found 5 people crowded in the pool drinking cheap beer. We waited for them to clear out but they decided to stay and keep drinking.  Located near Oakridge, Oregon, which has a good coffee shop.  The springs is worth checking out.  Maybe you will have better luck.  We stayed at the Salmon Creek campground which has a great swimming hole.  Return in the summer and jump off the rocks, having a good time!

There you have it.  Last two nights out we were rained upon.  Nothing like a wet tent!  Note that these hot springs are just some of many dotting the Oregon, and especially, Idaho landscapes.  Also remember that these are medicinal springs, with very potent waters.  For very specific healing I suggest travelling to Budapest, Hungary and checking out their baths.  They know what they are doing.