Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Worst New Year's Eve Ever? Instead Of A Big Bang, A Fizzle

                                                        Snow whispering down
                                                           all day long,
                                                           earth has vanished
                                                        leaving only sky.

                                                                     Joso   1662-1704                                                  

Historically there have been great expectations connected to the yearly January 31st celebrations, cabbies fighting to get a cab for the legendary night.  I left the first company I worked for, Classic Cab, over an argument over an invented fee created just for me---one hundred dollars to drive New Years Eve 1989, more or less beginning what was my second year in the business, my first New Years Eve 1988 as a cabbie spent not driving but instead eating Chinese take-out in London while recovering from a cold, not anywhere near the interior of a Seattle cab.  I was on my way to northern Wales and damn glad I went, a most memorable ten days lounging in a library reading ten books and drinking strong tea and scotch whiskey, a very good way to start a new year.

I remember one past celebratory night when I grossed  (or rolled) over $600.00 during a standard 12-hour shift; so as is said, those were the days and unfortunately, at least for one night, that kind of occurrence appears to be long gone. What it means for the future long-term, I can't tell you, perhaps a post-midnight snow storm or post-election fatigue factoring into 2017's low turnout. Simply why would you want to cheer and welcome in the new year when instead you just want to cry, snow and bad news chilling the very bone.

Though it isn't like there wasn't an initial burst after midnight because there was a quick frenzy lasting a mere 3 hours or so instead of the usual blast lasting deep into the morning, business once extending past seven, people going every which way north, south, east and west. Those were, even recently, the "great times" when everybody on a busy holiday were making money "hand over fist," averaging something like $50.-70.00 per hour, with some guys making in one shift what they might bring in over the course of a normal  week.  That's why everybody wanted to be out there but alas, no more, the taxi bell tolling but not for thee!

Bad News on the Sea-Tac Front

A year-end news followup from the Seattle Weekly confirmed what has been screamed out recently, that the taxi transition at the airport has been a near failure, with the now 405 taxi owners paying $155.00 a week for an nonexistent dispatch system.  It appears that the Port of Seattle needs to speed up its scheduled six-month review to the present day, asking both Eastside and themselves who is responsible for a completely unacceptable situation.  Sea-Tac E-Cab operators are freaking out because they are not making any money.

And how is this fair?  Not in any way, shape or form can any of this be considered fair. Again, what was  the Port of Seattle thinking?  I think the answer is clear. They were not thinking but instead, angered and flustered, assigning ultimate blame to the innocent.

Well, if this is what the Port  intended and wanted, they have certainly accomplished it, the drivers now truly suffering, having problems paying their bills.  It is as if the Port of Seattle were suddenly  the Roman Catholic Church, grading all actions as culpable sin.  As nearly 2000 years of liturgical history have shown, it isn't the most effective methodology.  Shall we instead tear down the confessional closet, and begin, since it is a new year, real and constructive conversation toward finding viable solutions?  Let us pray that this will be the course taken, or "heaven help us," as there might be "hell to pay" or other less than positive avenues raising their ugly heads in the very near future.  May peace reign and mouths fed, in whatever appropriate order.

Surge You!

If there is one positive, Uber now tells the consumer when it is about to screw you, a big improvement over the recent past when, surprise, surprise, your expected rate had somehow quadrupled and your cheap ride suddenly wasn't cost-effective any more.  Post-New Years midnight Uber again instituted its now infamous surge charges, asking a hell a lot of money for a basic ride home.  One example was the guy I took to Redmond, Washington after the guy refused to pay Uber $90.00 for the same ride costing him $30.00 to Beacon Hill earlier in the evening. My meter was just over $52.00.  He gave me $63.00, making it my best post-midnight fare.

After him I got two guys going from Capital Hill to Magnolia who gave me thirty for a twenty dollar fare which included a stop at a store.  Uber at that moment was requesting $50.00 for what is at most a $17:00 ride.

And what was the Uber quote for a ride from Sea-Tac to Ballard?  $180.00 for what would be a $50-65.00 taxi ride depending on the Ballard address.  As Bob Dylan sang, When will they ever learn?"  Good question, isn't it?

Thank You, Seahawks!

Since our local NFL team won their division it means that we cabbies will be working another home game come late Saturday afternoon.  Yea team and all that kind of stuff!

Poem:                                            A Quick Thought

                                                     There was Simple

                                                     who wasn't

                                                     and Complex who tried

                                                     to understand

                                                    when it wasn't difficult

                                                    unless you thought

                                                    it was easy;

                                                    and I dare say not

                                                    this instance,

                                                    moment or night,


                                                       basic is simple

                                                       translating into



This might or not apply to the situation at hand, it being something I wrote last October 2015 in Krakow, Poland. I will end this week's posting with a haiku by Issa 1763-1828, a poem relating to authority:

                                                    In my small village
                                                        even the flies
                                                        aren't afraid
                                                    to bite a big man.

Both haiku are taken from "Haiku Harvest---Japanese Haiku, Series IV"

Translation by Peter Beilenson & Harry Behn" and Published by The Peter Pauper Press, 1962

I suggest to everyone to remember the Issa poem when considering legal responses.  Don't let yourself be stepped upon by those in power.  It is a very bad idea.  Just because they have the power doesn't mean they are either just or correct.  Back on December 18th, 1944, the United Supreme Court upheld, in a 6-3 decision, the constitutionality of the internment of Japanese-Americans on the basis of military necessity. Even though new legal rulings have been made, that 1944 decision continues to stand as established law. Both amazing and scary to think we might have to address again what never should have happened in the first place.  Using FDR's 1942 rationale, he could have locked up my grandparents, their home countries making up part of the enemy AXIS alliance (Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania).  And what purpose that would have served I would never know?  For that matter they could have interned my own parents.  Truly mind-boggling to think that such things could occur to one's own family, having Toledo, Ohio's Hungarian community rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  But as American history has shown, strange and stranger things have happened.  When a die-hard liberal like LBJ's vice-president  Hubert Humphrey could once support concentration camps, then anything might be possible.  Watch out!



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