Thursday, September 28, 2017

Who Speaks For Us?---Taxi Lobbyists and Other Industry Advocates & Update Concerning Changes at Sea-Tac Airport

From my experience, beginning with my childhood years, it is problematic when represented by someone other than yourself.  Of course when I was five my sole representatives were my parents, people I had already found to be, even at that precocious age, dysfunctional and less than reliable in almost all areas of adult endeavor.  So, commencing from that startling revelation in 1959, I quickly understood that it was pretty much up to me to communicate to all concerned who I was and what I wanted and needed. If I needed a lobbyist, it was clear I was hiring myself for the position, obviously picking the best qualified candidate.

 Fast-forwarding up to the present year, 2017,  I find what I knew to be true remains accurate all these years later, that when it comes to explaining my reality to others, it is best left to no one else but me.  I decided long ago, if ever serving in an elected office, it will be me and me alone writing my speeches.  How could it be any other way?  I would find it akin to having someone else lift the spoon to my mouth.  Why would I want that?  I don't, and never will allow someone to do something that I am perfectly capable of doing, much preferring death than artifice mimicking life. 

Which brings to the specific subject of taxi lobbyists, what they do and don't do for our industry.  Amongst these lobbyists are those not specifically designated as lobbyists but who circumstantially serve a similar role, for instance Teamsters 117 and their ilk, who like the professional lobbyist espouse policy minus any true working knowledge of the cabbie experience.  In other words, they have never driven a taxi, and never will, having decided it unnecessary to obtain their for-hire and sweat for a few weeks beneath the top-light, thus gaining what they currently do not have: a nose bloodied by taxi reality.    

And why do they think they understand what they don't know?  From my observation, it sources from being upper-middle class and attending college and being told countless times that more than special, they are seraphic; and since they are, they, like Superman or Superwoman, can leap great lengths in a single bound, coming to understanding and comprehension beyond ordinary less celestial individuals, especially those categorized as the great unwashed: misbegotten children lost in a much bigger adult world, clad in dirty diapers. 

If this isn't true, then what is certainly true, speaking from my own personal experience, it taking years to master a particular field of study, talent being only one small part of the larger equation.  In 1974, at age 20 I obtained my first professional counseling position, finding myself groping forward into the psychiatric darkness.  After bumping my head countless times against unpadded walls, I found it taking many hours and years before I had even a rough idea of what was truly going on inside the schizophrenic mind.

Recently I found my first poem written when I was 9, while also finding my first "adult" poetry published at age  25.  While the young and older poems displayed promise, it was not until I was nearly 30 did I write anything that just might withstand the literary test of time.  A NOSE IS A FLESHY ROSE THAT I BLOWS!  See what I mean!

Taxi was also the same for me, initially displaying talent but little beyond that, my money-making abilities masking my true ignorance of the industry, taking me a minimum of five years to transition from novice to any kind of real competency.  Am I still a Seattle taxi "green pea?"  Probably.

So when a lobbyist says, as one recently did, that riding around with a cabbie a few times makes her totally prepared to speak for us, my quick response is: that isn't possible.  And clearly that reality remaining the same if she were representing plumbers or horse jockeys or graphic artists. How could she know, not knowing the territory but instead speaking solely from her imagination. While she might, in that sense, write a novel it wouldn't be a very good one, guesswork the worse literary foundation, destined for the paper recycling bin.

So why has the industry allowed the uninformed to speak so long for them, to set policy, to literally frame their existence?  I'll respond to that another time but I will quickly say that when you have been stepped upon for years, you begin to think less of yourself, volunteering to be roadkill.   That is the simple answer to something deserving more time than I can currently give it.  As history isn't created in moment, neither is my answer, not wanting to explain 30 years of study in 60 compacted minutes.  What is the hurry anyway?  Is anything going to change?  No.

Good News from the Port of Seattle

I am pleased to pass on that those representatives of Sea-Tac International Airport, the Board of Port of Seattle Commissioners, have decided to give the cabbies and flat-rate for hire drivers a break, reducing their gate fee by one dollar per trip to the now required $6.00 per outbound fare.  This also means there will be no annual fee increases, as was previously scheduled.  And after reports of shabby conditions, four million dollars has been earmarked for refurbishing the building at the taxi holding lot. 

Why now is the commission responsive and empathetic?  I am guessing that a change in Port of Seattle leadership along with a year's reflection have resulted in a more compassionate response.  Was everyone mad at Yellow Cab for under reporting earning?  Yes, they were, and unfortunately it appears the cabbies took it on the chin for transgressions not of their making.  Why they are even looking into solving the short-haul problem, which would be great news for those just driving across International Boulevard to the Red Lion or the Double Tree. 

And it appears the good work isn't completed, with the commission looking further into how they can assist the long suffering Sea-Tac cabbies. Hurrah!


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