Wednesday, October 25, 2017


                                                  On a withered branch
                                                     a crow has settled---
                                                        autumn nightfall.

                                                    Basho (1644-1694)

Autumn is here.  Rain falls for hours, soaking the streets and landscapes.  Drivers, never heeding the obvious, speed through the rain, and careless, suddenly stopping, having hit a car and now wait for the police and their frowning paper disapproval.  Night now encloses the day, saying "summer, you had your fun but now the season is mine."  Standing water splashes upon walkers bent against wind and moisture, umbrellas proving scant protection. Northwestern crows (corvus caurinus) caw, caw, speaking to me,  and you, asking for something better than bread: cheese, we like cheese, and chicken bones too.  Cab business, like the skies, darkens and brightens according to seasonal moods, embracing like afternoon sun breaks then collapsing upon our heads, stormy and contrary and wet, soaking us through garments to the skin, all held captive in the balky moment.  Footballs are kicked and fans roar, and breath is held---shall we win, can we win, and why is victory so important?  I cannot tell you why. And if I did know, I wouldn't tell you.  It not mattering, not mattering.

It is autumn.  It is the waning season.  We will cozy up and stay warm, sipping warm coffee and green tea.  It is autumn.  It is October.  Just ask the crows.  They will tell you.  All you have to do is listen.  They are talking to you.  Listen.

Basho translation from "An Introduction to Haiku" by Harold Henderson, 1958, Doubleday & Co.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Taxi Quiz: What Do You Think The Answer Is? & My Choice For Seattle Mayor

To me it is obvious, which it should be, when passengers have crossed over the line of both sanity and civility to the point where the ride must be terminated.  Of course why would I want to literally take the money out of my pocket, telling the offending passenger you have to go? 

The clear answer is I don't want to, instead wanting to continue taking them to their requested destination.  And it just isn't about the money either because, despite whatever crazy behavior displayed, I have no desire to  inconvenience them, grieving me each time this happens.  I do have a very high tolerance for misbehavior but clearly situations arise when there is no alternative to telling  the passenger that they need to find some other means of transportation.

I say all this because my oldest sister commented that I was "about to snap," that two recent posted ride profiles showed I was seconds away from emulating Travis Bickle, Robert DeNiro's deranged cabbie in the Martin Scorsese's movie, "Taxi Driver." She does know that in 30 years I have never carried a gun along with me in the cab.

She also made the ill-conceived  remark that the aforementioned passengers had done nothing to elicit any response but to take them to where they were going.  But in the second case I never truly knew where she wanted to go, and remain suspicious that she herself didn't know. As I said in my post, going home with me wasn't an option.  And one should ask, why did she think it was a possibility, having barely said ten words to her?

Responding to my sister's email, I said, "That's funny!" because it is, further commenting that her remark "treated me like I was some stranger, and not her brother"  It is also another example of someone thinking they know all about the taxi experience while not understanding it one iota.

I also said that the situation reminded me of our father, someone who failed to recognize anyone for anything but especially focusing his unseeing upon his wife and sons and daughters.  Did we even exist, seemingly a mystery marking him to the end of his days upon our planet?  Given that, I remain sensitive to being misunderstood, at least expecting people to make the smallest of efforts toward seeing who I might be.

So instead of remaining resentful, I think a quiz is in order, giving you the opportunity to decide just what state of mind the passengers were in when, in the first situation, the woman saying we were proceeding west while going east; and secondly, the second passenger denying she had routed me to the top of Queen Anne Hill, and as I said, inferred she wanted to sleep with me. Crazy and crazy and, of course, insane!

Quiz # 1

Was the woman who refused to to be reasoned with while we headed in the correct direction down East Aloha Street:

1) drunk

2) on drugs

3) experiencing a psychiatric break

4) or all of the above

I say the answer is number 3 because she was instantly agitated, making all attempts toward resolution impossible.  My "Hey, don't you see that the street numbers are ascending upward." being completely ignored, finding her fury misplaced and completely unnecessary, with it all adding up to that she appeared to be experiencing some kind of mental disorientation that very likely was psychologically-based. 

What was making her "so crazy?"  I don't know and as I said in my post, it wasn't my place to make that kind of determination, having left my DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual) at home.  Maybe in the future I should keep one beside me, and when called for, flip to the correct page and read the pertinent diagnosis to the passenger.  I am sure they would be overjoyed with learning more about themselves, but upon second thought, perhaps not!  Why know about yourself when instead it is so much fun being nuts, the proverbial walking and talking fruitcake!

Quiz # 2

The passenger who directed me from Ballard to Queen Anne was clearly "impacted" upon entering the cab.  Was she under the influence of:

1)  alcohol

2)  drugs

3)  drug & alcohol combination

4) held emotional or psychological components to her behavior

My choice are clearly numbers 3 and 4 because she was definitely "blitzed" out-of-her-mind on what I don't know.  And after she denied she had taken me to 3rd West and West Galer, she tried to direct me back again along the very same route.  Did any of this make sense?

Not to me, and not that anyone, especially my sister, might have noticed that I was the one driving the car.   I just can't let anyone willy-nilly direct me anywhere they want to minus commonsense.  It makes no sense and besides, its dangerous because it I find it very distracting having some lunatic in the backseat telling me where to go.  Regular readers might remember when, a few months back, some drunk insisted I drive us into Lake Washington.  No, I am not going to do that, 1092 not the best of swimmers.

I hope you enjoyed the quizzes, and since you passed the test, just like I did in 1972 during my battery of pre-induction testing, you are now drafted into the taxi army.  Be sure to salute me when I walk by.  And I am not just blowing taxi smoke.  Soon after I successfully completed the Selective Service testing, the US Navy sent me a letter offering to make me an officer.  While always wanting to be in command of my own destroyer, I declined and now sail the cabbie seas in my big, Yellow motorboat skimming over the urban, asphalt waters, ever vigilant for pirates and police.

Without Question, the Best Choice for Mayor: Jenny Durkan---Please, No Bad "Moon" Rising!

"I see the bad moon rising
 I see trouble on the way
 I see earthquakes and lightin'
 I see bad times today"

from "Bad Moon Rising" (1969)  written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Of course I am referring to that other current candidate for Seattle mayor 2017, Cary Moon, that most theoretical of electoral candidates, and if I can say it, a "liberal and progressive" version of Donald Trump.  I find the parallels between the two compelling due to having very similar lives---growing up wealthy, working for their parent's company, and never having to truly work for a living, with both of course sharing a propensity for thinking they have ideas that should be listened to and embraced.  The reference in the CCR song to earthquakes is important to any consideration of Cary Moon's candidacy, given that she was a proponent of keeping the damage prone Highway 99 (the Alaskan Way Viaduct) bridge standing.

While many might remember the February 28th, 2001 magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake, with an epicenter 11miles northeast of the state capital, Olympia, many don't realize that if it had been shallower, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, along with much of downtown Seattle, would either have tumbled down or been rendered irreparable. As the saying goes, Seattle and area "dodged a bullet" but unfortunately the seismic gun is slowly reloading beneath the earth's crust, meaning that within the next 50 years, there is 87.56 percent probability of a 5.0 or greater earthquake occurring.

In Oakland, California, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake destroyed the similarly designed Cypress Street Viaduct with a loss of 42 lives.  Given that 110,000 cars cross the Alaskan Way Viaduct daily, one can see the potential for hundreds of lives loss if the "big one" hits Seattle today in the near future.  Also during that same earthquake, San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway was severely damaged, resulting it being removed in 1991.  In other words, it was preordained that the Alaskan Way Viaduct was slated for some future catastrophe potentially killing how many motorists I hate to think about.  That is why it is being thrown down and taken away.

If you need further convincing that Cary Moon's advocacy to keep the Viaduct up and working was misguided, please note that since 1931, Seattle has experienced 1,113 earthquakes within a 30 mile radius.  And given that Moon is an Operations Engineer, what in the world was she doing saying it should remain as the monument to the 1950's era engineering it is, opening for traffic April 1953,  eight months before I was born in Puyallup, Washington.

This period of Northwest engineering certainly has a tainted history, exemplified by the opening in July 1940 of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge (the legendary Galloping Gertie), a construction promptly collapsing into the Puget Sound on November 7th of that very same year.  If the ancient Romans had built the bridge, it might still be standing but since it was built, like Moon, by American educated engineers, some question might be applied whether she, and others like her, know what-the-hell they are talking about.  Just ask her.  I know she will be quite reassuring about everything she doesn't know anything about. It comes with very familiar territory: hubris.

In reference to Moon's opponent, Jenny Durkan, while coming from a similarly coddled background, she did strike out on her own and teach school in the Alaskan wilderness, along with working as a baggage handler for Wien Air Alaska.  That she also served as the United States Attorney for Western Washington from 2009to 2014 suggests she understands politics and issues on a far more workable level than Cary Moon.

And another reason for Moon wanting to be mayor: having so much spare time she needs a hobby, and running Seattle would fit in perfectly into her assumed lifestyle. Some people collect stamps, others famous autographs, so why not run a big city?  Why, it might even be fun!

That is why, despite similar policy positions, I think Durkan is the correct choice to be Seattle's next mayor.  Moon also unfortunately reminds me of all those so-called policy expects featured on NPR radio.  If you have a degree in whatever subject and are currently teaching at whatever university, you are then completely qualified to render both opinion and solution upon subjects that have plagued humankind for millenniums.  Have anyone noticed how simple the issue or problem appears to be when they speak?  If only they were in charge, everything would be solved instantaneously.  Ain't that grand?

And according to Cary Moon, she has the answer to Seattle's most pressing problems.  And how she knows is a simple matter of privilege, her leisurely life having provided her plenty of time to lay around upon a couch and think about the world's problems, coming up with all the answers.  Just like Donald Trump, wouldn't you agree, two "green" peas in the same upper-middle class pod?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Julie Gave Me A Free Slice Of Pizza

As I have duly noted many times previously, I never ultimately know how passengers will react, or are responding to me.  That I am considered somewhat unconventional I suppose goes without saying, especially amongst you readers, my blog often exposing a more feral and undomesticated side of my normally civilized self.

In short, all I try to be is myself minus embellishment one way or the other; and that I am a hippie, a refugee from the1960s who just happens to be driving a cab I make no effort to conceal.  With all my other endeavors I remain the same but it is true that cab driving often makes me more irritable than usual, often resulting in a "bitter and biting" tongue though for the most part I make every effort to remain both responsive and congenial.  Peace, brothers and sisters, will always be my primary objective, peace both on earth and inside my taxi!  If only others were so benign, tranquility might reign across our world.

All this leads up to this past weekend and getting free slices of pizza both Saturday and Sunday courtesy of Julie, employee and pizza maker at the local Capitol Hill pizza establishment, Hot Mama's Pizza,  Julie being someone who, along with her record collecting boyfriend, rode in my taxi a few months back to their north end home.

Picking them up at Hot Mama's, they gave me a few slices for the road, and in general we had a pleasant ride to their home abode, all the while discussing records and such.  The ride ended with a great tip provided by these nice folks, the kind of interaction making up for the many other less-than-pleasant encounters.  As said, that was the last I thought of it, other than occasionally seeing the young woman making pizza when I stopped in for a slice, a pleasant interaction remembered and noted.

But this past Saturday night, coming in for a quick slice, the cashier smiled and said Julie had taken care of it, and there she was in her usual spot, making dough.  I was so shocked I forgot to leave a tip but did take a moment to thank her.

And yet again, Sunday night the same occurrence, Julie once more providing me with a complimentary slice.  This time I remembered to tip 2 bucks, again thanking her for the recognition because somehow I had done something right, as opposed to the many theoretic wrongs often flung my way.  Great thanks, Julie, as your kindness makes that pizza taste ever better, being more than food, clearly a Communion host containing the friendliness of emotions!

Not A Good Place To Put A Table!

Speeding (more or less 60 MPH) to Sea-Tac Sunday night southbound on State Route 509, suddenly in the dark I saw a small table directly in my path a mere 75-100 feet away.  Had it just fallen onto the roadway?  That is my guess.

Hitting the brakes and swerving to the left, the table bounced off to where I will never know, as my concentration was solely focused upon getting the suddenly fishtailing 1092 back under control.  For a quick moment I thought we were going to roll.  Thank goodness my driving instincts, dating way back to age 12 and the autumn of 1967, kicked in, saving the taxi day and perhaps our lives.  Once we got to his Sea-Tac area hotel, my grateful passenger shook my hand, thanking me for my "professional maneuver."

Is SR 509 inherently dangerous?  I pose that question because my near accident occurred within a mile of where my friend Jack received his fatal injury when YC 478 slipped off the roadway into a hillside.  Damn taxi! is all I can say.  Tables upon the roadway?  Amazing!

HopeLink's Tyranny!

Too often recently I have witnessed theoretic "good people" do incredible damage to everyone minus any thinking of real and actual consequences.  Whether it is the 'liberal" Seattle City Council uncapping Uber or the mayor installing bike lanes on already impassable streets, it is truly troubling that these "saviors of all human kind" forget that they are impacting the innocent, seemingly concerned only with their immediate priorities regardless of all associated consequences.  And you can believe there can be, and are, repercussions to arrogance and hubris.  Case and point is the helping agency HopeLink, like the animated Mister Magoo, leaving destruction and mayhem in its unseeing wake.

Monday afternoon I got a HopeLink $41.00 flat-rate fare from north Seattle to Bellevue, leaving me no option but to take the Evergreen Toll bridge, the toll at that moment $4.30.  Minus that from my fare, and minus a further $4.30 heading back, and you see I netted $32.40.

When I inquired if I could protest, I was told what I already knew: that imperious HopeLink makes us take all liabilities while handling their "civilization saving" missions.  Whether 20 % of their calls are no-shows or the majority of the flat-rates do not equate assigned costs means little to nothing to them.  They are the moral Royalty and we, the local cabbies, are their minions.  Any complaint is met with "stuff it!' and you know, they really do a great job jamming it down the cabbie's throat.  And you wonder why I am choking?

Ain't that nice?  No!

Did the SPD Hear?

Whether the UW and Seattle Police Departments heard my lament I will never know for sure but something concerning their collective approach to traffic management dramatically changed during Saturday's Husky football game because I found the lanes open throughout the course of the UW 38 to 7 victory over Cal.  I even got a fare to Mountlake Terrace.  Hurrah!  Go team!

And perhaps many thanks to Seattle City Council members Bruce Harrell and Mike O'Brien and the good SPD traffic division Sargent.  Like said previously, the ways of the Seattle traffic Gods are mysterious, beyond the reach of mere mortals like me.  I just say a prayer and hope for the best.  It is all I can do!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

While A Good Weekend It Was Also Very Strange!

I keep repeating "I don't want to do this any more" and after some of the rides I had both Saturday and Sunday I can definitely say, "I don't want to drive taxi again!  No more, no more, let me please exit the cabbie door!"

As it was strange in Seattle, it appears it was odd everywhere, exemplified to the extreme by the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada and the killing of 59 and the wounding of over 500 concert goers.  If it is true that something mysterious and unexplainable took over the United States, affecting myriad and unconnected events, just what is it, what is this invisible phenomena wreaking havoc across the nation?  Damn if I know but it is as real as me sitting here typing in a Tacoma coffee shop.  I don't like it, not enjoying being manipulated by the unknown cosmos.

One major reason why these kinds of weird rides irritate me so much is that I feel victimized for no reason whatsoever other than I'm in a cab.  It is apparent that is quite enough justification for passengers treating you unjustly.  All I did Saturday night was answer a call at 14th East and East Aloha, and once the woman was in the cab, began losing her mind when I started taking her to the requested destination of 26th South and South Lane.  East Aloha at that point is a local arterial and the routing couldn't have been simpler, proceeding east then turning south on 23rd and following that all the way to South Lane Street, taking a left and three blocks later, 26th South.

But no, she immediately began telling me to "Turn around. You're going in the wrong direction!" Telling her that we were heading east and planing on taking 23rd southbound did nothing to dissuade her.  As she grew more agitated, I zipped a U-turn at 19th East, telling her I had had enough of her confusion.  "Oh," she suddenly exclaimed," I'm sorry.  You're right, we were heading in the right direction."

Knowing that, given immediate evidence, she could again come up with more nonsense, I stopped in front of her address and said, "Get out!"  Stepping out, she proceeded to lecture me upon my lack of customer service.  I guess she thought I was either a psychiatrist or a drug counselor but given I was at that moment only a frustrated cabbie she will have to seek those services elsewhere.

Even more bizarre was what turned out to be my last Saturday night (early Sunday morning) bar-break passenger, a woman wanting to go to the top of Queen Anne hill from Ballad.  Making the conclusion even odder is that she was very specific in her instructions, routing me to West Nickerson and then up 3rd Avenue West, finally taking us to 3rd West and West Galer.

Having grown quiet, I asked her where she needed to be, with her response slightly more than crazy.  "I want to go home. Is your home ready?" somehow implying that she wanted me to take her back to my place.

Responding that this was nuts, I again asked her where she wanted to go but this time I needed the money upfront.  She said she wanted to go to North 43rd and Wallingford North, where her house was located.  When I questioned her to just why she took us in the wrong direction she said " I never asked you to bring me here."

That is when I pulled over and "I don't want your money.  Just get out!" understanding that whatever was occurring with this woman, the results for me wouldn't be good,  ranging from not getting paid to having to summon the police.  Pissing me off further is that I ignored taking a dispatched call when I saw her waving.  Having cost me money and time I just gave up, and headed north to five hours of total sleep.  As said, I don't need this kind of treatment, doing absolute nothing for me, a total wash on every conceivable level.

Fast forwarding to Sunday night and halftime at the Seahawk game, an older upper-middle class couple got in and asked if I knew how to get to 28_ _ Elliott, a destination about 12 blocks away in an almost straight line, I responded that it was about 3/4 of a mile away, meaning "just get in because we are almost there."

But no, not trusting any cabbie, lumping me into whatever "servant"category they felt I fell in to, did not like my response, finally getting out one block later, saying I had run a red light.  In these kinds of situations I usually just say "you don't have to pay" but given they had wasted my valuable time I requested the $3.00 on the meter.  If they had just been normal and simply said "Take me to _____, please!" like 99 % of the human population I would have had them there in 2-5 minutes.

About 1 1/2 hours later I took a group of ladies from Pier 69 to the Bellevue Hyatt, and the woman sitting next to me, having exchanged little more than 30 words with her, gave me a one hundred dollar bill for the $32.00 fare and said "Keep it!"  All she had done was give me the name of the hotel minus any questioning.  And guess what, I got her there, and not even charging her for the 520 Bridge toll.

Was I somehow a different cabbie, magically changed in a mere short period of time?  No is the answer. No.

All of this reminding me of an old business card where I stated "Depending on your attitude, The Best! the Worst!" which pretty much sums up the taxi experience, madness and stupidity lurkng "round the next corner!  Again, I don't need this crap in my life.  I really don't!