It's rare for me to have real affinity with a passenger but when I do, quite often it's with someone who has shared the taxi top-light and in some shape or form understands the inherent stress and pressure connected to the mundane madness we know and hate, consuming us to the cabbie bone. One such person recently entered my cab, Dick, many years ago a Seattle GrayTop cabbie; and a few years after that, Langley, Washington Chief of Police, and again a few years later, finding himself the elected two-term Sheriff of Island County, Washington.
Now in his late 80s, he reminisced about his "days in law enforcement," saying little about his Gray Top hours other than it kept him going while in the Police Academy, but being more specific about his Island County Sheriff days, said he oversaw five murder and two rape investigations. Knowing that Whidby Island has a big US Navy Air Base, I asked him whether he had dealt with misbehaving Navy personnel, and yes, he knew about them, about 20 percent of all incidents tied to the base. "We tried them in civilian court and then the Navy took over," saying the Navy did the job of jailing the convicted sailors.
Dick said he did all the "hiring and firing" of his deputies, relating how he had to fire "one very smart guy from Florida," who upon arriving late at the Mukilteo ferry heading to Clinton, made the big mistake of "calling the ferry back," using his authority as an Island County Deputy. He said that it was he who gave John Urquhart, the recently unseated King County Sheriff his first job. "Smart guy, smart guy, a good cop."
In short, Dick is someone who simply believes in evenhanded fairness, never deviating from the moral norm. I told him how I got my first taxi ticket when the Seattle cop, not liking my response of "I didn't run a red light." came back with not one but two violations. Dick just shook his head.
Too Much Traffic!
Last Friday morning I started off with two good school runs, first from the deep North-end in Shoreline to West Seattle; then from there to an elementary school in Renton near the Renton/Boeing Airport. Great runs but I found myself trapped south at seven in the morning, all logical routes north blocked by walls of non-moving traffic. One positive is that it gave me opportunity to check out a joint I've had my eye on---The Redwing Cafe (206-420-1706), a coffee shop and bakery located at 9272 57th Avenue South. I took one bite of their croissant and thought, "Paris!" and damn was it good, the best croissant I've had in " ersatz city" Seattle.
Later, at about 6:30 in the evening, my mission was to take Deb, a regular Yellow customer home from North 185th & Aurora Avenue North down south to my old stomping grounds, Capital Hill but was again thwarted by some of the worst! traffic I have ever experienced on I-5. As the meter ticked, ticked away, I finally got off and fought my way down past the University Hospital and up 23rd East and East Aloha to Volunteer Park, finally reaching her building on Bellevue Avenue East. It was horrible, costing her more than it was worth, as I cut off the meter at $40.00 when normally getting her home is $30-35.00. Being a sport, she gave me fifty but I tell you, this kind of traffic is nuts, and yes, you can quote me!
A Good Guess!
Sunday the three Brazilians could not find anyplace in Seattle to exchange their Canadian money into American. Looking like Sea-tac airport being their solitary option, I told him I'd take a Canadian fifty-dollar bill for the fare, which in Seattle Taxi-land, is a $40.00 flat-rate to the airport. I was guessing, once exchanged, I would be getting about $35.00 American. I told Mary my favorite bank teller my guess, and she was impressed when it came out to be $35.69 but believe me, I am no mathematician, barely able to add and subtract. I just got taxi lucky, with my well-honed cabbie instincts guiding me down the financial avenue.
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