Monday, July 30, 2018

Taxi Is A River & Updates & Current Taxi Hodgepodge

As I was telling two friends recently, one of whom drove taxi in Chicago eons ago, taxi is a constant river flowing 24 hours day and night, passengers and situations a non-stop universal conversation ending up in your backseat, saying "How are you?" and "This is where I am going. Please take me there."  This early Monday morning, after a slower than usual Sunday, a passenger from Georgia needed to go to airport at 1:30 AM all the way from the University Village Silver Cloud.  Last Monday morning, after enduring a slow Sunday evening, I suddenly found myself zipping a customer round-trip from West Seattle to the 24 Hour Queen Anne Bartells where he was picking up a pain prescription for a friend dying from cancer.  Directly after that, I got a 2:30 AM time-call to the airport, a now retired US Army vet who had done a total of 8 war-zone deployments.  "My body still hurts! was his lament.

Yes, taxi a human river flowing into your cab, never knowing who or what is coming next, the only guarantee a quick and intimate immersion into a stranger's life, your cab not a car but a lifeboat navigating the river, huge boulders and dangerously swift rapids impeding your way!  And once safely upon the shore, the passenger saying 'Thank you. Thanks for getting me here!"

DDS Update

At the moment, there isn't one as PSD awaits attorney review.  When I know anything new, I will post it immediately.

New York City Uber Limits

NYC is going forward with a one-year moratorium upon new ride-share license issuance.  Currently NYC has 100,000 ride-share operators.  The taxi number is 13,500.

Seattle has over 50,000 ride-share drivers.  We have just over 1000 cabs.

Next Weekend Blue Angel I-90 Closures

Remember that next Saturday and Sunday I-90 will be closed both east and west bound when the Blue Angels Navy Jet Acrobat Team will be flying over lake Washington.  Listen to KOMO Radio 1000 for all the details.

A Certain Demographic is Trying Kill Everyone at the Gas Station

We cabbies spend a lot of time at gas stations filling up the cab, especially if your proud automotive steed is a big, old Ford Crowne Victoria, like my YC 1092 is.  And the past few years I have been coming across a very disturbing behavior exhibited by mostly young African-American youth in their teens and early 20s who don't seem understand that you CAN NOT bring a lit cigarette anywhere near a gasoline pump.  How can anyone not know that volatile fumes emanating from a pump can and will explode into a lethal ball of flames?  Well, these dumbbell kids, already thoroughly alienated, don't seem to understand basic science, and totally resent being told that what they are doing is suicidal, not to say homicidal, potentially blowing all of us into smithereens.

 Last night at the N. 105th & Aurora Avenue N. Arco, none of the young fools wanted to listen or heed my warning, instead shouting I am racist, etc.  Yes, nutty and stupid and damn well irresponsible.

Do they care?  No, they don't care, ready to kill you, me, themselves at a smoky moment.  Welcome, to America, home of cultural illiteracy and behavior unacceptable to  everyone expect youthful thugs angry at the world and existence in general.  Fun stuff it ain't!

I Told Them, Only Once in Thirty Years....

Yes indeed that is what I said to the cops a block away from the 2 cars illegally parked in our posted Amtrak taxi zone, that only once have I seen the SPD ticket cars in our cab stands.  And further, I told them that the reason why was simple, we are not a priority.

And then I walked away.  Like the dumbbell kids, these cops didn't care for a moment anything about me and any other cabbie.  "Screw you!" was their attitude, and hey! I heard you, I really did.

And thank you not very much!

Monday, July 23, 2018

$7.70----Are You Sure This Is The DT Sheraton? Plus DDS Update

The usual disorientation of the average passenger is galling, which is why the advice to follow their directions borders upon the ludicrous, knowing full well they don't know, and worse, don't want to.  There is a Yellow dictate saying you must listen to the passenger, even if it means the lemming is telling you drive off the nearest cliff, you must do it, customer service, or is it disservice, our ultimate goal. 

So when, like yesterday's "as-mundane-as-you-can-get fare" from the train station to the downtown Sheraton Hotel, the customer questions whether we are there, what can the poor cabbie do?  While the options are perhaps many, what I chose was to reassure the dingbat we were there, not insulting her by saying "Hey lady, if you don't believe me, get out and ask the doorman where he is working?"

Turns out she thought she was going to the old Washington Plaza now Westin Hotel, somewhere I had my first drink in 1975 at a bar once called the Library Lounge with a woman I later married. The passenger in question said "she was looking for the hotel with the round towers ."  

And no it ain't, that not the Sheraton, and please get out, and no tip, because it's too late, I've already authorized the $7.70.  "Do you want a receipt? "  Goodbye!

DDS System Update

Thursday we met once again with John Denenfeld, the DDS Senior Account Manager which was mostly a reiteration of what we had heard previously.  While there might be a small price reduction, what we appear to be looking at is a cost of $799.00 per the new and forever permanent tablet.  While rumor has it that Orange Cab paid only $600.00, the reality, as Mr. Denenfeld confirmed, was $1500.00 per cab.  Pricey to say the least.  

Expect a handout flyer, mostly composed by me, to be ready for your reading pleasure sometime later this week.  It will be plain and simple and the ultimate truth.  If you don't believe it, please make an appointment with the next available taxi psychiatrist. It might help. And please, don't see me in the morning!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Important Changes Concerning The South Dearborn Meter Testing Station & Is DDS Wireless Dispatching Coming To Yellow?---It Appears To Be True

Alarms last week alerted me to noise emanating from the City of Seattle's Regulatory Compliance and Consumer Protection office concerning the shifting of some regulatory duties from the longstanding South Dearborn Street Testing Station to something called the SeaPark Station located downtown on James Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in an underground (building interior) parking lot.  That displeasure was voiced of course isn't uncommon anytime two or more people are placed together in a working or cooperative environment, setting the stage for conflict and disagreement and feelings of resentment, spotlighting the thought that the local taxi industry was being unjustly marginalized.  Accustomed to rancor and histrionics I sought out answers to questions and found some reassurance.  This is what I know and believe to be accurate and true.

The ultimate future of the South Dearborn City of Seattle testing and licensing complex is under discussion, currently in a kind of bureaucratic limbo, with mid-level management deciding which direction is financially beneficial to the city.  Essentially they are in a what, how and why quandary, knowing decisions made today will dramatically affect the many future tomorrows.  That perplexities exist is the government model which is why concern remains forefront to many involved. 

Part of the objection to the SeaPark site is its unavoidable interior (and inferior) ambiance---artificial light and gaseous odor never quickly embraced by the human animal, naturally preferring less confining premises.  I was told, at least when multiple taxi testing is required, someplace other than SeaPark would be utilized, including the possibly of a mobile testing unit that would travel to appropriate locations.  I certainly endorse that kind of option, accommodating the busy cabbie who would rather not stop but keep on going and going. Another positive it seems for the City is that it is close to their offices, a short walk taking them there.  Many like that idea.

What shocked me most about all this was not City employee grumbling but that the SeaPark changeover was well known to many local association representatives and lobbyists, who, during the past weeks, had met with City officials to discuss the matter.  That none of them communicated to us, the single owner taxi community, is something I find egregious because we are the ones most affected by any and all changes.  I did request, more than once, that please, in the future, would the City of Seattle please not rely solely upon the associations to tell us what we need to know?  I did receive some reassurance that communication will improve. 

As limiting meter testing to two solitary appointments per week at SeaPark is ultimately a good or bad idea I just don't know.  I do know that a recent ventilation failure caused a facility evacuation, making a lasting impression upon many, prompting in part a shouting into the air which I of course heard.  Thanks for yelling, always a good therapeutic choice, relieving the stress of opaque and unresponsive government.   Also thanks for recognizing you have a friend in the taxi industry, forever loyal until deciding I just can't take it any more and begin hiking northward into the Paysaten Wilderness, searching for long lost sanity and that ever elusive creature, the voracious wolverine.

Potential PSD Dispatch System Changeover

Last week five of us (there was supposed to be nine), along with PSD general manager Amin, attended a dispatch system presentation by DDS Wireless Senior Account Manager John Denenfeld, telling us why we at Yellow might decide to embrace what could be a more stable system than currently in use.  Some discussion highlights included the following:

---More than 30 years of DDS dispatching experience.  They are contracted with one of the world's largest city transit systems, New York City.  If they handle a city of 10 million, we shouldn't be much of a problem. 

---They have 24/7 professional support in case of system issues.  Currently I think we have to wake up George in the dead of night and say it is time to drink some coffee, we have problems that won't wait.  Put on your pants but don't take the time necessary to brush your teeth.

---A tablet that never requires replacement.

---A professional company responsive to customer questions and issues.

---System Amazon Cloud-based.

---Alerting system tells dispatch when school run/HopeLink no-show occurs.

---System app allows driver to be out of the cab and accept calls on their smart phone, giving you 3 minutes to get to your cab and confirm. 

---We would be considered a "premium" account, in other words, a high priority.

If the decision to go ahead is made, the system will be up and running and functional before the new school season begins.  Costs are currently being configured.  And for my personal preference, I think it is time to return to the queuing system, meaning the first car in the area gets the fare, just like in the good, old voice dispatch days.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Essential Utility Of the Shirt Breast Pocket

If there is anything close to a taxi uniform, it is clothing containing functional pockets because the modern cabbie is constantly putting stuff in and taking stuff out of both pants and shirt pockets.  If, heaven forbid, there is a hole in my pants pocket I am forever picking up keys and change off the street.  And just as important is that shirt pocket where I quickly stuff all those various one, five, ten and twenty dollar bills customers are paying me with, my shirt pocket a kind of quick safety deposit box which I attend to a little bit later when the rush is over and finding myself impatiently parked somewhere once again waiting for the next call.

But when it is sunny and my short sleeve shirt doesn't have a pocket, like the one I wore yesterday, I find myself stuffing all that cash either in the visor above my head or cramming it in my right side pants pocket, meaning I probably have to unbuckle the seat belt, or worse, stopping the cab and getting out and shoving all that money in, creating an uncomfortable bulge.  Better of course to just have a breast pocket available, allowing instead focus upon the road and not where I am putting the money, otherwise easily losing track and later finding it loose upon the floorboard, just waiting to fly out of the cab into the street.

While this might sound like making the simple complex it truly isn't because my cab is a tornado spinning down the road, complete control more theoretical than real or actual practice, all hell breaking loose everywhere: on the road, in the cab, and most especially, in my brain, needing that essential shirt pocket to ensure that suddenly I haven't become insane!  Yes, Tammy tell me true, minus my shirt breast pocket I am certainly sad and blue!

And without this basic sartorial assistance, I just will never know what to do!

Monday, July 2, 2018


Privacy.  When it comes to cab driving, there is little to no protection when sitting in that bright, yellow car for all to see or to despise or hate as is too often the situation.  Often seen as public property, the usual taxi driver is subjected to behavior better reserved for a tree: indiscriminate weather battering the external body, which is why those rare moments of privacy are all important---peaceful moments away from an intrusive human wind.  When needing to use the toilet, I especially choose out-of-the-way restrooms where disturbance is rare, allowing me to take my time as if I were at home.  One especial place is located in a First Hill hospital on a lower floor tucked away in an fairly inaccessible northwest corner at the end of a seldom used hallway.

Entering the building from the south I always take note of the three signed Mark Tobey prints on the left, this hospital passing for a first-rate museum and not just a sanctum for physical healing, forever wondering why such valuable artwork is allowed to be displayed unattended but since most folks wouldn't know the different between Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot or Grandma Moses, I guess the Tobeys will remain safe from the unprofessional thief.  Descending  the stairs and then walking further north I am always surprised that once again I am alone.  It is truly a relief to know I now have a few minutes respite from a meddling world.

Another hidden longtime lavatory favorite is one I have dubbed the "Paul Klee Memorial Restroom" due to its Klee-like stylistic floor tiling, a washroom located deep within the bowels of the University of Washington Medical Center.  Back in 1982-84 I did a bunch of psychiatric shifts there and got to know the complex well, that and the fact that we cabbies were once blood specimen packhorses, delivering "stat" packages all over the greater Puget Sound region, including such faraway locales as Whidbey Island and Olympia, Washington, winding our way down maze-like hallways during all hours night and day, searching for that elusive laboratory to the left, or is that the next right turn?

Yes, thank the taxi gods for a few precious minutes of privacy until the next passenger asks, "Just who are you, Mister Cabdriver?" and depending upon my mood, providing a perfectly inappropriate response, thus alienating the customer assuring they will never again enter my life.  And, yes, thanks very much for that, go away and stay away, God! I don't even care if you pay!