That it isn't necessary to know every Seattle & King County nook and cranny is something I can confirm, somehow stumbling, bumbling to many addresses throughout greater King County ( and some parts of Snohomish County too) minus glancing at my old, and getting older, Thomas guide. But having a basic knowledge of your area's roads and highways is essential, not relying on some GPS mapping device to get you where you are going. What many don't understand is that GPS is now a mechanical version of the seeing eye dog, and after observing many of those good canines work, clearly it is better if you can see the way forward yourself. That is why I say, to truly be a professional cabbie, as much as possible, you need to be directed by your brain alone to where you gotta be minus circles and dead ends. It can't be that difficult if I can do it. You can too!
Correct Routing from Point A to B Should Always be the Goal
A good, quick way for someone to get themselves booted from my cab is to accuse me of intentionally taking them the wrong way, having little tolerance being called a thief. But that point, on a very basic level, is acknowledged. Some cabbies, intentionally or not, go the wrong way, taking a less efficient route to the expressed destination. Dishonesty of course can never be accepted. And obviously, neither can ignorance of the local roadways, your workplace of choice. Without question, all cabbies must have a decent grasp of their city's major arterials and numbering and addressing systems. Without that knowledge, you are driving blind, something totally unacceptable to the task at hand.
I have two easy self-tutoring methods helping you gain what you need to know. First, get a good map and spread it out upon a table. Look it over and note all the major street and roads, including highways. Then take a high-lighting marker pen and trace over, in your favorite color, all of them, trying not to miss any, because knowing your streets is indispensable to knowing the correct route and making the big money you deserve and want.
After doing that, get in your car after rush hour and drive those streets, familiarizing yourself with every part of town, along with every route taking you to the airport, train, bus stations, and as in the case of Seattle and area, every ferry terminal. Be patient, take up to a month, and once behind the taxi wheel, you will be, more or less, prepared to drive passengers around minus too many serious mistakes. Errors you will make, and if particularly egregious, reduce the fare by five-ten dollars. As a taxi professional, it is your duty to your passenger to "get it right" minus all and any excuse.
My other suggestion is to keep learning on the go, paying attention to all the street names you pass by. Try to remember their names, and the hundred and thousand blocks, the first time because you never know when you will need to find Campbell SW or Peach Court East or Dibble Avenue NW or Carkeek Park or Matthews Beach. If the tourist from Japan, speaking no English and in the USA for the first time, gives you a written address reading 36_ _ 26th SW, you will instantly know it's located near the corner of SW Spokane & 26th SW. This is not only the cabbie you want to be, it must be the kind of cabbie you are.
Seattle, in terms of danger and threats from nefarious passengers, is tame, many years since we have had a single cabbie murdered in Seattle and King County. In other cities, that can't be said, but here in Seattle you are relatively safe. But still, you must be able to read your passenger's intentions. Along with that, never, ever allow yourself, late at night or early in the dark morning, to be directed into an alley or dead-end street. Tell them straight out you are uncomfortable, and if they want to go further, they will have to walk.
And that is what I advise. If the situation looks grim, stop and speak directly to the passenger, saying you think they might hurt or rob you, their reaction telling you everything you need to know. Now you don't want to be neither stupid or discriminatory but if you feel the ride is over, end it, pull over to a safe place and say you can't go any further. Screw the fare, just get the potentially dangerous passenger out of your cab quickly. Make every attempt to be fair and diplomatic but remember, your goal is get get back safely to your family. Losing the money is meaningless, your life and well-being all important. There will always be another passenger to serve minus trouble and mayhem, ready to smile and tip you big. It's true as the sky is blue. Stay safe!
To be continued.
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