Sunday, July 28, 2019

Taxi Do's & Don't's Part 5--- Police & More Specifics Concerning Passengers

Cabbie relations with the local Seattle & King County police departments, have been, in my personal history, a fraught narrative mandating a bureaucratic punch-in-the-taxi -nose to any cabbie within reach of the "too long arm of the law."   There are real reasons why, until recently, the US Department of Justice  officially oversaw Seattle's Police Department, with the recent cancellation of the mandate undergoing further review.  Over my 30 plus years driving cab, the vast majority of my contacts with local police authorities haven't been positive, meaning I have been the loser regardless of all and any perceived right and wrong. The reason for this is simple: police fear offering any signals that they, and not you, are completely in control.  Expecting conciliation of any kind is a mistake. Instead the closed fist, the psychological "hand gripping your collar" their operational vernacular.  As said, when dealing with the police, there is no winning, only losing.  But before providing further elaboration and advice concerning the police, I feel it necessary to further expand upon passenger relations, more specific detail perhaps helping when talking to, and dealing with, your valued customer.

Situations & Personality Types

The Interviewer---This personality type wants to know everything about you, asking the most personal questions.  While often not taking my own advice, the best approach I have found, as politely as you can, is to say something to the effect that you feel uncomfortable volunteering personal information.  Understand, that in my long experience, this kind of passenger is some version of crazy, no one sane or normal interested in prying into you life.  Their questioning is a kind of intrusion or assault, so feeling violated is a natural enough response.

The Bully---Their gig is to be completely controlling, dictating your every move, sternly commanding "turn left, turn right, etc," verbally slapping you around.  In telling them to stop, I make it clear their behavior is very distracting, preventing me from safely driving down the road.  Too often, their response is an impolite "I am paying!" which is when I pull over and say, "No you're not.  You don't owe me a dime. Please leave."   Sometimes they refuse to go, prompting me to leave, turning off the cab and walking away.  Always remember this taxi bottom-line: you the cabbie MUST be in control of your cab at all times, never allowing COMMANDEERING of any kind to take place, either by weapon or verbal abuse.  I have found that if the passenger feels they are in control, and not me, I immediately question the customer's motives, and just what will happen next, if the ride is allowed to continue.  As the adage goes, better to be safe than sorry.

The Dangerous Passenger---Anytime you feel that the passenger's agenda is anything but the normal "Point A to B" ride, do this instead of driving on waiting to be killed: verbally state you question what the passenger is doing, or will do.  If you don't like the answer, immediately terminate the ride.  If the passenger won't get out, pull into a busy intersection and open all the doors.  I find that works well.  And if the worst happens, gun to head or knife to throat, speed up while yelling "you will roll the cab!" and do it within seconds if the knife or gun isn't tossed out.  Don't play games with killers.  They will kill you!  Always remember that "you the cabbie" have a higher likelihood of being murdered upon the job than a cop.

Too Drunk or Drug-Addled Passenger---That you were foolish to allow them into the cab is your fault.  Your job now is to somehow safely get the passenger out of you cab.  Just remember that you have a legal and moral responsibility to put them out in a safe location, and not, for instance, on the freeway where they will be killed walking into oncoming traffic.

The Disabled Passenger---Never resent that the blind or physically-impacted or frail & elderly passenger requiring extra time and help and assistance.  Assist to the door.  Carry their groceries.  Be a hero and not some commonplace cad!  As might be suggested, imagine its you needing the help.

Our Friends the Police

Never forget that when you are involved in a police traffic stop, you are officially under arrest until the cop gives you permission to pull away.  Also remember, the ticket you have been issued, whether dismissed or not, will follow you beyond the grave.  I know this factually, having 30 or more tickets dismissed but certainly not forgotten, King County and Seattle prosecutors treating them as "real violations" despite their dismissal.  You will find that even official police correspondence saying you did nothing wrong, the ticket erroneous and unlawful, is not enough to stop you from being found guilty of the moving violation.  As the court rules have changed, I always hire my favorite taxi lawyer, Doug Silva, to protect me from the judicial wolves. Also know that the officer will write comments you will not see until your day in court.  Police, as I have personally experienced, will perjure themselves both in writing and upon the witness stand.  Who do think is believed, you or the cop?

My first advice is to do everything you can to prevent a traffic stop from occurring.  If you are going to break some traffic rule, do it when no one cop is around to to stop you, meaning you should be especially careful after the sun goes down, when the police have the distinct advantage of being able to seeing you first.

But when you are stopped, and you will be stopped sometime in your taxi career, I advise you to to remain calm and say as little as possible.  Often the cop will try to make you talk but politely say you know you have the right to remain silent and that's what you are going to do.  Of course, keep your hands in full view and make no sudden moves.  Early on, in my first taxi year, I was assaulted by a Seattle cop.  All you can do is be completely cooperative and wish for the misery to be over.  And once the stop is over, and if finding yourself too upset to drive, take a break, have dinner or a cup of coffee.

In short, in all other words, do NOTHING to provoke the officer.   Be SURE to REMEMBER that the cop is probably scared out of his/her mind and will shoot you if the excuse arises.  To believe otherwise, is a foolish and potentially fatal notion.  It isn't that the cop will want to kill you.  It's only that they are armed and have the legal right to kill you if they feel threatened.  Obviously then, do nothing that might seem threatening.  That is the best advice I can give you.  Take the ticket and drive away, living to see another taxi day.   That is all you can do.

To be continued.

Next week: How to make the "BIG" money!  Yes, successful and proven strategies assisting in making a given taxi day worthwhile. 


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