This week's posting concerns local Seattle, how its operators function, along with media and public precepts of our industry, specifically Paul Roberts' front page featured article in the September 2nd, 2019 edition of the Seattle Times. I do have some commentary upon an outsider's analysis of this complex subject, complex at least to longtime researchers like myself, this deranged occupation known as driving a cab.
But first, related to the Roberts' article, concerning how much money cabbies are earning, I have to relate Saturday's experience at the University of Washington's Husky Football stadium, and why, when thousands fled into the rainy, thunderous night following an official weather-related game delay, why was I the only cab available to serve the sodden, rain drenched fans?
How is it possible, someone could ask, that Yellow's Cab entire fleet remained uninformed concerning 70,000 fans gathered for a late starting (7:30 PM) Saturday night college football game? The answer from an interested observer, me, is simple. The vast majority of the approximate 2000 plus Seattle-area cabbies plying local streets began their taxi occupation ill-prepared for the task, an unfortunate genesis begetting now poorly formed business skills and concepts resulting in Saturday night's cabbie debacle: thousands of potential passengers wailing for the cabs failing to appear. Five times I dipped into that agitated mass of drenched humanity, my last three fares taking me in order to: DT Bellevue, Clyde Hill and Kirkland, the Bellevue fare resulting in a $29.00 tip. After the game resumed 2 1/2 hours later, I decided it was time for a well deserved dinner break, basically retiring for the evening.
Talking to cabbies later that night, and the next day, at the train station, to a person no one had been aware a local college football game was scheduled and played I asked, "do you read the newspaper? do you listen to the radio?" And the answer is clearly no, they don't, not taking the effort for a few minutes beneficial research. One might ask, just what do these fellows do to understand what is occurring locally around the city and county, to source financially beneficial information upon a given day or week? The unfortunate answer is, essentially, nothing whatsoever which of course results in no money earned whatsoever, the relation causal and fixed to not knowing what you certainly need to know. Complaining that "I am not making any money!" is no help, only sorry lamentations tossed into the misbegotten night.
All this ties into the Seattle Time's featured article by business reporter Paul Roberts, "Seattle Taxis are hanging on as Uber & Lyft lose billions." While mostly sympathetic, it contained the expected "guesswork" from someone looking from the outside in, attempting, in a page long article, to explain an over one hundred year old industry. Roberts' first presents as exhibit # 1, Tegegne Mersha, owner of Orange Cab 825, a nine year taxi veteran Mersha rightfully points out his Post-Uber financial demise, saying his once easy income declining to a now hard $100.00 a day.
How and why Mersha was chosen to be featured is a mystery, personally knowing many Seattle-area cabbies better able of explaining the Seattle taxi experience. As I already related about the crazy weather Husky stadium Saturday night---lightening strikes filling the electrified air---there is much to know about "taxi in total," making it clear Mersha, amongst many others, are still learning how to successfully drive a cab.
And I can say, me too, having previously said each day something new, different and awful occurs in the cab, hopefully translating to my fatigued brain additional and helpful insights. I can only pray to the taxi gods for Mersha and his immigrant brethren, hoping that Uber will indeed fail, and once more opening the door to fewer hours and easy money, heaven on taxi earth indeed made manifest over munificent streets.
I end with having said almost nothing close to what I intended to concerning the Roberts' article but I have a ready excuse: I only have one body. If granted another, I will be more productive. Ain't that a scary thought, two Joe Blondo's running amok. Yikes! And the concept of 2 bodies is borrowed from Yogi Ananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi." If his Master could do it, don't know what is stopping me from splitting in two.
New book, just out, "Super Pumped----The Battle for Uber" by Mike Issac
Norton, 408 pages $27.95
I bought a copy. You should too!
For those interested in knowing more about Paul Roberts article, tune in next week for a more complete examination of his attempt at explaining taxi to the curious, inquiring public. Tired yesterday, I remain the same, tired, just like my exhausted prose.