Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Doggerel---A Merry Woof Woof To You! & A Post-Birthday Surprise: A Fare To Pasco, Washington & Uber Driver Stabbed To Death In Issaquah

Donald & Mitch & Nancy's Special Seasonal Rhyme Just for You, Wishing You the Best Though the Rent is Due

Merry Christmas, oh deer!

Saint Rudolf, where are you flying this expectant midnight clear?

Where is the Congressional stimulus, where is the Corona beer?

Can we expect our governmental Santa to bring us Yuletide cheer?

And is it true, the mad elf Trump promising all those extra bucks,

two thousand dollar checks transported beneath the tree in USPS trucks?

Or is Christmas 2020 only another enormous political lie,

Pumpkin and Mincemeat pie in the pastry sky,

No happy American families rallying 'round the eggnog tree,

Instead crying in sad unison, their holiday festivities cut off at the bureaucratic 


 A Good Trip to Eastern Washington

Regular readers might remember my wonderful Hopelink fare to SW Washington approximately three months ago, the kind of long distance fare all cabbies dream about on chilly, wind blown nights.  This past Saturday, the day after my 67th birthday, I received my biggest fare so far these many years, a $614.80 Hopelink ride from the University of Washington Medical Center to Pasco, Washington, a town located way down on the Columbia River, a few miles north of the Oregon border.  If there was a negative, it was I-90/Snoqualmie Pass closing up behind me, forcing me to first drive west to Portland, then taking 1-5 the rest of the way back to Seattle.  

The drive in total was beautiful, bringing back memories of January 10th, 1973, when me and my cat Sniffer crossed the Columbia River during my move from Denver to Seattle, the rain-kissed green hills bordering the north side of the river impressive, making me think of Ireland, and indeed visiting that  Emerald Isle in July 1991.  Oh if only every day could be a Pasco Day, it would chase my taxi sorrows away!

Uber Driver Murdered in Issaquah, Washington on December 13th

A young couple from Nevada, in a misguided attempt to hijack an Uber operator, repeatedly stabbed Cherno Ceesay in the neck and head, killing him instantly before his vehicle ran off the road into a tree.  Ceesay, a 28 year old emigrant from the West African country, The Gambia, was an aspiring professional soccer player hoping to play for his home country.  Two days later the couple were arrested and are now in custody, each held under a two million dollar bail.  When these kind of incidents occur, I always question how prepared the victim was before deciding to drive professionally upon the streets of Anywhere, USA, perhaps not understanding the inherent risks involved allowing complete strangers into your car, Ceesay's death yet another sad note souring an individual exuberant song sung by someone simply wanting to live and be happy.  You must be careful is all I can say, another person's insanity taking your life away. 

Seward Park: A good place to walk

This week's "Seattle park of the Week" is a tiny peninsula jutting out in the southern end of Lake Washington, making it the perfect place to experience the lake without getting your feet wet, your walk a big circle either north or south, taking you east.  There are beaches, there is a play field and there is Seattle's Audubon Center where you can find out about the birds flying in that part of Seattle.  There are a number of ways to reach the park but maybe the easiest and quickest is to head east down South Orcas Street because it takes you directly to the park.  And once there, if inspired, you can keep walking down Lake Washington Blvd north or south taking you where you might want to go, enjoying the shoreline despite the speeding cars and intrepid bicyclists requesting your attention.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Why Roberto Stopped Driving Taxi In Mazatlan After 2 Years & What Is Wrong With The King County Sheriff Department? & Seattle's Ugly Face & Seattle Park Of The Week & New Periodic Feature: Seattle "Art Spots"

Roberto's Inability to fend off the "Bite"

The Mexican city of Mazatlan has two kinds of taxi services.  One is the traditional cab known throughout the world, usually equipped with top-lights and meters measuring cost per mile or kilometer; or as in Mazatlan, a zone-system utilized to determine fares point A to B.   Mazatlan also has another kind of more informal open-air cab topped by a metal canopy, a vehicle looking much like a large golf cart and manufactured by Volkswagen, with fares gauged by zones or flat rates or simply by what the operator wishes to charge.  

During my time in Mazatlan, I took a total of six cab rides, one being this kind of open air/golf cart version, their primary purpose quickly shuttling between the more tourist-oriented parts of the city, transporting passengers from the Centro (downtown) to the "Golden Zone" hotel district.  Of course they will take you anywhere you wish but mostly you will see them swiftly driving up and down the street running parallel to the beach and sidewalk promenade stretching north and south along the noisy Pacific.  It was in this kind of vehicle and environment that Roberto made his foray into the world of taxi, an effort destined for failure.   

Roberto is someone I met near my apartment building, the bottom floor housing a WIFI and mailing business, finding him using one of the available computers.  Having gone to elementary, junior and high school in the US, he spoke a highly proficient American English, easily passing as native born.  Talking about jobs and life, he mentioned his time as an open-air cabbie, lasting two years before giving it up, saying he couldn't make enough money to survive upon.  Their shifts where broken in morning, afternoon and night sections, meaning three drivers sharing the same cab, all hustling during limited, compressed hours.  Further complicating everything were the constant asking for bribes by local police, 20 pesos here, 10 pesos there, all these requests "biting" into his daily income.  He gave it up, tiring of a dead-end occupation taking him to where he couldn't go, poverty and starvation sorry conclusion to hours with little purpose.  

I found Roberto's situation compelling---educated, smart, talented---but still trapped, with no place to go, minus the options he obviously deserved.  He is now a kind of alcohol vendor, riding on his company supplied scooter, knocking on the doors of local bars and restaurants.  Roberto recommended the Golden Zone but as I said last week, it certainly is not my tourist cup of tea.  For him it's his economic salvation.  My view is different, viewing it as a blight, a cancer consuming everything good but obviously I have more choices, unlike Roberto, and others like him, toiling for Mexican pennies in the hot Mazatlan sun, local cops adding to the pain. 

You Won't Find This in Any Seattle Guidebook

As I was landing back in Seattle last Friday night, I was telling myself "I don't want to be here!" and one of the reasons is the ugly face I encountered Saturday morning on the way to pick up 1092.  I know this place too damn well which is why I can't wait to permanently flee the nightmare this city has become, understanding freedom begins by slamming the door upon nonsense dominating body and mind. 

It was a simple. commonplace situation, one tainted by an aggression embracing civility and tossing it into the nearest local cultural wastebasket. It all began by my turning onto eastbound South Walker Street off of southbound Martin Luther King Jr Way (the old Empire Way), and by avoiding the fool car speeding through the red light, I annoyed the upper-middle class man driving westbound on Walker crossing MLK.  Like too many typical "I don't know anything about driving a car" Seattle-lites, he lifted his hands up in gesture of "What are you doing?, and motioning him to roll down his window, said I was avoiding a sure collision, which he answered with a superior, sneering smirk, informing me, minus any doubt what he knew me to be: an inferior human being not to be taken seriously.  

Seattle is full of these kinds of fools and I am the only one who will tell you about them.  And why me, why am I aware of this creeping false superiority overtaking Seattle?  Because I got my "eyes open" and I can't stand it no more, no I can't, Seattle closing its eyes in a forever slumber. 

Legal? Road Raging

All I did was turn my cab onto 4th Avenue South to find myself aggressively tailgated by someone clearly out-of-their-mind.  Putting on my emergency flashers, I brought the offending driver to a halt, not interested in being attacked by some garden-variety manic.  But wasn't I surprised to find that the madman was a King County sheriff driving an unmarked vehicle, flashing his red and blue lights and leaping out, minus a mask, shouting and screaming.  As I calmly told him, "I thought you were a road-rager."  Shouting a bit more, he left, leaving me with "if someone had a gun they might shoot you."  Well, he was armed but didn't shoot me.  Was I somehow lucky?

A number of years ago, I had a similar encounter with a KC sheriff, and I have a letter of apology to prove it.  What is wrong with these folks is my question. Good god almighty!

Northacres Park, 12715 1st Avenue Northeast

This featured park of the week is a personal favorite because it allows me to sit in Zone 105 (the Northgate) waiting for a fare and enjoy the trees and also the barking coming from the nearby dog-park.  Northacres features a west and east side separated by a small forest and ambling pathways.  Park on the western end and your kids can roam the playground or you can all sit around the picnic tables beneath the towering Firs.  Parking on the east side, accessed from 3rd NE,  you can park with the permanent car campers, frolic with the bounding pooches, or if it is summer, play baseball or soccer in the expansive play field taking up most of the southeast corner of the park.  The only major drawback to to Northacres is its proximity to the I-5 freeway but ignoring that, you will enjoy yourself.  It's very easy to locate.  Go to the corner of NE 130th and 1st NE and you are there.  If you are sensitive, bring earplugs. 

Art Spots in the Seattle City: 66 Marching Metallic Men

Seattle was once an interesting town, and remnants of that bygone era are to be found here and there in nooks and crannies thought out the city.  Now that the Aurora & Denny Pink Elephant has departed to live in a museum, lost memories do remain, all you have to do is look for them.  One such memory is the art installation located in the 2400 block of 34th Avenue West, where you will find sandwiched between a Fire Department Station and an auto repair garage, a box containing 66 metal figures lined up in six rows, eleven little metal men per row.  Turn the big red metal wheel and you will set them dancing, their legs moving in a confined jig.  Why it's there I can't tell you but if you are on your way to Discovery Park, check it out.  You will be pleased is my guarantee.   And while you are at it, walk around "Magnolia Village" and see a neighborhood within a neighborhood, old Seattle hiding in plain sight.  And if you have a postcard to mail, there's the post office waiting to take your missive to faraway lands and cities. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Adios Mazatlan: Travel Essay---Mazatlan: Wonderful Tourist Destination or Cultural Sinkhole? & Cab Essay: Understanding Why Taxi Drivers Remain Maligned And Misunderstood

Since writing the following essay, I have explored the city some more, finding I like the downtrodden district surrounding the industrial port better, trucks lined up waiting to deliver their ship-bound containers destined for ports across the wide Pacific.  Passing an open doorway I saw a mother talking to her young child, a small boy in a colorful cotton pajama jumpsuit.  He was cute, a nice memory in a dirty, rubbish strewn part of the city.  Yes, life expressed in all its ways: good, bad and wonderful.

Mazatlan: Who Are You?

After years of traveling and visiting many countries and cities, I've concluded the best way to get know a new location, especially in an unfamiliar city, is to take local buses to where ever they might deliver you because, this being your first visit, in say Mazatlan, it's all new and different and educational---the bus your tutor and guide to much of everything you need to know.  And this past week I did exactly that, jumping on random buses to understand Mazatlan, its culture, its economy and its people, helping me in this quick assessment of a Mexican city extremely dependent upon tourism-based employment and tax base, all structured around one basic local commodity: its miles of splendid sandy beach. 

Once Mazatlan must have been a modest fishing village living off the bounty of the wide Pacific Ocean, the wonderful beach serving as a convenient home for the many small fishing boats still based here, myriad varieties of fish big and small swimming in their nearby watery abodes.  Then someone got the good idea to say, if we build a hotel, people will come to lie on the beach, swim in the ocean and eat all the fish we can deliver.  First one hotel, then a second and a third hotel until, like some crazy Monopoly game board, the beach front, especially in what's called the "Golden Zone," quickly became a kind of over crowded Las Vegas-style, middle-class oriented playground now occupied by towering hotels, sprawling restaurants and more gift shops than ever could be needed, all selling the same products and items up and down the beach.

Upon initially observing the "Golden Zone" from my bus seat, my first appalling reaction was "this is a monstrosity" constructed for no other purpose but extracting money from tourist wallets and purses, finding it beyond ugly, an insult to mind and spirit, insulting the very concept of a rational humanity.  Stepping off the bus before arriving at the marina, I stumbled back hoping to discover something good amidst this modern day ruin.  And I did, noticing a possible entryway to the beach, Mazatlan's shining glory---white sand to kick and run and roll in before chasing the beckoning blue Pacific waves. 

This particular stretch of the beach temporarily ends, abutting a leafy, rocky promontory providing a home for green crabs and small fish caught in temporary pools.  Walking toward the sea-battered and weathered rocks, I discovered a sandy nook allowing me to discretely change into my swimsuit and dip into  oncoming frothy waves.  It was wonderful, suddenly a millionaire enjoying my exclusive hideaway, providing me this assessment: Mazatlan simultaneously a rapturous pleasure and a hideous, cultural eyesore better avoided.     

But since I came here to visit the dentist, I won't complain, and when the coronavirus ends, the garish Bermuda shorts and cheap flip-flops reappearing once again making Mazatlan the paradise it certainly isn't, happy tears crying into flowing buckets of refreshing golden cerveza.  And please beware of bikini-clad American tourists sauntering down those white sand beaches, of course wearing those plastic sandals, meaning that the re-invasion has begun, the thoughtless barbarians thinking little except of themselves and personal pleasure gained.  

Essay: The Maligned Cabbie: The Question is Why

Have you ever been called a "bitch faggot?"  Well, I have, more than once.  What exactly is a "bitch faggot?"  Well, according to some passengers, a bitch faggot is a taxi driver.  How can that be, why would anyone refer to a cabbie in such profane, odd language?  And the answer is quite simple, though why it's an easy answer is not simple because how did a licensed profession, dating back to Oliver Cromwell and London, England 1654 (the 17th Century) become, in the minds of many, a kind of criminal activity?   

Is it because cabbies are criminals, and given any opportunity to overcharge a customer, they will, driving around the block, heading south when the destination is due north?  Some will always think so but gaining an extra dollar or two is not in the cabbie's interest, somehow implying if the driver doesn't steal, there is no money to be made.  But the obvious reality for all professional cabbies is that driving a cab is a money maker, especially if you know what you are doing, knowing your city's roadways and routes, making your passenger happy and you the cabbie just a little bit richer.  For the most part, it is the dumbbell cabbie, not the dishonest driver, who takes the wrong route, which is why the City of London demands that you know their city before you are licensed, famously known as the "Knowledge."

Yes, the knowledgeable cabbie is a good cabbie but why are even 30 year taxi veterans treated like  "thieves in the night?"  From my experience there are at least three probable reasons.  Number one is the reality of when you are sitting in the backseat of the cab, you are vulnerable and reliant upon the driver to get you from point A to B.  While that is also true when sitting in an airplane, unlike a cab where you are 16 inches from the driver, in the airliner you are 30 rows back and aren't in position to think you can tell the pilot what to do.  

The second reason is the never ending mythology that the cabbie is up to no good, which it seems comes from the free-form style of many cabbies, where conducting a U-turn or other such maneuver is commonplace and often necessary but for some observers, providing an unsavory view of the undisciplined cabbie, hence the "crazy cabbie" willing to anything, including stealing from your pocketbook.  Yes, not having a boss glancing over your shoulder does provide a kind of freedom but that doesn't mean it automatically translates into mischief and dishonesty.

A third reason is the misconception that driving a cab is easy, that only the mentally deficient are working beneath the toplight. And since you are "dumb as a brick," this makes you a disreputable human being.  But the reality is different, driving a taxi takes much skill, and as any London cabbie will tell you, you try learning 320 basic routes across London, its 25,000 streets and its 60,000 points of interest.  Ask for the precise route and they will tell you block by block by block from any given point.  Cabbies may be many things but stupid they are not.

And if you are ever in Seattle and lucky enough to get my taxi, go ahead, ask me how to get from 14th East and East Thomas to the corner of NW 80th Street and Earl Avenue NW?  My answer will depend on the time of day and the level of traffic at that particular moment, gauging all the variables before taking off.  

And if you want to be amused, I too can tell you block by block by block the entire route.  How?  Why I got the "Knowledge," the Seattle version that is, but admittedly I don't know all the points of interest, because, frankly, I'm not that interested.

New York Times "Metropolitan Diary"

Directly after writing the above essay, I came across this positive letter about a taxi ride in the "Big Apple."  It had the heading "Short Ride."

Dear Diary,

After hailing a cab one night, I asked the driver to take me to a place that was seven blocks away.

For some reason, I felt compelled to explain I wasn't walking since it was drizzling and also because I wasn't wearing walking shoes.

"No charge," the driver said.

I laughed.

When we got to to where I was going, I asked him how much the fare was.

"I said, no charge," he said.


And that I will say is a typical response from many a cabbie 'round the world.  Me too, I've said it too.  Often I say give me five because the ride is short and a dollar or two more making no different to me but when the passenger is clearly poor or on the streets, I feel asking for more is immoral and wrong, not something I need or want to do.

Seattle Park of the Week

Discovery Park, located on the western side of the Magnolia neighborhood, is a wonderful combination of wooded trails and Puget Sound tide pools.  Part of it is in the old Fort Lawton military base, something now owned by the city of Seattle.  The best I can say about the park is go there and wander the trails.  You will be pleased.  Easy access is to follow West Government Way directly into the park, an entrance providing a real sense on just how large a place it is.  Another good way are the southern entry points off West Emerson Street and the intersections of 40th West, 41st West etc.  Park and enter thought the gaps allowing entry.  It is a great park.  Enjoy, and if you have a dog, romp with that pooch sniffing all the way.




Thursday, December 3, 2020

Greetings Once More From Mazatlan: An Appreciation For My Archival Readers & Case Made For 24/7 Taxi Access To The Lower West Seattle Bridge & Argument For Prioritizing Cabbie Coronavirus Vaccinations & 2 Parks & A Poem

Ola once more from Mazatlan.  The CDC (the Center for Disease Control) has issued new warnings about traveling to Mexico even while American and other airlines are expanding their Winter routes into sunny Mexico in anticipation of more travel south of the border in the first few months of 2021.  My Alaska Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Mazatlan had about 90 passengers on board, with the vast majority either Mexican citizens returning or naturalized Mexican-Americans visiting family.  My Seattle to LA flight had 70 passengers.  

While clearly the threat is real, and I am not being facetious, why hasn't the CDC issued travel warnings concerning South Dakota, one American place where men are men and women are women and dying from the coronavirus is some kind of deranged cowboy/cowgirl badge of honor saluting their version of cattle country democracy, even if its from a coffin.  Or what about Iowa, now leading the entire nation in coronavirus infections?  The hospitals are overwhelmed.  You don't want to go there.

Still, Mexico, or least certain parts of Mexico are experiencing huge numbers of new infections.  And if it is true that obesity is an underlying cause of COVID-19 deaths, then the many truly fat Mexicans I saw downtown today are tempting fate, so many men and women obviously 50-100 pounds overweight it's startling---swollen thighs and bellies the too often prevailing norm.   I say this after consuming a huge dinner of fire-roasted chicken simmered in hot sauce, steamed squash, buttered noodles, tortillas, fresh cucumber and chocolate cake for dessert.  Hey, I'm on a kind of vacation of sorts, aren't I?

Readers ranging from India to the Netherlands are reading my back pages

Scanning recent reader commentary, many of you are reading posts dating back to as far as 2011, something both surprising yet extremely gratifying, making the weekly hours I put into this worthwhile, knowing I am communicating in a very real sense with many in the taxi global community.  Thank you once again for the continuing support, because as I said back in 2011, I am doing this for you, you my fellow cabbies and transportation professionals toiling beneath the beaming toplight. 

We should not be ticketed for picking up account customers in West Seattle

It is dispiriting that the City of Seattle continues, despite licensing and regulating taxi services, to treat the Seattle (and King County) taxi industry like the non-regulated vehicular traffic we aren't, forcing us to detour miles out of our way to pick up HopeLink and MV(First Transit) clients in greater West Seattle, denying us legal ( and easy) access over the lower West Seattle Bridge during prime daylight hours.  

Whatever decision is made regarding the damaged West Seattle Freeway Bridge, whether replacement or repair, it is going to take 2-3 years before traffic will resume over a high bridge, telling me it is time for the City of Seattle to recognize our essential services to the ill and handicapped communities, finally allowing us to use the lower bridge without the insult of SPD harassment.  The current policy makes no sense.  In this newly upcoming Post-Trump era, shall we all embrace rationality and commonsense, opening our minds to reality as it exists, leaving bureaucratic indifference and hubris where it belongs, in the sordid past?

COVID-19 Vaccinations for Cabbies

With new Federal guidelines in the planning, announcing who will be first in line for life-saving, protective coronavirus vaccinations, it isn't surprising to me that all us cabbies working nationwide transporting the ill and sickly to and hospitals and clinics have not been mentioned, and I can guarantee you, will not be noted due to our invisibility in the workplace, few understanding what we do and why we do it. 

Logically, at least in Seattle and King County, local municipal and county should be/ or are aware how invaluable we are transporting cancer and dialysis patients to life-saving treatment, and wouldn't it make sense to know that all of us cabbies are COVID-19 free and not potentially spreading the virus to an extremely vulnerable population?   To make that reality, we need to be prioritized for at least the second round of vaccinations.  Are we essential?  Of course, of course we are.  What isn't there not to understand?  Nothing, nothing whatsoever.  It is imperative we receive the vaccines.

Two More Seattle Parks of the Week

Given my quick preparation for this unexpected trip to the Mazatlan dentist, I forgot that I would be weekly featuring favorite Seattle parks, this week making up for my error by mentioning two and not just one park. 

Volunteer Park on Capital Hill: Haven't I walked very inch of that leafy acreage?

Capital Hill was my home for years, first walking that hill in 1973.  I met my former wife there and, sadly, divorced there.  I had my first Seattle job of any kind on Capital Hill and my first psychiatric position on the hill.  I owned two separate homes on Capital Hill, and Volunteer Park was my park, and in many ways, remains, my park.  I know that place.  Go there and climb, huffing and puffing, to the top of the water tower on a clear day and take in the best viewing platform in all of Seattle.  Go there when the Asian Art Museum reopens and marvel at the snuff box collection.  Go there and marvel at all of those huge, healthy trees.  Bring your dog and walk that walk, being glad you did. Access is off of 15th Avenue East and East Prospect or 12th Avenue East and East Prospect.  There are also some secret accesses off Federal Avenue East, if you know where to park. 

Carkeek Park in the Broadview

Carkeek Park, located north of Ballard/Crown Hill, is where you go to get lost in the woods, and it's easy to do, perhaps even shaking a paw of a resident coyote as you ramble those sword fern strewn leafy paths.  Behind (facing north) the old Art's Food Center (now the QFC), take the apple orchard trail and enjoy Piper's Creek.  Turn west down NW 117th off of 3rd Avenue NW and you will drive right down the middle to the center of the park.  There are also some very concealed entrances at Carkeek.  Will you be able to find them?  Only if you ask a passing raccoon. They'll know for sure, those sneaky rascals knocking over local garbage cans in the wee hours.  Yes, Careek is too big to miss so don't miss it, go there and cross the bridge taking you over the railroad tracks, getting your feet wet in the Puget Sound. Oh that water is cold! 

London's Cabbies are falling down

Expanding on something I previously mentioned in a recent post, London's rented "black cabs" are being stored in large numbers due to the disappearance of normal business due to the pandemic.  In a NY Time's article reported by Mark Lenler, he describes a muddy field in the village of Epping holding over 200 cabs, with more normal storage already filled.   It is a dire time for London's 21,500 cabbies, with only 3,500 currently working. 

Part of the issue is who owns the car you drive, you or a cab rental company charging cabbies $375.00 each week for their black cab. And if you want to buy your cab, due to a new rule dating back to January 2018, all newly licensed London cabs must be electric.  The cost of that new car is eighty-seven thousand dollars.  As a comparison, my faithful Crowne Victoria cost me $3500.00.  Big difference obviously. 

The cabbies who own their cabs are surviving, though barely.  The others are not doing very well, hoping for a return to business that may never happen.  And of course they still face the competition of all those unskilled Uber drivers making it even harder to be optimistic.  London's cab industry is a mess!

A Poem

The only relation to cab driving this poem has is that it would have never been written unless I had stopped driving and come here to Mazatlan for dental care.  What does taxi do for me other than that very important providing a living?  Well it steals my life, my brain, my very reason for existing.  Other than that I am having a wonderful time!

The background story is that after my divorce in 1987 I became a hunter for books, and loving Vancouver, BC and all its used bookstores, I would make my way north about five times a year and roam the book stores. Gerald Stern was at that point a fairly well known American poet/writer. This particular bookseller knew him.

                                                     Gerald Stern and a Bookstore


                         Tonight reading a Gerald Stern poem I remember someone

                         whose name I don't recall saying Stern was his friend, this 

                          same someone owning a Vancouver bookstore during a time

                          I roamed area shelves incessantly searching for books, more

                          books, and though this someone didn't say so, he was homosexual

                          and not caring if I wrote good or bad or nothing, desiring sex

                          but no, I was chasing literature, not him, embracing pages

                         late into any night.



Saturday, November 28, 2020

Greetings From Sunny Mazatlan: Taking Taxis Instead Of Driving One & City Of Bellevue Score: They're Leading One To Nothing & A Political Essay

In the Back Seat

Anyone knowing me well will not be surprised when I say I'd rather be riding in a cab than driving one.  My first extended period taking cabs was in Madrid, Spain April 1982, when honeymooning we took cabs in the evening to various restaurants, zipping around that wonderful city in Spanish-version Fiats. Friday morning, 3:30 AM Seattle/Pacific time, my taxi buddy Emmanuel, YC 296, took me to Sea-Tac, his Crowne Vic roaring down I-5 in the rain and wind.  I told him to keep on working, that I might not be the only one going to Sea-Tac this early  but he appeared more interested in going home and sleeping.  The wimp!

Arriving in Mazatlan, I took a cab to my AirBnB apartment ($14.00 per night), the fare about 400 pesos, and giving the driver an American five dollar bill for the tip, translating into about 100 pesos.  My place is about three long blocks from the sandy beach Mazatlan is famous for.  Last night, walking in that direction, I came across an active basketball court, watching a few minutes and seeing there were some "players" on the court.  If I can find someone who speaks some English, I'll see if I can "find a game."  I have been playing for nearly 57 years, and if you don't think I'm lying, used to occasionally "dominate" a game but that might be a distant memory now that I'm old, fat and out-of-shape. My "outside range" was once 23-24 feet. 

This morning, I took a cab to the dentist's office (Dr. Wendy Kramer,, a short drive away, the English-speaking cabbie charging me 70 pesos (zone-system in Mazaltan), giving him a 100 peso note and a US dollar bill.  His son lives in San Jose, California.  The cabbie told me business was bad, the pandemic and competition from Uber, Lyft and other ride-share (TNC) companies making it a hard go.  Like my previous driver, he is a Mazatlan taxi veteran, both highly professional at what they do, plying their city's crowded roadways.  The city has a population of about 650,000. 

My Bellevue Court date was a fiasco

What I thought would be routine turned into a judicial circus, with the court allowing both court room participants and defendants appearing over "Zoom calls."  It was poorly organized and moving at a snail's pace, meaning my 9:30 docket wasn't close to be being opened, as they were still talking to the folks from the 8:30 schedule, suddenly finding myself # 17 in their theoretical queue. 

I could go into much detail but once I realized they had not honored my subpoena requests, I was gone, already scheduled for rides in the next two hours.  They didn't know what they were doing and I knew it, paying my $42.00 ticket for being a taxicab in Bellevue and living to fight another day. They haven't heard the last of this as I will be filing official complaints, including with whatever WA State oversight body exists.  This is justice?  What a sorry joke!

Given the Political Season, That's My Reason: An essay upon what I think will happen

I barely worked Thanksgiving Day, before dinner having to get a tire ruined by this huge screw replaced, and luckily, my favorite tire shop in the 9400 thousand block of MLK Jr. South was open, selling me a replacement for $50.00.  After eating, my first of 3 rides took me from Pier 52 to 125th & Lake City Way, the nice lady a confirmed "Trump-ite" faithfully repeating the fantasy perpetuated these past 3 weeks, 4 years and even before that.  Inspired by her and all else that have occurred, I have decided to share my prediction of what will be the soon-to-be former president's fate.  To me it's clear, and not something anyone else appears to be saying.  Hey, all cabbie's are contrary, we know that! 

The Evaporating Mythology: Donald Trump Four Years from Now

Oh how naive all the headlines are these days, screaming Mister Trump will be running for president again in 2024, that his hold upon the traditional GOP electorate is ironclad, and nothing changing the trajectory of the Trump comet zooming across the Republican universe---America fated for disinformation, misinformation and obfuscation for months, years and, heaven help us, decades to come.  But what should be obvious is what Trump's shouting is all about, the noice containing one primary aim: to keep the American public from rationally thinking, relying upon dissonance confusing anyone interested in maintaining a sound mind, preventing the adding up of correct political equations; in short, propping up a mythology televised over America's wide screens.  And now over 80 million American voters have proved him wrong, ignoring the before and after bluster distorting rational mind and soul, fantasy making for poor public policy or anything else substantial.

What we have all been experiencing since election day is Trump's suicidal attempt to serialize a myth disappearing into the American electoral sunset, saying night is day and that full moon beaming down is actually the sun announcing yet another new "Trumpian" dawn, Trump repeating, ad-nauseam "reality is not reality" and "I simply don't care what you think one way or the other."  Why this tactic is self-destructive and non-productive corresponds to what I have said, the vast thinking majority not interested for an additional moment listening further to his nonsense and are ready for it to stop, legal wheels now turning to ensure Donald Trump will be permanently silenced in political oblivion. 

And this is my not very bold prediction: all the legal and criminal cases hanging over his head are about to come crashing down, especially the numerous sexual assault and rape allegations, and once his DNA samples are provided to the courts, Trump will be finished, with many but not all of those faithful Trump-ites now contrite, having to admit they all along have been backing a now convicted rapist for nothing but unsavory political and personal gain.   

If this does come to pass, will the majority of Americans collectively truly admit that supporting demagogy is a fatal route to true democracy?   I would hope so but Russia still has Stalin supporters and Germany, its Neo-Nazis, meaning millions will remain faithful to a myth tarnished and broken floating upon a mist obscuring a reality inches from their nose---Trump their demigod blessing them from a golf course closed to the normal public, guards, not angels, heralding this new kind of sequestered Heaven. 


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Going, Going, Gone Taxi Insane & Parked Taxicabs In London & No Winning Against City (Bellevue) Hall? & Park of the Week & Authoritarianism Part 2

Goin' Bonkers

Past couple of weeks I too have proved vulnerable to that oversensitivity often overwhelming the exhausted and afflicted cabbie, becoming openly irritated with dumbbell, controlling and essentially deranged passengers.  Though fully knowing what is coming, who they are, what they are, still I am allowing myself to go crazy when forbearance is the appropriate response, not stupidity answering a customer's general inanity. A toothache not helping but that's merely a convenient excuse to be unreasonable, to graphically display a distain building for years---too much abuse a volcanic or seismic fracture spilling or toppling over.  Hopefully my now scheduled dental trip to Mazatlan, Mexico will soothe both the ache and the taxi beast.  I hate it when I am impolite, even to fools.  Besides, these are my invaluable passengers and I ought to love them dearly, or at least in theory I do after sometimes making $400.00 and feeling "taxi fat and happy," all the pain and insult somehow worth the minor slight, the blood dripping from my brow nothing, no nothing at all.   

No business in jolly old London, England

A friend sent me an online article about the pandemic downfall in London and area taxi business, the accompanying photos showing hundreds of "mothballed" cabs parked in fields and parking lots.  There was also a photo of dozens of Heathrow Airport cabs jammed together waiting for what the caption said was one fare in nine hours.  Dismal, and when will it end?  One quoted veteran cabbie was not optimistic.  

Doesn't look good for Tuesday

A couple days ago I found out that the City of Bellevue had not yet acted upon my subpoena requests for the mayor and police chief.  The information officer or clerk I had talked to a number of times kept changing the storyline like a character in a dystopian novel.  I have seen this before, setting me up for the execution.  I will make my appearance but nothing will come of it.  If I want to change Bellevue's anti-cab law, it was take some effort, something I probably won't do, government understanding this, snuffing you out like a cigarette butt.

New feature: Seattle and Area Park of the Week

As I keep telling anyone who will listen, the only good thing left about Seattle are the parks so I will be featuring many of my favorites over the coming weeks. I hope you are inspired to check them out.

"8th Avenue South Park," SE corner of 8th Avenue South and South Portland, officially 760 South Portland Street

This postage stamp-sized park has long been one of my favorites, located as it is directly upon the Duwamish River in the heart of the South Park industrial zone.  This week one could see barges and floating cranes moored close to the park.  The park itself has a few half-buried giant metal gears greeting you.  There is one table and two benches.  This place is unique and you will have it to yourself save for resident rats and gulls soaring overhead.  I love the place and it's easy to find, just turn north off of South Cloverdale onto 8th S. and you will run right into it.  Bring a lunch and enjoy Seattle at its gritty best, a time machine ride back 50 years into the past.  Not much changes in South Park. That's good for those looking for "old time Seattle," this park certainly fitting that description.

And since you're in the general area, visit Resistencia Coffee located 3/4 mile away at 1249 S. Cloverdale Street.  A genuine place!

Authoritarianism Part II

I am inspired to further commentary due to a passenger I picked up on Tuesday, a 77-year old gentleman recovering from a heart attack.  This all happened in Snohomish County, located north of Seattle. I picked him up in Mill Creek and took him back to a rehab center in the city of Snohomish.  His story is short but not particularly sweet, having had his heart-related emergency in a Walmart parking lot while sitting in his Ford Explorer.   His SUV was towed, and soon thereafter, sold at auction while he recovered in the hospital. He knew nothing about it before it was too late to do anything about it.  Now he says he's had enough of the Northwest and will be moving to Las Vegas. 

Remember, this is so-called democratic America where your rights as a citizen are protected and respected. If that's true, how did he lose his SUV?  The answer are confiscation laws allowing police departments to quickly sell impounds along with almost anything found in an suspect's vehicle, and letting them sell the car or truck too.  You don't have to be convicted. Simply by being arrested you can lose you car, house, everything.  Or just have a heart attack.  Poof! your vehicle is gone.  

What is obviously happening are governments and individuals taking advantage of rules and regulations governing our sometimes theoretic democracy.  Last week, newly reelected Senator Lindsey Graham, GOP from South Carolina, called the State of Georgia Secretary of State, who is also a Republican, and asked if he could disqualify some Democratic votes.  Bold! Astounding! 

And he was told hell no! that wouldn't be happening, a bad/good example of both abuse and proper authority. 

Yes, authoritarian appears to be lurking around the very next corner.  Beware or your democracy will be towed away in the middle of the night, while your sneering jailers glare, knowing you are caught in their snare!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Don't Dump Those Fares Or Else! & Uber And Lyft Across the American Landscape & Why All Varieties Of Authoritarianism Is A Bad Idea

 New Puget Sound Dispatch Edict: Don't roll those meters!

The latest PSD newsletter firmly came down upon all those drivers dumping fares they don't like, telling them the MTI system allows them "to be watched," so you better watch out, you better not cry because PSD Big Brother, Big Sister has come to town.  And I endorse this approach, the past few months having encountered too many abandoned passengers waiting out in the cold and rain.  PSD essentially said that if you won't do the job properly, you will be disinvited from PSD/Seattle Yellow Cab.  I can't argue with that.  Customers call cabs for one solitary reason: because they need to get somewhere regardless of the distance, any consideration whether it pleases the cabbie not part of the discussion.  My suggestion then, minus all qualifications, is answer the call, take them to the requested destination, and proceed on.  What other option is there?  Get out of the business, thank you every much.  

Uber & Lyft are assholes, and those backing Uber & Lyft financially are also assholes. What else are they?

After the California voters gave Uber and Lyft their Proposition 22 victory, their stocks collectively gained 20 billion dollars, investors liking that ride-share companies can continue exploiting their "independent operators." All anyone truly cares about is money and how much I can stuff into my pockets provided by the sweat and blood of others toiling beneath the California sun and elsewhere.  Many states are now talking about what to do, now that Uber is offering a "watered down" collective bargaining to begin discussions whether the operators deserve the minimal of benefits.  Many are howling in response, saying the drivers are employees and nothing else. 

As the stock goes up, the wages go down, and the only ones laughing all the way to the bank are the corporate clowns.

And the ones crying, we know who they are, spending all day driving in circles in their Uber cars! 

I know it seems odd that I am siding with the Uber and Lyft drivers but it isn't nice the way they are treated, not at all.  

Flush All Authoritarian Behavior Down the Cultural Toilets

I personally have witnessed authoritarianism in many countries through the years, my first experience being Hungary and Budapest, 1984.  That was muted in comparison to the machine gun brandishing government thugs in Morocco in 1991 or the "they are everywhere" police presence in the People's Republic of China in 1995. But just not there, noting police and governmental abuse in Spain 1982, Turkey 1999, Yugoslavia 1991, Poland 2015, Vietnam 1995, Ecuador 2002, and Russia 2015.  There is nothing fun about others controlling your life, your behavior, what you can do or not.  

Of course authoritarian behavior isn't isolated to countries and regions outside our borders.  In 1972, when dealing with the United States Selective Service System, they informed me that someone other than myself owned my body, and that they could make me do anything they wanted me to do.  Shoot people with guns.  Drop bombs on their heads.  Gas them in their homes.  Shell their towns and villages.  If the US government wanted me to kill and destroy, that's what I was supposed to do.  If that isn't authoritarianism, I don't know the definition of the term.

And this kind of despotic behavior isn't confined to the federal government.  Any local government can decide that when building a road, if your house is in the way, through the purview of "eminent domain," they will be taking your house after paying you something, market value hopefully but regardless, you will be kicked out and your house knocked down.  

During these past four years of the Trump Administration, we (meaning my fellow Americans, those paying attention) have observed a systematic dismantling of democratic protections---agency Inspector Generals given the boot, entire governmental departments intentionally understaffed, and in cooperation with a GOP-controlled US Senate, witnessing the filling of over 200 Federal judgeships with appointees well-known to side with Federal control of the American citizenry, limiting what you can do with your body and who you can do it with.  

And in an extreme post 2020 election acceleration, Trump denies he has lost both the popular and electoral college vote, making all kinds of erroneous claims while, at least initially, the GOP leadership stays quiet, seeking to appease the current GOP base of voters.  Even the Secretary Of State makes a statement saying there would be a smooth transition, a smooth transition to a second Trump term! though Biden has clearly won 290 electoral votes and counting.  

Yes, authoritarianism in all its shapes and forms, guises and colors should never be embraced by anyone, let alone by my fellow Americans.  In 2015 I visited 3 of the Nazi-run death camps dating from WWII, those sites the direct result of citizens accepting and embracing authoritarianism.  Currently in western China there are at least 280 concentration "reeducation" camps holding over one million detainees. This is what happens when you accept authoritarian rule.  People are arrested.  People are tortured.  People are killed.

My advice then is to recognize autocratic rule and reject it.  If someone is telling you to hate one group or another, reject it.  Make every attempt instead to understand what is being told to you and why.  What is the motive?  What is the purpose?  When you do that, hopefully you will be able to see what is truth and what are deceptive lies.  It is tantamount that we can tell the difference.  Our very lives, our very nation may depend upon you being able to define goodness and evil.  It should be obvious, and hopefully it is.

Postscript 11/15/2020

Two days ago Morocco broke a 30 year truce with the Western Sahara, formally known as Spanish Sahara.  All these years later, the vote for independence has yet to occur.  What you have in Morocco is an authoritarian Royal Monarchy/Islamic regime controlling the population.  All the people want in Western Sahara is control over their own lives.  Is that too much to ask?  Why does Morocco want to keep Western Sahara for its own?  Phosphate. 



Sunday, November 8, 2020

Lives: 4 Taxi Passengers & Uber Wins In California & Yellow Customer Files Complaint Against PSD & A Very Short History Of Voting In America: Never Take Your Right For Granted & 50 Masks

Judy, Connie, Unknown (never got his name) and Mary Jane

Think your life is bad, hardships overwhelming, nothing going your way except down?  My suggestion is, think again, consider the good and potential opportunities awaiting you, and if not there, try to create them.  I say this after once again being reminded, after providing rides to Judy, Connie, the unnamed gentleman, and Mary Jane, that I have much to be thankful and appreciative for.  Judy's life in very real terms is an unending hell, caught in circumstances never to be released.  But my real purpose is to display part of our usual ridership, who they are beyond merely needing a ride from point A to B.  Life is a "bed of roses?"  Hardly, is the stark reality and answer.


Judy, short, squat, blind from brith, dirt-poor, needed to go the bank and then the "phone store" to pay her bill.  Though in her late 40s, her life clearly delineated by deformity and hardship, shaping an existence that is little better than a concentric box where living is only a path to dying and little else.  Helping her with her bank transactions, she had me read her bank balance to her after withdrawing $61.00: $450. was the answer.  Yes, that was it, $450.00 to last an entire month.  Had her rent already been deducted?  I don't know but I dropped her off at the store, not wanting her to pay any additional "wait time."  I told the middle-class youngster behind the counter, "You'll have to call her a cab." a request clearly startling a complainant mind.


She's a taxi regular, going to and from a nursing home where, for 36 years, she has toiled in the kitchen, currently washing dishes. Previously, she was prepping.  Making matters worse, due to staffing shortages, they are having her come in twice daily, disrupting her sleep yet eliminating some paid hours.  "I find myself unable to fall asleep, still awake at 2:00 AM." 

No name but remembered

I only had his caregivers name, picking up at an University District clinic and taking them back to a care facility.  Stunted from birth, his body spider-like, long arms and legs extended from an attenuated, shortened body, required assistance in and out of his wheelchair.  Yet given his lifelong disabilities, an educated ambiance prevailed, displaying an unusual empathy, providing the cabbie with a four dollar tip, a gesture spotlighting just how the human spirit often overcomes personal adversity.  

Mary Jane

Picking her up at an Aurora North/Highway 99 motel, I will forever see walking toward my cab, an obvious presence despite dire circumstances.  Going a mere five blocks, she gave me a ten for the effort, with me responding I noted she was savvy, intelligent.  Responding, she said life's dynamics both good and bad placing her where she was, acknowledging her part in stressful arrangements.   She could have also said life is often neither fair or kind, each individual, you, me, everyone impacted in ways not seen or imagined. 

Prop 22

By at least a 58% margin, California voteed to embrace Uber's efforts to keep their drivers as indentured servants.  Not good, not wise, all those good liberal voters in Halloween disguise.  But my sister JoAnn did vote against it. Hurrah!

Metro Script

Taxi customer Noelle is outraged that Puget Sound Dispatch is now charging us cabbies a 5% processing fee for Metro Transit Taxi Script, saying she filed a complaint with Metro.  "They can't do that!" she fumed.  I don't know either way what is true but I have wondered about it, charging us for something that has always been referred to as "equal to money."  My real reaction is amusement, novel that a passenger would come to our defense.  Usually of course it is the exact opposite, the customer saying we did this and that to them, instantly guilty minus judge and jury.  Ultimately it's small change but it would be nice to know whether PSD can continue taking the driver's coffee money. 

You should treasure your ability to vote: A Short History

I know three people who don't vote.  Tom has lived in Russia and other authoritarian countries and certainly should know better, being Gay and knowing we have a vice-president in Pence who believes in "conversion therapy."  Tom also has a PHD in Anthropology from a big time East Coast university so, to me, he has no excuse being dumb when he certainly isn't. 

Mark, with his BA in Spanish and having lived and studied in governmentally corrupt Mexico should also know better, but Mark embraces conspiracy theories, saying everything is covertly controlled by "all those others."  Yes, Mark, we all understand, take a pill and don't feel better in the morning.  

Patricia is not registered to vote because she is trying to avoid jury duty, not wanting to take part in judging others.  I can understand that, jury requests similar to the US Selective Service drafting you into the army, feeling they own your body and can make you do anything they want.  The reason I registered and voted in New Mexico was due to King County's belligerent request to force me to accept jury duty, threatening me with fines and imprisonment.  Now I am not an official Seattle resident, and it's true, I don't want to be here. 

US Voting History

In 1789, only 6% of the population, white tax paying or property owning males could vote.  No one else.

In 1790, the Naturalization Act allowing all white males to vote.

Between the years of 1792 to 1838, Free Black Males in many Northern States have their voting rights taken away.

1792-1856, abolition of property owning requirements for white male voters.

In 1860, tax paying requirements remain in 5 states.

1870 15th Amendment passes, granting voting rights to black males.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote.

In 1924, all Native Americans are given their voting rights.

In 1943, Chinese-Americans are allowed to vote.

And a happy day in 1961, residents in WA DC are granted voting rights.

And you can't vote because it doesn't matter, doesn't count for nothing, etc. That's crazy baby!

Fifty masks

I keep supplying masks to my passengers, 50 and counting.  Over 1000 Americans are dying daily. Wear that mask!


Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Readership Appreciation & Can We Please Serve West Seattle Without Harassment? War Versus Egypt And Ethiopia? & "My Presidential Platform"

 To My Most Valued and Appreciated Readers

Why any writer writes is to be read, and I thank all of you for weekly tuning into taxi reality as I know yet don't especially love but certainly, at this late juncture, fully understanding an occupation begun  September 1987, my initial innocent introduction manifesting into the unimaginable and unexpected: a journey directly into America's mind, heart and soul, each new passenger teaching me a new curriculum examining our countries' cultural and societal vascular system.  What I am sharing with you is a front row seat upon the human condition, meeting every kind of person in every conceivable life condition: rich, poor, crazy, sane, happy, sad, healing and unfortunately, dying.  As I know too well, taxi will gnaw on you until you are little better than chaff blowing in the wind.  And maybe that's why I saw this week some very emotional commentary posted on last week's post---anger and acrimony disturbing the page.  While not interested in censorship, there certainly must be better alternatives to insult and bluster, tranquil dialogue surely a better option.  If anyone finds that incendiary I request you think again, take a deep breath and realize, as a fellow human residing on this planet Earth, we are in this together, making us all cousins, no matter how distant.   

Cameras Upon the lower West Seattle Bridge 

Due to structural failures, the closure of the West Seattle Freeway Bridge has created limited routes into and out of greater West Seattle.  With the announcement of new repairs upon the southbound lanes of the 1st Avenue South Bridge, the situation is only worsening quick access to important taxi service neighborhoods like the Admiral and West Seattle Junction.  And what is the City of Seattle's response to a crisis not of our making?  Only to install ticketing cameras punishing anyone trying to cross the lower bridge during daylight, prime commuter hours, issuing $75.00 citations.   What it means to us cabbies is that we continue to be treated as non-transit vehicles, to this date never receiving the recognition we deserve.  I have written to the City and County requesting some kind of waiver/exemption but have no faith it will be granted.  Year after year I have been pleading that taxis receive exempt-tagged license plates, knowing that is the required answer.  And do I think it will ever happen?  Yes, I do but perhaps not in my lifetime. 

Mentioning this for all of my Horn of Africa taxi comrades

For those not following news concerning Africa, Ethiopia is nearing completion of a large dam upon the Blue Nile River, Ethiopia the continental source for that mighty, life-giving river.  Like so many dam projects worldwide, water rights has become a heated topic between Egypt and Ethiopia.  Negotiations are ongoing while the building continues but this didn't stop Donald Trump, in a telephone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, saying that Egypt is "going to blow up the dam, they are really going to do it." That this was news to everyone, including Egypt, was part of the reaction and story.  Ethiopia's response was predictable.  Can you guess what it was?  

If it was me you could vote for

With my old taxi buddy Bill railing at me, calling my politics this and that, I thought I would take a few minutes and lay out my platform if I was running for president of the USA.   Is the nation ready for a President Blondo?  Maybe, especially if they like somewhat unique solutions to longstanding issues.  By the way, history fans, the terms left and right date from 1789 France during the ill-fated reign of Louis XVI, pro-King supporters sitting on the right, non-King folks to the left, this arrangement continuing through the French revolutionary years.  No, I am not  advocating for the guillotine but clearly during this current election season, many have figuratively "lost their heads." 

Core Belief

All human beings deserve equal opportunity and support to achieve their full potential minus any and all obstacles.  How to achieve that is not simple but certainly a worthy goal.  If achieved, it would end conflict as we know it, everyone happy, wagging their tail instead of telling everyone "to go to hell."

 Samples of my Platform

Transportation Infrastructure

Transition by 2100 to complete non-polluting transportation.  Like Europe and Japan, build high-speed train nationwide system hauling people and freight.  Prioritize road and bridge repair.  Train people from fading industries into the new ones.  

Wildfire Control 

Build massive saltwater desalination plants powered by solar.  Using drone technology, use giant water carrying drones to irrigate dry area and farmland.  90% of the earth is ocean and sea.  Let's use the water that is at our disposal.  Think this is science fiction?  See Jules Verne. 


Emphasize proper diet, exercise and life planning from day one.  Provide generous tax breaks for maintaining health and proper weight.  Create a cultural embrace of maintaining one's body.  Create affordable health care available to everyone, deemphasizing the current societal support for bad eating and lifestyles leading to expensive governmental support in the longterm. Encourage everyone to be healthy and happy and live to 100 years plus.


To include all my ideas would takes hours and days I don't have to give.  In short, all my policies would be based upon commonsense applications.  Freedom of choice and decision would be paramount.  While government support might be greater in the short term, long term  there would be less interference in people's lives.  How would this be possible?  By providing people real options to become wealthy, healthy and wise.  Pipe dream?  I don't think it is.  Be free, live free, and please, in all ways, live contented and be happy.  And if I were dictatorial, make it snappy!

No Sense or Knowledge of History at the Grocery Store

Call this a bonus segment because it says to me so much why America is what it is today.  Yesterday, the nice checkout clerk, upon ringing up my total of $19.39, said "1939 was a much better year than 2020." "It was?" I responded, "That's when WWII started, September 1st, to be exact."  No, the clerk had no idea though he glibly suggested he did, prompting me to recommend checking out the years 1936-39.  A lot was happening then, I said.  

A quick quiz.  Which country did Germany attack on September 1st, starting the war?  If you know the answer, eat some dumplings.  Or better yet, once pandemic travel restrictions are lifted, go to Krakow and eat at one of the 24 hour dumpling joints at 3 in the morning.  Tell them I sent you. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

California Proposition 22 & Me Versus The City Of Bellevue, Washington & Nearly Mashed In The Southbound Highway 99 Tunnel & Voting Song By Crabtree And Mills

Uber says, "Please, don't hold us accountable!"

What do Uber, Lyft, Door Dash, Instracart, Postmates all have in common?  All are attempting to overturn the State of California Assembly Bill 5 passed in September 2019.  Why have they spent over $200 million dollars to pass California State Proposition 22?  Are these mega-companies suddenly "good neighbors," now interested in the common good?  

No, that doesn't seem to be the case, instead all interested in only protecting their financial bottom line, with Uber once again losing 1.8 billion this most recent quarter, meaning California's designating gig-workers as employees is economic poison for Uber and its ilk, not interested in paying sick leave, overtime and other related benefits.  

With less than two weeks left until the election, Uber and company are pleading with California voters to continue providing them with a free ride minus any real governmental control or regulation.  Could the majority of Californians be that stupid?  Given our nation's recent voting track record, anything is indeed possible, people unable to see beyond their nose.  Even my sister in Tehachapi has a vote.  I wonder what she will do?

My Court Date is now November 24th

Some might remember I was given a ticket in Bellevue many months ago simply for parking legally in Bellevue, Bellevue having this obscure law forbidding all taxi cabs from parking anywhere on the city streets.  Even if you own a house, you are forbidden to park in front of your legal residence, which I why I have always intended to ask both Bellevue's mayor and police chief to tell the court why this is both legal and reasonable?  Do I want to take the time and effort to accomplish this?  No I don't but how can I let these _______s get away with this kind of discrimination?  The answer is simple, I can't.

Crazy speeders in the Hwy 99 tunnel

Am I the only one to notice that drivers are blatantly breaking the 45 MPH speed limit in the north and southbound Highway 99 tunnels?  It appears to be true because enforcement is nonexistent, cars flying through at 60,70, 80 mph, making the 1.7 mile journey from one end to the other extremely hazardous.  Wednesday afternoon I was southbound mid-tunnel, driving 50 mph, when in the rearview mirror I saw 3 cars bearing down on me at high rates of speed.  The third car, speeding between 70-80 mph while appearing not to see me, prompted my gunning of the accelerator in an desperate attempt to avoid being slammed from behind.  Thankfully the maneuver worked, my quick reaction allowing some space between tragedy and relief, the car stopping just short of my bumper.  Of course none of this should be occurring, a speed camera an obvious deterrent in a narrow tunnel.  What did WDOT think would be happening on this stretch of roadway?  Compliance!?  That's a joke as from day one fools have been endangering me and everyone else, giving little heed to reason and commonsense. 

1960s Voting song written 2006 by JoAnne Crabtree

This morning, listening to "This Saturday Tradition" on KCBS 91.3 FM I heard a song harkening back to the 1960s folkie/civil rights days.  The song, "What Else Can I Do?," sung by the duo Crabtree & Mills, springs from traditional old-fashioned activism, encouraging us to take up of the battle for societal and cultural justice, telling everyone it's time to vote your heart, your mind, your soul.  

Yes, it's that time of year again where excuses don't cut it, it's time to participate in making positive changes through your right to vote for candidates and issues affecting you and me and our entire great country.  Being registered in New Mexico this time around, I sent in my absentee ballot over ten days ago.  If you haven't voted, please get your "ass in gear" and vote.  All of us are depending upon you. Vote!

Here is the song's first and last stanzas and chorus.  From the Crabtree & Mills album, "Flight of Fancy"

                                                      "What Else Can I Do?"

First Stanza:                         I have seen the face of anguish 

                                             I have heard the voice of pain

                                             In the mother who is marching

                                            And the son who has no name.

                                            So I go and help my neighbor,

                                           "Cause what else can I do?

                                           And then I vote my conscience,

                                           And I hope that you do too.

Chorus:                              I want to stand for something

                                          I want to ride that freedom train

                                          I want to share my privilege 

                                         With those who feel the same

                                         I want to stand together outside the voting booth,

                                         for honor and for truth.

Last Stanza:                     So I go and help my neighbor

                                        And I hope that you do too

                                        And then I vote my conscience 

                                        'Cause nothing less will do.


Stakes are very high this election.  Don't think so?   Friday the USA had a record 85,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. 225,000 Americans are dead.   Some experts believe there will be 400,000 dead by January 1st.  

Climate change?   California had a record 4 million acres burned, 1million alone in one fire.  Colorado is now burning, parts of Rocky Mountain National Park in flames, bark beetle larva surviving winters that once killed them, the adult beetles eating the trees.  

Hurricanes?  Port Charles, Louisiana has been hit by two huge hurricanes a month apart, the mayor asking "Has America forgotten us?"

Iowa August derecho thunder storm?   20% of Iowa's farm crops are destroyed in a matter of hours, winds 70 to 120 mph wiping out towns, farms and fields.

Did you know that Trump's own wife is still in recovery from COVID-19?  During the past 2 weeks, has Trump mentioned any concern for her welfare?  Not that I have heard reported.  

Vote smartly, vote correctly. Vote!


Friday, October 16, 2020

Reality Of Taxi As I Know It---A Real Text Quote Sent Monday Morning: "Weirdo bitch go sleep the f___k, Get ur musty ass out the cab"

Ah yes, such sweet tidings, and why such utterances texted my way?   And how did they have my telephone number?  It all began early Monday morning sitting at the King Street Station composing last week's blog posting.  Having just finished, I accepted a call to the 175 (the Denny Regrade), belled to the Loyal Inn.  Calling the telephone number, Valerie said she was coming.  Arriving at the hotel, no Valerie, prompting another call. "Oh I'm coming," she says. Waiting for a few more futile minutes, I request my no-show, and instantly given another 175 call, once again the tardy Valerie.  I call, asking why call dispatch again when I am sitting in front of the hotel?  "Oh no, I hadn't called again."  Calling dispatch, they responded she had placed another request. Why is she lying?

Suddenly I sense a presence outside my cab and there she is, standing near the left passenger door, trailed by someone clearly her pimp, Valerie a hooker lurking in the early morning gloaming.  Surprised, I tell her I was waiting for someone coming from the hotel, prompting an "I was using their address," telling me it was time to leave, and I did, knowing full well what was coming: an extremely stressful ride taking two sullen, angry half out-of-their-mind street denizens to where I probably had no interest in going at 3 o'clock in the morning.  I turned off my computer and went home, fully having had enough of "enough already!'

After awakening I found her massage, confirming who they were which was easy to know, not wanting to know but certainly I knew, the two of them one of too many lost souls wandering the streets requesting your participation into a nightmare of their personal making---composed of vipers, demons and vengeful ghosts. In a different moment I would have usually put up with it, taken the abuse and attempted to wish them well, delivering them to their desired destination but sometimes I simply can't do it, all too painful, too crazy to bear, knowing instead sleep the better companion in the bitter not sweet morning.

And this is the world I am either blessed or cursed to know, America's underbelly inhabiting the streets, totally self-absorbed, not caring about you, me or even themselves, new zombies biting, gnashing the air, prepared to assault, bludgeon or kill anyone blocking their path to where they are going, oblivion their home and destiny, melodrama their persistent theme.  Ain't it grand?

City/County Medallion Renewal Schedule

You can renew your taxi medallion from October 12th to December 31st, with a grace period of two weeks ending January 15th, 2021.

Fees have been reduced.  $300.00 for city-only, $500.00 for dual licensed cabs.   WA State fee reduced to $145.00 for single and dual-plated cabs. or call 206-386-1268 to schedule a meter test appointment.

Go to Guru Auto Repair for your safety inspection.  

COVID-19 News

The total number of USA coronavirus cases is now over 8 million, that is, as of 5:28 PM Friday, 10/16/2020, totaling 8,282,809 confirmed infections. The nationwide death toll has now reached 223,581. Recent daily count this week is at 53,000 newly confirmed cases.

Today, the regional trauma center, Harborview Hospital, announced it had its own recent virus outbreak infecting 10 staff and 4 patients, with one of the patients dying.

Worldwide, there have been 39.1 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.  

Last night, Trump said, during his NBC solo town hall meeting, that he has been doing a good job controlling the virus.  His own son, 14 year old Barron, now has COVID-19, Trump dismissing his son's illness, showing no concern.

43% of all COVID-19 deaths were either African-American or Hispanic.

Political Humor (told to me by a passenger)

What is a Trump-kin?

Orange all over, hollow inside, and tossed out in November

Monday, October 12, 2020

It's Time The Seattle Yellow Taxi Single Owners Have Legal Representation & Soured Relationship: Puget Sound Dispatch And The Yellow Fleet & Did The City Of Seattle Violate Taxi Driver Privacy?

We Must Have Legal Advocacy 

As will be outlined in my separate sections concerning Puget Sound Dispatch and the City of Seattle, we, meaning the collective Seattle Yellow Cab single owner community, require some kind of legal protection because its clear we are essentially defenseless, PSD and Seattle Taxi licensing doing anything they want to us minus consultation or consideration, leaving us with little to no effective ability to respond to dictates good and bad. Where once some owners entrusted Teamsters 117 to speak for them, it's now obvious they were mistaken, the Teamsters embracing our arch-rivals, Uber and Lyft, leaving us to fend for ourselves. And since that's our unvarnished reality, we must hire a lawyer or lawyers telling all concerned parties we are no longer remaining silent, demanding a "seat at the table" concerning decisions influencing our future well-being.  

In short, collectively we have been extremely foolish to remain PSD's and the City of Seattle's punching bags.  If necessary, we must hit back.  I see no other recourse because PSD's operational repression is relentless, expecting us to pay for our own diminishment, and worse, saying we are getting what we deserve---lump it but please, guys, don't leave us---and continue giving us money as we routinely bash everyone in the head.  

This must stop, which I why I am  encouraging all of you to join me and others in this effort to regain a balance lost years ago when the City of Seattle and King County forced us taxi independent operators to join a association or simply lose our right to operate a cab.  If we write letters or make telephone calls, they are ignored but if a lawyer writes or calls for us, they will begin listening, I can guarantee you that.  As been said many times, united we stand, divided we fall. 

The Last Straw? PSD's Decision to Conceal Time-calls 

It appears Puget Sound Dispatch has lost track of history, operating as if Yellow Cab/PSD is still the BYG taxi cooperative and not what it is now---a company composed solely of independent single owners.  Back then, big multiple medallion owners like Lema, Noven, Hirschberg and others were making the decisions but that is no longer the case, PSD existing now in an operational vacuum minus any foundational support other than the single owners, a base they routinely refuse to recognize. 

Given this new dynamic, one would think PSD would begin working cooperatively with us (that is, the single owner community) but the exact opposite is true, treating us as quasi-employees and refusing to  allow us any participation in association operations.  Case in point was PSD's unannounced decision to no longer display upcoming account time-calls, the "bread and butter" all of us depend upon to make our living given the recent crash in tourist-related and business travel customers.  

Why did they do this?  Because too many owners have been sitting in key areas waiting for the time calls rather than accept usually smaller cash fares but much of this is a problem created by PSD itself.  Instead of having timed the calls in say, 15 minute intervals, they have been displaying them 45-60 minutes ahead of time, causing the drivers to bunch up when a time-call appears in a given zone.  

And each week, management highlights the biggest weekly account fare, last week it was a $800.00 fare, with an amazing $1000.00 plus fare coming out a few weeks ago.  By advertising these "Golden Eggs," they have taken away any incentive to instead grab that $5.00 Safeway run.  One then could say PSD's approach is nonsensical, displaying little thought to how one correctly operates a taxi company.

While agreeing overall that too many of the owners aren't the best cabbies, PSD has repeatedly refused my offer to teach our fleet how to properly drive a cab.  Me and my taxi buddy Rick, previous owner of Redtop Taxi, have said we will do it, we will help mold these guys into the cabbies PSD wants them to be but no, PSD continues to say no, we won't do that.  

On one hand they say they have no authority over the drivers while simultaneously making all the decisions for them minus input and consultation.  Does this make any sense?  And now does anyone wonder why I say we need lawyers in our corner?  The alternative to this is PSD's recognition they are in an equal partnership with the owners, as I said earlier, with PSD finally understanding that basic foundational dynamics have changed, making cooperation the new operational imperative.  

Seattle Checking on Cabbies' Hours

In the last PSD newsletter, all of us were informed that the City of Seattle have been checking on our hours worked, concerned some of us are surpassing legal daily limits.  All this is news to me, bringing up the legality of the City seeking information that could be considered confidential.   The conflict arises in that while, yes, I am leasing dispatch services from Yellow/PSD, I have never agreed to them acting as my legal agent.  

And again, this is why we single owners need a lawyer, telling us what's up, what's down, who is real and who is a clown.  

And since my Mac's battery is almost expired, I'll leave it at that.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Back In The Seattle Taxi Saddle: Seattle Kisses Uber And Lyft & Trust And Believe The Philippines Dispatch? & Who Wants To Be In A Damn Cab: Why I Travel

I made it back to Seattle from Arcata in one day, leaving early to allow myself some time to walk along a beach and twice visiting towering redwoods.  It was sad to leave but currently, this is my self-manufactured state, muttering to myself on Friday, "I gotta get out of here! and damn well it's true, sleeping 11 to 12 hours a day in Arcata  recovering from what is not possible: the unrelenting grind that is taxi.  Now to subjects taxi.

Oh those poor abused TNC (ride-share) operators: Boo Hoo Hoo!

They, being the combined forces of the Seattle City Council and the Mayor's Office, along with Teamsters 117, have finally implemented their early Christmas gift to local Uber and Lyft drivers, passing a bill assuring they earn the local minimum wage of $16.75, making this somehow "First Testament biblical"--- the Council, the Mayor and a certain Mister Smith taking on the guise of Jesus Christ personally administering to the blind, lame and crippled TNC masses.  Damn they missed a grand opportunity, failing to enlist Pope Francis, the Dali Lama and the Archbishop of Canterbury in this grand governmentally religious endeavor, perhaps signing on the Rev Franklyn Graham too to this grand, spiritual enterprise.  Praise GOD but shaft the cabbies, issuing them tickets on the lower West Seattle Bridge and generally kicking their asses in and around the entire Puget Sound!

Does anyone remember that these Uber clowns operated illegally in Seattle for over an entire year before  granted permission to work in Seattle, flouting laws, rules and regulations, not caring one bit who they affected or harmed?  And after Mayor ("can I pay you for a little _____") Murray decided their numbers shouldn't be capped, Uber and Lyft propagated like Viagra-maddened Easter bunnies, over-populating Seattle and King County with over 28,000 drivers. 

And I thought Mister Smith was our taxi buddy.  That what I get for thinking.  I think it's time for me to retire to merry old Oxford England and have a cup of tea with someone named Dawn who once fought for thee, you ye merry old traditional cabbie!  Ha Ha Ha.  

Am I out-of-my-mind?  Indeed I am working on a full moon night, illuminating my brain by the lunar light, shouting silently minus hesitation with all my throat and might!

I neither believe what the Cebu-based dispatch say or trust what they do

I give up.  These folks answering the telephone way across the Pacific Ocean collectively do not know what they are doing 100 % of the time.  Perhaps they do operate efficiently 75 % when dispatching our calls but that isn't good enough.  Even if they are operating effectively nine out of ten tries, that still means they are screwing up a full 10 % of the calls.  Do you you as a Seattle Yellow Cab customer want to be part of that 10-25 % disparity?  No, I didn't think so.  

Yesterday, I was belled into 2201 Westlake Avenue North.  Where was the elderly passenger really waiting?  2201 Westlake Avenue.  She told me she clearly told the call-taker the correct address.  When I call dispatch I am told it was the passenger's fault, which is the "old dispatch" line of blaming everything upon the dumbbell customer.  All I can say is, Cebu & Company are learning their lessons well.  

And a few minutes ago I am belled into 2905 1st Avenue South.  Where was the customer actually waiting?  On the corner of 1st & Broad, 2905 1st Avenue.  

I've had enough of this.  When I call Cebu dispatch I now say I can no longer trust or believe what they say.  Why should I or any other Seattle Yellow Taxi single owner believe or trust these folks to do their job well?  The answer is, we, that means all of us, continue to have our time, and our customers time, wasted.  

And what is current management going to do about it?  First, they will be angry that I have once again displayed our "dirty laundry," blaming me (and all of the other single owners) for something currently out of our control, and most galling, continuing to make us pay for this disservice.  It is our money paying the salaries of those fine ladies and gentleman sitting across the roiling sea, not management.  Then management will say that the Cebu call takers are doing a wonderful job, and that I have no idea what I am talking about, denial a current popular American tradition, calling everything a hoax, fake news, etc. 

What management won't do is attempt to refine and enhance the call takers skills, allowing this is to fester like an untreated wound.  Doctor?  We don't need no doctor!

And they will expect us to accept the situation remaining the same regardless of obvious reality.  Amongst themselves they will insult us owners, saying they do this and that, which, while being totally true, cannot be part of this conversation.  We did not hire non-taxi personnel to run our dispatch.  They did.  This is solely a management issue that must be resolved by management.  

Please, whatever the solution is, implement it, make it happen.  I don't want or deserve another misaddressed bell.  I pay my dispatch fee.  I serve all the bells I accept.  I deserve better.  If I don't, I want management to tell me why.

And certainly our customers deserve better than the service they are getting.  Why do they have to wait 30 minutes (in ten-minute service areas) wondering where their cab is?  Why?  Why do they have to wait when instead a correctly addressed bell will quickly deliver to them their cab.

What is going on?  I repeat, what is going on?  Oh, I think I said I know what is occurring here.  Sorry for the repetition. 

Why I Travel

One simple answer it that it's "in my blood," having moved year to year during my childhood, a thousand miles this way, two thousand miles in the opposite direction nine months later.  Desert, mountains, frozen wilderness, prairie were all my home, rattlesnakes, coyotes, buffalos, pronghorn my personal friends.  By latest count I have been to 45 countries and territories.  I am never more stimulated than when I am where I haven't been before, or like the area around Arcata, someplace worthy of more exploration.  

This past Wednesday, while walking upon a paved trail near the ocean, we discovered a bushy trail taking us down to where the Mad River meets the Pacific, suddenly standing on a pebbly beach surrounded by lush foliage and blessed silence, our modern word obliterated, nothing mattering except the natural world embracing us in that moment.

That is why I travel, and have traveled, be it Russia, the Dakota Badlands or the Redmond Watershed Preserve located a few miles away across Lake Washington, where yesterday I marveled at the rain-glistering spiderwebs waving in the breeze, their tiny brown hosts waiting for a passing fly. 

That's why I travel and you should to.  Five years ago I stayed 10 days in Sanok, Poland wandering the streets and the local countryside; and in the evening, supping on various delicious soups in my hotel's dining room, the experience staying with me, to this moment, to this hour.  That's why I travel.  To quote the poet Robert Frost, "You come too."  You won't regret it, I assure you.



Friday, September 25, 2020

Greetings From Arcata, California: Heavy Smoke In Cave Junction, Oregon & Two Former Colleagues Away, Away From Taxi & Exhaustion Poem

 Fire in Southern Oregon

Hello from "hippie town" Arcata, nestled between towering redwoods to the north and south, Highway 101 being the "Redwoods Highway," more or less starting upon leaving Oregon on Route 199, the I-5 to 101 connector originating in Grants Pass.  The further southwest I drove, the heavier the smoke, telling me parts of Oregon were still burning.  I found one stretch of forest and roadway south of Cave Junction blackened by recent burns, scorched trees the leftover signature of a raging blaze.  Thankfully, rain is returning to parts of the Pacific Northwest, hopefully meaning an end to this year's fire season. Today the sun is shining in Arcata but Seattle and the entire state of Washington today is awash in what is described as an "atmospheric river" coming in from the Pacific. Maybe some of that moisture will propel more passengers into waiting cabs, us cabbies appreciating inclement weather's pushy assistance, the sheltered warmth of a dry interior.

No More Taxi for These Two

I recently contacted 2 fellows I know from the taxi roads, JS and KS, two cabbies, after tiring of sitting around not making during the initial Lyft/Uber aftermath, fleeingYellow Cab to our respective rivals, JS to Lyft and KS to Uber.   Both fellows are good drivers, road seasoned past reason and commonsense, and flourished in their new automotive homes, making a better living than during recent cabbie forays.  If anyone questions their decisions, understand, as I have ceaselessly pointed out over the years, the national and local taxi industries have viewed the working cabbies as little more than cannon fodder for the taxi wars, casualties in the mobile battlefield---the wounded and dead not their concern.  And living in Seattle requires real not theoretical money, Uber and Lyft initially a very good money maker but 28,000 drivers and one dire pandemic later, the situation is different for them, with many questions remaining. 

JS & Lyft

What I find amazing is how he has kept track of all of his rides, both Yellow and Lyft.  While currently sitting out since March 15th, from January 2017 to March, JS provided 17,452 Lyft rides, averaging 3 per hour.  When taxi business was good, I too averaged 3-4 fares an hour, about most you can physically do. 

In 20 years of driving Yellow Cab, JS complied 89,001 rides to a total of 143,999 passengers.  Those numbers are indicative of why I say the average cabbie meets everyone, a broad section of the world entering your cab. JS says he spent a total of 34,824 hours in a Yellow Cab; and driving 499,997 miles, or more or less to the moon or back, giving a new meaning to the term "moon struck."  Yes, driving taxi is sheer madness, and his astounding statistics proving that out.  Ya gotta be crazed to drive a cab, or once again referencing the moon, a lunatic.

KS & Uber

KS, a former "private detective" from Florida, and a Seattle cabbie from 1997 until his Uber defection, knows all too well life's underbelly, be it trailing cheating spouses to cab "drug runs" to snotty Uber techies taking a five block long ride, KS, an original iconoclast, finally leaving the "passenger carting around" business last November, returning to hometown Tampa to deal with his late parent's estate, glad to be out of his $2,300 a month Seattle apartment.  KS liked cab when it was good and left when it wasn't.  That he was able to survive working Seattle Yellow Cab Zones like the mostly residential 185 (the Eastlake) says how viable the industry once was and how it no longer is.  But KS is glad to out of it entirely, hating Uber, knowing what they are, and similar to taxi, not truly caring a "rat's ass" about its drivers.  The best anything KS got out of Uber was his Prius, before Uber, KS going carless unless in the cab.  Occasionally, I would give him a lift home. When I ever get to Tampa I'll say hello, knowing he'll put a "tail" on me as I leave town, never knowing what kind of trouble a cabbie can stir up, all of us talented that way, a God-given gift from the Devil himself, of course on Halloween at midnight in the scary gloom. 

Beat up by too much taxi poem

As any longtime reader have noticed, I make real attempts to keep all subject matter taxi related, this poem meeting that criteria because taxi is exhausting.  Try driving to the moon or circumnavigating the earth and you too will be ready for a long nap.

                                                       Yes, Too Much for Nothing at all


                                Stopping, I cannot move, exhaustion saying that's what I am,

                                but continuing on minus delay, a new energy prodding me to

                                nothing sustainable, I cannot keep going---broken health and death

                                my near horizon,  the sun 

                                                                          setting upon my poor head 

                                 and grievous brow, now gravestone grey coloring

                                                                                                      lips and eyes

                                speaking and seeing days tossed to the nettled roadside---weeds 

                                and thistle congregating in brownish and yellow yet green