Friday, June 26, 2020

The Sea-Tac International Airport Golden Goose Laid A Rotten Egg

Not Silly But a Very Bad Goose!

Nearly every Seattle Cabbie's dream position could said to be "working" the bountiful Sea-Tac Airport, harvesting all those Downtown hotel-bound business travelers---competition for past contracts always fiercely negotiated, everyone instinctively embracing this perpetual "Golden Goose," firmly believing the airport a "taxi nirvana," the ultimate beneficence from kind taxi gods.  While perhaps partially true pre-Uber, that all changing when the Port of Seattle began allowing Uber and Lyft  unfettered access; and quickly bringing us up to these current pandemic times, airport passenger traffic dropping precipitously to nonsensical levels, Sea-Tac cabbies averaging two fares every 12 hours heading to uncertain destinations.  Worse, though Sea-Tac deferred their $6.00 per fare gate fee, it is something still owed and paid at a future date, the Port of Seattle's abuse of area cabbies relentless, squeezing the poor for every last taxi dollar regardless of lasting consequence, all this made manifest by a shared erroneous belief in a mythical bird laying golden eggs, those same eggs now putrid and black, giving birth to nothing save abject misery and sorrow, tears moistening a now silenced tarmac.

City of Bellevue Ticket Update

Regular readers, I am sure, remember my unreal discovery that the east-side city of Bellevue tickets cabbies anywhere upon city streets 24 hours a day, even though we are parked legally.  And you might remember my vow to wreak revenge upon city officials in a courtroom setting.  Well, when that day comes I can't tell you because all traffic courts have been cancelled until further notice.  Who knows, they might even dismiss it before I ever appear before the judge but I'd rather have the pleasure of asking Bellevue's mayor why they hold and enforce such egregious policy.  It might be fun, depending upon my mood, Cabbie Lives Matter, Mister, Ms Justice Mad Hatter!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Calling For Real And Verifiable Cabbies To Step Forward: Where Are You?

During these challenging times for the world in general, and for taxi in particular, I've become too aware of many drivers acting the fool, tossing their professionalism, meaning our customers, out of the cabbie window, either allowing passengers to wait hours for a cab, or worse, not showing up at all, creating real dilemmas for the stranded, mystified callers.  Last Wednesday I came upon two passengers at Pier 5, Matson Lines, who had been waiting over an hour in Zone 260. The lady called at 1:20 PM to reach her 2:20 Amtrak train to Eugene, Oregon.  I arrived at exactly 2:20 PM, meaning, however she was getting home, it wouldn't be by train.  The other passenger was heading to a Sea-Tac area hotel.  Desperate, the Eugene-bound passenger decided she had to fly home, translating into a $180.00 one-way fare.  And, as I found out later, all this was caused by drivers in the area intentionally ignoring the calls, leaving it to me to repair the damage done by others. That I got a total of $70.00 is not the point because both customers were deeply impacted by poor driver performance, something, I am sure, influencing any possible future choice of transportation options.

And unfortunately, this kind of scenario has become too commonplace since the pandemic hit, with most of Seattle and King County's 1200 cabs remaining parked to at least the end of July.  One might think that the remaining 50-60 Yellow cabs actively working would comprehend the current situation and respond accordingly but bad habits, combined with a general distain for taxi driving, has brought us to something I am too familiar: chaos, anarchy and indifference.  As I suggest in this week's title, will anyone recognize what needs to be done and actually do it minus hesitation and question?  I know the answer, and anyone deeply knowledgable concerning the cab industry knows it too, the scoundrels ain't gonna do anything, no, nothing at all except complain to high heaven when all the cabs are back working and business reduced to a fraction. Yes, that's it, sorry but true, boo hoo hoo!

Taxi Cab Repair Blues

My faithful 2011 Ford Crown Victoria has begun to display the wear and tear of 300,000 miles, requiring a transmission rebuild, repairing the one I put in 22 months ago.  Making it even more troublesome is that the rebuild wasn't complete, meaning back to shop it goes on Monday costing yet more lost time upon the road, and leaving me to limp along this weekend knowing I would have to refuse a long fare.  I am now in the process of looking for a replacement car, yes, time and money is certainly not sweetness and honey!

Dennis Roberts Funding Plea Flyer

The following text is something now tacked to the Puget Sound Dispatch office bulletin board.  That I am disheartened by the overall response can't be understated.  Just as the local cabbies are mostly oblivious to passenger concerns, it seems they are inured to the tragedy that is Dennis's passing from the coronavirus.  Will this last plea wake people up?  I have no idea but try I will and try I might, never, never saying no or giving up the fight!

The Flyer:

"As many of you know, our taxi colleague, Dennis Roberts, YC 464, died from COVID-19 on April 9th, 2020, found dead and alone in his room by the SPD.  I find this a tragedy not only for Dennis but also for all of us who drive taxi and shared his life and world. I started a gofundme account for Dennis over 6 weeks ago with the intention of providing him with a burial and formal obituary. I have about $800.00 but I could use considerably more. This is where you come in.  I need you to donate.  I have personally donated $100.00 but whatever you can afford will be helpful.  Also please access my taxi blog and read the obituary I wrote for Dennis.  Thank you."

Joe Blondo YC 1092. 206-778-0226

"We have two more weeks to donate before the Medical Examiners Office takes over. By July 9th, all burial arrangements must be made."



I also emailed the NYC Taxi Union, requesting that they ask their sizable membership to help.  Nothing so far.   All I can say, given my limited time, this is the best I can do.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Seattle Yellow Is Now The Regional Taxi Provider & Thoughts Upon Being Chased And Pursued & Pandemic Hypocrisy & A Bit More About Hopelink And Eastside & Essay

It has been wild at times attempting to service all our calls, some customers waiting over three hours for their cab to arrive, many of course not waiting, leaving the cabbie with yet another no-show.  Why is this happening?  Simply, almost the entire Seattle/King County taxi driver community is sitting out the pandemic either out of fear or embracing the rare opportunity to collect unemployment, leaving maybe 50-60 Yellow cabs working to serve one thousand of more daily calls.  It's an impossible task, with only a handful of fellow Farwest and STITA cabs working mostly deep south King County.  Too often I come upon angry and baffled passengers wondering why this is all happening because dispatch certainly isn't informing them, instead hour after hour saying their cab is on the way. 

What this means is that Yellow Cab is all you are going to get in Shoreline, Bellevue, Seattle, Burien, Lynnwood, Kirkland, Woodinville, Kenmore, Bothell, Sammanish, Covington, Issaquah, Auburn, Sea-Tac, Des Moines, Fall City, North Bend and all other communities and unincorperated areas in King County, along with south Snohomish County and a bit of north Pierce County.  King County in area is 2,307 square miles, making it one of the largest counties in the whole USA, translating, as I said, into a nightmare for drivers like me trying to keep up with all those fares sitting there upon the taxi branch. Puget Sound Dispatch (Yellow) is begging drivers to come back but so far, no, everyone enjoying their government-funded vacation.


After hearing more details how the murdered black jogger, Ahmaud Arbrey, was chased and pursued by three armed white men in two pickup trucks in the city of Brunswick, Georgia, and thinking about the terror he must have felt before blasted by a shotgun, I have decided to share the many times I have been pursued by both deranged individuals and mobs.  That it's frightening is beyond knowing unless you have experienced it.  The first two situations I mention in my new book, "To Age 13."  Also, out in rural Alberta, me and two friends were shot at, bullets flying past our heads. And in another more recent event, while hiking in Eastern Washington, someone sitting upon a ridge was actively shooting at me, bullets pinging off of boulders I took cover behind.  No fun, to say the least.

1959 in Ravine Park Village, Toledo, Ohio----I was five when, one, an adult African-American chased me across a field swinging a baseball bat, thankfully my young legs faster than he was, and a few months later, two black teenagers chasing me and a friend, catching and tying me to a pole but fortunately, an adult neighbor, seeing what was happening, ran down a hill shouting and screaming to my rescue.  That pole still exists.

Clark Fork, Idaho, 1969, age 15--hitchhiking home from British Columbia, a teenage girl stops in her car to talk to me, angering her jealous boy friend, the boy friend chasing me in his car, with me eventually finding safety in the dark hiding behind trees hugging the shoreline of a huge lake.  In the morning I awakened to a friendly beaver swimming beneath me.

Bennett, Colorado, 1970, age 16---drunken mob of cowboys began pursuit upon a early Spring evening.  I ducked into the a friend's grandmother's house, the cowboys spending hours looking for me.  Later, knocking on a friend's door, asking where I was, I remained hidden behind a garage door, huge pipe wrench in hand while holding my friend Scott's giant Great Dane, prepared to attack and release the pooch upon the dumb bell cowboys.

Kelowna, BC, Canada, 1970, age16---mob of local white males attacked in the dark of night the hippie encampment located above Lake Okanagan.  I was ready to do battle, wine bottle in hand but everyone fled and I joined them.  Later, I rode in a RCMP car helping in the search for the mob.

Aurora, Colorado, 1970, age 16,---chased by big redneck white guy down the street.  As he approached I kicked him and the chase was on, only to be interrupted by someone coming to my aid, my assailant literally ripping the guy's shirt off his back. Scary.

Seattle, 1992---a guy driving a Mercedes chased my cab for about 3 miles into Madison Park, pulling beside me after I stopped at my pick-up address and shouted, "You! You! are a menace to society!"

Seattle, 1996,---while walking to the Capital Hill Post Office, a young SPD cop, along with many others milling around looking for a bank robbery suspect, stopped his patrol car about 100 feet away, pulled out his gun and began shouting at me to drop down.  Fall I did to the street as more cops inched toward me aiming their guns at my poor head. No, I did not fit the description of the bank robber.  Stupid!

Seattle, WA 2008,---deranged undercover King County Transit Officer began chasing me in my cab. He was driving an old Chevy Van meaning I had no idea he was a cop. Long and short of this, I now have a letter from a previously elected King County Sheriff apologizing for the officers' conduct.

And lastly, southeast of Mount Shasta, CA, 2018,---"she-who-can't-be-named" and I were driving along a country road not far from Mount Lassen National Park, when an old cowboy in a pickup truck came across from the other side of the road making straight for us, knocking us off to the side.  If alone I might have killed him but I was restrained by my companion, the old idiot thinking he was somehow teaching these hippies a lesson.  What a fool! and damn lucky she was there to stop me.

And should I even detail even one of the at least 50 times drivers have chased me short distances down Seattle streets?  No, not worth the effort.  Yes, yes, fun and games amongst the insane 1959 to 2020, it ain't so funny, not worth the time or money.

There's Hypocrisy and then there's Mister Trump

You might recall that at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said there were only 11 American cases and they would all disappear, that was it, the problem now past.  As of today, June 13th, 2020, the number of USA coronavirus cases confirmed cases number 2,142,224 with the total American death toll at 117, 527.  The number of confirmed recovered victims is 854,106. 800 are still dying daily.

Trump is holding a rally next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now in recognition that the pandemic is both deadly and extant, Trump supporters will have to sign the following online waiver essentially saying that by attending the rally you run the risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying, and if that happens, it is all your fault, with Trump taking no legal responsibility for luring you into harm's way.

"TOO BAD! SO SAD! YOU'RE GONNA DIE! BYE BYE!" could be the rally slogan.  Here is the full online text:

"By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President Inc; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury."

This is beyond cynical, it is immoral but that certainly doesn't stop Trump and his cronies.  Why care?  We don't have to care.  The worldwide COVID-19 death toll is 431, 550.

And can good the people in Oklahoma be this dumb?  Hard to believe they are.

Hopelink and the Occupation of France 1940-44

Regular readers might remember a few weeks ago my feature commentary about Hopelink's actions regarding Eastside for Hire and the reasons given for Eastside losing the ability to serve the Hopelink contract.  Turns out I didn't have the complete story as to why Hopelink made the decision they did, and shocking it is because their response centered around mistakes of only three Eastside operators.  In a recent mandate, Hopelink has directed all of their potential providers to be fingerprinted, something not deemed necessary for at least the past 20 years.  It is also important to know that the Eastside drivers, like all Seattle/King County cabbies, have previously been fingerprinted making this new requirement redundant, a bureaucratic gesture achieving nothing whatsoever. 

Hopelink's overreach brought to mind Germany's WWII occupation of France and their response whenever a German soldier was killed by the French Underground, heading to the nearest French village and murdering 10-20 innocent French citizens.  Hopelink then, instead of either punishing the three drivers, or can it be imaginable, have them fingerprinted, decides to KILL Eastside for Hire.

Another side to this is the harm done to their own clients, reducing even further the available providers, victimizing the very same people they claim to be helping by making them wait for taxis burdened by the pandemic.  As the 1960s song went, "Bang! Bang! my baby (Hopelink) shot me down!"


This short piece has twofold purposes.  The first is to display my displeasure, since my arrival back from NewMexico, of being swallowed alive by taxi.  The other is to utilize "real language" toward that end.

                                                   Reinsertion into a Persistent Void

Temper me, junior, I'm a rampaging missile or hit the brakes, Casey, our locomotive is a runaway train or pushing up while pressing down suicidal, embracing the simultaneously busy yet idle taxi crocodile sharp teeth and all neither useful nor wise, all metaphorical, allusive, axiomatic or even allegorical disguise---my new reality a mechanical boom, boom, boom, one, two, three, why am I laughing, Lord Haw Haw Haw, when it's not funny, the message contradictory, not separating mouth from ears though fully expecting cooperation today, tomorrow and forever, insanity mandated by who knows who and should we care? why worry crossing collapsing bridges over turbid, angry rivers neither a major or primary or minor concern because tradition dictates minute by seconds parsing history into nothing remembered, existence singing "wham, bam, thank you spam! processed and canned gelatinous commodities prescribed diet for the marching dead, waking up early work, work, working falling into bed Joe John Judy and Fred.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Uber And Lyft Used As Gettaway Cars In NYC & Union Of Concerned Scientists, Uber And The City Of Seattle & George Floyd, Taxi And American Currency

This week New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a weeklong curfew for Uber and Lyft between the hours of 8:00 PM to 12:30 AM, with special permission required from the New York Police Department to take Uber or Lyft from 12:30 AM to 5:00 AM.  Why has the Big Apple decided these draconian measures are necessary?  Because looters and other assorted criminals, taking advantage of the chaos created by the George Floyd demonstrations, have been using Uber and Lyft drivers as their "gettaway" cars.  What puzzles me is how anyone wouldn't question passengers carting new televisions and sewing machines into the car at midnight, knowing fully they were stolen from the store just around the corner.  What's pleasing is that NYC's Yellow cabs have permission to operate normally, meaning if anyone truly requires legitimate transportation, they can jump in a cab.  Any veteran cabbie will tell you that, if allowed, criminals will use you for all manner of illegal  activities.  The simple response must be no, you can't do this in my taxi.

Years ago I had a couple in my cab intent on burglarizing houses on the Eastside while using my station-wagon cab as their moving van.  I waited until I was mid-span on the Evergreen Point Bridge before hinting I understood what they were doing.  Freaking out, they had me take the first available exit, paid the full fare and got the hell away from me.  And that's how you handle these kinds of situations, stopping them in their thieving tracks.  All I can say is that many Uber and Lyft drivers do not know what they are doing, and may they all soon disappear beneath the setting sun, leaving the business in the hands of those who have at least half a clue concerning the transport of passengers from point A to B.  Amen.

Catalyst Magazine Volume 20, Spring 2020---Ride Hailing's Climate Risks, A Major Source of Carbon Emissions

 In their most recent issue, the Union of Concerned Scientists feature how Uber and Lyft are big fossil fuel polluters, contributing up to 69%  more carbon emissions than the transit they replace. Why?  Because there are so many of them, 28,000 in greater Seattle and over 80,000 Uber operators in New York City.  They clog the roads, and due to their low cost, take away from other more efficient forms of public transport.  The good scientists think it would be better if they all went away though conceding that probably won't happen.

And how are the good liberals in Seattle City government responding to the 83% drop in Uber & Lyft fares?  Well, instead of understanding a natural attrition is necessary to cull the TNC (ride-share) herd, proposals are coming forth to give them taxpayer money, the City Council crying tears over their economic plight.

And what was the City response when the local cab industry lost nearly 50% of its earning due to the Uber onslaught?  Why nothing whatsoever.  When medallion values sank from $250,000 to $3,000, did the City attempt to assist the floundering cabbies?  You know the answer to that too!

Bogus 20 dollar bills

By now, nearly everyone on our shared planet knows that George Floyd attempted to pay with a counterfeit bill, resulting in the Minneapolis police descending upon Floyd with guns drawn.  Note that I say he attempted to pay as to attempting to "pass" the rubber $20.00 bill.  My friend Rick was recently paid with a bogus $50.00 bill, translating into the reality that counterfeit currency is everywhere, and I am guessing that the majority of Americans, me included, have at one time unknowingly made a purchase with a bogus bill.  That doesn't make us criminals and it certainly doesn't mean we should be killed because of counterfeit currency.

I like to think I can easily detect false five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred dollars bills but I could be wrong, and if I make a mistake, should I be thrown to the street and with a knee pressed against my back or neck?  I don't think so but, early on in my cabbie history, I was manhandled by a Seattle Police officer, physically grabbed and tossed back into my cab. Was I resisting arrest? No.  Was I attacking the officer? No.  All I was doing was standing next to my cab.  That was my crime.  That was my grave error.

Closing Down I-5

Peaceful protests or not, Wednesday and Thursday WDOT closed I-5 through DT Seattle in both the Northbound and Southbound directions as an extreme precaution.  Wednesday their idiotic decision forced me to dangerously back up upon an onramp because I was taking a patient back to Woodinville and I couldn't sit for hours waiting for the freeway to reopen. Nuts! is all I can and will say!

Yellow Dispatch Fee Increase

For the past few weeks, we have been paying $90.00 per week instead of the usual $180.00.  It was just announced that we will now be paying $150.00 for the present time. Why, when we don't have enough cabs working to serve all the bells, is PSD making it harder on the handful of us working our butts off to serve the customers?  Does PSD think this rate increase is going to encourage more drivers drop their unemployment benefits and come back before July 31st?  If they believe that, then as the saying goes, they believe in "pigs flying."  And ya know, that might be true.

Dennis Roberts Fund Raising Push

I am starting my big, monthlong effort this weekend.  Please join me.

At least one thousand dollars more is required.

I know we can do it!