Friday, August 28, 2020

Who Told Who?: Confusion About $5.00 Per Day Owed To Yellow Cab & Junkie's Frolic In Seattle, Breaking My Car Window

Puget Sound Dispatch's "Return to Work" fee

As local cabbies are notorious for not paying attention to almost anything, an issue arose concerning as to how well PSD communicated to the owners taking their weeks of unemployment leave.  Some owners have said this request for money is new to them, no one having told then about this financial liability but new information potentially negates that assertion.   

In a recent telephone conversation, the PSD staff member responsible for recording dispatch payments assured me that each owner was told of a five dollar per day obligation to be paid in lieu of the usual $180.00 per week dispatch fee.  I believe her, finding her serious when dealing with an owner's money, fully understanding our very lives depend upon an accurate accounting of money coming in and paid out.  Along with our concerns, there is also her concern for PSD's very survival during this time of stress and pandemic. At this point, I am told we only have 123 cabs working, which is less than half of the entire Yellow taxi fleet.  Hopefully, all current dispatch fees are going directly to operations and not into board member pockets but given how PSD is organized and structured, I or anyone else will never know for sure where the money is ultimately going. 

Additional confusion has arisen concerning PSD's decision to limit returning cabs to a cap of 160.  Can they legally do this is the current question, but it does seem to be true that PSD alerted the City and County to its intention of charging the five dollars, this per a conversation with a city official. But in truth, when it comes to this and taxi in general, "who knows who told what to whom" will remain a mystery not even a Sherlock Holmes could unravel.  

Such is the way, such is the reason I want to cry, and please, concerning the obvious, don't ask me why!

Four Car Break-ins in Four Years

Thursday morning it happened again, with the rear trunk hatch window broken on my personal car, the fourth of in a series of local junkies attacking my cars. It happened once in Tacoma, and twice, here in Seattle, my cab 1092 violated by drug fiends, the last time in late April.  This is not funny.  And each time they have gotten nothing of real value for their efforts.    

Latest COVID-19 Report

Worldwide, the current novel coronavirus death toll stands at 833,000.  Here in the USA, we now have 184,000 deaths, with a daily average of over 1000.

Confirmed American COVID cases is 5.98 million, with a daily average of over 43,000. 

During the GOP convention ending yesterday, nary a word about the pandemic other than the lie that Trump has done a wonderful job containing the virus.  If this is his best effort, I would hate see his worse.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Spokane Ride Mystery Solved & I Am COVID-19 Negative & Seattle: Best Place To Commit Crimes In America?

Remember the hoopla?

I can't reveal my sources but I now know what happened and why, when two weeks ago, someone at Puget Sound Dispatch suspected an unknown Yellow cabbie of kidnapping a Hopelink client.  I also know as to why there have been an unusual number of account rides to that Eastern Washington high elevation desert destination, Spokane, known to some as the "Lilac City," but first things first, pertaining to why the client went missing. 

The program in question, after a period of weeks or months, often transfer clients to other programs around the State of Washington.  What happened two weeks ago is that the individual in question was slated for a six-month stay in Spokane, and having gone unaccompanied to the cab, skipped out and went her merry way wherever that might be.  Now the nursing staff walks the client to the cab, not interested in having more escapees fleeing into the taxi morning, afternoon or night. What it all "boils down to" was program staff incompetence, misunderstanding their clientele, somehow hoping for a kind of imaginary compliance, thinking the program attendees "good little children" wishing the best for themselves.  Having once done case management myself, I can attest how naive an approach that is, thinking the cat never hisses, the dog not barking or biting. 

One question I initially had was why would someone not want a free ride home, and now the answer is obvious, they were instead going for further court-ordered treatment in Spokane, not to home and family, having no interest participating in another round of treatment. What is obvious is that there's nothing preventing the client from leaving the cab anytime during the trek eastward, say when the cabbie stops for gasoline or agrees to a bathroom stop.  More information would be helpful but I am guessing the usual response would be "we can't legally tell you" thus setting up the cabbie for potential trouble.  

Oh well! the taxi lackey never provided the key, treated like a domestic animal, like a kind of donkey!"

Yes it's true, and I'll keep repeating the obvious 'til I turn blue!

Everybody know I'm Negative, and now its Official 

Tuesday, when waiting for a passenger at 1700 Airport Way South, I encountered a mobile COVID testing site conducted by Harborview Hospital staff.  "Did I want to be tested," they asked?  And why not was my response.  Yesterday I got the results.  No, I do not have the novel coronavirus.  Thank goodness. 

Best Place in America to commit a crime?

If I ever decide to break the law in Seattle, I now have a ready answer to all law enforcement officers: I am only protesting, demonstrating against all that is wrong with America.  I say this because I keep coming across folks blocking streets with their bicycles, or as I did Wednesday night, encountering a group of parked cars blocking the entire length of south-bound Fifth Avenue from James to Jefferson.  I called 911 and if you can believe it, I was told to contact the Seattle City Council.  

When everyone was rioting a few weeks back, and arrested, they let them go, saying "please don't do it again."  Seattle is a wonderful place, as the mayor said, home to a new Summer of Love and other relics from the 1960s.  Maybe that's why LSD usage is on the rise, getting really high and saying bye bye to reality, Seattle perhaps only a momentary hallucination, Lucy in the Sky minus any diamonds. 



Saturday, August 15, 2020

Greetings Once More From Cle Elum: A Black Swan On "L Lake" & What A Mess: The Everspring Inn & The Seattle Mayor Kisses Uber And Lyft Operators Upon Their Buttock

I have just stayed four nights and days in my favorite eastern Washington high desert oasis, the Quincy Game  Range, luckily, like two weeks ago, finding my favorite Lake Quincy lakeside campsite available, a place I've nicknamed "Tolstoy" for the wonderful shade providing Russian Olive tree dominating the site.  Thankfully, no war, only peace prevailed as I finally finished my editing for my new book submission package. Once again, I had plenty of yellowhead and redwing blackbirds as my writing companions, their conversation greeting my mornings, saluting the orange evening sunsets.  

Lake Quincy and the bulk of the canyon lands are west, or closer to the mighty Columbia River but the east side, being less accessible, is equally wonderful, prompting me this morning of my departure to visit L Lake, and certainly glad I did.  Driving along a narrow road skirting a canal,  I saw something looking like a statue floating on the eastern side of the lake.  No statue but a lone black swan with a pink bill glinting in the morning sun.  I was amazed.  How did it get there?  And why, I will never know but never forgetting this unexpected bird embraced by a sea of brilliantly green reedy cattails, this graceful swan beautiful to behold.

Good Riddance, Everspring Inn

Every local cabbie knew that the motel, known as the Everspring Inn, was trouble, personally dreading every call I got there.  Why?  Because the local police allowed it to become a cesspool of human misery, seven rapes and two murders finally prompting the closure of the place.  Last week I had yet another "drug run" to the Everspring. That it operated this long says everything about how the mayor and the city council serve the good citizens of Seattle: obviously, not very well!  

Now social workers are concerned about where the former residents will be living, not understanding the Everspring was never a home but a 21st Century of version of Bedlam, and we're not in England, and Everspring not a hospital but a drug and vice-ridden motel.  Goodbye!

What is Mayor Durkin thinking?

Earlier this summer, the good mayor dubbed the madness that was the Capital Hill Protest Occupation Zone a new "Summer of Love."  Gunfire and two murders later we found that wasn't at all true, instead a summer of mayhem and violence. 

Now, just this past Thursday, the mayor announced that she intends to make sure that all the Uber and Lyft drivers (all 28,000 of them) will be getting paid for their down time between fares.  Outrageous since I and my taxi comrades have never been offered such a sweet deal.  What about us, is my question?  I too want some of that easy money, and why not should be our response, we the long suffering, misbegotten taxi masses. Com' on, Mayor Dunkin, fork over all those alms for the deserving taxi poor.  Why, who knows, we might even vote for you in divine thanks for your misplaced generosity.  

Damn, I'm beginning to think that Seattle Council-woman Kshama Sawant isn't the only individual at City Hall warranting a psychiatric review.  All this is too much to contemplate yet consider. Nuts is as nuts does, and I ain't talking about the happy squirrels scampering in local parks.

And along with the Uber and Lyft stipend, can we also make sure the TNC operators are also neatly tucked into bed each night while saying their thankful prayers to the City of Seattle Gods anointing their progress down city and county streets?  

Heavens to Betsy, what the HELL is going on?!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Much Hoopla About Nothing: When Fear Meets A Grain Of Truth

Mid-week, Puget Sound Dispatch was presented with a dilemma: A Hopelink account customer bound for the eastern Washington city of Spokane turned up missing, this after the taxi belled in failed to find the customer.  Somehow, someway, the idea that another unauthorized Yellow cabbie picked up the passenger and headed off across the Cascades came to life.  Urgent fleet-wide massages were sent out, informing the errant cabbie to come back, along with dire threats that might and could occur.  

The problem is, none of this happened, with the Hopelink client leaving either with a friend or family member or simply walking away to some unknown destination. All this commotion got us, the cabbies witnessing this spectacle, very excited, initially believing the description as a "realtime" scenario, shocking in its implication.  

But it was all for naught though I don't know the complete details and never will though a few truths came through loud and clear, telling a factual story to the preceptive taxi ear:  that the Hopelink account (the agency behind the account) is all powerful; and everyone concerned, including myself, knowing the inherent lawlessness of too many of our drivers, believed someone was dumb enough to pull off such shenanigans, thinking they would be paid the over $700.00 fare.  Strange but true, we took the bait---hook, line, sinker---from the watery rumor blue!

Yes, all of us are completely jaded, believing the worst is always possible when it come to our taxi brethren.  And it is completely true, PSD rightfully scared out of their taxi pants about losing the Hopelink account through nonsense originating with some numbskull driver.  Best fares I've ever had have been Hopelinks, no doubt about it.   

The lesson to be learned here, after all is said and done?  Panic is not the best of responses.  And while the majority of us Yellow cabbies might be idiots, not all of us are as dumb as some might think, even knowing an elephant when we see one.  

Thick as brick, stubborn as a mule, we still keep smiling, coffee as our fuel!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Red Alert: Seattle Yellow Cab (Puget Sound Dispatch) Limiting Returning Cabs To 160 & Hitting The Grand Slam

Until Further Notice, Only 160 Cabs

On Wednesday I found out that Yellow decided to limit the total cabs allowed to work to 160 cars out of an approximate 240.  Why they are doing this matching concerns expressed last week that drivers returning from their months of unemployment will dilute what business we have, making it harder than it already is.  What's totally clear is that our business model during this dire pandemic moment is primarily based upon the sick and ill, and without this hospital and clinic based clientele, we would be screaming and shaking our fists at the sky.  

Wednesday we had a total 105 cabs working, and doing the math, translating into a mere 55 slots available for those interested in realigning themselves with Yellow.  And it's anyone's guess when business will return to any kind of normal.  All economic indicators suggest this novel coronavirus financial regression will continue through this year and into the next.  God knows what will happen to the Yellow single owners shut out by the cap.

I am told Eastside for Hire is completely shut down, Orange Taxi is in hibernation but Farwest appears to be showing some signs of life, having noticed a few returning cabs.  I am afraid that unless the City/County implements some version of a medallion freeze, allowing operators to retain their licenses minus actively working, we are going to see an exodus of experienced cabbies only to be later replaced by an even more amateurish workforce, far worse, if that's possible, than the sometimes dysfunctional crew we now have plying Seattle's taxi streets. 

My advice then to all you unemployment holidaying cabbies is to notify, ASAP, the folks at Puget Sound Dispatch that you are ready and able to hit the streets.  If not, I'll be saying hello to you at the local 7-11, a fate not worth mentioning but very possible if you don't act soon and rejoin Yellow.  Good luck 'cause you are gonna need it.

Hitting the Taxicab Grand Slam

In baseball parlance, I'm more of a doubles than home run hitter, similar to that great Mariner baseball player now residing in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, Edgar Martinez but on Monday I hit a fare out of the taxi ballpark, landing all the way in Seaview, Washington, a small beach resort town in the southwest corner of the state near the Columbia River.  It's been a long time since I've  had an over $500.00 fare, something rare in my experience.

The drive itself, especially nearing the coast, was very scenic, saltwater marshes and inlets pleasing to the eye, a real alternative to this cement wasteland some call an urban paradise. If I want urban, I'll go to Paris.

And I'd be amiss if I didn't give credit where credit is due because otherwise I wouldn't have been anywhere near Ballard and in position to take the call if it wasn't for our, at times, dysfunctional Philippines callcenter belling me into a destination address instead of the actual pickup address.  As this occurs regularly, I have taken to warning passengers not to tell dispatch where they are going, saying it's none of their concern.  All you want is a cab sent to your home address and nothing else.  Once in the cab, tell the driver your destination but not before, making more sense to do it that way, thus removing one more area for potential dispatch error. Ya want a cab, don't ya!?

And if you need a cab when traveling in Manila, for heaven's sake, don't call Seattle to get a cab, remembering the Emerald City is clear across the wide Pacific Ocean blue, 7000 miles away.   It wouldn't make any sense, would it?  But to some it makes perfect sense, dollars and cents, that is.

Oh well, we're in Taxi Hell, the burning flesh, the sulphureous smell, and do you hear that tolling bell? that ding-dong-dinging our clangorous death knell!

Ain't it swell!

A Mister Poe would be proud.