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. 

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