Thursday, January 28, 2021

Greetings From Ocean Shores, Washington: Wishing Upon A Seattle Taxi Star & Dismal Business Report From Sea-Tac International Airport

Hello from Ocean Shores

I'm writing to you from a part of the state of Washington I've never been before, a small tourist town on the western coast, and I'm here because submitting my new book is all important, and remaining in Seattle means I am forever shallowed alive by taxi, doing little except eat, sleep and drive cab.  I chose Ocean Shores because the off-season lodging is cheap and I can walk the beach when taking much needed breaks.  Friday, I will be driving north to Kalaloch, and time permitting, hike in the local rain forests, taking me back to 1976 when I worked trail crew for the National Park system.  

This entire part of Washington is special, sometimes making me wonder why I traverse around our planet when, right here, some of the most amazing landscape exists free for view and enjoyment, and if I'm interested in eating smoked salmon, the Makah Indian Reservation up in the Northwest corner is the place to find it.  When talking to"she-who-can't-be-named" over the telephone, I told her that while these short breaks from taxi are helpful, it's only like refilling a slowly leaking tire that's bound to flatten entirely if not repaired.  

And the truth, this taxi tire needs a permanent repair, meaning getting the heck out of this business as soon as I can, which is again why I am here, doing what I need to do obtaining the correct publishing deal instead of repeating past errors, tossing my last book to the publishing wolves.  I won't do that again, in that case, no one caring about the book's fate one way or the other, prematurely burying the book alive.  Not funny.  No, not at all.  

Regardless of all that, Ocean Shores is worth the time to visit, particularly the southern section which encompasses the north side of Grays Harbor.  Even if that sounds confusing, check out the area called the North Jetty, clambering over the huge rocks and enjoy the giant, crashing waves from a safe distance.  And since this is the winter season, rooms are relatively inexpensive, certainly cheaper than Seattle where a crack-motel room will cost you over $70.00 including tax.  Check out the various hotel booking services like Priceline and enjoy some of Washington State's natural splendors.  Far more fun than sitting in that cab staring at the computer waiting for the next miracle fare.  They do sometimes happen but ultimately, who cares?

Dysfunction is the wrong Compunction 

Yes, wishing, wishing upon a distant guiding star, hoping beyond hope that relief and sanity will embrace Puget Sound Dispatch/Seattle Yellow Cab minus open communication and hard work will be only that, wishful thinking directed not toward the sky but the nearest drain pipe.  As said last week, I am requesting  we take our problems seriously because they will not diminish by themselves, negative and unproductive behaviors too entrenched to vanish quickly into the ether.  As I see it, we have two major issues.  

The first, involving the single owner operators, is the attitude that it's simply okay to do whatever comes to mind relating to customer service, however bad or good not mattering, one's own interpretation in that instantaneous moment your only directive regardless of whether it's sane, insane, kind, unkind, cruel etc.  That is what is happening, meaning anything can and will occur when the cabbie believes any and all whimsical response is okay, previous rules and limitations literally thrown out the taxi window.  Of course this isn't proper, of course it's totally nuts but that's the real and prevalent behavior we are witnessing. 

The second barrier to resolution is the unfortunate and longstanding taxi company/association tradition of poor and opaque communication with single owners and lease drivers.  To once again quote Mister Bob Dylan, "And there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden,"  PSD mandates somehow taking on the authority of the "spoken words of God," not to be questioned or even understood but must be forever  obeyed.  That this style of governance doesn't make for nuanced communication is obvious, only encouraging open rebellion amongst the riotous masses.   

And where does all this take us?   Recalcitrant drivers versus offended management in an endless circle going round and round to nowhere whatsoever.  What we require instead are plausible guidelines, open and frank discussion minus threats and the kind of intervention that will firmly instill sustainable values serving everyone in a just and equal way, finally restoring sanity to an insane situation.  If we all recognize that there are problems requiring good and fair solutions, we can and will be a much better company and association.  If respect is the first word, all the other necessary words will follow, binding sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into whole pages, the pages becoming our completed story.   

And all will be happy and content, if they decide to be. 

A Sea-Tac Airport Cabbie called me

He called me to ask some questions about the late Dennis Roberts, not having the full story surrounding his death.  After answering his queries, I asked about how business was at the airport, with his response not reassuring, saying his routine is 48 hours on, with 24 hours off, this due to Sea-Tac scheduling of cabs.  He said it usually takes four hours to go through the cab line to get a fare.  Is he making any money?  No, not really, only barely surviving.  A dismal description indeed, taking the Sea-Tac cabbies nowhere but to an early taxi grave. Not good.


Poetry, or at least something pretending to be, as been in the national news.  Also, in last Sunday's Seattle Times Pacific NW magazine, there was a cover feature concerning the writer/poet Theodore Roethke, someone long associated with the University of Washington, dying in 1963.  He is worth reading.  

                                                               When Writing

                          When writing poetry you must have something to write about, 

                          something already there not placed nor decided by you, life's

                          circumstances good and bad involuntarily imprinting your 

                         subjects, you the inmate sentenced to write whatever they might be, 

                          choice having nothing to do with this predetermination you find  

                          yourself reciting, memory your ghostwriter and not always friendly 



Other than when it's intentional, like Ogden Nash or Lewis Carroll, writing poetry is a serious business that shouldn't be trivialized.   And of course Nash and Carroll, even when silly, were totally serious.

I'll leave you with a haiku composed after walking to and from the beach in a raging gale.  

5      Wind, rain, snow beating

7      my back, blowing me to the

5      spumy, angry sea. 


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Unbalanced Taxi: Poor Service, Miscommunication And Rancor At Puget Sound Dispatch/Seattle Yellow Cab

Admittedly, from my very first introduction to the taxi industry way back in September 1987, it was easily described as a topsy-turvy, upside-down, contradictory world----efficiency translating into maybe, honesty convenient only when it wasn't.  Understanding this inherent reality, it didn't bother me much due to my noncommittal commitment, already gainfully employed, taxi a literal vehicle taking me to quick savings and daily Chinese meals, taxicab driving a lark, a nightingale singing down the monetary street to a personal pot waiting at my Rainbow's end.  Why care, I had no need to care, taxi's insanity deflected elsewhere, my residence in the asylum temporary, knowing I would soon be gone.  

But when circumstances changed, permanency becoming my residence, the madness suddenly more personal, and like all mental illnesses, extremely difficult to alter, taxi Bedlam now an assigned address, like Bob Dylan's Desolation Row, "no, no letters please!" unless they originated from this little hell on earth we were all sharing.  And with my taxi acquaintance now heading into its 34th year, not only do I require respite, I want resolution to the ongoing mayhem, disorganization and stupidity I am immersed, minus any life jacket keeping my head above the sewer I find myself swimming---dog-paddling through thoughtless slime and pollution.  This isn't any fun.  It isn't at all reasonable.  I want it to quickly end.  And now!

Supplying, amplifying my distress was finding out that drivers (Yellow Cab single owners) continue to misbehave right out in the open air, screwing around with Hopelink fares while giving little heed to how their actions affect me and other drivers operating correctly, honestly and professionally.  That, along with hearing the quote that I, YC 1092, along with others dislike the dispatch manager, with all that implies,  telling me that little to nothing has changed since 1987 and I don't like it, I don't like it at all.  But what can I do that I haven't already attempted toward clarifying muddied waters rising to our necks and higher? 

The truth is, I'm not sure what to do, when chaos is readily embraced, taken as balm instead of menace, poison quaffed like water.  Doesn't anyone amongst this rancorous mob realize this internal collapse, this kind of implosion is only taking us to the shared brink of self-destruction?  As bad as we are, we at Yellow, other than some percentage of Farwest, are the last cab company standing in Seattle and King County.  Not only do we need to survive, we must survive for the sake of our customers, Yellow the most essential of all area taxi associations.  Shouldn't our argument instead become dialogue, our balled fists open palms? Any other approach is suicide.  We must then collectively put aside animosity and embrace conciliation, recognizing we are allies, not enemies. Any other path is futile, taking us down to mutual perdition.  This is unnecessary.  We can do better.




Saturday, January 16, 2021

New Important Advice On How To Ventilate, Aerate Your Cab During The Pandemic & Are Seattle Ubers Now More Expensive Than Taxis? Perhaps Is The Answer & This Never Happened Before & New Message For King Street Station & An Iraqi Cabbie Recites A Poem

Airing Out your Cab for Safety

A commonsense axiom during this time of air-spread viral disease is how ventilation assists in moving the coronavirus safely through the air, lessening the chance of infection.  During a recent study, a MIT researcher, along with three Brown University colleagues discovered the best way to use the air generated by a moving car to ensure safe airflow for driver and passenger.  Using the model of the typical taxi/TNC seating arrangement---driver in the front left-side, with the passenger sitting right-side rear---they found that opening the windows opposite the occupants created optimal airflow throughout the car interior, a natural interior vortex of a speed generated breeze.  Since reading this, I have started doing just that but only opening the windows a third of the way, along with utilizing the heater during these chilly hours and days.  Accompanied by mask usage, doing this will assist to the personal benefit of all, keeping you and your customer healthy and safer for another day. 

Ubers Cost More?

 Since the new Uber (TNC) Seattle-based rate increase became effective January 1st, 2021, I have been curious as to real-time rate comparisons of one versus the other, taxi and Uber point A to B, downtown to Sea-Tac International, etc. And my first active example occurred Wednesday, taking a passenger from 63_ _ 24th Avenue Southwest to an auto repair shop at 9200 16th Avenue Southwest, Uber's estimate $14.00 dollars to what I thought would be ten to twelve dollars.   

"No more Uber for me," she said, "from now on it's Yellow Cab.  You're Cheaper!"  And I believe her, and once the word gets out, with Ubers' rate going up further come April, I think all of us cabbies will be hearing that refrain more and more: "You're cheaper!" and it will be true, with Uber helpless to do anything about it, Uber now firmly pressed beneath Seattle's bureaucratic thumb.  Thank you, Seattle City Council for dealing Uber potentially a mortal wound in our local transportation market, unintentionally targeting the very operators you have insisted on helping, sweet irony the applicable term.  

A Small Taxi Miracle

While a regular customer was requesting my appearance at 13000 Linden Avenue North, simultaneously I was offered a call in the Zone 180.  Accepting the fare, where did Maggie go?  To Renee's building at 13000 Linden Avenue North!  I have never ever had that happen before, two rides matching in some kind of cosmic puzzle.  What a convergence of the taxi gods!  Hallelujah!

When Someone Wants a Cab at the Train Station

Now when encountering more customers than you can handle at King Street Station, 303 South King Street, don't call the Philippines.  Instead, go to messages, and Other, sending the new message Puget Sound Dispatch have yet to tell you about.  Calling dispatch is often painful.  Avoid the pain and remain almost sane, we hope.  

A lit Iraqi cigarette poem

In the January 5th, 2021 edition of the NY Times, in an article reported by Jane Arraf concerning Iraq's current economic collapse, an Iraqi cabbie was quoted.  Repeated here are the last two paragraphs:

"Like many Iraqis, he also writes poetry.  Asked to recite one of his poems. he pulled a cigarette out of a package, broke it in half and threw it on the ground.

"I am like a cigarette, "he said, "I burn and like a butt, I would be thrown away.  Do not talk to me about the homeland.  We are poor and our homeland is the grave." 

Iraqi taxi driver Amar Musa 

Thank you, George Bush, for doing such a good job destroying a country for no real reason whatsoever.  Mister Musa thanks you.

Park of the Week: Arbor Lake Park, 12380 2nd Avenue South, Burien

Another Seattle-area park, this time south King County in the city of Burien.  The park has this nice lake hidden in a very residential neighborhood.  Total area is 8.5 acres.  Very pleasant surprise and usually very quiet.  Good place to feed the ducks.  Bring bread crumbs and commune with the floating wildlife.  Very easy to find.  Just off of South 128th & 1st Avenue South.  Also has a playground for the kids.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

At Least 80 Masks And Counting & My Kind Of Crazed Personal & Two Parks Hiding In Shoreline

Too Many Masks

At this rate, handing out masks daily, I'm gonna begin thinking that my fellow humans just don't know there is a serious pandemic coursing across planet earth, killing so many who didn't have to die, didn't want to die but die they did, and continue, 4000 Americans dying yesterday.  Is that possible?  How is that possible but true it is, all the early warnings becoming reality hitting us squarely in the face, a fierce wind reddening the skin.  Or maybe living in your own very personal dreamland is soothing to the misguided soul coughing, spitting up blood---bright red berries upon the Christmas season green holly tree: dead is the body, dead is the mind but alive is the ignorance that's anything but sublime!


I had given him my business card a couple months ago, a passenger heading up to North Bothell from Ballard, a more or less seventy-five dollar fare, something to remember, which I did.  Late last Saturday he called me back for the first time, saying he wanted to go to a porno shop and giving me $200.00 upfront to take him there and back.  Up to Bothell I went and it was all true except the joint was closed, taking him home and happy to do it, the gentleman saying he might try again on Sunday.  And he did call, and again up I went, getting another $200.00, transporting D. to the now open store, mission accomplished, whatever the mission was.  

Ring, ring goes my telephone Wednesday afternoon, and can I? and yes I can, picking D. up and once again handed $200.00, taking him to his friend Louie's, Louie jumping into the cab and all of us going to Seattle's oldest Chinese restaurant, Tai Tung, ordering takeout and back to Louie's we went. They left the cab, leaving me two delicious dishes and two hundred dollars.  I like this!  Regrettable that you drink too much but hey, you can call me anytime.  Six hundred easy dollars in a five-day span.  Wowie yowie!

2 Parks just North of Seattle

I'd be amiss if I didn't include some parks in the greater Seattle vicinity because there are many great places to get out and enjoy bits and pieces of the great Northwest not totally destroyed by developers.  Thankfully, Bill Boeing, he of the aircraft company, saved some of his vast forest tract for you and me, Boeing Creek Park, 12729 3rd Avenue NW the result.  It's a big place, 88 more or less acres to get lost in.  I especially like the trail along the creek, a very rough, almost treacherous path wet and slippery, providing the idea that you are somewhere deep in the mountains when its obvious you remain close to the confounding modern world.  Enjoy some of the original giant Douglas Firs. Hug them, love them, having been spared from logging long ago.

Meridian Park, 16765 Wallingford Avenue North, is a postage-sized park containing a circular path taking you through a small wet land.  That's pretty much it but I think it's special, a nice tiny getaway from suburban banality. Good place to walk the dog. Unlike Boeing Creek, this park is easy to find.  Turn west off of Meridian onto North 170th and you will head directly to it.  Enjoy!


Saturday, January 2, 2021

A January 1st Surprise---Seattle Uber Rates Matching Taxis? & Friendless And Abandoned: Seattle's Taxi Industry Dangling In The Bureaucratic Wind

Along with exploding firecrackers and clangorous church bells ringing in the year 2021, we had the City of Seattle's mandated voices shrilly chiming in, announcing that Uber drivers have additional reasons to rejoice this holiday season, with a 25% rate increase at midnight's toll January 1st, with another 25% coming in April.  Along with those goodies sitting beneath the post-Christmas tree, Uber drivers will also unwrap five guaranteed sick days and a $5.00 cancellation fee, all I'm sure bringing a big smile to the Uber kids, not mattering if they were naughty or nice.   The silver lining for Seattle and King County Cabbies is that newly estimated fares now come close to matching or surpassing current taxi fares, translating into a more equal fare environment, removing the excuse often given that Uber is cheaper.  

Well, it ain't no more, and thank goodness for that, something good coming from the bad, repairing just a little the damage done when Seattle and King County opened the TNC/ride-share floodgates, 28,000 plus operators inundating area streets.  Why were Uber and Lyft drivers starving?  Too many folks crowding a limited market the simple answer to a question never properly asked, the obvious ignored by local decision makers interested in misplaced compassion instead of using commonsense to address an artificially created issue.  Could Teamsters 117 have had something to do with the final outcome, having latched onto all those potential due payers?  No, no, the Teamsters wouldn't do that, jilting their taxi bride at the regulatory altar for a prettier face.  Perish the thought! 


The sad reality is that by playing favorites, the City of Seattle has effectively abandoned an one-hundred year old industry.  What guarantees were announced for taxis this new year?  None, none whatsoever.  No sick days, no new $16.69 minimum wage or the Uber gross hourly guarantee of over $30.00 per hour.  We don't even get to use the lower West Seattle Bridge to pick up our account customers without getting cited.  If we had Christmas stockings, they would be filled with coal and nothing else.  Adding further insult, not only were we forgotten, we were never remembered, a distant memory lost in too many back pages.  Merry Christmas, cabbies!  Ha Ha Ha!