Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A New Dawn? Five Airport Fares On Sunday & Hot Stuff! Not A Sea-Tac Hotel Vacancy In Sight & A New Reality Facing Puget Sound Dispatch's Management & Does Seattle's City Council Endorse Child Sexual Exploitation And Trafficking? & Medallion Renewals 07/01-09/15/2021

New Fare Explosion 

Is Seattle taxi business back to pre-Uber levels, keeping us busy and happy 24 hours a day?  And I say, perhaps, maybe we just might be nearing the kind of demand once accustomed to, similar to entering a ripe fruit laden orchard and reaching up to any branch, finding a beautiful apple or luscious peach.  

Sunday morning downtown Seattle was certainly like that, a cascade of airport runs flowing out to Sea-Tac International, dispatch announcing airport bells originating from the local hotels, my first coming out at 4:00 AM and continuing until a fare north to Bothell telling me it was time to stop and sleep, having worked through the night.  That ride was $59.00.  Money was definitely happening.

It was great to see, all this business, and Monday I had two more Sea-Tac trips, one early, one late, the last a search for an elusive airport-area hotel room.  At Sea-Tac, I recognized many familiar faces amongst the hordes dropping off passengers, even one Greek from the late 1980s, all of us there having a good time except the Greek, his ever dour expression never changing. 

Everyone wanting to cool off from the 108 F. heat

The fare from the Greyhound began innocently enough, a woman going to any Sea-Tac hotel in anticipation of meeting her boyfriend who was flying in later from Alabama.  I thought this was going to be easy since price was no object and she had ID and credit cards but boy! was I mistaken because everyone and their cousins too, were fleeing Seattle's unprecedented heat wave for air-conditioned hotel and motel rooms.  It was bloody insane, everywhere I called for her, including the Priceline hotel callcenter, were giving me the same answer, no, no, no! we have no rooms.  Deciding to proceed southbound down Pacific Highway South and hoping we might get lucky, I saw a lit "Vacancy" sign and pulled in.  And wouldn't you know it, she getting their last room, and me, $60.00.  She was very happy and I was damn well relieved it happened, another satisfied customer thanking her lucky taxi stars.  Damn it was hot!

At this late juncture, one would think PSD understands

I will repeat the obvious more than once because it appears Puget Sound Dispatch, acting as both dispatch and nominal taxi association, can't accept or comprehend that its SOLE source of income comes directly from the single owners and no one else.  I repeat, PSD's SOLITARY source of revenue keeping them afloat originates from all the single owners paying their weekly $180.00 dispatch fee.  That this is true alters the business dynamic between PSD and the drivers.  It is an unavoidable truth.

Unlike the previous BYG Co-op arrangement, where cars and insurance and dispatch were provided for a daily or weekly fee, the new system or agreement we now find ourselves in has very little to do with previous history, the now defunct Co-op once a company/association composed mostly of multiple medallion owners leasing out BYG's services.  Now all the cabs are owned and operated individually but as I keep saying, PSD doesn't appear to know that, operating from the old Co-op premise they are ones in complete control.  

Well, it isn't true and PSD needs to recognize reality as it exists and change accordingly to fairer ground rules governing dispatching and medallion owner relations.  From what I can tell, PSD views the single owners as the enemy or a kind of misbehaving family; and the single owners somehow see or think that PSD is "Mom & Dad," sticking out their uncooperative tongues out like 14-year-old adolescents. 

This is not workable, maturity and reason instead must be applied.  If all of us can begin acting like adults, I think efficiency in all areas will improve.  Can we all grow up?  I hope so.  Our MTI computer dispatch system is highly functional, holding great potential.  All I am asking is for PSD to embrace that potential, enabling all us drivers to do better.  It can happen.  The only barrier is a lack of will, nothing else.  

Victoria from the Shoreline Days Inn

It was painful, hearing the customer's voice over the telephone, a child's voice it seemed, whispering.  And seeing her approach my cab, I realized she was yet another prostitute heading off to "work." How old was she?  I don't know but maybe 16 or 17 because she had me stop and buy her a pack of cigarettes.  Was she underage or simply not having any ID to make the purchase?  I don't know anything for sure but she was young, a kid who shouldn't be in the position of selling herself on the streets.  I dropped her off at 137th and Aurora North.

Last year, on June 16th, 2020, the Seattle City Council passed Council Bill 119808, repealing SMC 12A.10.010, a Seattle law restricting prostitution loitering.  Why did they do that?  Because it was said it was adversely affecting woman of color and that had to stop.  I'm not making this up, this was their justification for allowing black and brown women to be victimized by men seeking illicit sex.  No, don't arrest them.  Instead, subject them to all kinds of dangers and hazards, including serial murderers. 

Does anyone remember Gary Ridgway, the "Green River Killer" who was convicted of murdering 49 prostitutes and is suspected of killing a total of 71 women, including many young runaways?  Doesn't the City Council understand what they were exposing these women to, women completely defenseless when the man is on top of them having sexual intercourse?  

This is why the cops are doing nothing to stop all the streetwalking now occurring on Aurora, the council members condoning, if not promoting Victoria and others like her to a life of pure hell.  If she is murdered, will those same city council members be held accountable for her death?  

You know the answer, of course not, nothing whatsoever happening to them.  Welcome to Seattle, dumbbell city supreme!

The following are council members you can contact to make your opinion known:

City Council President Lorena Gonzalez---lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov  206-684-8809

District 5 Council Member Debora Juarez---debora.juarez@seattle.gov    206-684-8805

Council Member Teresa Mosequeda---teresa.mosequeda@seattle.gov       206-684-8808

Back around the time when Ridgway was active, finding most of his victims near the airport, I remember meeting in the cab a soft-spoken lonely prostitute, obviously somewhere from the southern United States, running her fingers through my hair, a heart-breaking gesture I have never forgotten.  I will never know of course what happened to her.  Did she survive?  Or was she killed, she like so many women plying the streets an easy target for crazy men.  If you are going to sanction prostitution, then do it like its done in Nevada and Amsterdam, make it legal and safe, providing the kind of protection Ridgway's victims never received.  But what is occurring now in Seattle's North-end is inexcusable, it shouldn't be happening.  Now that you too know, join me in telling the City of Seattle to change its approach when caring about women sex-working its streets.

You have 2 1/2 months to renew your taxi medallion

Beginning tomorrow, July 1, 2021, Seattle and King County taxi medallion owners have until Sept 15th, 2021 to renew the medallion.  You can google Seattle Services Portal to get started.  You can call 206-386-1268 for more info.  The Seattle FAS person in charge is Robert Hooks at robert.hooks@seattle.gov 


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Best Routings & Maybe Too Much For The City And County Regulatory Plate & What 1092's Odometer Reads & Hubbly Bubbly Asks 2 Questions

 The Best Route to Where I was Going?

Friend Bill wondered why, when on my way to Port Angeles with that prescription package, did I turn off State Route 16 instead of continuing on up to the Hood Canal Bridge and northbound Highway 101?  Thinking about it, Bill poised a very good point, made sharper by the fact I owned an condo for a few years in Bremerton, often driving Route 16 to visit that famous blog personage, "she-who-can't-be-named" when she resided in Port Townsend.  That my chosen route was reasonably efficient, taking me roughly 2 1/2 to 3 three to get there, staying on SR 16 probably would have been a bit faster, unless of course there had been some kind of delay concerning the bridge, something I have personally experienced.  

Parked outside the Kent, Washington pharmacy, I consulted the Washington Sate map I keep in the cab, making the conscious choice to take Route 302 to Route 3 and then 101.  Thinking back upon it, what was my deciding factor?  Fatigue, simple weariness guiding my eyes instead of my brain realizing what should have been obvious but at that crucial moment, wasn't.  As any cabbie knows, there is nothing more exhausting than day after day after month in the cab, explaining why I take as much time off as I do.  But as my new US Passport photo displays, I am both looking and getting older, my 67 years on this planet telling me and everyone it's true.

I do take pride in my routing where ever I might be going.  What has been usually true over the taxi years are three aspects concerning my driving: I am usually faster to the pickup, faster to the destination, and most always cheaper than other cabbies.  I try then "to make it happen" with every bell I get.  That I am not always perfect is unfortunate but I swear I damn well will keep trying to be, and will continue to do the best I can with the body I have.  But give me sleep, I love to sleep, counting taxi sheep baa, baa, baa! 

Perhaps Asking Too Much

All during these past months talking, communicating with Seattle and King County taxi officials, I have been very aware I was requesting something they have never done: regulating the local taxi industry as a "whole" instead of their primary focus licensing drivers and cabs while also concerning themselves with driver behavior.  That they haven't given much thought to taxi association and dispatch company behavior is obvious to anyone affected by association decisions.  If there is a worse to this, it is how Seattle and King County have seemed completely unaware of who is in practice, in reality making most if not all of association and company decisions: association and dispatch company governing boards.  But maybe I am asking too much of regulators who have never for a minute driven a cab, making them and other officials like the Mayor and City and County Council members oblivious to the real needs and wants of the taxi industry, all them participating in a kind of regulatory "pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey," everyone blindfolded and bumping into walls and each other.  

After many conversations, after many requests extending over the past ten years to get everyone to remove the blindfolds, the industry remains where it began: dysfunction posing as workability and function.  Well, surprise, surprise but no surprise as it appears we are no closer to clarity despite all efforts toward even  temporary resolution.  I give up but as "she-who-can't-be-named" always says about me, I never give up but if I am suddenly smarter, I will finally hold up my hands and vow "I surrender!"

Good, old reliable 1092

A few days ago, my taxicab Ford Crown Victoria had an odometer reading of 387,751. Remarkable. And thank you, 1092, thank you very much for being such a good runner!

Hubbly Bubbly, here you go

A reader asks how many cabs does Seattle Yellow currently have and when will they stop taking returning cabs.  There are roughly between 155-160 cabs actively plying the streets, and the limit appears to be flexible as our summer business grows.  The GM is currently out of town and when he is returning I haven't heard.  The real answer is I don't ultimately know, aptly describing my entire time driving taxi: I don't know for sure one way or the other, upside or down, forever, forever remaining a taxi clown.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Kent, Washington "Stat" Prescription Run To Port Angeles---Fundamental Taxi At its Serious Best & What's Up With All These "Professional Ladies" Strutting Their Stuff On Aurora Avenue North? & Poem

Taxi is many things, and stealing a title from a dumbbell novel, it's "fifty shades of yellow," and perhaps even more, taxi a chameleon changing into what is needed, Saturday transforming my 1092 into a yellow medical missile flying north up the east side of the Olympic Peninsula carrying what must have been an urgently needed drug prescription to a Port Angeles nursing facility, my meter reading $475.10 after traveling 121 more or less miles.  For anyone interested in following my journey upon a map, I first ran southbound from Kent on State Route 167, turning west on SR 18 and proceeding south once again on Interstate-5.  Upon reaching Tacoma, I chose northwest-bound SR 16, crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge before soon turning off onto secondary Route 302, a southwest bending road connecting me to SR 3, and finally, reaching Shelton, proceeding straight up the road on northbound Highway 101.   

Thankfully having daylight most all the way to Port Angeles, I especially enjoyed that part of Highway 101 north of Hoodsport, having not traveled that section of byway for a good 30 years.  Winding along the western side of the Hood Canal, verdant tidal wetlands reached into those inland waters, the local environs of the Hamma Hamma and Duckabush Rivers remarkably beautiful, breathtaking really, my speedy, consequential trek north both serene and delightful, my vital mission becoming personal pleasure.  

Nearing the outskirts of Port Angeles, I called the facility and was expertly guided to my destination. "Turn right at the green house with the yellow door."  And then I was there, my package handed to the helpful nurse and off again I was into the now moist night.  

Rain accompanied me all the way back to Seattle, with me, hungry and happy, only stopping to buy some smoked salmon in Brinnon, Washington.  Sometimes taxi is wonderful, and last Saturday afternoon and evening it certainly was, no complaints from an usual big complainer. 

 My God! Look at all those painted whores prancing up and down Aurora Avenue North

Anyone driving southbound down Aurora these recent days (SR Highway 99) between North 135th and and North 95th, cannot help noticing all these obvious prostitutes (along with some too healthy looking undercover cops) walking on the west side of the road.  Often there are as many as ten or more scantily clad women walking, talking, waving---you name it, they are doing everything they can gaining your attention.  The obvious question is why is the City of Seattle allowing this criminal solicitation to boldly continue minus police intervention.  

This past Monday I dropped two "professionals" off on Aurora, both clearly there for one purpose only, and given the obvious, I asked them why Seattle was letting this happen day after day in broad daylight? The three-hundred pounder with the elephantine thighs (I first saw her in a mini-skirt, god help us), munching on her Jack-in-the-Box double burger, no bacon please, said SPD was letting it happen in the theory that the streetwalking would somehow diminish on its own.  She agreed that some of the young ladies were cops. "That's why I don't talk to nobody!"

My second hooker, visiting from Oregon and coming from the Nexus Hotel, an unfortunately pimp-controlled young woman, had little to say, my questions embarrassing her, whispering a barely audible response upon exiting the cab.  Yes, to think these women have feelings and emotions like everyone else, and for the next few hours, the City of Seattle would be allowing them to be literally manhandled by idiotic grunting, moaning and groaning men.  And you think your work conditions are bad?  Quit complaining. 

As I keep saying, Seattle has become a very stupid place. What I want to see is the current mayor walking along with them.  Com' on, Jenny! spread those _____!

Awful, isn't it?!  Is there any other way to express it?  I don't think so.  

And will it ever change, the "we are pious governing style" taking Seattle to nowhere good or sane whatsoever?  Unless Charles Royer is cloned, it is highly doubtful.  Mayor Schell's ghost stalks the Seattle streets riotously laughing, laughing, having recently returned from his southern France hideaway.  Could this be Halloween in June? 


What is Sound

The metal pan falls to the wooden floor---

crash! clang! it complains

but why do I hear it, why hear anything at all?

What is sound, what is noice, what is voice speaking to me 

as I speak to you?

We have eardrums but do we have communication enhancing thought

and movement 

justifying sound---a horn honking "get out of my way"

or giant, dark menacing thunder clouds rumbling "my lightening bolts 

will smite you ha ha ha!"

Is sound then a warning saying relaxation never possible,

the desert diamondback rattling, rattling its scaly tail,

foretelling life and walking ever treacherous, poisonous fangs

injecting fear, our friend sound demanding your anguished 

screams before death's beckoning, moans dying to an eternal



Munching on salmon, crackers and black olives while parked just south of Brinnion, my thoughts led me to the Canadian poet John Malcolm Brinnin, friend of poet Dylan Thomas and author of that great 1955 published biography, "Dylan Thomas in America."  Both writers are worthy of your reading time.  Thomas's "Diary of An Artist as a Young Dog," is a wink at James Joyce. 



Friday, June 11, 2021

"Zoom" Conversation with Four City And County Taxi Regulators

Wednesday morning I participated in a "Zoom" (or in this case, a Microsoft version) conference call with four lads from the City of Seattle and King County, the purpose, stated or otherwise, was to listen and address my concerns about local taxi association authority and pertaining regulatory statuses.  What was achieved remains to be seen but what the good officials heard was a detailed narrative of our local version of that sometimes picaresque world known as American Taxi.  Are all of us indeed roguish or only a reflection of the wear and tear of too many miles and not enough sleep?  I leave it to you and others to decide but it was only near the discussions end did I amusingly realize I was festooned with a villainous orange mustache courtesy of my morning carrot-citrus juice, organic of course.  And somewhere in my tangled nest of hair lay my concealed horns. 

While certainly questioning the power dynamic between PSD/Yellow Cab and its single medallion owners,  exemplified by recent PSD actions concerning a new operator agreement, I most importantly stressed that City and County emphasis must be concentrated upon taxi customer and passenger service--- the how, why and when they receive their beckoned cab.  For me, I told them, that is my utmost concern.  Passengers are relying upon us and simply, too often, we are failing them.  It is unacceptable.

Backing this up with history, I related how this is nothing new, predating the collapse of the BYG Yellow Taxi Co-op, discussing who was and in control and why any and all regulatory adjustments be made with that in mind, saying more than the current General Manager, they must look behind the scenes, to members of the governing board pulling the strings of the taxi puppet show.  To not do that is to do nothing, which I personally would see as an unforgivable bureaucratic error, failing to understand how taxi mathematics work, two plus two not always adding up to four.  

I also suggested that they lift the pedal up from some of their more idealistic initiatives, especially the idea of granting associations more rate flexibility, likening it to giving the taxi teenager keys to the Corvette Stingray.  One, given the current state of Uber and Lyft, it is not a necessary response, and two, more regulatory pressure and control is required, not less, ensuring that Yellow and other associations don't veer into stationary objects.  My rhetorical response has always been, when if ever has local and national taxi companies been cognizant of its role as a mature and adult-acting industry?  Never is my unhappy answer.  And to think PSD/Yellow and other associations have suddenly grown up is a both a dangerous and foolish notion. 

As our hour ended, I left it feeling both pleased and disappointed given I had done the majority of talking, with two of the fellows saying nary a word save hello, reminding me of Supreme Court Justice Thomas and his mute tenure upon the court.  While appreciating the podium, and happy to be heard, an extended give and take conversation would have been especially helpful, because we in the industry are in trouble, our perpetual limp sometimes a stumble striking our foreheads upon the hard pavement of unforgiving reality.  Our industry needs thoughtful assistance and caring guidance.  While not totally blind, and not, as yet, needing a wagging Labrador Retriever to drive our cabs, we require a firm hand, even if that's gripping our shirt collars and tugging us in the correct direction.  Otherwise, this kind of careening down the operational roadway will continue, the taxi associations not slowing down, failing to avoid potholes causing blowouts and broken axles.  

What we need to do, for a few symbolic minutes, is to park, shift into neutral, take a deep breath, and look around to see where we are.  Do we like the scenery of not?  I for one, can say, I don't, not at all, ready for a new taxi script to be written, and followed.  Why not is what I say.  Why not?



Saturday, June 5, 2021

Amazon Driver Injuries & Complaining About Dysfunctional Cab Drivers Doesn't Make Them More Capable & YC 1092 Violated & New PSD Owner/Driver Agreement & Hail Magawa!

Something is Very Wrong at Amazon 

Those Amazon vans are everywhere, parked in odd places, blocking streets, all to deliver America what America wants but not necessarily needs, and besides packages, Amazon also delivering injury to its workforce.  Last year 2020, Amazon reported over 27,000 warehouse injuries, and the statistics for it's Delivery Service Partners were even worse, with a reported 13.3 drivers per 100 injured on the job.  

Why is this happening?  Because with each new work day, both the warehouse workers and delivery drivers are told to move faster, ever faster to complete their tasks, increasing their productivity.  Does this earn them more money?   No, it doesn't, then what is the payoff?---Jeff Bezos getting richer and richer by the second, Bezos nearing a personal worth of 200 billion dollars.  Is he out-of-control?  Yes but what can be done about it?  Nothing, nothing except avoiding Amazon as much as you can, Amazon the new plantation, its workers enslaved and exploited for the Bossman's gain, Amazon's invisible whip as real as any cowhide lashing the backs of hapless humans.  

A postscript to this is the news item this Sunday morning telling us that a 21 year old Amazon DSP driver attacked a 67 year old customer in Castro Valley, California.  While the kid will be held solely responsible for his actions, Amazon will be allowed to continue pressuring its employees and contractors beyond human endurance.  And given his wealth, few will question Bezos, Mister Bezos our Wall Street Hero leading investors to huge dividends.  Hurrah!

Chatting with the Puget Sound Dispatch General Manager

An impromptu conversation with Amin, PSD's GM, left me more frustrated than before our unscheduled meeting began.  While both liking and respecting Amin, I find unacceptable his policy of not clearly identifying the calls (bells) offered to us over our MTI dispatch system, telling him I need more information before deciding to accept or reject an offered fare.  Currently, at least 80% of the fares offered provide no indication of what they are or not, meaning all of us drivers must blindly guess whether it makes any sense to accept or reject.  And when the offered fare is 10 miles and 30 minutes of drive time away, we need to know what it is.  All this driving in heavy, crazy traffic is fatiguing.  We are an aging workforce.  We need commonsense applied to what we are doing, plainly requiring relief.

What we have now is a kind of game show scenario, where you have three choices hiding behind the curtains, leaving you guessing which contains the real prize.  PSD's argument is that by revealing whether a call is cash or account, the majority of drivers rejecting the cash fare every time.  And when I suggest any training that could improve driver decision making, he flatly rejects that, leading me to think that change will never come, an eternal frustration ceasing only upon walking away from the cab.

What I do know for sure is that its Yellow's customers who are paying the ultimate cost for PSD and driver dysfunction.  Last night I picked up Wendy, a regular customer of over 20 years, listening to her tale of waiting, waiting and waiting for her cab to both take her to and from work.  She is a real taxi commuter, taking Yellow RT five days a week.  Making her late for work is not how to treat a loyal customer but regardless, the woeful story continues to when, when will it end? 

Stealing from my Cab

The reason I was at the PSD office Tuesday was a Memorial Day theft of my electronic credit card reader from the cab. They also took the old meter.  All this cost me $200.00.  For the taxi life of me I never thought someone would take the reader because it is useless save what I use it for.  I also found out that PSD is no longer keeping replacement readers in stock because the vast majority of drivers are using alternate credit card payment systems.  I can understand why.  

Puget Sound Dispatch Wants Us to Sign the Dotted Line

 In this week's PSD newsletter, we were told that a new operator agreement will soon be available for us to sign, adhering us to polices and arrangements we may not want to follow, but how can anyone know one way or the other when none of us single owners have been shown a draft copy or asked for our input.  Upon finding this out, I have requested PSD to do exactly that, that before any of us sign this new document, we first must be shown an initial draft and allowed time for comment and input.  

As I keep pointing out, we are independent contractors and not employees, and moreover, we are PSD's sole financial support and without us, PSD doesn't exist.  It might be an overreaction but I am reminded of Russia's Catherine the Great and her amazing art collection funded by hard laboring Russian serfs.  If you ever wondered why the 1917 Russian Revolution occurred, go online and look at the art collection contained in the Hermitage Art Museum in Saint Petersburg and you will gain understanding why people revolted, taking to the streets.  I walked those galleries and glad I did but what paid for those amazing paintings?  The sweat and blood of impoverished peasants.    

What I am questioning is the current dichotomy between association and single owners, who is in control, under what kind of authority do taxi associations operate under?  This is an extremely important question, which I am hoping the City of Seattle and King County will answer this week when I meet to discuss various issues with those very same taxi regulators.  PSD currently says it has complete control to make any and all decisions regarding us minus input and complaint.  Is that true?  And if that is true, how can this kind of arrangement continue without recognizing that the single owners must be included in what should be a democratic process of give and take negotiation.  We are not serfs toiling upon the Siberian steppes but free cabbies wanting to grow our lives in the fertile soil that is American democracy.  

And all I am advocating for is an equal partnership, not a bloody revolution and the sharp guillotine.  Let us talk.  Let us be free.  

Hail Magawa!

No, Magawa is not a cabbie but an African pouched rat trained to sniff out land mines and unexploded bombs.  Now I am sure Magawa would be a great taxi driver but he is retiring at age 6 after helping clear mine fields in Cambodia.  Magawa is a real hero and awarded a gold medal for bravery from the British charity PDSA, Magawa the first of its species to win an honor previously reserved for dogs.  In his six years of service, Magawa found 71 land mine and 38 pieces of unexploded ordnance.  Good work! 

And if Magawa owned Amazon, do you think he would act like Jeff Bezos?  Not a chance!