Thursday, October 14, 2021

Vaccination Mandate For Seattle Yellow Taxicab Drivers & New Hopelink Computer Software Issues & Almost Time To Welcome Back Our Canadian Brethren & When The Cabbie Can't Do Anything Correctly

A New Directive from Puget Sound Dispatch (Yellow Cab): Be Vaccinated by October 15th

Yes, that is the message sent to all of us drivers.  By October 15th, 2021, you must show proof that you have received one of the three COVID-19 vaccines (I have the Johnson & Johnson) or you are bounced off all account fares.  Last week, you might recall, I recommended that all Yellow cabbies transporting COVID-19 positive passengers be previously vaccinated, removing the potential danger faced by non-vaccinated drivers.   This directive takes that one step further by applying this limitation to all variety of account fares, stating that if you are not vaccinated, you will no longer be eligible to serve account-based customers.  My only disagreement is the obvious elimination of free choice; instead, thinking an option of applying for religious and medical exemptions be made available, something appearing to be acceptable both societal and nationwide but evidently, not at PSD.   Other than the date, where everywhere else the deadline is October 18th, I agree that for everyone's safety, you should receive a coronavirus vaccination of your choice unless you qualify for an exemption.  The one positive for our customers will be that non-account passengers will receive a quicker pick-up.  The negative, unfortunately, with fewer qualified drivers available, this new mandate will translate into slower pick-up rates for our account customers.  Guess you can't have everything, and in this case, you certainly won't.  

But to be clear, backing PSD's overall stance are the latest COVID-19 statistics, grim as they are stark.  Current USA total cases are 44,681 million. Total American deaths are now 719,000 out of a total October 13, 2021 USA population of 333,484,850.  Total State of Washington cases stand at 689,484, with 8,152 dead.  King County total cases currently are at 156, 822, with 1,905 confirmed deaths.  All this says that if you are working with the public as we cabbies are, it makes complete sense to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Currently, the national daily death toll is just under 2000.   

Hopelink Software Ills

From all reports, Hopelink's transition to new dispatching software has both account passengers and PSD psychically tearing out their hair, as addressing and scheduling issues have plagued the new system for about the last three weeks.  One example is the new software program insisting that the address for Kasier Permanente (old Group Health) is 125 16th Avenue instead of the actual 125 16th Avenue East.  For those unfamiliar with Seattle streets, the incorrect address places the hospital over a mile away from its actual and real location.  On Tuesday I got a screwed up Hopelink call that had the passenger located almost 2 miles from where he was actually waiting, Harborview Hospital, on First Hill, when I was in Zone 180, the "Westlake."   This kind of mistake is making few people happy but given Hopelink's cavalier history of taking no responsibility for anything, will they now admit there is a problem here of their own making?  Stay tuned.

Biden Says to Canada, "Com' on in!"

Finally, beginning sometime early November, our Northern neighbors will be allowed entry into the USA upon proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.  This new order also applies to our friends residing in sunny Mexico.  The only catch for Mexican citizens is that most of them have been vaccinated with non-WHO approved vaccines, primarily Russia's Sputnik V and China's CanSino vaccine but those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine are considered to be fully vaccinated and fully eligible for entry.  The State of Washington will be glad to have all those crazy Canucks back, attending Seahawk games and of course, riding in Yellow Cabs.  One important suggestion for my fellow cabbies is, like me, obtain a USA passport card just in case you find a Canadian needing to get back up to the Far North.   Fares to Vancouver do happen.  I got one way back in 1989 upon a Christmas Eve night.   A good trip to be sure. 

Warning to All Cabbies: Displaying Any Emotion is a Cardinal Sin

I had the oddest interaction on Monday when belled in to pick up a passenger at a local hospital, something I have done thousands of times.  This time the elderly woman was escorted by a nursing assistant, whom I immediately noticed, appeared to be in some kind of dazed state of mind.  Taking charge, I got the passenger to the curb and out of the wheelchair and to the cab. While doing this, she handed me two purses. I placed them on the back seat, and while helping her into the cab, one fell over, the contents emptying onto the rear floorboard.  This is when I noticed that the NA had fixed me with a "hard" stare.  Odd but there you have it.  

Once having the passenger partway in the cab, she said she couldn't straighten her leg, something very common with older folks getting into the cab. Turning around, there was that same fixed stare, prompting me to say, "Here, you do this," that is, assist the lady into the cab.  In almost every similar circumstance, that what the escort does but this time around he asks the passenger if she still wants to ride with me.  She then says no, along with questioning, "Are you drunk?"  Have you been smoking (marijuana)?"  Assisting her up, I notice that the NA is just standing there, prompting me to maneuver the wheelchair so she can sit down.   And what does he do?  He leans into the cab to see if anything remained on the floorboard, this after I had clearly put everything back in place.      

What this kind of situation tells me is something I already know, that a cabbie's credibility is instantly questioned, and worse, your behavior criminalized, you are now drunk, stoned and who knows what else. God help me and all other cabbies if we take offense concerning odd or strange or inappropriate behavior directed our way, somehow everyone quickly embracing the validity of caste, with the cabbie now the untouchable, the godless dalit.  And all I was doing was assisting the woman into the cab.  Should she instead of been placed in a wheelchair van?  Perhaps but first a real attempt should have been made instead of making the woman wait once again for transport home.  Sunday night, a passenger at the same hospital waited 2 hours before I turned up.  It is not good nor fair to make these elderly customers wait and wait for the cab.  It's not appropriate, it's not moral.

The Only Thing Keeping Me Alive

As I am getting too old (age 67) for this taxi nonsense, I am finding the only remedy keeping me going are epsom/mineral salt baths, sometimes taking one in the morning and one at night, the evening bath often induing sleep.  Am I afraid of drowning?  No, more than happy to drift away embraced by fragrant hot water.  

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