Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Messy Life That Is Taxi & Seattle Is All Wet & Hopelink Clients Continue To Suffer & Best Airport Run Ever & Vaccine Mandates Squeeze Non-Vaccinated Cab Drivers & Fruit, No Vegetable Streets

 Too Many Hours, Not Enough Time

Taxi driving, as any cabbie will attest, is a stern master, demanding every second of your time and concentration.  Step away from your cab for a minute, and boom! you have missed a call and how much money you will never know, or truthfully, never wanting to know you missed a $600.00 plus trip across the Cascades by 25 seconds.  Given that reality, the cabbie sticks to it, because you never can tell what your next fare will be, or where that elusive bird, the Taxi Golden Goose, is laying its next jewel-encrusted egg.  

And the results from that crazed money chase is a room, house or apartment strewn with the remnants of a pressured life---you are a slob---certainly the verdict rendered by a social, nose-in-the-air snob, never caring to understand the impossibility of maintaining an orderly life impacted by ceaseless stress and worrisome discord.  As I will always say, welcome to taxi, or as Bob Dylan sang, welcome to "Desolation Row," and in this taxi chant---our own special version of a modern Hades flying down Eisenhower's freeways, gibberish sung at seventy miles per hour.  

36.89 inches of rain through yesterday 6:00 PM

That means the Seattle area has reached its annual rainfall nearly 40 days early, flooding down here every minor but up north of here, very major.  Hey, can we have some of this moisture in July, thank you very much!

quick PS 11/24/2021, 9:50 AM: rainfall now 37.39.  It keeps coming!

No Hopelink Rides for Dialysis Patients

Both late Saturday and Sunday nights I was belled in to kidney dialysis centers paying for their clients to get home, Hopelink failing again and again to provide the promised transportation.  This is no way to treat the vulnerable but there it is, and there it goes, in these examples---no where at all---the patients marooned in a Hopelink service provider swoon. A nurse issued an impassioned plea: where is Hopelink? 

Ya Never Know!

Yesterday early evening, belled into the Olympic Hotel, the guy jumps in and is going to Sea-Tac but first we have to go to Kent, Washington and the Kent-Kangley Road Safeway store.  Okay I say, guessing he is heading there for a coronavirus vaccination, and I was right, sitting there waiting with a near $100.00 on the meter upon his reentry back into the cab.  Off to Sea-Tac we go , ending with $135.00 on the meter, and $25.00 tip---$160.00 cash in my pocket.   Best, biggest cash value airport run I've had.  God! ya never know!

Most of the Yellow Accounts are now saying: Get Vaccinated

Pretty soon it will be all of them: no vaccination, no account fare.  It is going hurt all those drivers not getting the jab, as they call it, in the UK, another kind of death for the ever suffering cabbie. 

Orange Place North, East Cherry Street, South Plum Street

I looked it up.  No vegetable-named streets, and certainly no Kiwi, in Seattle.  Along with Peach Court, Orange, Cherry and Plum are the fruits you can drive upon.  Given this is Washington State, where do you find Apple Street?  In Puyallup and Bremerton, that's where.

An Important Book

"Dark Persuasion, A History of Brainwashing from Pavlov to Social Media" by Joel Dimsdale, Yale University Press, 2021.  I am reading it.  Important info and history.  I recommend it highly.  Do you remember the Hale-Bopp comet mass suicides? 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Another Local Area Cabbie Dead From COVID-19: "No One Will Tell Me What To Do!" & No Late Night Hopelink Coverage

He Doesn't Have to Worry About that Now

Doug was a Tacoma/Pierce County Yellow cabbie who, like all cabbies, was a natural iconoclast, resenting being told he needed to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.  Not him, Doug said, I'm not going to do it.  Well, about three weeks ago, Doug told a regular customer he wasn't feeling well, "just coming down with a cold," he said.  Two weeks later Doug was dead, having succumbed to COVID-19.  Where ever Doug is now or not, I can only hope there is no one up above or down below ordering him around because he won't like it, instead preferring to rest in peace, which I hope is Doug's fate---Taxi-Heaven minus any and all pushy customers and bossy people in general. 

No Hopelink Service for their Passengers late Night, early Morning

Late Sunday night, early Monday morning, I was in and out of the Northwest Hospital Emergency Room, trying to to serve passengers who were there or not, some disappearing into the night.  With each arrival, I noticed a young guy sitting next to the window, clearing waiting for a ride.  After being belled in for Bill, and no Bill to be found, the guy asked if I was "Hopelink."  No, I said, but since I was essentially done for the night, I said, "Com' on, I'll take you home for free," understanding there was no one coming for him.  How did I know that?

The simple answer is that, late night, early morning, there are no cabs whatsoever serving the Hopelink account.  Farwest, the only remaining somewhat functional cab association, shuts off its dispatch and goes to sleep, while Yellow isn't serving Hopelink rides between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, and all day Sunday due to Hopelink's refusal to work with Yellow/PSD's Philippine-based callcenter.  The result is no service for perhaps hundreds of passengers during the late hours.  The passenger I rescued said he had perviously waited up to five hours for a Hopelink ride home.  

I have more than once alerted all those folks at Seattle and King County For-hire and Taxi licensing about this, and so far, nothing has changed, passengers like this young gentleman waiting, waiting into the long night.  And then, with the morning light, still no taxi in sight.

No taxi, no taxi, no taxi anywhere!

I am so angry I could pull out my hair!

Because no taxis here, no taxis there,

what is the problem, does anybody care?

Where is that taxi I am waiting for, the one

taking me home?

like antelopes and deer and bison upon the 

urban prairie,

Where do they roam?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

City Of Seattle And King County In Taxi Slumberland & More Uber Financial Quarterly Losses & Reality Of NYC Taxi Post-Hunger Strike

Wake Up, Little Susie! (and apologies to Phil and Don)

I have to admit that it has taken this "bear of little brain" too long to fully understand why all those folks from Seattle and King County Taxi Licensing haven't heeded my laments concerning the never ending, poor taxi service offered to our long suffering customers.  The reason being?  They are asleep, and like Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, have been for a very long time, decades it seems, soundly asleep at the regulatory wheel.  Even when seemingly awake, as when in the 1970s they deregulated the local industry, they were instead "asleep upon their feet," sleepwalking through the taxi day, and to put it into rhyme, boy, did they make the passengers pay!  

Maybe currently it might seem to all those now occupying the regulatory offices "that it is all a bad dream," and once totally awake they will, upon rubbing their eyes, say none of this can really be true but as someone totally awake to the nightmare that is day-to-day taxi, I can vouch that this is indeed reality, and pulling the blankets over your head not the proper response to elderly ladies waiting 3 whole hours for their cab's arrival.  While "Little Nemo in Sumberland," that comic strip from America's first 20th Century decade, is entertaining, Little Nemo DID finally wake up, questioning his nighttime reality---it isn't at all helpful that the City of Seattle and King County remain curled in a sung ball, oblivious to the taxi reality blaring outside their office doors.  

So my request is simple: Guys, will you please wake up, get out of bed and do something about the daily chaos that is Seattle and King County taxi.  Brew some strong coffee and drink it down, alerting yourself to the awake responsibility you hold: to ensure that everyone who requests a cab in Seattle and King County gets one in a timely way.  That's it.  It is that basic. 

And if nothing changes, I know why.  You are asleep, and talking out loud not proving otherwise, shouts into the dark the least effective of communications, hollow verbal emanations trailing into the vacuous night. 

Uber Loses $2.4 Billion Dollars in most recent Quarterly Report

Uber has more excuses for why it continues to lose money than the average porcupine has quills, this time due to its investment in the Chinese version of Uber--Didi.  But never fear, Uber says, because it had a total quarterly revenue of $4.8 billion, a 72% increase from one year ago.  If not for the Didi financial hit, that $4.8 billion would have been Uber's first profitable quarter EVER.  An article in the London Sunday Times expressed how upset UK Uber riders have become, given ever longer waits and higher rates. The article said many have doubts that Uber will survive.  

But don't ask Uber anything like that.  They could be on verge of closing but they wouldn't tell you, instead saying everything is great and we will see you tomorrow when they won't.  A very questionable development is the talk of Uber dispatching NYC cabs.  Bad idea to join forces with the very enemy holding a knife to your jugular vein.  Unwise!

New York City Cab Owner Reality

Before you uncork the wine bottle and celebrate that the average NYC cabbie has won a huge victory from NYC government and its allied medallion financial companies, you have to have some understanding of the monthly expenses of running and owning a cab.  I know because I own one and know what it means to be under the pressure of weekly and monthly expenses that don't go away unless you quit the business or die.  

The recent settlement says that, for starters, the NYC cabbie will be paying $1,100 per month on his/her medallion mortgage.  If they drive everyday in a 30 day month, and drive a Prius, let's call it $30.00 per day for gasoline, making it $900. every month alone for the gas.  Insurance  costs varies but I will estimate $600.00 per month, adding up to $7,200 for the year.  As there are licensing fees, etc, I will throw in another $150.00 per month, which I think is lowballing it.  

Quickly adding it all up, the NYC cabbie must first make $2,750. before he/she starts to see a penny of profit in any given month.  Yes, I see the NYC cabbie making that in a hard working one week, or 1 1/2 weeks but that might be overly optimistic, meaning it might take the cabbie a full two weeks to earn that $2,750., and that's working more or less day and night, 12-16 hours week after week.  And what about the cost of living in NYC?  The rents, etc.  Lord, you don't have mercy!

Pretty horrible, you say?  Modern slavery, you say?  Ya got that right, Bub!, ya got it right!  Welcome to taxi-land, home to the woebegone and depressed, their reality my reality. 

No fun, I'm on the run!  And tired as hell!

Sorry to Report

Peter Steinbrueck, the taxi driver friendly candidate for Port of Seattle Commission, Position 4, lost.  Not by much but he lost.  The one thing that certainly needs to happen at Sea-Tac is a reduction in the per-trip fee the driver pays with each outgoing fare.  If I remember correctly, the gate fee is $7.00.  And if the cabbie waits two hours and only gets a $10.00 fare, it is a wasted two hours.  Something must change if fairness and wage equity is the goal.  The current system is pure punishment, plain and simple.  There is no other way to see it, the BIG Port of Seattle taking advantage of the small business operator. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Some Local Election Results & The Saga of Non-Existent Kiwi Avenue & Crazed Passengers Tumbling Out Of The Cab & NYC Cabbies Still On Their Hunger Strike

 Bruce Harrell will be Seattle's Next Fill-in-the-Blank Chief (Excuse me, I meant Mayor)

I expected Harrell to win big against M. Lorena Gonzalez, with early results showing just that, trouncing her by a 65% to 35% margin, meaning it is now preordained that Harrell wins out, taking over for the embattled incumbent mayor, Jenny Durkan clearly deciding four years of slander and abuse more than enough, departing while preparing for the future legal battles awaiting her post-administration.  Would Durkan categorize, you think, her past four years as a "new Summer of Love" as she famously surmised when part of Seattle's Capital Hill was occupied by "George Floyd" protesters?   

I doubt it but with Seattle legion of of poor and ineffectual politicians, you never know.  Gonzalez, in an election night comment, said she wanted "every vote to be counted," as if that was ever an issue, which of course it isn't, sounding more like a Trump-style Republican that the liberal Democrat she claims to be.  Watch out for the "shape-changing" politician, instantly becoming something new and altered, a new color or shade of political chameleon, their old beliefs suddenly invisible to the inquiring public. 

As for the Port of Seattle Commission race, Position Number 4, early results had Peter Steinbrueck leading Hasegawa with less than 25% of the tabulated vote, the race at this point too close to call, with the final result probably not known until tomorrow or later.  He was leading by one percentage point but as of 5:31 PM Wednesday night, Hasegawa had taken a 275 vote lead.  When people say that your vote doesn't count or mean anything, they not only don't know what they are talking about, they are completely wrong.

In terms of Harrell, I will be reminding him of how he shafted the taxi industry back in 2014, and whether he will be making quick amends for his past evil deeds?   I will keep you posted as to his response, if any, comes my way.  Maybe I am being too hard upon the fellow but I will never forget how he stood next to Sally Bagwell, and smiled, saying he was voting to toss out the Seattle City Council's bill regulating and capping Uber and Lyft, there being no forgiving nor forgetting for his political crime, executing the local taxi industry with a big grin.  How amusing he wasn't that day nor this day, for that matter. 

There is No Kiwi Avenue in Seattle, Washington, I Swear it Upon a Stack of Thomas Guides 

On the night the King County Licensing official rode with me, we picked up a passenger in lower Queen Anne on his way to a Capital Hill address at the intersection, he said, of Pike and Kiwi, his destination turning out to be one of the few remaining gay bathhouses in Seattle, Club Z.  When I questioned the existence of a Kiwi street or avenue, the now superior passenger said, "I will bet the cost of the fare that Kiwi does exist."  Normally I would take up such a bet but there was something odd about his confidence, laying claim to an area I have known since 1973.  Describing it, I realized he was talking about an angle, block-long street running northwest from Pike to Pine, a street I have been on countless times.  And besides, I found the guy supercilious and insulting, and rather glad to have the irritant out of the cab.  But what was he talking about, because that angle street turned out to be Minor Avenue, and there were no signs anywhere naming or indicating Kiwi as an addressed street. 

If you google Kiwi in Seattle, you get a map showing the neighborhood but nothing that labelled the real and actual location.  My suspicion is that Kiwi is an unnamed alleyway running northwest from Union to Pike adjacent to Club Z.  Is Kiwi a local nickname sanctioned by the local Gay Community, a kind of "inside joke" given all the "fruits" (derogatory slang for homosexual men) entering Club Z?   

I don't know but there is a Kiwi Street in San Diego, California.  Kiwi Acres Lanes exists near Coupeville, Washington.  There is a listing for a "Kiwi" at 1102 24th Avenue South near Judkins Skate Park.  There is the "Kangaroo & Kiwi" Pub is Ballard. But for the "Kiwi" mentioned so boldly by the customer, it remains a mystery to me.  The only fruit-named street I know of in Seattle for sure is "Peach Court (East)" on the north side of Capital Hill, parallel to 22nd Avenue East.  And the old reliable "Thomas Guide" map book does not list Kiwi in its King County index,  and if Thomas says it doesn't exist, it damn well doesn't.  I really disliked that customer's attitude.  A true ass but isn't that insulting the noble donkey? 

Sarah and Peter

They were only going a few blocks, to City Market but memorable they were as Sarah instantly began sobbing "I lost my cellphone, all my numbers!" through the tears, which suddenly became "You stole my cellphone!" with Sarah now pushing and pulling on Peter, "Sarah! Stop!" but there was no stopping her, Peter now pressed against the right side passenger door, Sarah banging on him.

Having parked, I opened their door and there went Sarah and Peter tumbling to the asphalt, along with multiple cell phones flying out of their pockets, Sarah screaming at Peter "You have my cell phone, you have my cell phone!" all the while pulling on him, pulling his pants down as Peter shouted, "Sarah, let go of me!" Peter finally freeing himself and walking away, Sarah now sprawled on the pavement crying and screaming.  Startled by the commotion, people came to her assistance, getting her up to her feet, allowing me to pull away without running her over.  Ain't life grand in the nearly big city?  And no, I didn't get my five dollar fare.  Oh well. 

NYC Cabbie Hunger Strike Continues

The hunger strike is now nearly two weeks old and the New York mayor Bill de Blasio is letting them starve, refusing to budge from the City's original offer.  The strikers are gaining more outside support but will it be enough to prevent the death of the strikers?  During the 2020 election season Mister de Blasio said he wanted to be president of the United States.  For what reason is the question?

Important Update 11/04021 9:29 AM:  Hunger Strike Ends with New Agreement

Late yesterday, an agreement was reached, ending the 15 day-long labor action, limiting the total medallion mortgage owed to $170,000, with a monthly payment of $1,122.  More precise details next week but it's important to note that this is an initial agreement with only one of the medallion financial loan companies, Marblegate.  While assuming the other "taxi banks" will also agree to this arrangement, in the wild world that is New York City, anything might happen, the fact that this overvaluation happened in the first place says everything about NYC politics and their relationships with "big time" investors, the big fish eating the small fish.  Google photos of the late NYC "Taxi King" and you will see him elbow to elbow with Bloomberg, de Blasio and others.  Where is the political morality?  Right down the gutter is where it is. 

 A Reader asked about Seattle medallion values

They may not even be worth a thousand dollars.  I believe the City of Seattle has a number of returned medallions minus ownership.  You might ask if they would give you one.  It is in their interest to have more cabs upon the road.