Goodbye To Faithful Gabriel
After providing me with over 330,000 taxi miles over a four-year span, my Ford Crown Victoria ( nicknamed Gabriel by "she-who-can't-be named"), is now officially retired, with his replacement, my late sister JoAnne's 2014 Kia Optima (nicknamed "Tehachapi") now painted, equipment installed, insured and ready to go once it is inspected by the City on Friday. Beginning with an original 103,000 miles after paying a bargain $3,500, this Crown Vic has been a solid runner, the engine still robust minus consuming a bit of oil, and who can blame a bit "wear and tear" after all those hard taxi miles taking me all over the greater Puget Sound region and numerous times up and over the mighty Cascades into eastern Washington. Thank you, Gabriel.
Yes, a wonderful car, and a true testament to the Ford Motor Company's engineering prowess, making me reluctant to say farewell to such a great mechanical friend but having no need nor room for three cars, I am still deciding where he will go. Many want him to be their valiant automotive steed though my prime concern is to ensure, from whoever it might be, fair and good treatment honoring Gabriel's glorious recent past and my enduring affection for a car both steady companion and forthright protector upon the treacherous, dumbbell roadways. Hail Noble Gabriel! Farewell!
It's All About Making the Money, the Taxi Honey
More than one current Seattle cabbie has questioned my claim, assertion that "business is good" and that there is money, big money to be made. A Mister Hubbly Bubbly even accused me of "being on the take," fed good fares by those (in the Philippines) who despise me. Given all this, conspiracy theories and maybe rampant paranoia, I feel the best response is go over some of my "tricks of the taxi trade" for making money, pointing out how some areas of thought and behavior best avoided unless one is interested in stewing in sour juices, an in general "losing of your mind," which is too easy to to achieve in this business sitting in the taxi wondering "what the hell am I going to do next?"
Everything I have learned about driving taxi has been by trial and error, solely from the putting in of literally thousands of hours beneath the top-light because there is no formal tutorial teaching you how to drive cab. Everything I am putting down here are lessons learned I personally apply in my daily stints upon the road.
My abiding interest for my fellow cabbies is altruistic minus any and all hidden agendas. Make money! Be happy! And above all, understand that your efforts are appreciated if it doesn't seem like anyone cares. Who cares? Why the taxi gods of course who oversee our bit of heaven and hell, monitoring, like Santa Claus, whether we are naughty or nice in the service of those who need us---rich and poor, sane and crazy, smart and dumb---all taxi plums hanging from the ripening passenger tree.
Taxi Tips in No Particular Order
Never allow yourself to become desperate, desperation morphing into all kinds of destructive thoughts, paranoia, madness begins creeping in, taking away your concentration.
Remaining positive even when you feel all evidence dictates otherwise. Eventually you will get a bell, so make every effort to remain relaxed and thinking clearly.
Work everywhere. Work all the zones and areas of Seattle and King County. Always waiting for that gilded egg from whatever Golden Goose you believe in, be it Sea-Tac or the Amtrak station, is the quickest way to make no money whatsoever.
Now this is a hard one, especially for me. Try to remain patient with your most annoying passengers, because "losing your cool" only knocks you off your taxi game, leading to irritation, annoyance and no money.
Go where the action is, just be smart about it, the action being big time sporting events and concerts. The key here is to learn how to negotiate heavy traffic, bossy cops and milling pedestrians filling the streets. For instance, using the alleys to beat traffic near the Seahawk Stadium is where I often find myself alone with countless customers waving at me. I always take the first one I see, instead of asking "where are you going?"
Don't take the wrong bell. Given the inexperience of Cebu-based dispatch, they will take bells in the middle of a "breaking" Seahawk or UW Husky football game which you will never be able to find. Don't do it unless you are VERY certain you know where the passenger is waiting. The cops won't let you in and you'll never find the customer.
Work the long hours. The more hours put in, the better. Those who try to treat taxi like some 9-5 job have got it all wrong, which is what the majority of Yellow cabbies are now doing. I have found that taxi is an ever flowing river, a constant flow of passengers day and night. The only way to get those fares is to be out there hunting for them. Back in the good, old days, when TAXI WAS KING and I was only leasing the weekends, I would work as much out of the 48 hours as I could, starting early every Saturday morning, and usually by 7:00 AM I now had my lease and gasoline money, leaving the entire rest of Saturday and all of Sunday to roll in the profit. I then took five days off. It was crazy but well worth it, having all that free time off and away from taxi.
As much as possible, work where you are. Yes, we all have favorite areas or zones or neighborhoods but give Renton, Skyway, Shoreline a chance to give you something good. Last year I took a bell in Kent, Zone 460, an area I sometimes avoid and got a package delivery to the Olympic Peninsula. It was a lesson learned and one I haven't forgotten.
Part of working where you are is not driving past the bell. Even now I keep driving north only to see that I left a bell behind in Burien or White Center, kicking myself for my stupidity. I don't care where the bell originates, I just want it because if I'm in the area, I am glad to serve it. This is where the mistake of trying to grab the Golden Goose comes in, not realizing that the silly goose could be sitting in Tukwila sticking its tongue out at you. Obviously then, that goose and its hundred dollar egg could be anywhere and often is. Work all the zones and crack that egg!
Deal with the tickets, the moving violations. If you don't, as is said, as you will be very sorry by paying much more than necessary for your cab insurance. That is just flushing away your working hours down the taxi toilet. Hire a lawyer, do anything but don't immediately pay the ticket. It is a costly mistake.
Don't dump the bells, be they grocery runs or whatever. You never know where the passenger is really going, and besides, our goal must be customer service, not disservice.
Chose you your regular customers, your "personals" wisely. Train them to call at least one hour in advance. And if they don't become big tippers, my advise is to avoid passengers who don't appreciate the special attention you are providing. Screw cheap!
Be honest. Some of our fellow cabbies have recently been dialing "false calls" to make a fellow driver lose their zone position when all of them are waiting for a known big money fare. Not only is it not kind or moral, karma will get you, angering the taxi gods.
Another helpful ploy is "watching like a taxi hawk" the Bid/Prospect screen. When you see an account fare pop up in a "hot" area like Zone 150 or Zone 230, grab it if you can. You might be going to Yakima, and three cheers for that!
That's it as the hour is getting late. And I will try to take my own advice. Good hunting, everyone, good luck!
Russia's Invasion of the Ukraine Isn't the Only One
While the current headlines are dominated by Putin's insane incursion into its western neighbor, that war is not the only one occurring in the present time. Quickly I will list the many ongoing armed conflicts, something I make every attempt to stay aware of. Why? Having a long interest in history, I watch the historical connections adding up to the unwarranted killing of fellow human beings, something unfortunately very popular and ongoing. As we celebrate birth, we as a species equally embrace murder.
The Crazy List begins:
Burkina Faso---Religious War
Ethiopia---Civil & Ethic War
Yemen---Ethic & Political War
Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Kivu, Eastern Congo---Terrorist Incursions
Northern Mozambique---Islamic Terrorism
Central African Republic---Civil & Ethic War
South Sudan---Wide spread communal violence
Syria---Civil War & Terrorist Incursion
The Philippines---Maoist Insurgency
Israeli-Palestinian---War & Conflict since 1948
Morocco-Western Sahara---War of Independence
There have also been what some might consider minor conflicts and armed disagreements but I am keeping it limited to the most serious situations causing major death and destruction.
Last year, 2021, there was a serious war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. And of course there was America's 20 year-long Afghanistan war.
When will we ever learn? Perhaps never is the sad answer.
Peace and love? Doubtful in the immediate future. You might also notice that most of the current wars originated in countries formally colonized by white, European powers. And going way back into the late 19th C, early 20th C, who was it that murdered and starved over 200,000 Filipinos ? The USA.
And one might ask, why all the interest in the current Russia-Ukraine War? Could it be that the Ukrainians are white, not black or brown? Sadly, that might be true, along with, at least in theory, a shared culture.