Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Cancun, Mexico Taxi Drivers Battle Uber Incursion & Not At All Funny---In 2014 The Seattle Taxi Industry Traded Mandatory Black Pants For Blue Jeans And The End Result?: The Destruction Of An Over One Hundred Year-Old Industry

Cancun Cabbies Mad as Hell!

This week the US State Department issued a travel advisory warning that Cancun taxi drivers were becoming progressively more violent while protesting the new court-ordered arrival of Uber into their transportation market.  Roads were blocked.  Uber drivers were yanked out of their cars.  Frightened tourists needed to be escorted to safety by police.  Simply, the thousands of cabbies dependent upon the legions of tourists visiting the Cancun Tourist Mecca were not happy now that they must contend with Uber, their displeasure, as noted, expressed in a variety of ways, appropriate or not.  But I for one can't argue with their response, knowing full well how Uber destroyed the American taxi industry.  At least the Cancun cabbies are putting up a fight, something not occurring for the most part here in Seattle.  Instead it was capitulation, and after that surrender, what I see is the now slow "dying upon the vine" for the local industry.  You have to be stupid to continue driving a cab in Seattle.  For what reason, I ask?   For no reason whatsoever is the sad answer.

Ain't It Nice Wearing Blue Jeans?

This past taxi weekend I decided to wear the once mandated old Seattle cab uniform of formal black slacks and white button down shirt.  Did anyone notice or comment?  No, not at all, no one caring at all what I or we wear, the uniform mandate amongst other concessions traded for Uber and Lyft's unfettered entry into our transportation market.  I warned everyone at Yellow Cab (the BYG Co-op) that it was a bad idea. And having not listened to my protests, we got what we got which was a BIG kick in the taxi rear end.  At least we can now look like your ordinary bum driving down the street.  Great tradeoff, wasn't it?  

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Did He Fall Onto The Train Track Or Did He Jump? & A Very Poisonous $5.00 Cab Ride & Russian Merchant Marines & Municipal Court Date Rescheduled & SPD Up To Old Tricks & Goodbye Kshama Sawant

Focus Upon Passengers

In part I am featuring those folks we cabbies both love and hate but without passengers we wouldn't be able to complain about them.  Eons ago, often packages and not human customers were our taxi bread and butter, a long past era never returning.  Yesterday I had some kind of medical package but that was a rare deviation from the passenger-oriented norm.  So you get what you get and sometimes its neither straightforward nor pleasant.  Welcome to taxi as I know it!


Mike presented the classic taxi conundrum: do I take this guy on this long ride, knowing I might not get paid, or more wisely, tell him no and go on to the next fare?   It is something that often occurs and in this example, the passenger waiting at Harborview Hospital was sitting there only wearing hospital garb, saying he needed to go all the way up north to Arlington, a ride turning out to be $120.00.  The question posed was, do I be sympathetic or go with my instincts that nothing about this situation seems normal, far best to just drive away.  And when he said, "no problem, my mother will be paying," I knew I was looking for trouble I didn't need.  Despite that, judging the best I could, off we went with me hoping for the best outcome.

Mike was all banged up, his left foot broken in three places along with various bruises from head to foot.  How did this happen?   Drunk, he had stepped into the path of a train.  Plausible yes, and lucky to be alive.

Upon arriving at his mother's building, where a resident thankfully let us in, and now at his mother's fifth floor apartment, his shocked mother opened the door saying, "What are you doing here?   You are supposed to be in the hospital!"   

Ah yes, Mike was an escapee, leaving the hospital minus permission, and I was the unlucky accomplice, taking him to where he didn't need to be.  His mother, reasonable when she had no reason, agreed to come down to the cab and pay the fare with her credit card.  

It was in the elevator where she told me Mike had intentionally jumped in front of the train in a failed suicide attempt.   All she could do was shake her head.  And all I could do was thank the taxi heavens I got paid.  What a bad story.


Leaving her hair appointment, barely in the cab before she both began directing me while complaining about previous rides.  This was a short ride to an uncomplicated address but this not stopping her mouth from slewing garbage.  Sometimes I'm not in the mood and I hinted that she was simply out-of-control, worrying for no reason whatsoever about a five dollar fare on her way back to her $10,000 a month retirement home.  Her last bit of bullshit prompted me to say, Lady, you ain't paying me no money.  Here we are. Out!"  And telling her, "No one likes to be picked on!"  She was nuts and didn't give a damn she was crazy.  Has her money made her happy?  Or sane?  Obviously not.

Two Russian Sailors

Needing to go to a local Apple Store, I took them from their ship to South Center, and on the way there had some interesting conversation.   They were nice guys, and when they asked if I could pick them up again, I said, sure, try me, here's my card.

About three hours later, I was summoned back to the shopping center, finding them happy to be returning, saying they could understand my English, having difficulty comprehending the American speech.  I said it was all in the enunciation, not the pronunciation.  Not sure if they understood.

But I became disappointed when they repeated the argument that Mister Putin has made, that the Ukraine was part of a historic Russia.  Knowing a little bit about it, I mentioned Catherine the Great and border and territory changes through the centuries, almost twice missing my turns.   Nice people, and they both shook my hand but please, Putin invading the Ukraine was unnecessary and crazy, no justification whatsoever.  Just like the USA and the Philippines 1898, America and Vietnam 1959, America and Grenada 1984.  America and Iraq, twice!  And Afghanistan, both Russia and the USA.  Will stupid governments please stop killing people!  God almighty.  

No In-Court Appearance

Pissed me off, getting up early only to find there is no in-person court for these dumbbell bus lane violations.  For parking tickets, yes but not these.  I have rescheduled for February 6th but I am weighing my options.  Sick of this crap.  Waste of my bloody time, and money!

Nothing Like the Seattle Police Department

As any Seattle cabbie knows all too well, there ain't no love lost between us and SPD, exemplified by the actions of one officer near the stadium when the Seahawks played the New York Jets.  Sitting where I alway do, and have for years on Occidental South, this cop motions to me and other cabbies to "get moving" when no one else has cared.  Other cops didn't, only him, Mister All-Powerful, not caring a second either for us or the fans needing a cab.  Why should he care?  Obviously no reason at all, taking a broom, sweeping away the chaff! 

It's A Great Day

Yes it is, now that the ever fraudulent Kshama Sawant announced she will not seek reelection for the Seattle City Council.  I of course remain unhappy that she, that great leader of the unwashed masses, voted to provide Uber and Lyft unfettered access to Seattle's taxi market, thus destroying an one hundred year-old industry.  And I was there when she once pledged to support us.  What a liar!  What a fraud!  Now she will be leading her own labor organization knocking down the hated Capitalist's Door.  Ha Ha Ha!  But the people we elect?  Not so funny.



Saturday, January 14, 2023

Greetings From Surprise Valley Hot Springs (Cedarville, California): The Financial Mystery That Is Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab)

Soaking Our Heads

This week being "she-who-can't be named's" birthday week, we have been enjoying the hot water that is Surprise Valley Hot Springs, a wonderful "middle-of-nowhere" locale in the far northeast corner of the state of California near the Nevada border, accurately known as Modoc County.  For little more than than the inflated price of your average awful roadside motel, you can have your own 24 hour mineral springs supplied hot tub, taking it easy while enjoying a Big Dipper star-filled night sky.  Listen to the coyotes howl.  And when taking a break from the stuporific waters, there are nearby hiking trails, and further south, the South Warner (Mountains) Wilderness to explore.  

How to get there?  Shoot down southbound I-5, and at Redding, California, turn off onto to State Highway 299 heading northeast until you are five miles east of Cedarville, which means you are there.  It is very easy to find.  Route 395 out of Oregon is another  good way to get there.  If you do, check out the John Day Country--- dinosaur fossils and pastel colored hills reminding of Death Valley, another place one needs to visit before exiting this earth.  But watch out for the Panamint Valley rattler, crotalus stephensi, and having met one such example in 1974, I know.

                                                                    January snow

                                                                    tinting the Warner Mountains 

                                                                    white over the blue. 

We experienced all kinds of moody winter weather including snow coating the surrounding mountains.  Beautiful upon a winter's day.  And Happy Martin Luther King Junior Day!

Since the Yellow Cab single owner/operators are Financing Puget Sound Dispatch, shouldn't we have a say in Day-to-Day Operations?

I have made this point before but it continues to be utterly true.  Without our weekly dispatch fee of a now too high $195.00, PSD would not exist.  It is that simple.  Something beyond all deniability.   Given that sober reality, why does PSD continue to act like it has no real accountability to the single owners keeping the company extant as a taxi association and dispatch company?  

Once the BYG Co-op folded, ending its lease-driving operations, everything changed though it's obvious that PSD doesn't understand that, continuing to act like they own the pursestrings when they don't.   The thousand or more lease-drivers that once funded the Co-op are gone, with an entirely different business model taking its place.  The sad reality is that we single owners are treated more like employees than the independent business operators we are.  And until they recognize that, conflicts will continue, eventually leading to a revolt and the disappearance of Puget Sound Dispatch altogether.  

It should be more than obvious that what all we owners need and want is a dispatch company providing professional dispatching, something we can own and operate ourselves if we choose.  The resource to do this is the money we are now giving weekly to PSD.   As far as I know, current PSD board members have once again begun taking our weekly dispatch fees and putting whatever sizable percentage directly into their own pockets instead of reinvesting it back in the company itself, perpetuating ever ongoing staff shortages and inadequate dispatching that continue to daily plague us.  

With the advent of a new year, how can anyone call this acceptable?   I for one don't which is why I am requesting a new dialogue between the single owners and PSD.  If PSD is going to continue in its current form, it must be with our input and knowledge of how PSD operates, what its staffing and financial goals and priorities are minus all obfuscation.  We require transparency, yes, like a clear blue high desert winter sky in northeastern California.  Let the taxi deer and antelope roam!

On a walk before driving taxi on Christmas Day 2022

What makes this a taxi poem is that I was taking a walk along an urban trail before setting out in the cab, unfortunately noticing a man lying on top of a pile of debris obviously dying from a drug induced overdose.  I called 911.  It was raining and having no protection from the elements, his body soaked by the falling moisture.  What a Christmas present to the world it wasn't, unwrapped, bare to the eye.

Poem:  "Jesus Christ On A Christmas Morning"

A new Christ Child upon a Christmas dawn

arms outstretched lay dying for whose sins

he of course never knew, 

prematurely crucified even before Bethlehem ox  

and ewe and ass could kneel and in sweet tribute 

sing out his birth in celestial chorus;

instead deceased, the searching Three Kings

stumbling over a stiffening cadaver, spilling their

frankincense and myrrh, this Child never again

rising up on April Spring Sunday mornings, no

Easter chocolates sweeting the tongue 

of someone lost to God's memory,

forever forgotten in the anointing rain, his

mouth agape, never 

to smile.  


Check out the Thomas Hardy poem "The Oxen"

PS 01/16/23

The Seattle Times reported today that in 2022 310 homeless died on the streets.  I am guessing that my "new Christ Child" was one of them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Ringing In The Taxi New Year---2022 Summary & No More Hopelink For Me & A Hard Choice: Auburn Or Blaine

More Business on New Year's Eve

Was it a hopeful sign that business was better for the cabs on the 31st, suggesting better days ahead?   I would like to say yes but the true answer is no, our outlook is dismal despite upcoming policy changes from the City of Seattle and King County.   I see us, at least in Seattle, as an industry running in circles, round and round we go heading nowhere fast.  The reason for this is that Uber and Lyft won the transportation argument years ago, out maneuvering a moribund American taxi industry.  First we were undersold while overwhelmed by greater number of TNC operators.  Then after reducing our actual fleet numbers, it forced many to leave the business, or worse, they themselves turning to Uber, TNC's efficiency pushing us further into a bad corner.  And while all this has been occurring, our overall costs have been getting higher, not lower.  

All this is a bad combination, meaning much longer wait periods for those who call taxis and an in general lassitude overtaking all of us fighting to stop taxicab's decline into oblivion.  While I am stubborn, as the saying goes, the "writing is on the wall" and crumbling bricks are bonking, falling upon our poor heads.   Is it knocking any sense into us?  No, of course not.

Hopelink is now Hopeless

Once my favorite account, providing me with the longest trips/rides during my many years beneath the toplight, I had myself taken off the account, no longer interested in putting up with 30-35 percent "no-shows" and declining rates, all combining to take money out of my pocket.  It is all part of the decline I was just speaking to.  Taxi is only fun when you are making "real" money.  Take that incentive away and the motivation to drive a cab disappears.  It is that simple.

$90.00 vs $335.00

While saying taxi is all about making money, customer service is certainly connected to that, as illustrated by what happened to me on Friday night after belled in to the Greyhound for Charlie going to Auburn.  Charlie, a guy nearly 80 years old, had been on a bus two days coming in from Bakersfield, California and needed a ride home.  I got his big bag in the trunk, and while backing out, a guy walks up and says he is going to Blaine, Washington, on the Canadian border.  Many would have booted good, old Charlie out of the cab and taken this guy named Alex for the big money.  Instead I called a friend and gave him the fare.  I did what I had to do, and my friend owes me a burrito, calling it a small service charge.  He can now afford the $7.71, tax included.  

Happy New Year!