Tuesday, April 25, 2023

What Was Uber And Seattle Police Response After The Uber Eats Driver Tried To Break Into Her Apartment? & Why Some Seattle Cabbies Never Make The Big Money & New Washington State Benefits for TNC Drivers & Controlled By Algorithms & CA Uber And Lyft Drivers File Suit in CA Supreme Court

 An Indictment

An expectation amongst everyone would be a speedy response from police authorities if suddenly discovering someone was trying to break-in into their home, an action both threatening and terrifying but an incident relayed to me by a recent Uber passenger was anything but quick, a poor response endangering her for hours.  About six weeks ago she had ordered through Uber Eats, something commonplace enough but the mundane transformed into the unusual when the driver returned, attempting though thankfully failing to enter her apartment.  Calling 911 the operator advised her to arm herself while waiting for the  Seattle Police to arrive.  And so they did, THREE hours later.  

Obviously, if the assailant had breached a door or window, who knows what would have occurred.  One could guess that nothing good would be the probable answer.  She also reported the driver to Uber.  And the response to all her trauma?   

Why nothing at all.  No followup by SPD or Uber, leaving her to wonder whether the gentleman in question is still working for Uber or has been suspended.  She doesn't know and probably will never know.  If the guy had been arrested and charged, certainly one would think that by now she would know.  This kind of doubt is unkind, not knowing if once again he will return to try what he once failed to achieve.  

This brings me to what I have known about Uber and local government since Uber's incursion into Seattle's transportation market in 2012: there is no accountability whatsoever, regulatory oversight essentially nonexistent.  And this is why the woman could have been raped or killed because no one, not Uber, nor the SPD,  nor the City of Seattle or King County (and for what that matter, the State of Washington) are paying attention to what is actually occurring at Uber and Lyft.   Later you will read about new expended rights for TNC drivers but that has nothing to do with preventing rapists from breaking down a passenger's door.  Clearly there is little protection for TNC customers.  To believe otherwise is to embrace a fantasy existing only in the bureaucratic mind and no where else.  Is everyone safe?   Of course not.

Dumbbell Cabbies Never Learn

A reader commented last week how a fellow Seattle Yellow cabbie had no idea that the MLB baseball season had begun, which is kind of impossible but not when you have no interest in paying attention to, one, the world spinning around you; and two, how to make money driving a cab.  Well, you certainly won't if you are clueless but then again, the aforementioned cabbie might not even notice he isn't making any money, instead waiting for manna from whatever personal Heaven he believes in.  Maybe a loaf of bread will drop on his head, suddenly awakening him.  Miracles do happen, don't they?

Ain't it nice, the State of Washington Kisses the TNC Ass!

Go to "www.Lni.wa.gov/Rideshare" and read all about what Uber and Lyft drivers will be getting but not cabbies, no, no, no!  That wonderful caring agency WA State Labor and Industry is now looking out for you.  The much aggrieved rideshare drivers are now guaranteed minimums per mile and minute, paid sick leave, and the right to worker's compensation.  And you don't have to pay a dime for it.  Isn't that nice?!

All I got to say is, that damn Al Gore, he don't like me!

As I have noted recently, Uber algorithms are controlling my money-making reality, just like some crazed Wizard of Oz hiding behind a curtain, giving me short fare after fare but not the fat and juicy.  I am making money but Christ this is damn well ridiculous!  Just as in the cab world, I dub this short-circuiting---endless short fares driving me nuts!

State of CA Uber and Lyft Drivers haven't given up hope

Last week in California, TNC drivers and the organizations representing them are appealing to the CA State Supreme Court, stating that Proposition 22, put into place by misadvised CA voters, is unconstitutional.  They insist they are being treated like employees and not independent contractors.  Given my personal experience here in the State of WA, it is hard to disagree.  I am a ball kicked here and there and everywhere by Uber, not caring how often I am bruised. 

Monday, April 17, 2023

A Portland, Oregon Cabbie Is Murdered---Strategies For Dealing With Suspect Passengers

 Reese Lawhon, 10-Year Veteran Portland Cab Driver, Fatally Stabbed In The Neck On Easter Sunday, April 9th, 2023

For those of us driving passengers for hire to and from destinations, it a commonplace scenario to discover that the person sitting in the seat behind you is somewhat suspect, poorly concealed anger or disrespectful commentary telling you must be prepared for the unexpected, with usual behavioral protocols no longer in play, understanding full well you could be physically assaulted or worse.  One serious mistake made in this kind of situation is to remain complaisant, because, having experiencing one too many nutty passengers, you find yourself thinking "oh, here we go again," comparing past fairly benign encounters to the current deranged person now menacing you from the back seat.  

I say this because Reese Lawhon was a taxi veteran, and with ten-plus years on the road, surely had dealt with with more crazy passengers than he could have remembered.  It is something we all know and daily negotiate, accepting it as all part of our daily routine.  But assuming that the trouble will past minus quick intervention can be fatal.  Back in the mid-1980s New York City, on average over 50 cabbies per year were murdered on the job.  And today you will find daily reports of Uber, Lyft and cab drivers being attacked, sometimes fatally.  So knowing how to respond before it gets to that point is of the utmost importance.  You can't play games with fools.  They just might kill you.

So what do you do, how do you properly respond when trouble enters your cab/car?  As I have noted previously, it is a serious mistake to act like everything is normal when it isn't.  The troublesome or dangerous passenger ALWAYS displays behaviors that can't or shouldn't be tolerated.  What I have learned is to tell the passenger directly what I think is occurring minus any avoidance.  If the person is drunk I tell them that and issue guidelines for the ride to continue.  If I think there is potential danger, I alert the person that I know they are dangerous and that I won't tolerate any nonsense.  This includes possible thieves, strongly hinting it would be best if they behave themselves and pay at the end.  Especially with criminals, you can be sure they understand fully when given "a rattlesnake shake" of a warning.  They want a simple robbery, not an end to their lives.  More than once this has worked in my favor.  

Again, be confrontative but remain soft with your threats, unless all hell breaks loose, then of course the rules change abruptly.   When a situation escalates, remember you are in control of the car and use it to your advantage.  When necessary, I have blown through red lights while swerving at telephone poles.  I have also stopped in the middle of busy intersections and opened all the doors.  That's when they run away, and good riddance is all I can say.  One friend tells me he stops the cab, takes the keys and walks away.  All this kind of behavior delivers the strong message that the ride is over, and if you don't leave, your next conversation will be with the cops.  

I repeat, be vocal.  If you think the passenger is psychotic, don't hesitate to tell them you think they are in psychosis.  To be honest in these types of situations can be self-preserving for both you and the passenger, hopefully preventing the worst consequences.  And don't concern yourself with the fare.  Screw that.  Your only goal is to get the person out of your vehicle, nothing else, your prime objective is your personal safety and survival, nothing else.

The suspect in the Lawhon murder, Moses Lopez, was quickly apprehended.  He will surely be convicted as the knife attack was recorded by the cab's security camera.  And this is when I can tell everyone what kind of sentence I think Moses Lopez should receive.  While against the death penalty but believing in accountability, I suggest something that currently doesn't exist as an option though it certainly would be a strong deterrent if put into place.  I call it an "earned life sentence."  This is how it would work.

Back when I was ten years old, I lived for a couple of years in far northern Alberta, Canada, with winter temperatures averaging 40 degrees below zero F.   This is where my "earned life sentence" comes in.  When convicted of murder, the murderer is transported to a frigid part of Canada or Alaska and placed in the middle of say a 50 mile diameter circular corridor, and told, that if you make it to the outer edge, you have earned your life sentence.  Otherwise, the cold will be very consequential, gripping you in its icy fingers, thus killing you.  It is a humane death because the cold puts you to sleep, a sleep from which you never awaken.

My thought with this is simple.  Moses Lopez never gave Reese Lawhon the ability to defend himself, cruelly stabbing him from behind.  My "earned life sentence" solution provides Lopez the opportunity to survive, something Lopez didn't give to the cabbie.  If you are interested in real justice, this is it.  No games.  You are held accountable minus excuses.  Murder isn't some kind of game.  It is serious business.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Specious Uber: If I Am Uber's Customer, Does That Make Uber Passengers My Employees? & A Bad Sci-Fi Film? Attack Of The RoBo Cabs! & No Fun Working Uber Eats And DoorDash Apps in Los Angles, California & Snow Geese Near The Skagit River Estuary

 I Thought I Was An Uber Driver.  Wrong!  I Am Their Customer!

Specious, for a long time now, has been one of my favorite words, and with the current Uber CEO's pronouncement that everyone driving for Uber are "their customers," and certainly not some kind of employee, I find the word very helpful in describing this statement, and bringing into play another appropriate word, sophistic.   One definition for specious is "having a false look or genuineness: sophistic.  Sophistic means "plausible but fallacious," the word's roots dating way back to 5th Century BC Greece and a group of philosophers collectively known as the Sophists, hence the term, sophism.  Sophism means "an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid; especially: such an argument meant to deceive." 

This is how specious is applied to Dara Khosrowshahi's assertion that all of us utilizing the Uber app around this great big world are the company's customers, and not in any "way, shape or form" employees deserving of usual employee benefits.  Using this kind of specious argument and logic, it must then be true that all the folks I have picked up the past three weeks are not my passengers at all but people I have employed to give me money, their destinations more than incidental.  And if you believe that, then you certainly believe, "hook, line, and sinker" that I and millions of others like me are Uber customers despite their control over our workplace reality.  My last comment is one I have used before and that is "Ha Ha Ha!"  Ain't it funny!?

"Flee for Your Lives! The RoboTaxis are Coming!"

Yes, it's true, in San Francisco where GM Cruise and Waymo have been operating RoboTaxis in limited areas of that great city, they are now planning on expanding the service despite real concerns expressed by City safety regulators.  They want to increase their car's speed limits from 25 MPH to 55 MPH.  But one recent problem is that a mere five days ago all 300 of GM's robotaxis have been recalled because one of the them ran into a city bus.  Lucky it wasn't going 55 miles per hour! 

One thought is, why are they picking on the skilled workforce comprised by professional cab drivers?  Here in Seattle, given that 95% of everyone driving a cab owns the car,  and hence, mostly " at fault accident free," why must this kind of professional operator be replaced by a robot?  Talk about specious!

Don't Spill That Entree!

I can't recommend more highly the NY Times Sunday edition article about Uber  Eats and Door Dash delivery drivers in LA.  The title is "$388 in Sushi. A $20 Tip."  The sub-heading is "Apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash make it easy to get restaurant food delivered to your door---and for drivers to earn very little."  Reported by Kellen Browning with photos by Mark Abramson.   In the print edition, its on page one of the Sunday Business section.   It features four drivers and their ensuing reality of trying to scrape out a living in an expensive city.  The writing is great.  Are these folks having much fun?  No, not a lot.

Go See the Geese

Last Friday, I drove up to view the migrating snow geese and glad I did.  I found a spot where I was sandwiched between thousands of the birds eating lunch in a farmer's field.  Take exit 221 off of north-bound I-5 and proceed west on Fir Island Road.  The birds were everywhere but hurry because they will be heading north soon.  A bonus are the many nearby fields of daffodils and tulips.  Incredible fields of startling color.  Check out the internet for more instructions.    

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

More Uber Impressions & Unfair Demands From Puget Sound Dispatch & More On How To Form A New Taxi Association That Would Take Over The Local Transportation World! & Lingering Damage From Taxi: 196 Pounds

One Thing Is Clear: Less Driving Time

The biggest positive is the distance traveling from the initial ride request to the pickup address, usually one to three blocks, the Uber app enabling me to pick up the fare in 1-3 minutes, and sometimes less than a minute.  With Seattle Yellow taxi, the pickup address, especially in outlying areas, can be 5-10 miles, taking an average of 8-15 minutes to arrive.  This is both tiring and wasteful of time, money and gasoline.   The quick Uber response time also makes for happier passengers.  More and more tips are coming my way despite the more-or-less 40 % higher fare than competing taxi rates.  Passengers don't like waiting.  As I have said, the Seattle Yellow Taxi response times often were 30-60 minutes, which is completely unacceptable.  Who wants to wait in the rain and cold?  No one unless you are an otter or beaver but being good swimmers, they neither require Uber or taxi.  They have better things to do than stand on a city corner, instead eating calms or chewing on branches.  They're smarter that way.  

And before I forget, another plus is, at least so far, the complete absence of druggies, hookers, minor criminals, etc.  Obviously the social-economic class using Uber is different.  They can afford, or don't mind paying the extra money.  Now though I always have, and always will treat every passenger with respect and care, I have never enjoyed the BS and madness some customers bring into my car.  While understanding full well taxi is often nuts, I have never embraced the insanity.  It's no fun dealing with psychosis. 

Puget Sound Dispatch Fantasyland 

Unfavorable comments from cabbie friends tells me beyond any doubt that PSD (Seattle Yellow Cab) management has lost connection with taxi reality, acting like they are back in the year 2003 and not 2023.  Two previous discussions the past few months with PSD's general manager certainly made me suspect whether he (and PSD) understood that Yellow Cab, and the industry in general were operating in a dream-like landscape, mistaking their dream state for actual waking reality.  

The reality is this: Seattle's local taxi industry is on the verge of collapse, and to think otherwise is foolish.  This imbecility is taken further by PSD now insisting that Yellow's single owner operators adhere to unreasonable standards set by the MV Metro Access account or be fined $50.00.   There are too many things wrong with this to list but there can only be two correct responses.  

Either PSD stops capitulating to unnecessary MV dictates or all of Yellow's drivers should stop taking MV fares, removing that account from their digital  account profile.   Only by striking against MV will PSD emerge from its slumber and realize who is actually in charge: the 240 plus cabbies working at Yellow and not PSD.   PSD died when the BYG Co-op disappeared, PSD forgetting to attend their own funeral.   It's now up to Yellow's independent owner/operators to complete the burial.  As was I telling a friend, it is now completely paramount that he and the other drivers demand complete financial transparency for PSD.  They need to know how THEIR money is being spent.  And that fees demanded by PSD must go down.  

Figuring it out, I realized that I was spending over $18,000 each year operating YC 1092 before I made a dime in real profit.  That's crazy, translating in over 600 hours at $30.00 per hour to make that $18,000.  None of this is funny.  None of this makes any real sense unless of course you are sleeping and never interested in rejoining the waking world.  Hibernation is good for bears but even they emerge from their dens.  Awaken and smell the Spring taxi flowers!

More Taxi Association Creation Tips

Talking to a longtime taxi buddy yesterday, he lamented that it is impossible to get his fellow drivers to cooperate about anything, not seeing how it is possible to "get these guys" to agree to forming a new association.  And yes, I replied, dealing with cabbies is like trying to "herd cats," and cats possibly more pliable that cab drivers.  But if the incentive is money---paying less and making more---I am sure most would be interested.   

Anyone can start doing the necessary footwork by picking up your telephone and dialing.  First call an insurance agency like Key and ask them what would the group rates be for say, two thousand associated drivers all with perfect or nearly unblemished drivers records?   It is gonna be cheap.  

The next call to make is to professional USA-based callcenters.  While eventually your association would want to have their own Seattle-based dispatch, it would be much easier to begin with an outsourced call center.   Make sure your estimates include 24/7 dispatch because with such a large cab association you will be busy 24/7, your cheaper rates and fast pickup times making you extremely popular.  And of course you would be advertising that fact, having money for publicity now that company/association profits aren't being siphoned off by the PSD Board of Directors. 

Contact big auto repair shops like Guru and ask what kind of rates would they provide you to repair and service a 2000 plus taxi fleet.  You can bet they would be overjoyed to have such a steady customer base.  

More later when I am less tired.

Why Am I Tried?  The Living Death that is Taxi

Today I weighted myself and I was shocked to find I was 196! pounds.  My normal average weight has mostly been 155-160 pounds.  While I hold my weight well, 40 pounds over is no joke and I am getting serious about losing it.  I am tired because I played some 3 on 3 basketball today, in addition to taking my usual long walk.   It was fun and I actually played well at times.

  For those who don't know, I started playing when I was ten and started my first organized game at age 13.  No that long ago I once played 2 hours a day or more 6 days a week.  But more recently I have allowed taxi to make me fat, even after watching my diet.  

And that's the sorry truth about driving cab.  It's damn unhealthy.  What I have been experiencing is a cycle of my weight going up and down.  When I have taken a long break, I get thinner.  Start driving again and I bloat out.  Now I am determined to lose the pounds, watching the calories and getting much more vigorous exercise.  At age 69 I can't play games with my body.  The same is for you.  Don't let taxi or Uber kill you.  It will if you let it.  Have no doubt whatsoever about that.  I remember when Bob, the ex-cop who was driving Yellow Cab, stopped at a White Center grocery store, and just made it to a bench before dying next to his cab from a heart attack.  No, you don't want that to happen to you!  Not at all.