STUCK AT HOME
Unlike many of you in the taxi and limo businesses, I have the luxury, if you can call it that, of being able to stay at home, ostensibly keeping myself, my wife and potentially others safe in these very difficult times.
Days blur into each other. I have to make a conscious effort to figure out just which day of the week it is. It is a very odd situation to be in for a guy how used to make keeping track of time and days, at almost a fetish level. I no longer have to deal with deadlines for getting stories written and ready for the printer.
I no longer am measuring where I am in the week by Thursdays, when the Toronto Licensing Tribunal meets in normal circumstances. Or by Wednesday mornings, when a group of us meet at a golf course and enjoy the game and each others company, engaging in shared misery punctuated by the occasional triumph.
If this is a foreshadowing of actual retirement, then I am not sure I am comfortable with it.
My wife in a real sense is very lucky (or not, depending on your point of view). She is working from home, spending endless ours on her computer, the telephone or both. In normal times she would be spending 10 or more hours a day working at an office. Now she is spending 12 or more hours a day working from home. This is 7 days a week. Things are going on at her work for her that are intensely time-consuming and she needs to put in those hours. I am not sure how long she can keep up this pace, but she tells me others she deals with are putting in even longer hours. Wow.
For both of us, the simple chore of going out to get groceries is a very welcome respite from our home. When did that become a high point of a day or week?
We’ve now been cooped up since March 19, when we cut short a planned holiday and immediately went into self-quarantine, initially for2 weeks, but as we know, that two weeks has kind of expanded.
Amazingly we apparently still like each other, and still find time to discover things to laugh about.
But this is not what far too many of you are doing.
You are, in fact, working, providing that incredible service to people who need to get around like regular passengers and the disabled.
Of course, I do watch the news, though the boob tube is not, amazingly, a big part of life these days. So I am hearing about the 10 drivers who have allegedly died from this Covid-10 virus.
Truly, I do have a horrible feeling there may be more than have been reported, both at the airport, and among regular cab drivers who are daily putting themselves at huge risk ferrying people around, doing their jobs.
We hear of vast sums of federal, provincial and municipal money being funneled to distressed businesses and individuals. But, oddly, very oddly indeed, I hear absolutely nothing about providing any kind of relief for taxi and limousine drives who are suffering just as badly as any other group.
I have to wonder why you are apparently being utterly forgotten, or deliberately ignored.
Lets have a quick look at the challenges you are facing. Insurance costs on your cars are still sky high, if you can find it at all. Yet what relief for you is offered by insurers or government? Zero that I have seen.
Taxi and limo license renewals are still due as scheduled. I’ve heard nothing about relief from our municipal government on this problem.
Cars are ending their useful lives and technically must be replaced. Have you been granted extensions on their replacement? I’ve heard zip so far.
Bylaw officers have been diverted to harassing citizens for not social distancing in parks, so perhaps fewer are out harassing you with expensive by-law tickets. But I have no doubt some are still “doing their jobs.”
Apparently, as far as taxis are concerned with the Toronto government, it is still all about the money, with no consideration for your welfare.
One bright light on the horizon is Uber is still bleeding money like mad, with a reported loss of $2.9 Billion in the first quarter. It is now rolling back some of its operations.
I have asked before and still have to ask, how long will Uber investors tolerate this kind of bleeding?
As well, Uber is being sued by California for not complying with recent law changes giving its drivers many of the rights of other workers. Of course Uber will tie up the thing in court for years, but we will see how that pans out.
Out on the street, in the rare times I have been out, I am surprised to see some drivers not even wearing masks, even with passengers in their cars.
I do wonder how good a job has been done of educating taxi and limo drivers on how to protect themselves and their passengers from each other. Or if they have been educated, I wonder then how many are really taking this whole thing as seriously as they should.
When this pandemic has passed, and it will, I’d like to see a whole bunch of really pointed questions directed at the authorities who have, at least to this pair of eyes, left you out in the cold to get sick and watch too many of you die.
Again, I’ve said this before: Toronto authorities consider taxi and limo drivers to be at the very best disposable people, easily replaced by the next batch of starry-eyed immigrants.
The absolute truth of this assessment is found by looking at how the city is treating you right now. It is sad, tragic and infuriating.
Please be safe out there, for the sake of yourselves, your families and your passengers.