Atlas Shrugged, written by Ayn Rand, is an 1100 page book which tells the story of a Bureaucratic US government that imposed burdensome laws and regulations on corporations, to the point that the corporations withdrew their services. Although I read Atlas Shrugged over a decade ago, it took my pea brain that long to figure out that I was also involved in a mini-Atlas Shrugged.
Before I came to Inuvik, NWT in 1972, I had already been driving taxis in two other towns for nearly two years. When I started driving taxis in Inuvik, the first thing I noticed was how low the fares were. The minimum fare in the two towns I had driven in before was one dollar. In high-cost Inuvik, which had no highway and everything brought in by air or boat, the taxi fare minimum was seventy-five cents. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a lot of other drivers had come to the same conclusion as me – those bloody fares were from the Stone Age. With absolutely no input on my part, the cab companies went to a town council meeting and asked for the minimum fare to be increased to one dollar.
It’s getting close to fifty years since that town hall meeting, and my poor little brain has retained slightly more details than a bottomless cup. The only two things I remember about it are the indifference of the mayor, and the attitude of one councilor. The councilor’s long winded spiel went on about how there was no justification for a fare increase. Next came the kicker that is still crystal clear in my foggy brain today, “Where in the world did you dream up this idea that you are entitled to a fare increase?” we were asked?
We left the council meeting with our tail between our legs. At the time of the town hall meeting, Inuvik had four taxi companies, with over thirty five taxis in total between them. Only one company was a viable operation – the company I was leased on with was limping along. We were a bunch of misfits at best, who were leaderless.
We learn in life that there are advantages and disadvantages in everyone and everything. Misfits have a few advantages also. Sometimes taking action and not having a clue what the final result will be is an advantage. Looking back today, I can see clearly that the town councilor’s inflammatory statements had lodged venom deep, deep down in our gut. Someday soon it was going to regurgitate and splash all over town. The town held all the cards – town bylaws required every taxi company to supply dispatch service 24 hours a day, and have at least one taxi operating around the clock. Right off the bat, the companies were in a pickle. They couldn’t shut down and go on strike, or else they would automatically lose their license.
Pick up the next issue of What’s Up Yukon to find out what happens next!