For the next couple of weeks, everybody kept stumbling through life. Finally, one of the owners took the initiative to approach the other owners in an attempt to find a united way to withdraw their services. The owners met two or three times, but too much water had passed under the bridge. The owners didn’t trust each other any further than Mr. Magoo could see.
Enter Stan, a big young handsome Greek who owned the taxi company I was leased to. If you met Stan for the first time, you would think he didn’t have enough mental muscle to find his way to Canada. It was a facade, because this guy was firecracker sharp with an imagination a mile wide.
Night after night between fares, we tried to figure out how to put a system in place that all of the companies could trust. The first decision made was to eliminate the bad blood between the companies. Stan approached the other owners and they came to a decision that all negotiations between the companies would go back and forth, through a secondary person in each company. I was the secondary person for Stan. In a couple of days, we had the details of the scheme worked out.
The scheme was simple: two sets of companies would pair off and each company would supply one car 24 hours a day, with the other company’s driver riding along keeping watch (shotgun). Each company kept dispatching around the clock. When the calls came in, the customers were told, “We’re busy.” The four owners agreed to be by the phone night and day in case there was a problem that needed to be ironed out.
Thinking back on it today, I can remember how clueless we were. We had no idea what we had stumbled upon. The town was going to find out very quickly how vulnerable they were. It was hard for private people to own a vehicle in highway-less Inuvik. Less than 10 per cent of the population had one, so it was difficult to bum a ride. Transportation to the airport, which was eight miles away, was a headache without taxis.
After we got the good citizens safely delivered to the local watering holes so they could guzzle down their favorite hooch, our action started at around 8:00 PM. Right from the start, Mother Nature became a partisan and turned the thermostat down a few degrees. I took the first shift for our company with my shotgun in tow. Over the course of the action, I would do a shift in my car and then I would do a shift riding shotgun with one of our counterparts. Every taxi was out of service, with the exception of seventy five year-old Bruno, who had a radio-less car. The old man did his thing and was more of a safety valve than a threat to us.
On a lot of occasions, even a full complement of taxis could not prevent fights over taxis when the Zoo (Mackenzie Hotel) closed. From a distance, my shotgun and I waited for the entertainment to begin when the Zoo closed. We watched a confused mass milling around the hotel steps and parking lot, then Bruno entered the parking lot and was engulfed by a mob of plastered yahoos. It had been many years since Bruno had the taxi business all to himself.
Will the taxi boys get their raise? Will the townsfolk be able to get along on foot alone? How Will City Hall Respond? Pick up the next issue of What’s Up Yukon to find out!