Given the well-known parking space trauma in San Francisco, ground transportation may, by now, be one of the most vital businesses. People need to get from here to there and back again for work, play, medical appointments and a host of other needs. And, when all is said and done, most of us like to be ultimately in the hands of a kind and responsible human being, someone who cares about us. Call for a Yellow Cab from any number you had used before, and the automated system kicks right in. Bingo you are booked, without the benefit of a human being. The bot knows the address from the phone number making the call, says the call has been booked and that’s that. Sometimes that is enough. But sometimes you need a human being who will listen to a special need. Enter modern urban hero Jim Gillespie.
Jim Gillespie, president and general manager of Yellow Cab used to drive a cab in San Francisco. As did is father, so Jim has solid second-generation understanding of good manners and the need for human response over automated answering systems that leave people feeling abandoned and angry. That translates into, and no way around it, gracious people answering calls. Graciously.
Jim knows that when a person who called a cab does not answer the phone (again by the bot), the driver’s assuming no one is home is not an acceptable reaction. Ridiculous, in fact, given that someone else or even nature may have called before the bot did, rendering the customer temporarily unable to answer the automated announcement.
Jim wants to see some good old-fashioned manners, and that means the driver gets out of the car and goes to ring the doorbell like “we always used to do.” And, yes, that gives the driver a chance to help an elderly person off the curb and into the cab. Or to call an ambulance if, in the worst case scenario, that caller has had a stroke or a heart attack. He wants to see drivers show the respect of asking their riders if they have a preferred route to their destination. He wants to see a lot of improvements.
Jim talks, with affection and respect, about Yellow Cab, its history, who his drivers are, what it used to be, what it is now, what needs to be done to improve it, and what he intends to do about it. Jim is a man at ease with truth, never defensive, eager to take responsibility and who knows that we all need to feel safe. You don’t find that everywhere today. Jim Gillespie is in charge. You can see it in his face and hear it in his voice both of which carry strength and integrity.
Recently when a customer issue surfaced, Jim listened and agreed that things need to change. With Jim Gillespie, there is not a hint of justification for bad customer service, simply a desire to hear what the problems facing customers are and plans to make it better. It is no secret that competition from Uber and Lyft have taken a toll on his company, but Jim’s desire to improve Yellow Cab stands on its own as a plus. He wants to see attitude towards riders be what it used to be, based on kindness and good manners.
As for the love letters connection here? Twofold. He talks about how much it means to the drivers who do get letters of appreciation for all they do for their fares, and, truth be told, there are stories about some of the Yellow Cab drivers who go out of their way to take care of those in their care to let them know their lives matter. The other love letter link to this tale? Easy. To Jim Gillespie. He deserves them by the boatload. This is a man we want at the wheel.