This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about driving a taxi during Thanksgiving weekend… The good, the bad and the turkey. (Spoiler alert: I’m the turkey.)
There wasn’t much to be thankful for over Thanksgiving weekend, as far as driving a taxi… That is, until Colin came up with one of his big dumb great ideas…
On Wednesday night, I’m waiting outside The Box, a literal hole in the wall on Natoma Street next to Tempest that serves up some of the best late night food options in The City. Potato skins with quail eggs, anyone?
As I smoke a cigarette, two guys approach me. The bedraggled one on my right hits me up for change so he can get a slice of pizza. On my left, equally disheveled, some kid from the bar who just wants a light.
“Sorry to bother you…”
“No worries.” I put a flame to the end of his cigarette. “It’s a little weird asking people for things in an alley.”
Next thing you know, we’re talking politics.
“But Hillary’s a bitch!” he declares at one point.
“What’s she ever done to you?” I ask with a condescending chuckle. He’s 27 years old and didn’t even vote.
“Look, the presidential election isn’t a popularity contest. You’re voting for an agenda.”
Like a bell signaling the end of a round, Dre calls out my name from behind the counter. I’m as ready for my food as I am to end this conversation…
I skipped work on Thursday. I was dubious about Friday too, but I did better than I assumed…
Saturday night, out of the sloshed fields of the Mission, I manage to get a decent ride to the Green Tortoise. Three English dudes from Brighton. One of whom forgot his ID.
“Look at him though,” the guy in the middle says. “He’s practically a gaffer. And his jokes are shit. Listen.”
“What did zero say to eight?” the guy asks. “Nice belt.”
Apparently, his bad jokes weren’t persuasive enough to get him into many bars.
They want me to tell my best one liners as we drive to North Beach, but instead I tell them about a ride I had on Friday night…
Around 9 p.m., I’m in the black. First up at the Hilton taxi stand. I’m smoking and talking to some other cab drivers when a guy with luggage walks up.
“Let’s go!” I throw his bags into the trunk.
Before I even make the corner he tells me in a thick accent, “My plane’s leaving in an hour. Do you think we can still make it?”
“We’ll make it,” I say.
The entire way to the airport, he’s freaking out that he’s going to miss his flight.
“Relax,” I keep saying. “It’ll be okay. By the way, are you carrying marijuana?”
“None at all. Why?”
“You reek of weed.”
“Oh, I’ve been trimming all week. It must be on my clothes.”
I continue to assure him that he won’t miss his plane, neglecting to mention that he’s probably going to get flagged in security. The smell of pot is so strong I’m practically getting a contact buzz.
At SFO, the United terminal is jam-packed. I make some questionable maneuvers to get close enough to drop him off. He hands me three $20 bills. “Keep it.”
“Run like the wind!” I yell after him…
“You think he made it?” one of the Brighton kids ask me.
“No, he probably end up getting anally probed.”
We all laugh.
“That’s so like a trimmer,” one of the guys says.
“Do we seem like trimmers?”
“I don’t really judge.”
“Well, we are.”
“We just changed our clothes before we went out.”
“Good job, cause you guys just reek of booze.”
“That was our plan all along.”
“Now that’s funny.”