It never fails.
Whenever I work large events like Outside Lands, I always end up with a pack of drunken millennials in my taxi who are so accustomed to geographically-challenged Uber/Lyft drivers that they will try, despite the haze of alcohol, weed and molly, to micromanage my attempt to navigate the congestion.
Of all the tragedies that have resulted from the rise of Uber and Lyft, this assumption that a driver for hire has no clue how to reach the simplest destinations is really, as our commander-in-chief would put it, sad.
The other day, I pick up this guy at the Grand Hyatt. As he tips the doorman for flagging him a cab, I hear the guy say his phone had died and he wasn’t able to order an Uber.
“Where to?” I ask.
Okay. “Where in Pac Heights?”
“Geary and Laguna.”
“What?” I respond, somewhat confused.
“Lower Pac Heights. Close to Japantown.”
Brother, there is no Lower Pac Heights, I want to say. Geary and Laguna is Japantown. But I let it go. He’s either a tourist or has just moved here.
As I’m about to cross Van Ness, I ask where he’s going at Laguna and Geary.
He leans forward and says, “Oh, uhh, keep going two more blocks.”
“I know where Laguna is,” I reply. “Where are you going at Geary and Laguna? Are you on Geary? Laguna? Am I going right or left? It’s a big street with lots of turn restrictions.”
“Left on Laguna,” he says. “You’ll uhhh… probably have to make a U-turn.”
“Yeah, at Webster,” I mumble. So his cross streets are actually Ellis and Laguna, which would enable me to access the street he actually lives on: Cleary Court.
And regardless of what his real estate agent told him, he lives in motherfucking Western Addition!
It’s always the clueless passengers who tell you how to get somewhere, and they usually end up lost or going the longest route possible…
Anyway, this is my fourth year working Outside Lands. And even though I’m steeling myself for the inevitable shit show, I am hopeful this year might be different…
An unforeseen benefit of Uber and Lyft is that the number of millennials I pick up has dwindled to the point that, when they do end up in my cab, it’s usually memorable.
Like the four bros who surprised me at Davies Symphony Hall a few months back…
Drunk off their asses and wearing white tuxedos, they pile into my cab and demand to be taken to Emperor Norton’s.
“Do you know where that is?” one asks.
I respond affirmatively several times over the next few blocks, while the three guys in back continue to question whether I’m going the right way since I didn’t put the location into my phone and the guy up front incessantly nags me about playing the radio.
“Look!” I finally snap. “The bar is only five blocks away. I think you can go that long without music. Don’t you?”
On Friday, the first night of Outside Lands, things were astonishingly calm and uneventful.
That is, free of millennials.
I take two guys to Brass Tacks.
“Do you mind if we do garbage cocaine?” the one on the right asks me.
After several key bumps, the guy spends the rest of the ride complaining about the shitty blow in San Francisco.
My second ride is a young couple who’d just met. They spend the ride to Club Deluxe bonding over their pets. When I pull up to the bar, the guy hands me a $20 bill and refuses change on the $12.30 fare.
“For going out of your way to pick us up,” he says, exiting curbside.
Day two starts out smooth enough.
Since I stopped working Saturday nights, I don’t have my regular cab. So I’m driving Veterans 327. Late Night Larry’s cab.
As I venture out to the park on Fulton while the sun is still in the sky, I’m impressed with how the PCOs are controlling the streets and making sure all vehicles are able to get through the area. That same is true on Lincoln. Even though the SFMTA had promised us taxi stands, there are no designated staging areas. But it isn’t that much of a hassle.
When Metallica stops playing later that night, though, there’s little chance for any kind order in the ensuing chaos…
Read Part Two here.
[photo by Jessica Christian]