Last week I get a text from Colin: “Wholly shit; I’m doing homework for the first time in a decade, putting Open World, Dreamforce, Castro Street Fair in schedule.”
Holy shit, times sure have changed. Back when I always made sure to know what convention was at Moscone, what shows were at the theaters and who was playing at the concert venues, Colin would snicker and call me “cute” for “being such a good rookie.”
Now that he’s embraced the new way of taxi driving, Colin isn’t just queuing outside hotels, Davies Hall and the War Memorial, he’s preparing for what to expect.
Of course, there are times when it pays to do your homework. Like last Thursday, when a bunch of clueless cab drivers were staging outside the Masonic and complaining about not getting any fares – they might not have wasted their time at the Nob Hill concert hall if they knew about the night’s headliner, Harry Styles. People who pay to see a former boy band singer are not as likely to take a taxi after the show as those who go to the opera, where about thirty people waited desperately for a ride home.
I heard the whistles on Franklin before even turning onto Grove.
After taking my fare from the War Memorial to the St. Francis, I head to the Orpheum, where “An American in Paris” is about to break, and line up on Hyde Street.
A few minutes later, the side doors open and the audience pours out into the night. I wave a man and a woman forward. He opens the door and she gets in first. Tells me their destination:
I hit the meter and maneuver through the surge of vehicles quickly descending on the area.
As I turn right onto Larkin, the man comments on City Hall, awash in multicolored lights.
“What are the colors for? The flag?”
“I think it’s to commemorate the Folsom Street Fair this weekend,” I suggest, even though the colors aren’t exactly the same as the rainbow colors usually associated with the LGBT community.
“What street fair?” he asks.
“Folsom. It’s a celebration of…” I hesitate, unsure how to explain the festival to mixed company.
The woman beats me to it. “Folsom Street Fair is a leather and bondage event,” she explains.
“Oh,” the man replies.
“Yeah. They’re expecting over 200,000 attendees. I haven’t looked forward to seeing a bunch of hot, sweaty half-naked dudes this much since I used to watch WWF wrestling religiously.”
After trying to take a selfie with City Hall is the background, the couple asks how my night has been going. There’s not much to report.
“So, is driving a cab your only job in The City?” the woman asks.
“I also, uh… write.”
“Oh, what do you write?” the man wants to know.
“Besides other things, I write a weekly column for the Examiner about driving a taxi.”
“You want a story?” the man asks with a chuckle. “I could tell you my name.”
“Let’s not do that!” the woman chides him.
I glance in the rearview but it’s too dark to make out his face clearly. “What’s your name?”
He laughs again.
“Come on,” she insists. “We’re almost to the hotel.”