I play the radio loud. Which is the only way to decipher cross streets when Artur calls out dispatch orders in his overworked and underpaid drawl.
The Russian accent doesn’t help. Especially when the two-way starts cracking up.
Believe it or not, National/Veterans still has regular customers. And Artur will browbeat drivers on the air to get them filled, calling out orders repeatedly and even singling out cabs he can tell are nearby, like a school teacher trying to get the class to answer a question nobody knows …
Last Friday, after dropping in The Castro, I’m inbound on Market while Artur is trying to fill an order for Geary and Webster. A regular customer at the Safeway needs a ride, but there are no takers.
For the next several minutes, Artur’s voice gets increasingly choleric: “Drivers! Geary and Webster! Somebody go pick her up! This is a regular customer! Come on!”
Even though I’m not close, I check in. “This is 233. Market and Sanchez.”
“233. God bless you. Go get her, please. I’ll give you a bonus load.”
With the promise of $10 off my gate, I get in the left turn lane. I figure Steiner through the Western Addition is my best bet. But there’s an Uber with Nevada plates in front of me, and when the light goes from green to yellow and then red, the driver doesn’t move.
Read the rest here.
[photos by Christian Lewis]