Originally published in the S.F. Examiner on December 20, 2018.
On Friday night, as the symphony and ballet are about to break simultaneously, I’m racing up Seventh Street, hoping to get a fare before there’s nothing left on Grove but a bunch of phonies standing on the curb and the usual swarm of empty cabs circling the area like sharks late to the kill.
Approaching Mission, a figure emerges from the shadows with his arm extended. I glance in the rearview. Since there are no cars directly behind me, I hit the brakes, expecting the guy to quickly jump into my cab. But he just stands there, until traffic catches up to me.
Then, out of nowhere, I’m blinded by a flash of light.
Two lanes over, a cop has his spotlight aimed at me.
“Why couldn’t you pull into that open space?” the officer yells through the window of his cruiser.
“What?” I respond, confused by the unexpected scrutiny. Despite overtly egregious infractions, the police usually ignore taxi drivers. Even if we’re in dire straits. My cab could be engulfed in flames while a deranged lunatic chases me around the wreckage, stabbing me in the neck with a rusty icepick, and the cops would just look the other way. So why single me out?
“You’re blocking traffic,” he points out.
I look over my shoulder at the dude struggling to open the backdoor. “I didn’t realize it would take him so long to get into the cab,” I yell back.
“Come on,” the cop says. “Use your head. You know better than that.”
Before I can defend myself, he speeds away.