“I Drive S.F.” column published in the S.F. Examiner on Feb. 21, 2019.
Last Thursday was my first taxi shift in two weeks. After failing to come up with my share of February’s rent, the powers that be, i.e., my wife, issued an official proclamation, stating that taxi driving shall no longer be considered a real job, and shall be referred to henceforth as my “hobby.” According to this decree, I’m only allowed to “goof off in the cab” when it doesn’t interfere with Irina’s workload. Fair enough. Who am I to contest the will of the people? All I can do is hope business picks up when baseball season starts and the tourists return.
In the meantime, there’s the occasional convention. On Thursday, the IMB Think conference hosted a special event at Pier 39. 10,000 people were supposed to have attended. On top of which, Yellow had an exclusive arrangement to provide transportation for the employees staying out of town, issuing 1800 vouchers for rides to hotels in the Peninsula and East Bay that only Yellow drivers could accept. Since the prospects seemed decent, Irina granted me a temporary furlough to “work” that night.
Like almost every day this month, it rains. Traffic is a nightmare. Despite a late start, I scour the wet streets for rides.
Around 9:30, my dispatch tablet starts blowing up.
“CABS NEEDED PIER 39!”
“PIER 39 NEEDS CABS!!”
From SoMa, I deadhead to the Wharf. The sky is pissing rain. With the wipers slapping the windshield like a dominatrix on meth, I try to navigate the congestion of shuttles and buses among the hordes of Uber/Lyft ninnies doing their best to muck things up.
People are running everywhere, trying to find their drivers or take shelter.
On Powell, a guy with a lanyard bangs on my window. “Are you free?”
I lock the doors. Confused, he walks away. Another guy takes his place. I ignore him until he leaves.
Across the street, in the Yellow designated staging area, people in orange safety vests are yelling at me, “Yellow, over here!”
As more desperate conventioneers approach my cab, I pretend my English is too limited to understand them.
Do I feel sorry for turning down these bullshit fares? Not at all. Because no one is looking out for me. And if I don’t take care of number one, who will? I have a family. A child. But more importantly, a pissed off spouse. If there’s anything in this world that takes precedence over everything else, it’s pissed off spouses.