Originally published in the S.F. Examiner
on July 18, 2019.
In San Francisco, it’s always open season on taxicabs. Sometimes it boggles my mind how driving a taxi can inspire so much scorn from the general public. But then, on any given day, Bay Area drivers seem to be in direct competition with each other, racing towards the next red light for the grand prize of absolutely nothing.
Except maybe new brakes.
So when a professional driver enters the equation, with access to transit-only lanes, plenty of road experience and a deep knowledge of how to maneuver the lights, it must frustrate all the speed demons to get owned by a taxi.
Last week, I’m heading south on Potrero in the red carpet lane. At 24th, where it ends, I merge into the flow of traffic. Since letting any car in front of you is akin to slander, a beat up Mazda almost causes a multiple car pileup changing lanes to cut me back off. Which I let him do when he finally speeds up. It’s not like I’m trying to drive like a jerk. There’s a paying customer in my backseat with a meter running. I’m just doing my job, getting passengers where they need to go as efficiently as possible.
And yeah, I know a taxi driver complaining about traffic is totally cliché, but when you spend as much time driving as we do, it transcends a mere occupational annoyance and rises to the level of an existential grievance.
Normally, I just accept my fate and deal with the constant abuse from other drivers. But last Thursday afternoon, after spending 20 minutes on Townsend, trying to reach the Caltrain cabstand, only to find it filled with unmarked sedans, it occurs to me that there’s an alternative to the hassle of working the streets.
When the train pulls in, I get a fare going to Glen Park, but instead of subjecting myself to congestion in the Mission on the way downtown, I get on the freeway… SFO bound.
Read the rest here.
[photo by Douglas O’Connor]
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