This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about working Salesforce’s annual convention Dreamforce…
On Salesforce Sunday, when 170,000 people descend on San Francisco for Dreamforce, the largest software convention in the world, hope springs eternal in the SFO taxi holding lots. And for once, I’m going to be a part of the action …
Before embarking on my first, full-fledged attempt to become an airport player, I hover in the shade on Loomis Street, summoning the courage to face the unknown while smoking a final cigarette and chugging an iced coffee. The night before and all that morning, I bombarded Ben and Hester with a flurry of stupid questions. Still feeling ill-prepared, but with the nicotine/caffeine combo surging through my veins, I jump on 101 south, ready to embrace the madness.
As several cabs zoom past me on the freeway, I try to keep up, eventually shadowing one into the garage and through a maze of lines and staging areas.
At first, the whole process seems chaotic, but it’s obviously designed to house 100s of vehicles until they’re ready for service …
From the Entry Lot to the Wiggle and into the Donut, taxi drivers mill around their cabs until whistles start blowing, horns start honking and everyone is shouting, “Go! Go! Go!”
In the Paid Lot, we metaphorically rev our engines and wait for the starter’s whistle. Then it’s show time!
I chase the other cabs down a ramp that leads to the arrival terminals, where passengers stand with luggage.
After my first successful run, I deadhead back to SFO.
In the Entry Lot, Bobby comes over to my cab. I pepper him with a bunch of stupid questions.
“Don’t worry,” he says confidently. “Just follow the cab in front of you.”
A few minutes later, my row enters the Wiggle, but when the Luxor cab in front of me stops, there’s no room for me to squeeze in. Panicking, I look around, unsure of where to go and waiting for someone to yell at me. Nobody seems to care though.
When a driver finally notices my confusion and shouts directions at me, I thank him profusely.
Later, in the Donut, Bobby walks to my window and chuckles. I point out that following the cab in front of me isn’t always the ideal strategy.
“Man, it’s all good,” he drawls.
By the end of the night, with seven SFO trips under my belt, I’ve become a real airport player …
Read the rest here.
[Photos by Douglas O’Connor]
Top: The Donut
Middle: The Wiggle
Bottom: Paid Lot