Tag Archives: asshole cabbies

Pissing Off Uber Drivers… And It Feels So Good



Taxi/Uber panel at LaborFest 2016

Last Wednesday night, I participated in a panel discussion for the annual Laborfest called “Uber, Worker Rights, Tech and the Public.”

I suppose it’s beneficial to continue informing the population about Uber’s impact on the San Francisco taxi industry, as well as the thousands of drivers who propelled the juggernaut to its $62 billion valuation. Despite all the talking between the panel and audience, though, there weren’t many solutions presented other than prolonged lawsuits. Or just holding your breath until enough people realize Uber is a public threat and/or they run out of drivers willing to work for peanuts.


Taxi/Uber panel at LaborFest 2016

The following afternoon, I start my workweek feeling mostly pessimistic. Disheartened, I make it through my shift, but something happens the next day that brightens my mood …

Traffic is beyond horrible. Epic. Worse than any normal Friday in recent memory. As I slug through the congestion, passengers keep asking, “Is there something going on this weekend?”

“Not that I know of.”

I have to be aggressive to circumvent the melee of vehicles, most of which are Uber-Lyfts. As I make my way down California Street toward the Financial, a line of cars tries to use the cabstand in front of 555 Cal to turn right onto Montgomery, only to wind up stuck behind a few waiting taxis. Seeing as how I’ll be trapped anyway, I fight my way into the cabstand.

Before I can pull up behind a Town Taxi, someone knocks on my window and opens my back door.

“Hello there.”

Well, at least I’m getting paid to deal with traffic as I drive my fare to the St. Francis. I just have to get out of this cabstand.

I inch forward, forcing my way into the flow of traffic I just struggled to escape from. There’s an Uber to my left. I make a move. He pulls forward, not wanting to let me in, but I keep going. When he realizes I’m more than willing to let him hit me, he lays on his horn and starts screaming.

Whatever. I’m back into the stream of cars heading toward Montgomery. But the Uber driver is still upset. I ignore him. He pulls into the cabstand to the right of me, rolls down his window and continues shrieking. I just keep my eyes forward. La de da, la de da …

He tries to get behind me again, but there are too many cars. I see him a few spaces back, still bellowing and shaking his fist at me.

His fulmination draws the ire of a taxi driver in the cabstand who tells him to shut up. The Uber driver then alternates his fury between the two of us.

Meanwhile, I just keep slowly moving forward. Next thing I know, there’s a guy tapping at my window.


“I just wanted you to know that you’re driving like a total asshole.”

“Oh thanks,” I say. “Have a nice day.”

As I roll the window back up, the guy stands there for a few seconds before walking away. In my side mirror, I watch him return to the Uber I cut in front of.

“That’s too funny,” I say out loud.

“Is traffic always this bad in San Francisco?” my fare asks me, seemingly unfazed by all the turmoil I’ve caused.

“It fluctuates, but yeah.” I chuckle.

For the rest of the night, I can’t help but smile whenever I think about how I pissed that Uber driver off so badly his passenger had to get out of the car and call me an asshole.

It’s the little things, you know?

I wasn’t even trying to make him mad. I was just doing my job.

Is it my fault that, as a professional driver, I spend so much time behind the wheel of a taxi, stuck in traffic, fighting congestion, going to absurd lengths to get people where they need to be that I’ve developed the expertise and knowledge to drive with intent?

How else am I supposed to get anywhere?

Over time, I’ve learned to keep my cool amid the madness of vehicular clusterfucks because I know I just intentionally drove into said clusterfuck. That’s like jumping into a pool and getting mad at the water.

These days, horns blaring at me sound like birds whistling in the trees. Near-collisions are just that. They only count if they happen. And all the dirty looks and aspersions form an elastic blur.

I’m a taxi driver, goddamn it!

I own these streets.

Originally published in the S.F. Examiner on Aug. 5, 2016.


What Makes a Cab Driver an Asshole?


My column in the S.F. Examiner this week is about getting into a fight with an Uber driver in Union Square

The longer I drive a cab, the more I realize I need to be more of an asshole.

Like the night I drove this guy from Eleventh Street to his apartment in Pac Heights. He was friendly and we had a good time. In front of his beaux arts building, he tells me his life story. I listen patiently, $15.05 on the meter, thinking he’s going to give me a decent tip for being an impromptu therapist. But after half an hour of jabbering on, he opens the door, says goodbye and walks away.

“Hey!” I yell after him. “Aren’t you going to pay me?”

“Nope. Sorry.”

What was I supposed to do? Run after him and tackle him to the ground? Call 9-1-1 and wait for the cops to show up and point to the door where he entered? Lotta good that would do me…

Or what about the bartender at Raven who flagged me down and deposited an intoxicated woman in the back of my cab, assured me she wouldn’t throw up and told me her address. Mindful of my last experience with a puker, I demanded payment up front. They gave me $20. But when I pulled up to her place in the Mission, she passed out cold. I couldn’t wake her up. When I threatened to take her to the police station around the corner, she came to long enough so I could get her on her feet, but then the problem got worse. I had to somehow get her up two flights of stairs as she leaned against the building and passed out again.

Fortunately, her neighbor, or someone who claimed to be her neighbor, showed up and rescued me, but I still wasted 45 minutes of prime time driving dealing with this drunk girl…

Or the guy who approached my cab with a bottle of beer and I told him not to throw it out because it’s legal to drink in the back of a cab, but not on the street. After his debit card was declined, he told me he was going to run up to his apartment to get cash and had me hold onto his bank card. Ten minutes later, I realized he wasn’t coming back and that the card probably didn’t even belong to him…

I could go on and on listing the indignities that I’ve suffered as a cab driver and why I might have a sour disposition about it all…

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Anyway, read the column here.


Photo by Trevor Johnson.