Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on Feb. 20 2020.
“Wow, I can’t believe I’m in a real taxi,” the girl in my backseat slurs, her words as boozey as her breath. “I didn’t think taxis even existed anymore.”
“Oh, there’s still a few of us around,” I respond absently, wondering how anyone could fail to notice the numerous multi-colored vehicles circling The City all day and night. I resist the urge to point them out as we head down Mission towards Bernal Heights from South of Market.
There’s one… There’s another one… And another…
“So why did you guys flag me?” I ask.
Originally, a guy was with her, but after she turned down his offer to keep the party going, he handed me a $20 bill, told me to drive her home and jumped out at the light to take an Uber instead.
“Getting a cab is just so…” her voice trails off. “Aggressive. We had to yell and wave to get your attention.”
“Well, I wasn’t really expecting to see anyone in front of Moscone at 1 a.m.,” I say in my defense.
Prior to speeding down Fourth Street, I had been working the Dark Star Orchestra show at the Warfield. After taking a fare to Russian Hill and a second to the Inner Richmond, I went back for a triple dip, but only a few deadheads remained, zonked out on hippie crack. A couple so high on mushrooms they couldn’t figure out how to get to the Hampton Inn around the corner wanted a ride though. Since the hotel was just a meter drop away, I declined payment, in cash or psychedelics, decided to call it a night and headed towards the bridge.
I ask the girl again why they took a taxi.
“That fellow who got in with me, Conrad, is the sweetest man,” she tells me. “He’s been in love with me for over a year. And I’ve treated him horribly.”
Her voice quivers and she begins to cry.
Read the rest here.
[Image from the San Francisco Postcard Collection – Street Scenes from Behind the Wheel.]