I recently discovered that if you park your cab on Van Ness and Oak at 2 a.m., with no headlights and the top light off, while the passenger in the backseat is looking to score drugs, almost everyone who walks past will try to solicit a ride.
First, it was two guys with suitcases, who seemed to emerge from thin air. Standing next to their luggage on the curb, smoking and laughing, they continuously glance inside my taxi. Much to the chagrin of my fare, a guy I picked up in the TL who told me his name was Cricket.
“What are these assholes doing?” Cricket wonders aloud. “They’re going to spook my guy! Get rid of them!”
“Me?” I ask. “How?”
“Tell them to fuck off!”
So far, I’ve just been avoiding eye contact, figuring they’ll get the message eventually. A few seconds later, one of the guys steps into the street and flags a passing cab.
“See, they just needed a taxi,” I say. Then add, wistfully, “Perhaps to the airport …”
A few minutes later, an old man approaches my taxi.
“Cabbie!” he yells across the street. “Cabbie! I need a ride!”
“Now what?” Cricket moans. “Goddamn it!”
I roll down my window and tell the old man, “I’m not available. Sorry.”
“C’mon! I got money!” He pulls out a wad of cash.
“But I already have a fare,” I explain. “Another cab will come by shortly.”
“Ah, these motherfuckers won’t ever pick me up!”
I try to offer some reassurance but he brushes my comment away with a wave of his hand and wanders down the street.
Who knew this seemingly desolate spot in The City would be such a hot spot for rides?
Read the rest here.
[photo by Christian Lewis]