When it comes to certain passengers, no matter how much they pay you, it’s never enough …
This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about an unfortunate aspect of driving a taxi: the unwanted regular.
It’s all fun and games until you realize you’ve been listening to the same passenger moan and complain in the backseat of your taxi for the last… uhhh… two years.
At $2.75 a mile and 55 cents a minute, that may seem like a pretty good load, but what’s the going rate for being a pain sponge?
“It’s never enough,” Late Night Larry tells me. “When it comes to certain passengers, no matter how much they pay you, it’s never enough.”
Outside the Orpheum on Hyde Street, waiting for Miss Saigon to break, I’m leaning against Larry’s cab, complaining about my predicament with a deep-pocketed regular who has become more trouble than he’s worth.
“Did I ever tell you about the Cash Cow?” Larry asks.
The Cash Cow used to call him three to five times a night. The rides were usually long and profitable. But they could also be problematic.
“One night, I’m driving the Cash Cow and his girlfriend up Van Ness. At a red light, they see somebody on the sidewalk and the woman screams, ‘There he is!’ She jumps out of the cab, walks up to the guy and starts pummeling him. Soon, people are gathering around. Somebody calls the cops. Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself… This just isn’t worth it.”
Later that night, I’m griping to Colin. He mentions the Little Shit, one of his old regulars. This guy just wanted to hang out in the backseat of his cab doing whippets while Colin drove around.
“The Little Shit always called when it was busy, which made it difficult to deal with my other regulars. Even though he paid me whatever I asked for, he wasn’t worth the hassle.”
While it’s comforting to know I’m not the only cab driver to end up with an unwanted regular, I still have to figure out how to get rid of mine: Mr. Judy.