Tag Archives: san francisco

Looking for a Story with Wheels

i-drive-sf-column-examiner

Five years ago, on May 1, 2015, the first I Drive SF column appeared in the S.F. Examiner. Below is an excerpt from the zine Behind the Wheel #4: The Thin Checkered Line about how I landed the column…


Looking for a Story

After my horrendous first night as a Lyft driver, back in February of 2014, I just wanted to give up, go home and fill out an application at Trader Joe’s. But the decision to use my personal car as a taxicab in San Francisco was about more than just making a few extra bucks.

I was looking for a story.

What started out as a lark rapidly took on a life of its own. Originally, I wanted to document the Uber/Lyft trend, explore San Francisco, have some interesting adventures to write about, make a zine about the experience and move on with my life. But as I delved further into the vehicle for hire debate, I found myself in the front seat of a story that was bigger than just gypsy cabs.

The city was going through a period of major upheaval. The extravagant displays of tech money only served to magnify the abject poverty that was laid bare.

The tension was palpable. On my first day driving for Lyft, there was a five-alarm fire in the Mission Bay. As I desperately tried to navigate the city and figure out the app, a small trail of smoke over a construction site quickly spread across the sky from Mission Bay into SoMa, downtown and the Mission.

It all seemed to make sense.

The confusion. The madness. The fires.

San Francisco had become a war zone.

There were battles raging across the city. Between long-term residents and fresh transplants. Between tech workers and non-tech workers. Between renters and owners. Between people leasing their apartments to strangers on the internet and the neighbors who didn’t want to live next door to Airbnb flophouses. And between tradition taxicabs and these new services that paired random drivers and passengers through apps.

Inspired by Gonzo Journalism, I charged headlong into the fray, with a stack of Moleskins. The narrative practically wrote itself. Like a prospector who’d struck it rich, I just held my pan in the creek and collected nugget after nugget of golden material.

My passengers had no clue their words and actions had any significance to me. But they were actually telling the story of the new San Francisco as they complained about the weather, the fog, the hills, the filth, the bums, the dating scene and how there aren’t enough restaurants open late at night when the bars close.

Most of all, they talked about money. VC capital. Billion dollar valuations. Funding rounds.

Everyone had an app.

It was 2014 and startup culture was all the rage. Overly hyped apps were popping up weekly to make people’s lives more convenient. And commerce was the driving force behind this new tech boom.

One night I was driving up Franklin and this guy stuck his head out the window and screamed into the wind, “I’ve made thirty million dollars so far this year!” Then he commandeered my stereo and really got the party started…

Despite its popularity, I assumed the whole “rideshare” phenomenon was a passing fad. Since it was technically illegal, how long could it possibly last?

Around the time I was finishing up the first Lyft zine, I had a dream that City Hall passed a law outlawing Uber and Lyft. I woke up in a panic. All my work! The writing! Designing a 60-page zine! Wasted!

In reality, this was only the beginning of a massive shift in public transportation, as well as employment, by changing how those two things are defined.

The rise of Uber and Lyft was founded on a semantic loophole. By creating a new denotation for taxis – ridesharing – they were able to barge into cities around the world and disregard local regulations. Since they claimed to be a technology company and not a taxi company, the rules governing taxicabs, they argued, didn’t apply to them.

Utilizing doublespeak, these young entrepreneurs disguised their nefarious intentions behind innocuous smokescreens. Like, “sharing.”

Of course, nothing is shared when you Uber and Lyft. Or when you Airbnb. If you’re paying someone to drive you to work, whether it’s in an unmarked sedan or a multi-colored vehicle with a toplight and a phone number on the side, if a meter is running, you’re taking a taxi. The same is true if you’re charging people money to sleep in your bed.

Now that it’s been a few years, anyone with half a brain knows the “sharing economy” is just a predatory business model designed to push workers’ rights back to the 19th century. But its proponents were able to sustain their bullshit long enough until the services were entrenched in the public mindset. By the time politicians were able to include these new definitions in transportation laws, the concept of riding in strangers’ cars had become such a huge part of daily city life that it was too late to eradicate Uber and Lyft.

The will of the people ensured their success.

While this drama played out in the media and in courtrooms and boardrooms and wherever else dirty deals go down, I tried to document the experience on the street through zines and multiple blog posts.

After blogging on several platforms, the editor at Disinfo.com approached me about contributing to their site. Then, a few months later, I started writing for Broke-Ass Stuart’s website.

When “Night of the Living Taxi,” a blogpost about Flywheel’s successful attempt to beat Uber and Lyft at their own game on New Year’s Eve went viral, several media outlets contacted me, including Joe Fitzgerald-Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner.

We must have had a good chat because a few weeks later, he asked if I was interested in writing for the newspaper.

Michael Howerton, the Editor in Chief at the time, was looking to revive the Night Cabbie, a column from the Nineties written by an anonymous taxi driver. Howerton’s idea was to present a modern take, from the perspective of an Uber driver.

By this time I’d already switched a taxi. And it was becoming obvious that nobody cared about taxi drivers. People wanted to read about Uber and Lyft drivers. The hip new thing.

I didn’t want to lose my shot at a column, though. So I read everything online by the Night Cabbie. Most taxi drivers around the National/Veterans yard were familiar his work. As it turned out, he actually drove for Veterans. Used to be finance guy. Late Night Larry, who also worked in the Financial prior to driving a cab, was the one who encouraged him to drive a taxi when he got burnt out and needed a change.

Once I revealed the possibility of reviving the column, everyone had advice, usually criticizing some aspect of how the Night Cabbie documented the taxi driving experience and pointing out what not to do.

Since the only way to pull off the column would be to present both sides of the reality, I cobbled together a counter pitch:

“I Drive SF is a hard-edged take on the current state of driving for hire in San Francisco, from the perspective of a nighttime taxi driver who chose the cabbie’s life after ten months of driving for Uber and Lyft. With comparisons between the ride-hail and taxi experiences, interesting rides and encounters, unavoidable commentary on the impact of the latest tech boom and various historical and cultural observations on the changing city. Sprinkled with maybe too much personal information: accepting a life in Oakland, my high blood pressure, thrash metal, manic interactions with longtime cab drivers and the wife’s existential quest to find a job with meaning… A portrait of the Bay Area in flux.”

Two weeks later, I met Michael for coffee in Mint Alley.

The first installment came out on May Day. We both agreed that May Day was the perfect date to inaugurate a newspaper column about driving a taxi.

Just like that, I had my story, along with a forum to reach a wider audience. And that’s when things got really ugly …


[Excerpted from the zine Behind the Wheel 4: The Thin Checkered Line, available here. Also compiled in the Dispatches from Behind the Wheel Omnibus, available here.]


The Best of I Drive SF: Crackheads are People Too

i-drive-sf-crackheads-people-too-web

This column originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on Nov. 4, 2016. One of the more provocative headlines from the glory days when the Editor in Chief gave me a very long leash to write about whatever I wanted. A year or so after he quit the paper, we met for coffee. He really had to fight to get this headline in print.

I’m sure when sending in my copy I mentioned something about the headline not being very family-friendly, so it was surprising to see that he used it. I didn’t realize at the time just how controversial that decision was. 

The image they used is comical at best. A weed pipe with a rock in it. This is not how you smoke crack. It’s obviously a composite. Despite being inaccurate, I thought it was hilarious.  

 


 

It’s been a weird night. I’m still waiting to hear back from the lab about my drug test to renew my A-Card, which is about to expire in a few days. In the meantime, my cab has become a mecca for dope deals.

So far tonight, my backseat has hosted transactions of heroin, weed, molly and blow. Hey, it’s San Francisco. Everything’s cool, unless you’re a taxi driver who smokes a little pot during his free time. Then you have to jump through a bunch of regulatory hoops to keep your job…

Bill Graham is breaking. As M83 fans pour out of the auditorium past the metal barricades into the steady rain that hasn’t let up all evening, I wait in the intersection of Grove and Polk for a fare. But there are no takers. I swing around to the Larkin side and strike out there, too.

As I head down Grove, I hear, “Taxi!”

I look around.

“Taxi!”

On the other side of Hyde Street, I see two guys and a girl pushing a stroller with a clear plastic sheet draped over it. They’re flagging every taxi that goes by, even though none have their toplights on.

When they spot me, the mother and her companions cross the street. I pull over and hit my hazards.

A sense of civic duty kicks in. It’s my job to get this family out of the elements. But as they get closer, I realize this isn’t your typical family out for an evening promenade in the pouring rain. They all have scarred faces, missing teeth, hollow eyes and dingy clothes that suggest they spend most of their days sitting on the filthy sidewalks of San Francisco.

I’m beginning to wonder if there’s really even a baby in that stroller.

I pop the trunk anyway and roll down the passenger side window.

One guy leans in. “Hey, can I charge this ride to meth?”

“What?”

“I have crank if you’re interested …”

“Uh, no. I’m fine.”

The girl reaches into the stroller and removes an infant.

“We need to get to Hayes and Central,” she tells me once she’s inside the cab. “We only have 10 minutes to get there.”

While the second guy tries to break the stroller down, the first one climbs into the backseat. He shoves something under the girl’s ass and starts groping her. She holds the baby tightly and kisses him, glancing out the back window at the other guy struggling with the stroller.

“Go help him,” she says finally.

Together, they wrestle the stroller for a few minutes. Then he returns.

“Is there a button we’re supposed to push?” he asks, squeezing her right breast.

She kisses him lightly and smiles. “I can’t believe you guys are having such a hard time with this. It’s just a stroller.”

He tries to get another kiss, but she rejects him.

“We only have seven minutes left.”

He goes back to work.

“Sorry about this,” she tells me, rocking the baby in her arms. Throughout the entire ordeal, the kid hasn’t made a peep.

Outside, the two guys are wedging the entire stroller into the trunk as hard as they can.

“Do you have a rope or bungee cord?” the first one asks.

“No.”

“Can you just drive like this?” the girl pleads.

“It’s not going to fall out?” I ask.

“No, it’s jammed in good.”

“OK.” What other choice do I have?

The first guy says goodbye, and the second one gets in. I take off down Market and turn onto Hayes.

“I don’t understand,” the guy says. “Why couldn’t one of us have held the baby while you broke down the stroller?”

I was actually thinking the same thing at one point.

“It’s been six months,” she snaps.

“But we’ve only had this one for two weeks.”

“Try two months.”

When I pull up to their building, I get out to dislodge the stroller. I expect the guy to help but neither he nor the girl is exiting the cab. I walk around to see what’s up.

They’re searching for something underneath the seat.

The girl tries to make an excuse, but I know it’s either a bindle or a rock.

“Get out,” I say. “I’ll help you.”

I pull out the vinyl seat to reveal what’s collected underneath. Among the dust, the crumbs, a tree air freshener, various pieces of papers, a couple business cards and a rubber band, there’s a small rubber ball.

The guy quickly snatches it up.

The girl hands me two wet fivers.

Just as I think my job is done, she asks if I can do them a favor.

“This is an assisted living facility, and we’re past curfew … So can you tell the manager why we’re late?”

Sure. Why not? I follow them to the door.

“It’s all my fault,” I tell the manager. “The rain. Traffic. Sorry.”

I rush back to my cab and out of the weather. I’m soaked but still ready to serve.

The Best of I Drive SF: The Misanthropic Drug Dealer

sf-examiner-taxi-drug-dealer-mission

This column was originally published in the S.F. Examiner on Mar 17, 2017. In it, I introduce Mr. Judy, the drug dealer I drove daily for over a year. He appeared in the column multiple times. Much to his delight.

He never seemed to worry that I was writing about him in the newspaper. He even wanted me to use his real nickname. All his customers at the bars where he hung out knew him as Judy.

When his name appeared in print, he’d carry the paper around and proudly show everyone.

Once, I was waiting for the light at Church and Market with Judy in the backseat when a lady waiting for Muni recognized me.

“Are you the guy who writes for the paper?”

“Yeah, how’s it going?”

Just then, Judy stuck his head out the window and shouted, “I’m Mr. Judy!”

He reveled in the notoriety.

Anyway, this is how it started. (The photo above was actually taken at Delirium, the bar in the Mission where Judy spent most of his time plying his trade.)

 


 

“There’s no hope, I’m telling ya. All that’s left is total destruction.”

Mr. Judy has been ranting since I picked him up at a dive bar in the Mission, where he peddles his wares, and tried to drop him off at another. But as I idle in front, he just sits there, eyeballing the crowd of smokers on the sidewalk.

Randomly, he singles out a girl in ballerina flats and three chuckleheads with matching spectacles and beards fawning over her. “I hate those shoes. They’re awful. Her pants are too tight. And look at that hair … Well, at least she’s the queen of the sausage party tonight.”

“Dude, I think you’re way too judge-y to go in there right now.” I offer to drive him somewhere else, but he just wants to hang out in my cab for a while. Since I’m not feeling very servile myself, I don’t mind driving around aimlessly. At least the meter’s running.

Sensing Mr. Judy’s high level of agitation, I put on some Grateful Dead. In between tirades, he sings along to Jerry, then critiques the bars we pass on our way downtown, describing the owners, the bouncers, the bartenders, the type of clientele and what kind of music they play. His knowledge of watering holes in the Mission is impressive, though it makes sense for a bar-to-bar salesman to know his territory.

One thing I’ve learned from driving Mr. Judy is that selling drugs isn’t as easy as one might think. You have fierce competition for both customers and suppliers, you have to control your personal intake while dealing with people you’d rather see skewered in a cannibalistic ritual, 12 hours a day, just to make a buck. Which is a lot like taxi driving. Except the money’s not as good.

“I don’t know how you do it,” I say during a brief moment of silence.

“It gets really fucking boring,” he admits. “But just when you’ve had enough, someone gives you money and you feel good. So you wait around, until you can’t take it anymore. Then, right before you bail, someone gives you money. And you feel good. So you keep waiting …”

Again, sounds like cab driving.

After snorting something, Mr. Judy returns to his bitter soliloquy.

“Sometimes I hate this city as much as I hate myself. I feel like Colonel Kurtz, you know? Just send in the air raid already! Exterminate the brutes! These kids today … I can’t stand them. If they’re the future, we’re fucked! Doomed! There’s no hope. I’m telling ya … None at all. Might as well give in to total destruction. It’s the only solution.”

After a while, I lose track of his jeremiad, so just drive and grunt on cue.

“Do you have a five-year plan? No? Do you even know what you’re doing next week? I don’t … Life has no meaning. None of our lives matter. Today is all we have. There is no future. We’re living our future right now … Look at all the madness. It’s everywhere … I’m losing it. It. It. I don’t even know what ‘it’ is. But I want to know, don’t you? I want to find a way to harness the madness. I need to become a cash cow … Look around you. Madness disguised as cheap consumerism. All our needs monetized. Ad machines fueled by our complacency … That’s why we need total destruction …”

As if realizing the world outside the bars might be worse, he decides to go back to the first place I picked him up.

“Orwell was wrong,” he continues. “We don’t have to fear Big Brother. Our only fear is that Big Brother isn’t watching us … We surrender our privacy for the allusion of choice. We feed the marketers until they know everything we want, how much we want and when we want it … But they won’t sell us what we really need: total destruction.”

I pull up to the bar, and Mr. Judy looks out the window for a few minutes, making up his mind.

“I’ll call you in a bit,” he says finally, hands me a wad of bills and slowly exits the cab. Before closing the door, he leans back in. “Remember, the future is now.”

I drive away, back to my own grind, waiting for someone to give me money before I embrace total destruction myself.


 

[Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on Mar 17, 2017.]

[photo via]

The Best of I Drive SF: Guilty of Driving a Taxi I no

taxidriver2

Even though this is the fourth column I wrote for the Examiner, the sensation of feeling “guilty” was prevalent throughout my taxi “career.” I could have updated this material monthly.  

The Examiner actually printed the above image of Robert De Niro from Taxi Driver in the newspaper with this column. Probably the coolest one they ever used. 

 


 

Driving a cab in San Francisco is like wearing a target around your neck. It’s always open season on taxis. On good days, the contempt most people have towards the taxi industry misses its mark. But on the bad days, it’s a shot straight to the heart.

In the four months I’ve been driving a cab, I’ve been disrespected as a matter of course. Honked at more times than I can count. As if I’m asking people to sacrifice their first-born to let me change lanes in front of them. Nobody cuts me any slack. During rush hour, I have to fight for each one-fifth of a mile to get passengers where they’re going.

I was driving up Kearny last Saturday night and a guy in an Uber SUV spit on my cab. The tourists in my backseat were horrified. “Oh, just part of driving a taxi in San Francisco,” I joked.

A month ago, while picking up a fare on King Street, some joker knocked my side mirror off and drove away. I spent two hours at the police station filing a report. “Won’t be the last time,” the officer doing the paperwork told me nonchalantly.

This week I paid the city of San Francisco $110 for “obstructing traffic” in front of a strip club at 1:30am. The SFMTA mailed the citation to my cab company. Claimed I was a “drive away.” Of course I drove away. I’m a taxi driver. That’s what I do. I drive, I stop, I pick up passengers and then I drive away.

From City Hall to fresh-faced transplants, everyone hates cabs. And yet, I can’t help but wonder, whatever happened to the mythology of cab driving?

My earliest memory is being in a taxi. The family station wagon was in the shop. I remember sitting in the backseat with my mother. The driver was listening to news radio. Something about President Ford.

As a child of the 70s, glued to the TV set, I never missed an episode of Taxi. I couldn’t wait to see what shenanigans Latka and Iggy would get into. I’d laugh as Louie berated all the drivers who hung around the garage solving each other’s problems. In Taxi Driver, there was Travis Bickle, the loner moving through the streets of New York like a reluctant servant to the night and all its proclivities. Even D.C. Cab portrayed a struggling taxi company as the ultimate underdog, with Mr. T. the baddest cab driver who ever lived.

As fascinating as cabs were to me growing up, I didn’t use them much until I moved to New Orleans, where most of the drivers doubled as tour guides, concierges of vice or therapists. I’ve sighed more than once in the back of a New Orleans cab and had the driver say, “Lay it on me, baby.”

I never thought I’d drive a taxi myself. In my illustrious career as an overeducated slacker, I’ve worked as a cook, painter, flea market vendor, book dealer and personal assistant. Taxi driving wasn’t much of a stretch. So when the Wife and I ended up in Oakland last year, with no other prospects, I decided to do the Uber-Lyft thing.

Before I ever hit the road, I pinned a map of San Francisco to the wall. I studied the streets and how they intersected each other. For two weeks, the Wife and I drove around The City figuring out major thoroughfares and how to get from one neighborhood to the next.

After a few months, it was obvious app-based transportation is only a simulacrum of taxi driving. But I’d learned enough to know I could do the real thing.

Switching to a taxi was an intimidating proposition, though, based on all the horrible things I’d heard from my passengers. San Franciscans love to complain about transportation. And the only thing worse than the Muni and Bart are taxis.

I thought it would be different for me. Despite the muddied reputation I’d inherited. I wanted to be a great taxi driver. I still do. But it doesn’t matter who’s behind the wheel. In this city, a color scheme and a top light will always be targets for disdain.

[Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on May 22, 2015]

Published in the Dispatches from Behind the Wheel Omnibus. Available here.

Welcome to the Jungle

BtW-postcard-30-web

Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on Jan. 23, 2020.

After pulling up to terminal three and stowing the young girl’s suitcase in the trunk of my cab, I get behind the wheel and look over my shoulder to find out her destination, but, to my surprise, she opens the front passenger door instead.

“Hop in back,” I tell her. “You’ll be more comfortable.”

“I’ll just hold onto it,” she says, assuming I was referring to her backpack.

“OK then.” I quickly adjust the seat, since it’s pushed all the way forward.

“So, uh, where to?” I ask, hitting the meter.

She gives me an address on Turk Street. I ask her to repeat it since there are no hotels or apartment buildings on that block.

“In the Tenderloin?”

“I guess,” she says. “I’ve never been there before.”

On the freeway, I make subtle inquiries. She’s from Wilmington, North Carolina, taking a gap year in The City.

“That means you’re what, 18 or 19?”

“I’m actually 20 years old,” she replies, somewhat defensively.

She looks much younger.

Her explanation of the building where she’s going to be living for the next year is a bit convoluted, but it sounds like a hybrid hotel/apartment building with dorm rooms. So, basically a hostel.

Read the rest here.


[Image from the San Francisco Postcard Collection – Street Scenes from Behind the Wheel.]

 


 

 

 

Can Taxis Survive a Global Pandemic?

BtW-postcard-38-web

Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on Mar. 19, 2020.

Welp, it’s the end of the taxi industry as we’ve known it and, honestly, I don’t know what to feel anymore. I haven’t driven a cab in two weeks. After the RSA conference, when normal business started to tank, there didn’t seem to be much of a point. Without the airport and tourists, the only way to make money in a cab is via luck. And I’m just not that lucky.

Since then, things have only gotten worse. With no end in sight to the downward spiral.

During my involuntary sabbatical, I’ve been talking to drivers who are still out on the streets. The situation is dire.

Wait times at SFO are anywhere from five to seven hours. Cabs are sitting in front of the Hyatt Regency and Marriott Marquis for two or more hours. Street flags are non-existent. And dispatch orders are few and far between.

And that was before the shelter in place order went into effect on Tuesday.

Now… who knows what to expect? Every day, things are different.

Even though taxis are still considered essential during the lockdown, demand wasn’t very high before everyone was put under house arrest, so how many people will actually need rides over the next few weeks if they’re not supposed to go outside?

For gate and gas drivers, it seems to be the end of the road. It’s just not worth the risk of going out and barely covering your expenses. But how do we make money in meantime?

Read the rest here.


[Image from the San Francisco Postcard Collection – Street Scenes from Behind the Wheel.]

 


 

 

The Luxury of Being Bored

BtW-postcard-12-web

Originally appeared in the S.F. Examiner on Apr. 2, 2020.

It goes without saying that the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions: fear, isolation and the uncertainty of when/if things will ever be normal again. Based on social media, though, which is the only way to really interact with anyone these days, one of the most pervasive sensations shared by the general public seems to be boredom.

As we enter the third week of sheltering in place, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are inundated with people looking for ways to alleviate the stagnant existence our lives have become while trapped indoors.

Not to diminish anyone else’s experiences, but if you’re bored, consider yourself lucky.

Imagine being stuck in a tiny, cramped one-bedroom apartment with a rambunctious three year old who’s constantly bouncing off the walls.

It starts from the moment she opens her eyes, with a brief respite at naptime, if we’re lucky, until she finally lets me rock her to sleep to Joy Division or Echo & the Bunnymen at some point between 10 p.m. and midnight.

Even before they closed the playgrounds, when we try to take her outside, she immediately gravitates towards other people and touches every available surface and puts things in her mouth. She’s a very active and social three year old. She doesn’t know any better, and has no grasp of the dangers of germs.

Children never – ever – do what you want them to do. I don’t know how people survived with kids during historical disasters like sieges or natural disasters. There’s no way my child would remain chill under adverse circumstances. Like, say, hidden in an attic in the Netherlands. By day two we would’ve been caught and shipped off to the camps.

We keep her indoors as much as possible. A process that has been frustrating and infuriating, for all of us. And definitely not boring.

Read the rest here.


[Image from the San Francisco Postcard Collection – Street Scenes from Behind the Wheel.]

 


 

 

San Francisco Postcards – Street Scenes from Behind the Wheel

Now available for sale, a set of twenty-four postcards featuring San Francisco street scenes taken from behind the wheel…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Set of twenty-four 4″x6″ postcards of San Francisco street scenes taken from behind the wheel. Printed on high quality card stock by MOO. Free shipping.

SOLD OUT

Banging My Head Against a Taxi Shift

yellow-cab-marriott-fishermans-wharf

Originally published in the S.F. Examiner
on July 11, 2019.

There was something in the air last week, and not just the glow of fireworks pulsating through the dense fog that shrouded most of The City on the Fourth of July…

Equally ominous, but even more unsatisfying, are all the empty streets, devoid of fares. Except in the Wharf, where thousands of visitors congregate for the official pyrotechnic display, only to leave disappointed.

Before the show is over, a mass exodus begins. Around 9:45 p.m., I head up Columbus, hoping to pick off from the herd without venturing too deep into the morass of vehicles for hire operated by drivers just as confused as the erstwhile spectators wandering the streets like refugees from an active war zone.

“You can’t see a thing!” exclaims a group of women from West Virginia.

“Happens every year,” I tell them.

“So what’s the point?”

“No clue.”

After depositing them at the St. Francis, I head back to the Wharf for another load.

“The fog’s too thick to see the fireworks,” complains a mother of two sons.

“But you can hear them,” points out the younger one.

“It’s like this every July,” I say.

Read the rest here.


Wanna Go for a Ride?

Just released: Dispatches from Behind the Wheel: The Omnibus –
The Complete Zine Series about Driving for Hire in San Francisco

A Phony Lid paperback original. Includes all four issue of Behind the Wheel, revised and expanded with additional content. A Lyft Driver’s Log • Notes from an Uber/Lyft • From Uber/Lyft to Taxi • The Thin Checkered Line

Get all the details here.

 


 

 

Playing the Airport

taxi-sfo-paid-lot-douglas-oconnor-web

Originally published in the S.F. Examiner on June 12, 2019.

I’ve never been much of an airport player. I prefer to work The City.

Even before the new system limiting which medallions can operate at SFO, I lacked the patience required to wait three hours in the holding lots, hoping for a decent ride once finally reaching the terminals.

Even though the prospect of a long haul can be tantalizing, you’re just as likely to end up with a Burlingame. And while a short allows you get to cut to the front of the line on returning, if the airport isn’t moving, it’s a small consolation.

Plus, I get restless easily. Back when I used to try my luck at the ‘port, I’d go stir crazy idling in the wiggle and donut lots, while drivers stood around discussing their ride prospects like oddsmakers at an OTB.

Last Thursday night, though, after the theater crowd dissipates and my only shot at a fare is a random flag or a radio order while circling through SoMa, the TL and the Mission, I see an unusual post on Hackers: “Cabs needed at SFO!”

Read the rest here.

[photo by Douglas O’Connor]


Wanna Go for a Ride?

Just released: Dispatches from Behind the Wheel: The Omnibus –
The Complete Zine Series about Driving for Hire in San Francisco

A Phony Lid paperback original. Includes all four issue of Behind the Wheel, revised and expanded with additional content. A Lyft Driver’s Log • Notes from an Uber/Lyft • From Uber/Lyft to Taxi • The Thin Checkered Line

Get all the details here.