It’s last call and I’m in the Castro. Since there’s space in the Bank of America taxi stand, I pull in behind a Luxor. The line moves slowly at first but soon all the cabs in front of me are loaded and I’m on deck.
A guy opens my back door.
“How’s it going?” I ask.
He just grunts. Obviously not in a great mood. Whatever.
In a thick accent, he gives me an address. I don’t recognize the street and ask him to repeat it. Then spell it.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asks, curtly. “Do I need to get another taxi?”
“Can you just tell me a neighborhood so I can get a general idea of where we’re going?”
“Portola,” he says.
The way he pronounces “Portola” sounds like the street, but when I turn left on 18th, he tells me I’m going in the wrong direction.
“You said ‘Portola’,” I point out.
“Oh God,” he exclaims. “Portola District.”
“Okay.” That’s not how I’m used to hearing the neighborhood pronounced, but who am I to argue with a native Spanish speaker? I take a right on Collingwood and head to Market.
“I can’t believe you don’t know where you’re going!” His tone is nasty. “I thought you have to know the streets to drive a taxi.”
“I can’t identify every one block street in The City,” I reply calmly, trying to diffuse the situation.
“Well, then put it in your fucking phone!” he snaps.
Even though he’s being unpleasant, I type his address into Google Maps. Just as I suspected, it’s a tiny street between Third and Bayshore off 101.
In between his annoyed sighs, I confirm the route and head towards Duboce Avenue.
The guy continues to mumble insults. “I can’t believe you drive a taxi. You don’t even know what you’re doing.”
“That’s it!” Conjuring Late Night Larry, I pull over to the curb and shout, “You’re out!”
“What are you doing?”
“Ride’s over.” I turn off the meter. “Find another cab.”
“No! You’re driving me home!”
“Then stop being mean!”
Read the entire column here.
[photo by Trevor Johnson]