Tag Archives: taxi

Watch Toler Make Taxi Driving Great Again

VIDEO: So one Sunday morning I’m sitting in the National office after turning in my cab, waiting to make the long trek to the 24th Street BART station, when a call comes in. The person on the other line tells dispatcher Jesse that one of our cabs is blocking their driveway on York Street, just past Army.

“Do you know the cab number?” Jesse asks. “2977? Ok. Thanks for letting us know. We’ll take care of it.”

I laugh. “Fucking Toler…”

Jesse tries to get Toler’s attention on the radio, but it’s pointless.

“I’ll go wake him up,” I say. “It’s on the way to BART anyway.”

After making my way down Barneveld and through the Hairball, I approach Toler’s cab with my phone ready. The above video is the result.

NOW …

What can I say about these videos of Toler sleeping in his cab?

That’s right… taxi drivers sleep in their cabs. Just like Uber/Lyft drivers.

Should I point out that Toler does NOT represent the SF taxi industry, except as an example of everything that’s potentially bad about it? I mean, he’s a big and burly, bearded and beady-eyed MAGA fan. He stinks, falls asleep at the wheel constantly and he’s been known to yell at people for using Uber and Lyft outside DJ clubs.

Without a doubt, Toler has got to be the worst spokesman for taxis imaginable. Maybe even worse than the mysterious public poopers in the SFO taxi holding lots

But you know what? Fuck all that “positive optics” bullshit. Yeah, Toler is gross. And the Trump shit is about as dumb as it gets… Still, sometimes it’s hard not to love the chaos Toler spreads across the city.

ANYWAY …

In this second clip, taken shortly after the first, I’d just walked up 24th Street, kicking myself for not getting Toler to give me a ride to BART – especially after missing my train and thinking to myself, that’s what you get for being a supercilious prick.

Since the next Pittsburgh/Bay Point train isn’t due for another 20 minutes, I wander down Mission Street to smoke a cigarette and – lo and behold – what do I see? National 2977. I get my phone ready and start banging on the window…

Listen to Late Night Larry Talk about “The Picky Couple”

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AUDIO: Another story from Late Night Larry, recorded late one morning at the National barbecue. With chatter in the background from Juneaux, Daniel the Chef, Old Man John and myself…

“I’m coming down O’Farrell Street and I get flagged by this couple. And from the early conversation, I realize they were husband and wife. The guy says to me, ‘You know, you just look like the kind of cab driver we’ve been looking for…'”


 

Burning Down The House

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This week’s column about driving a taxi is about a week spent not driving a taxi…

One advantage of writing this column each week is that I have notes on almost every shift I’ve driven in the past four years. With this plethora (or waste, some might say) of information, I can generally figure out what to expect on holidays based on previous observations. Such as Labor Day.

Of course, the week leading up to Labor Day is also Burning Man, when a noticeable percentage of the population in the Bay Area migrates to the Nevada desert.

Abandoned in the void are the alleged beneficiaries of the holiday — the workers. Especially those who toil in service, including numerous drivers, who, desperate or just overly habitual, spend the weekend struggling to make a couple bucks on the otherwise empty streets of The City.

Over the past four years, I have been one of those hungry and habitual motorists for hire, albeit mostly un-hired and oh so bored… until the only thing left to do was practice your road rage … Wheelin’ & dealin’

With past column headlines like “Burnt out without the Burners,” “The top light is on but I’m not” and “Hell is other cab drivers,” I don’t need to browse old Word files on my computer, search the Notes app on my phone or exhume discarded Moleskins from the Filing System of Hell to get a sense of the impact that Burning Man and Labor Day will have on cab driving.

Read the rest here.

[photo by Douglas O’Connor]

New Mini-Zine: The Way of the Taxi

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The Way of the Taxi

A PILTDOWNLAD Mini-Zine

“Cab to the Yard”
b/w “Gridlock Is My Business”

This one-sheet mini-zine is a preview of the next Behind the Wheel zine, subtitled “The Thin Checkered Line.” The two short pieces here describe in gripping detail the start of a taxi shift, from getting off BART and walking through the Mission to the National Yard, then heading out into the maelstrom of afternoon traffic and people during rush hour.

8.5” x 11” – essentially, one sheet of paper, folded in quarters.
b&w illustrations

Get Behind the Wheel here.


ORDER HERE:

 

The Way of the Taxi Mini-Zine

The two short pieces in this mini-zine describe the start of a taxi shift, from getting off BART and walking through the Mission to the National Yard, then heading out into the maelstrom of afternoon traffic and people during rush hour. Measures 8.5” x 11” – essentially, one sheet of paper, folded in quarters. Includes a sticker and a taxi card (selected at random – or you can request specifics when ordering). Postpaid. (Be sure to include mailing address.)

$2.00


way-of-taxi-centerfold


my-other-ride-is-taxicab

Includes the “my other ride is a taxicab” sticker.*

Or choose one of the following:

“What would Herb Caen say?”
“taxi driving is not a crime”
“kill your smartphone”
“gentri•fuck•ation”
“your uber driver hates you”

Get Sticky here.


Also comes with a taxi card.*

(Image selected at random, or choose from one the images below.)

assorted-business-cards-web


* This is a limited time offer, while supplies last.

  • Keep Print Alive!

Listen to Late Night Larry Tell His Greatest Barf Stories

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Back in the days of the National BBQ, I recorded Late Night Larry talking about pukers in his cab … Followed by chatter, comments and stories from Colin, Juneaux and Daniel the Chef …


[photo by Trevor Johnson]

A Taxicab Soundtrack

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This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about playing music in the cab…

Over the past five years, I’ve tried to create a soundtrack that not only satisfies my personal need for entertainment but also provides a compelling interlude for passengers. During my first couple months of driving a taxi, I listened almost exclusively to Slayer. The aggression of thrash metal helped me overcome the fear and excitement of working the mean streets of San Francisco as I searched for fares and fought my way through traffic.

When people got into my cab, I immediately killed the tunes and made idle conversation while frantically trying to figure out where to go without the aid of GPS. In the heat of the moment, though, I often forgot to turn the volume down. Upon opening the backdoor, my fares were greeted with the cacophony of piercing guitar solos and thunderous drumbeats. My only recourse was to quickly apologize before they had a chance to run away.

One night, I was waiting for the light at Polk and Clay when a guy jumped in the back of my cab as “Dead Skin Mask” blared from the speakers.

“Sorry about that!” I shouted, twisting the knob to the left so hard it almost snapped off.

“That’s cool,” the guy said. “You can put the tunes back on.”

I turned around to ask where he was headed and noticed his Iron Maiden shirt. “Oh, so you don’t mind Slayer then?” I asked with a relieved chuckle.

“This album’s alright,” he said. “But I prefer the earlier stuff.”

Nowadays, I usually keep a diverse selection of albums in my CD wallet, a habit based on Colin’s early advice to always have music that covers most situations, from the somber vibe out of the symphony to the party-hearty atmosphere at the late-night clubs. That way you can almost avoid sacrificing your musical tastes if passengers want to listen to the radio. Or, worse, request an aux cable …

Read the rest here.

[photo by Douglas O’Connor]

All Roads Lead to Uber

Powell-St-Taxi-Stand-by-Christian-Lewis-web

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about discussing Uber in the cab, and in the column…

The other night, after a long 14-hour shift, I’m standing outside the dispatch office at National, smoking a cigarette with a couple of drivers and complaining about the latest injustice to our livelihoods: management is raising the gates on 24-hour leases from $103 to $123 per day.

As one driver disappears into the night and another arrives to take his place, conversation fluctuates between outrage and indignation until someone brings up my column, much to my chagrin. He wants to know why I don’t use the forum to blast our adversaries.

Since this is such a common inquiry, especially among taxi drivers, I’ve become adept at brushing it off with offhanded comments like, “Because Uber and Lyft are boring.” Or, “I’m under doctor’s orders not to discuss Uber.”

This time I went with, “Nobody cares about this stuff except taxi drivers.”

My response isn’t good enough, though, and the guy tells me I’m wasting a perfectly good opportunity to help the industry resist the onslaught of the ridehail companies.

“Tell me,” I respond, taking a drag from my American Spirit. “Do you guys actually read the column?”

“Uhhh,” the first guy stutters. “I’ve read it before. In the past.”

The second guy shrugs, while the third guy just smiles.

“So how do you know what I write about, then?” I laugh. “Whatever. If I wrote the column just for taxi drivers, nobody else would read it.” With that, I take a final drag, pitch the butt and walk away.

Read the rest here.

[photo by Christian Lewis]