A Hell Ride into the Peninsula

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This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about a long ride, the green hell of suburbia, blowjobs, fast food and the semantics of meat when coupons are involved… 

Before I’m even on the Central Freeway, he asks if he can suck my dick. I laugh it off, but he persists. Vehemently. No matter how many times I turn down his offer to suck my dick and try to change the subject, he doesn’t let up. Over and over, all the way down the 101.

“I just know you’re going to let me suck your dick…”

“Uhm, no.”

“Then shut up,” he says. “Your voice is turning me on.”

I shut up. Then he asks me a random question and returns to the topic of sucking my dick. When I reject his advances for the umpteenth time, he tells me to shut up again.

“Stop asking me questions then!” I shout.

Read the rest here.

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Pissing Off Uber Drivers… And It Feels So Good!

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Taxi/Uber panel at LaborFest 2016

Last Wednesday night, I participated in a panel discussion for the annual Laborfest called “Uber, Worker Rights, Tech and the Public.”

I suppose it’s beneficial to continue informing the population about Uber’s impact on the San Francisco taxi industry, as well as the thousands of drivers who propelled the juggernaut to its $62 billion valuation. Despite all the talking between the panel and audience, though, there weren’t many solutions presented other than prolonged lawsuits. Or just holding your breath until enough people realize Uber is a public threat and/or they run out of drivers willing to work for peanuts. 

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Taxi/Uber panel at LaborFest 2016

The following afternoon, I start my workweek feeling mostly pessimistic. Disheartened, I make it through my shift, but something happens the next day that brightens my mood…

Read the rest here.

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A Fleeting Sense of Worth when Demand Spikes

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Wednesday looked to be a promising night for taxi driving. With Phish playing their third gig at Bill Graham and a reported 8,000 Pokemon Go enthusiasts roaming The City on a gamers bar crawl, it seemed there would be plenty of business to go around. Plus, given the numerous — often hilarious — mishaps surrounding the Pokemon Go craze, maybe some notable shenanigans along the way.

Little did I know a different kind of mischief would play out.

Around 7:30 p.m., someone managed to drive a pickup onto the BART tracks in West Oakland, shutting down the Transbay Tube for 90 minutes. How it got there was a mystery at the time. Maybe Pokemon was to blame after all?

The disruption in service at the end of the day’s rush-hour commute was an unexpected boom in business, as most taxis and Uber-Lyfts rushed to Market Street and the surrounding areas to transport the stranded East Bay-bound travelers across the Bay Bridge. This led to a vacuum in the rest of The City and created a massive flurry of rides for me…

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner… HERE!

Being at the right place at the right time…

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It’s a quiet night. I’m close to my nut, but still in the red at 10 p.m. After dropping off near Telegraph Hill, I meander through the Wharf and North Beach, fighting off competing taxi drivers who try to usurp my pole position down Columbus. At Pacific, I cut over to Powell, for no other reason than I don’t usually take Powell.

At Clay Street, a man and a woman with suitcases flag me. I pop the trunk. Since I’m blocking traffic, I stay behind the wheel and let the man do the heavy lifting.

I’ve long since given up the notion that luggage means an airport ride, so I’m not surprised when the woman asks, out of breath, “Can you take us to 100 California?”

Read the rest of this week’s column for the S.F. Examiner here.

Hope is Better than Nothing: A Late Night Larry Story

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This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner:

“San Francisco is always changing. So are we.”

While I’m idling in gridlocked traffic on Third Street, trying to get my fare to the St. Francis, I read the advertisement on the wooden barricades shielding the construction at Moscone Center. The statement feels more like a threat than the typical “pardon our dust as we make improvements” disclaimer.

It’s hard not to feel uptight when “change” is used in the same sentence as “San Francisco.”

And yet, you can almost watch The City change before your very eyes — like the weather, when the fog rolls in on a sunny day and wraps itself around the top of the Pyramid like King Kong, or you turn a corner and the wind blows so cold you can’t even remember how it feels to be warm…

If you want to live in San Francisco, you have to accept the flux. And those city dwellers who want the urban life and end up displaced by all this change should just accept inevitability and move along, right?

That’s what an advertisement like the one at Moscone Center seems to be saying. Or at least that’s how it feels in a cab yard, after a long shift, when we’re standing around a dormant barbeque grill trying to make sense of what’s become of the taxi industry.

“I still believe things will turn around,” Colin says.

“Something’s gotta give,” Juneaux points out.

“Ah, fuck this… We’re all doomed,” Jesse decrees as he tosses his cigarette and returns to the office.

“It does feel rather hopeless,” I admit.

“Speaking of hope,” says Late Night Larry. “Have I told you guys the one about the male hooker and the missing $100 bill?”

No one turns down a story from Larry …

Read Larry’s story here.

NIGHT ON EARTH

From the Utne Reader: “To Uber or Not to Uber”

I had a subscription to the Utne Reader all through college. So it was an honor to have my story, “To Uber or Not to Uber” (from the second Behind the Wheel zine), reprinted in the pages of the Winter 2015 issue of the Utne Reader

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Read the printed version online.