The rain brings out the madness normally only seen during natural disasters. After all, this is California, where even the faintest hint of precipitation threatens the already thin veil of civility. And once it really starts pouring … well, then all bets are off …
This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about driving in the rain with the Keystone Kops on parade…
I’m driving westbound on North Point when an SUV pulls up alongside me, also going westbound. There’s an Uber symbol in the window. When the light turns green, I keep pace, curious when he’s going to realize he’s driving on the wrong side of the road. As we approach Larkin, another SUV is traveling eastbound. Also an Uber. The original SUV, oblivious that he’s doing anything out of the ordinary, even though there’s a vehicle heading straight toward him, maintains his trajectory until both SUVs stop, face to face, and try to determine who has the right of way.
It only gets worse from there…
Read the entire column here.
Stranger in my Hometown – The “I Drive LA” Edition
This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about my trip to LA.
Over the past week, Trumpmania has made it almost impossible to focus on anything besides the election results, as well as the sobering realization I may be one of those left-coast elites disconnected from the rest of the country.
Completely unrelated, though entirely opportune, I distracted myself from the armchair quarterbacking — and the taxi life — for a couple days with a road trip to Los Angeles.
Even though I’m a native Angeleno, I’ve only gone back to Southern California three times in as many years. These days, I feel more like a stranger in my hometown.
Also, driving a taxi 40 hours a week in San Francisco has no doubt helped shape my perception of the two places, because the differences blew me away immediately.
Read the rest of the column here.
In September 2016, Lyft took over the former Bell Plumbing location in Potrero Hill including the “Van on a Stick” that was prominently placed along US 101 right before the Hospital Curve.
Even though the building was vacant for a long wile before Lyft took it over to house their support center, the Van on a Stick was an icon in The City. It’s a shame Lyft decided to paint the iconic van pink and destroy another bit of San Francisco history.
But, as with everything Lyft does, they set themselves up for mockery:
Fuck you, Lyft.
[Original photo of the Van on the Stick from SF Curbed.]
I don’t know if it’s something I did in a past life or my current one – though safe to assume the latter – but I seem to be cursed with these drunken and disoriented millennials. As much as I try to avoid them and the areas where they congregate, somehow they keep getting in my cab.
I had two non-payers during Halloween. Including one to South City. I pulled up to this kid’s house, $32.65 on the meter, and he told me, “I have no money. Sorry. I don’t even have keys to get inside.”
Anyway, this week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about a horror ride with a drunken millennial:
It’s almost last call on a quiet Friday night. There’s not much going on. Halloween was the previous weekend, and with the election on Tuesday, only the diehards are out partying …
On the corner of 16th and Sanchez, a young couple flags me. The girl gets in alone. Her eyes are glazed and she’s holding a plastic bag.
An ominous sensation rises from my gut.
Read the rest here.
This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is a night in the life of a crack baby…
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.
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.
Read the rest of the column here.
In San Francisco, you need the right cab driver to get you to the right sex club…
In this week’s column for the S.F. Examiner, I write about getting misguided passengers where they want to go:
I’m cruising down Folsom Street on a quiet Thursday night at about midnight. An arm goes up in front of Powerhouse. I pull over. A man with a strong accent gets in the back of my taxi.
“Can you take me here?” He shows me his phone with the Google details for the Power Exchange on the screen.
As I head up 7th Street, I ask nonchalantly, “Not the crowd you’re looking for back there, huh?”
“Too many problems!” he exclaims. “I’m looking for women.”
“Well, you’re going to the right place now.”
Racing through the littered streets of the Tenderloin, I can’t help but wonder how this guy ended up at a gay cruising bar instead of the hetero sex club he was looking for. Poor communication with a cab driver? A mix up in a Google search?
Whatever. These things happen. A few months back, I had a similar situation, albeit in reverse, while driving past the Power Exchange …
A guy flags me down and immediately tells me he’s a tourist and has ended up at the wrong place.
“The doorman told me I should check out Blow Buddies,” he says. “Do you know where that is?”
Of course. I’m quite familiar with the place, I tell him. But instead of assuming that, as a night cabbie, I know where all the sex clubs are in San Francisco — gay and straight — he thinks I’m a regular and grills me on the details.
“It’s all gay, right? Is it OK to just watch? Do I have to take off all my clothes? Are there condoms available? Showers?”
“All I know is that, once you’re inside, they’ll explain everything.”
Read the rest of the column here.