Searching for Pride at the End of the Rainbow

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You know it’s probably time to call it quits when you’re waiting for the light to change at a stop sign and, after sitting there for almost a minute, your passenger rousts you from your daze by saying, “Uhm, my place is a few more blocks up ahead.”

“Oh, no wonder the light isn’t changing.” I laugh, realizing my error. Adding, “It’s been a long weekend.”

After five shifts in a row, my brain is mush. Even now, as I write this, with only one day of rest, I’m still recovering from working Pride.

I wish I had a funny or crazy story to relate from the experience, but all I have to offer is frustration and disappointment.

On Saturday, I drove up and down Market Street looking for a fare. The sidewalks were crowded with cheerful revelers. It was great to see The City alive again. I can’t remember seeing that many people out and about since New Year’s Eve. But inside I felt a growing desperation. I wanted to see hands in the air. I wanted people in my cab. I wanted to share in this experience. But nobody seemed to need a taxi.

And why would they? The streets were jam-packed with Uber and Lyft drivers taking advantage of hourly guarantees. Which meant, regardless of how many cheap rides they provided, they still made up to $40 an hour. That’s a damn good deal, since earning $250 during a 12-hour shift in a taxi is considered a profitable night these days.

I was hoping to do better than that with a massive event like Pride, but at the end of my shift on Saturday, I made $50 less than I did two Saturdays ago.

The theme of this year’s corporate sponsored Pride parade, racial and economic justice, seems to have been lost on most of the participants, who had no qualms supporting companies that exploit their workers, companies that destroy the livelihoods of honest, hard-working San Franciscans and, in the case of Uber, a company that takes 3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia, a nation that punishes acts of homosexuality with death, life imprisonment, castration or flogging. And that’s if they don’t fall victim to vigilante executions.

How is that any kind of justice?

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

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