Tag Archives: north beach

Girl on the Run

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I knew she was going to run.

From the start of the ride, I could tell right away something wasn’t right. But that didn’t prevent me from offering her the same quality service I provide paying customers …

Need a phone charger? Sure.

Oh, you have an Android. Hold on. Let me arrange my cables here …

Warm enough? Yeah, it’s freezing out there tonight. That wind is brutal.

While the Brian Eno in the CD player is most likely not her preferred jam, when accommodating passengers, paying or otherwise, you have to draw the line somewhere. Besides, it’s a perfect night for Eno …

Read the rest here.

[photo by Christian Lewis]

The Shapes of San Francisco

 

The Long Rocky Road to Buster’s

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Christian started it. That picture he posted on Facebook of his cab outside Buster’s triggered a hankering for a Buster’s Burger that I couldn’t satisfy with just one. Or two. Or even three. Pretty much any fare to North Beach over the past few weeks was an excuse to hit up Buster’s …

Last Friday night, after dropping at The Boardroom, I make a beeline to Columbus and Vallejo, hoping for rock-star parking at the green meter on the corner.

When I get there, an SUV is hogging the space and part of the red curb next to the fire hydrant, preventing me from squeezing in without blocking the crosswalk.

I consider giving up, but my Buster’s craving is too strong. I go around the block searching for another spot, then head to the Vesuvio taxi stand, which, fortunately, isn’t overrun by Uber drivers.
Just as I’m getting back into my cab, two guys approach me.

“Are you available?” the first one asks, opening my back door.

“Sure,” I say, thinking, Well, the fries are usually hot as hell anyway.

“We’re going to Parc 55,” the first guy tells me. “The address is — ”

“Parc 55,” I reply, cutting him off. “I got ya.”

“See, he knows where he’s going,” the other guy playfully chides his companion.

I take a right on Pacific and head down Stockton. As the cab bounces and jerks over a battle zone of potholes, buckled asphalt and metal plates, I apologize for the rough terrain.

“Does San Francisco have many streets that are in bad shape like this?”

I can’t help but laugh. “I’ve driven on dirt roads that were smoother than most of these streets.”

“Are there certain ones you intentionally avoid?”

“There are plenty of streets I’d like to avoid, but it’s almost impossible since so many are ripped to shit.”

“What are some of the streets you think are in the worst condition?” he asks.

I rattle a few off the top of my head: Van Ness, Haight Street, Broadway and Fourth Street.

“Potrero was a total shit show for like five years,” I add. “But they finally repaved it, although there’s still a stretch between Division and 17th that’s a complete suspension killer.”

When they ask me to spell out Potrero, I realize they’re writing them down.

[Keep reading…]

The Rascally Couple Looking for Late Night Snacks and Adventure

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“Always say yes.”

During a recent Recitation of the Waybill, a bunch of us were standing around the National office as Late Night Larry offered up some of his incontrovertible advice.

“No matter the question,” he snarled. “The answer is always yes.”

I’ve implemented many of Larry’s words of wisdom over the years, but sometimes it’s my own rules that save the day. Like that Friday night when I was inbound on Columbus at 3 a.m., waiting for the light to change at Pacific.

Behind me, the neon lights of Broadway are diffused in the fog like the setup to a Scooby-Doo mystery, while stragglers lurk in dark corners.

Just as the signal turns green, a young black guy and an older white woman approach my cab. Besides the overwhelming stench of booze that’s almost palpable, their eyes are spinning in their sockets, suggesting other intoxicants.

“Hey! You’re cute!” the woman screeches at me. “Can I touch your hair?”

Less of a request and more of a warning, I try to dodge her grasp.

“Let’s not molest the driver,” the guy says with a giggle. “Yet.”

“Uhhh … Where to?” I ask hesitantly.

“We need snacks!” the woman shouts. “Pronto!”

“Driver, do you know where we can get some snacks?” the guy asks calmly, as if his companion’s exclamation wasn’t clear enough.

I suggest Union Square. With several 24-hour diners, fast food and a 7-Eleven, it covers all the bases for late night snack options. And close enough to get this rascally duo out of my cab. Pronto.

Read the rest here.

Everybody Must Get Stoned

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“So … what kind of drugs did you take?” I ask the guy in my backseat. He’s older, bespectacled, dressed in jeans and a V-neck sweater. Has the air of a successful middle manager.

“No drugs. Just weed.”

“Just weed?” I ask, like a dubious parent.

“Strong weed!” He laughs and then goes quiet.

As I head down Mission Street, I think about the possibility of getting so high on marijuana I forgot where I lived …

It hardly seems probable, although there was that one time in college when I smoked a joint with a co-worker and ended up in bed, swaddled in my duvet, rocking back and forth and chanting, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me.”

Must be nice, though, to forget everything. Personal and financial problems, the constant tragedies in the world and the possibility of a future overrun with technology straight out of a dystopian movie.

But it seems impossible to escape, what with Facebook and Twitter. My phone is like a needle I use to mainline the distorted fire and brimstone of the 24-hour news cycle into my brain — a speedball of conflicting narratives — until I can’t turn away from the strobe light of information

I’d love to forget all that. Even for just 10 minutes …

Halfway up Kearney, the guy in back leans forward.

“OK, I know where I am now,” he says.

I realize I’ve been holding my breath and sigh with relief.

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

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