Tag Archives: san francisco taxi driver

The Perfect Recipe for Gridlock

Taxi-Passenger-View-by-Trevor-Johnson-web

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about the one thing you can always count on when driving in San Francisco…

Thursday afternoon. The Financial District is popping. In Google Maps, downtown San Francisco looks like an open wound. Every street that leads to the freeway is bathed in blood.

For several hours, the Hyatt Regency is load-and-go.

According to one of my passengers, there was a 900-person conference at the hotel and, apparently, everyone left at the same time. With that kind of spike in demand, all car services are maxed out.

The doorman’s whistle never stops blowing. As I’m trying to make a U-turn on Drumm, the doorman singles me out:

“Veterans 233!”

I pull into the driveway, angering a large crowd waiting on the curb with their arms out.

Sorry, folks, but the hotel’s needs come first. It’s their taxi stand.

Since most people are going out to dinner or drinks, the rides are short enough for me to drop them off and return to the Hyatt within a few minutes.

After a while, the doorman starts getting friendly with me. He even lets me wait in the driveway when I pull in preemptively, asking everyone who walks through the door if they need a taxi. Several wrinkle their brows.

As if …

While I’m taking a fare to the Fairmont, a lady tries to flag me at Sacramento and Drumm. I point to a Yellow cab in the Regency taxi stand.

“By the time I cross the street, they’re always taken,” she says.

“Just wait for the next one,” I reply.

“That’s OK. I’ll just call an Uber.”

“Good luck with that,” the guy in back says. He tells me the wait time was more than 20 minutes for a Lyft.

Even Flywheel is showing signs of life. A few seconds after dropping at Tosca Cafe and turning on the app, an order comes in. It says nine minutes from Broadway and Montgomery to Sacramento and Front. But I make it in four.

The woman I pick up tells me she’d been trying to get a ride for half an hour.

Finally, a fare to 42nd and Judah spins me out of the metro area. From the Outer Sunset, I head to SFO …

Read the rest of the column here.

[photo by Trevor Johnson]

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Living in a Dream World

SFO-Donut-Taxi-Lot-Photo-by-Douglas-O'Connor-web

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about working Salesforce’s annual convention Dreamforce…

On Salesforce Sunday, when 170,000 people descend on San Francisco for Dreamforce, the largest software convention in the world, hope springs eternal in the SFO taxi holding lots. And for once, I’m going to be a part of the action … 

Before embarking on my first, full-fledged attempt to become an airport player, I hover in the shade on Loomis Street, summoning the courage to face the unknown while smoking a final cigarette and chugging an iced coffee. The night before and all that morning, I bombarded Ben and Hester with a flurry of stupid questions. Still feeling ill-prepared, but with the nicotine/caffeine combo surging through my veins, I jump on 101 south, ready to embrace the madness.

As several cabs zoom past me on the freeway, I try to keep up, eventually shadowing one into the garage and through a maze of lines and staging areas.

At first, the whole process seems chaotic, but it’s obviously designed to house 100s of vehicles until they’re ready for service …

From the Entry Lot to the Wiggle and into the Donut, taxi drivers mill around their cabs until whistles start blowing, horns start honking and everyone is shouting, “Go! Go! Go!”

In the Paid Lot, we metaphorically rev our engines and wait for the starter’s whistle. Then it’s show time!

I chase the other cabs down a ramp that leads to the arrival terminals, where passengers stand with luggage.

SFO-Wiggle-Taxi-Lot-Photo-by-Douglas-O'Connor-web

After my first successful run, I deadhead back to SFO.

In the Entry Lot, Bobby comes over to my cab. I pepper him with a bunch of stupid questions.

“Don’t worry,” he says confidently. “Just follow the cab in front of you.”

A few minutes later, my row enters the Wiggle, but when the Luxor cab in front of me stops, there’s no room for me to squeeze in. Panicking, I look around, unsure of where to go and waiting for someone to yell at me. Nobody seems to care though.

When a driver finally notices my confusion and shouts directions at me, I thank him profusely.

Later, in the Donut, Bobby walks to my window and chuckles. I point out that following the cab in front of me isn’t always the ideal strategy.

“Man, it’s all good,” he drawls.

By the end of the night, with seven SFO trips under my belt, I’ve become a real airport player …

SFO-Paid-Lot-Taxi-Photo-by-Douglas-O'Connor-web

Read the rest here.

[Photos by Douglas O’Connor]

Top: The Donut
Middle: The Wiggle
Bottom: Paid Lot

 

Domestic Disturbances in Transit

taxicab-building-post-apocalyptic

I’m determined to get a ride out of the Great American Music Hall after the Murder City Devils show. Or watch the last rocker wander off into the Tenderloin night.

I’ve been waiting for almost fifteen minutes when my door opens and a guy shoves a girl roughly into the backseat.

“I swear to god, Jill!” the guy says. “I can’t take you anywhere!”

“I don’t understand why you’re making a big deal out of this?”

He recounts the incident for her: They were in the mosh pit when some girl told Jill her boyfriend grabbed her ass. Knowing this to be a lie, Jill slapped the girl. A row ensued, and the band stopped playing. Just as the lead singer had smoothed things over, Jill ran up to the girl and socked her in the eye.

“I knocked that bitch the hell out!” Jill laughs.

“You just don’t get it! I’m sick of you getting into fights!”

“Is that why you never fuck me anymore?”

“What are you talking about?”

As things get more personal, I cringe internally. Still, this couple’s squabble isn’t as bad as the that time I drove a couple all the way to Milpitas as they broke up in my backseat. I was pushing the cab as fast as it would go down 880 before the guy started crying. And then we hit traffic.

This guy, on the other hand, is definitely the aggressor. I want to tell him to chill out so badly. Dude, go home and make love to your girlfriend like you used to, back when you got off on her beating up other girls.

Read the rest here.

marilyn-monroe-ny-taxi-1956

Marilyn Monroe exiting a NY cab in 1956