Tag Archives: san francisco taxi

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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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

Where and Where Not to Buy Weed on the Street in San Francisco

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The only time I’ve ever been mugged was in the Civic Center BART station 20 years ago when I tried to buy weed from a crack dealer. After the guy stopped pummeling me and I gave him the $20 he knew I had, a man who looked like my “Shakespeare in Rome” professor asked me, “Did that guy just rob you?”

I’m heading inbound on Market, trying to prevent a Yellow cab in the right lane from getting the jump on me, when a guy flags me at the Seventh Street Muni island stop. He opens my front door, and I quickly grab my bag and stow it under my seat. He asks how much to Ocean Beach. I tell him around $20.

“Let’s do it,” he says.

I turn right on Sixth and start driving west.

His name is Hugh. He’s from Sydney, in San Francisco working on some project for a tech firm. Spent the past two weeks sequestered in an incubator in the Mission. This is the first time he’s been free to venture out and explore The City.

“So what have you been up to?” I ask.

“Well, I just lost $300 trying to buy weed.”

“Why’d you think you could buy pot around here?” I ask, more nonplussed than he seems to be. They only sell crack and heroin in mid-Market. Some pot dealers hang out by Jones Street, but they usually close up shop early.

Hugh shrugs. “I just wanted to celebrate turning in the first part of my project this morning.”

This week’s column is about buying drugs on the street in San Francisco… It’s not always easy…

Read it here.

A Good Night in a Taxi Comes at a Price

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“You know it’s a slow night,” Juneaux once joked, “when you’re hoping somebody pukes in your taxi so you can collect that $100 cleaning fee.”

This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about another puker… except this time I got the cleaning fee. And a funny story… maybe? 

Read the column here.

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Photo by Christian Lewis.

The Rogue Cab Company of San Francisco

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As rain falls hard on a humdrum night in The City, the windshield wipers on National 182 slap away the moisture obscuring my view of the street and any potential flags.

The longer I drive empty, the more I convince myself there are thousands of people just dying to get in my cab, if only my visibility weren’t so limited. So I drive slower, and slower, and slower, until I’m stopped outside a dismal bar, hoping someone will run into the back of my cab and say, “Walnut Creek! Step on it!”

After driving empty for half an hour, I try not to let it drag me down. And yet, my mind begins to wander into the depths of wanton speculation and I contemplate all that I can’t control…

Like the conversation I’d had with Colin on the way to work today when we saw an Oakland cab stripped of most of its taxi markings and a TCP license on its bumper.

“Why would anyone get a TCP license at this point in the game?” he asked. “He could just go to the hardware store and get some adhesive numbers and put them on your bumper and look legit.”

“What about cab drivers?” I asked. “Why do we follow the rules?”

Cause we’re a bunch of chumps. That’s why.

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This week’s column in the S.F. Examiner is about starting a gypsy cab. Why follow the rules when no one does? It’s not like there’s anyone out there enforcing the rules. Are cab drivers fools for voluntarily doing what’s right when the game is rigged against them by a system that completely ignores them and their struggles?

Read the entire column here.

 

Photo by Trevor Johnson.