Tag Archives: traffic jams

Mr. Judy Gets Clean

16th-street-sign-Shaun-Osburn-web

“I’ve been feeling so much better since laying off the drugs,” says Mr. Judy. “I’m on top of my game and totally killing it, man.”

While describing the benefits of a steady diet of poke and quinoa salads in between text messages, I respond with vacant grunts. It’s hard to concentrate on much but the spectacle of absurdity surrounding us.

Traveling eastbound on 16th past Guerrero, we’re trapped behind an Uber/Lyft that stopped suddenly halfway through the block. Even though there’s an open space in front of Katz and vacant parking spots further down the street, the driver just put on his hazards, impeding half a dozen vehicles. Including the 22-Fillmore, which ended up stuck in the intersection once the light turned red. Since the westbound lanes on 16th are clogged with commuters and more double-parked Uber/Lyfts, the entire corridor is on lockdown until the person who ordered this ride shows up.

A salvo of blaring horns does little to dissuade the driver from staging in the flow of traffic.

Finally, Judy looks up from his phone and asks, “Why aren’t we moving?”

“Uber driver.”

“No surprise there,” Judy responds and snuffles twice.

When the light turns green, westbound traffic begins to move slowly. I see in my rearview that the intersection at Guerrero is congested with vehicles that can’t get past the bus.

“These maggots have no respect for anyone but themselves,” Judy continues. “It’s just me, me, me … Someone needs to do something.”

“You’re right,” I mumble, noticing a Sentra in the opposite lane hesitate, giving me a split-second opportunity to bypass the gridlock.

Of course, like most Bay Area drivers, the guy in the Sentra sees my move as an act of aggression and tries to play a game of chicken.

“YES!” Mr. Judy shouts in excitement. “FUCK YEAH!”

Now, I’m not driving like a maniac for the thrills. Besides thousands of hours of experience working the mean streets of San Francisco, I’m in a multicolored vehicle with a “TAXI” sign on top. Everyone else on the road should just assume I’m liable to do some “creative” maneuvering. But I’m also acutely aware that the thought of a hard-working cabbie doing his job is more than most drivers in San Francisco can bear.

As he lays on his horn, flashes his high beams and screams out his window, I careen through the logjam onto Albion.

“That was awesome,” Judy bellows with laughter.

Compared to the pandemonium of 16th Street, 17th is like Golden Gate Park after hours. At South Van Ness, I go left and take 14th to our destination: Best Buy.

Mr. Judy wants to buy a TV. Part of his new, wholesome lifestyle. No more staying out late at the bars, doing tequila shots and playing pool. From now on, he’s going home at a respectable hour to get enough sleep.

It’s all about reaching his full potential.

Read the rest here.

[photo by Shaun Osburn]

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Driving in the New San Francisco is the Worst

Scores Of Travelers Depart For Long Holiday Weekend

As an LA native, I know my way around a traffic jam. Driving in LA is a part of life. We take it seriously. Newcomers have a learning curve, but they quickly get indoctrinated into the LA style of driving or face dire consequences.

LA drivers are like wild animals trapped in cages. If you poke at us with your crappy driving, we will strike back viciously and get you in line. Road rage is the equivalent of an ape throwing his shit at a contemptible visitor to the zoo.

LA drivers know all to well the primal animosity that surges up through your body and overwhelms you to the point of violence when you have to deal with some moron’s shitty driving. I once stopped my car in the street, got out and banged on this asshole’s window for tailgating me when I was looking for parking. The terrified look on his face may or may not have been worth the potential assault charge, but it made me feel better at the time.

As a Lyft and Uber driver in San Francisco, I traverse almost the entire city over the course of a weekend. It’s a small place. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t perilous.

San Francisco’s narrow streets are filled with cars, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s much more difficult to navigate San Francisco than LA, where the streets are only clogged with other cars.

Many passengers have asked me how I’m able to deal with driving in San Francisco. I tell them it’s like mastering a video game. You’re always trying to get to the next level. But honestly, it’s really not that difficult. The hardest part of driving in San Francisco is Bay Area drivers. They are the absolute shittiest drivers I’ve ever encountered.

I have a list of grievances I log daily in my Moleskin. These are the most egregious examples of horrible driving I see on a daily basis:

1. Asleep at the wheel when the light turns green.

What the fuck? Pay attention! You’re in traffic! Be prepared to drive when the light turns green. Step on the fucking gas! I wanna get through the light too. It never fails, if I’m three cars behind the one at the light, I know I’m not going to make it through the intersection.

2. Four way stops.

Some basic shit here, folks. The first person to stop is the first person to go. It’s not every man for himself. As you approach the four way intersection, pay attention to who gets there first. Look at their wheels. Have they stopped before yours? Yes? Then let them go. If not, you go. Two people stop at the same time? The one on the right goes. Three people? The one on the right still goes! This isn’t rocket science! I know throwing pedestrians into the mix makes it a tab bit confusing. But even though I have to skip my turn to let somebody cross, I’m still in the queue, goddamn it!

3. Merging.

Okay, the concept of two lanes of traffic becoming one seems to be mind-boggling to everybody. Even though, like a four way stop, there is a basic rule: one car from one lane, one car from the other lane. Like folding cards into a deck. Or a zipper. This method keeps the flow of traffic moving and ensures everybody gets where they’re going without creating complete chaos. It’s fair and it’s the fucking law. But while drivers in every city fuck this simple method up, I have never seen cars in a merging lane perpendicular to traffic until I started driving in the Bay Area. East Bay drivers in particular seem to treat merge lanes as a free-for-all. And nobody respects a solid line! Solid means you can’t change lanes, asshole!

4. Double parking.

Sure, they’re nowhere to park in San Francisco and when you’re driving for hire, you have to pull over to pick people up and let them out in awkward situations all the time. But there are certain streets, namely the arterial thoroughfares, where double parking is not just impractical, it completely interrupts the flow of traffic. And yet it’s completely avoidable. Pull into a driveway. Let the person out on the corner. Do ANYTHING but don’t STOP in the middle of the street. Arterial thoroughfares are the closest things to freeways in San Francisco. They are the quickest ways to cross the city. So don’t fuck it up for everybody else because you can’t be bothered to find a safe place to pull over.

5. Blocking intersections.

Again, it’s a simple rule of the road: if the car in front of you has not cleared the opposite crosswalk, don’t enter the intersection. You are going to block opposing traffic. Do you enjoy feeling like an asshole stuck in the middle of the intersection as traffic backs up waiting for you to move? You know everyone hates you, right?

6. Changing lanes on the freeway.

Do you really think that changing into the lane that is moving slightly more than the one you’re already in will get you where you’re going faster? If so, you’d be wrong. And an idiot. Once you and all the other moronic drivers move into that lane, it will slow down the rest. There is no escape! Just accept the futility of traffic and don’t make it worse for the rest of us!

Those are the top six grievances. I could go on and on. Believe me…

I swear, the only thing worse than driving in San Francisco is dealing with San Franciscan pedestrians.