Half awake. No caffeine. At Starbucks now…
Groggy Cabbie, “Tall coffee. Little room for cream, please.”
Perky Barista, “Good choice, sir! That’ll be $1.95, please.”
I fork Perky Barista a twenty. Perky Barista finagles with my bill under the counter. And Perky Barista makes no move to go pour my coffee. Instead, he just calls the young, pimply-faced Latina manager over from steaming a latte’, and then turns his back to me.
Perky Barista, “Uh… Uh… We’re supposed to keep counterfeits, right?”
And Perky Barista goes to hand Pimply-Faced Latina Manager my twenty. But Pimply-Faced Latina Manager skittishly dodges Perky Barista’s hand-off and suddenly darts double-time for the kitchen, sans a word.
Perky Barista now nervously turns back around, to address me. He holds the suspect bill up for display.
And Groggy Cabbie inspects.
Hmm… Off color green… Feels a little plastic… And the cut is VERY bad… Perky Barista is RIGHT!
Damn. It’s too early for this.
Too Damn Early Cabbie, “You’re right. Sorry. That was from my taxi earnings yesterday. Here’s a five.”
And I take the culprit twenty from Perky Barista’s hand and stuff it back in my day’s bank roll. However, it would seem that Perky Barista is not done here.
Perky Barista, “Starbucks company policy says that I have to turn in the bill. I need it back, sir.”
Too Damn Early Cabbie, “Huh?? Uh, sorry. But you’re not wearing a badge, dude! I am NOT going to be out twenty dollars! Uh… Uh… My cab company’s policy says that I gotta turn it back into them, see? So…”
Perky Barista, “But…”
And Perky Barista turns with a look of total helplessness for backup, from Pimply-Faced Latina Manager, who we’ve both been aware has been peeking out of the cracked open door of the kitchen since her escape. But Perky Barista’s plea falls flat in vain, as Pimply-Faced Latina Manager recoils like a chipmunk back into the kitchen, with a swiftness that leaves the door swinging wildly.
Seeing his opening, Groggy Cabbie now shakes his five at Perky Barista, and bares his teeth.
And Groggy Cabbie repeats, “Tall coffee. Little room for cream, please.”
Recognizing defeat, Perky Barista sighs, takes the five, and turns around all hunched to go pour.
That’s right, bitch. When the music stops, THIS cabbie’s going to have a chair!
“Cha-ching! – 463 Eureka. Karen. SFO. Dispatch.”
Haven’t had a fare, yet. This will break the ice quite nicely! And I didn’t even bribe Citizen’s Cab dispatch for an airport! Thanks, Tony! I’ll never call you the “No-Go King” again!
I’m pretty close to Noe Valley, too. I’m just a few blocks away, cruising up 18th in the Castro.
One minute later…
Rolling up on a dark, quiet, residential 463 Eureka, I witness what looks like the soft glow of a taxi top-light, slowly coming into focus… It is a taxi top-light. And it’s attached to another taxi. One that’s waiting right in front of my order. Citizen’s Cab, medallion #561. Hey, that’s Dev! The Sikh dispatcher and day driver! Dev’s a good guy. We’re cool.
I pull up alongside Dev and roll down my window… and I wake him. Dev’s obviously been here a while.
Coy Cabbie, “Hey, Dev. What’s up? I just got this order on my Cabulous. You have it on yours, too?”
Dev, wiping the sleep from his eyes, “Uh… yeah. I did. Strange.”
I radio-in to Tony, “137. It seems that 561 got this 463 Eureka, too.”
The No-Go King, “Reallee? Sorree, 137. Roll. I’ll pic ya uhp latah.”
137, “Copy. Thanks.”
I’ll not hold my breath.