Jesus vs. Jesus

SFO Cab Staging Area

5am:
I couldn’t sleep last night. And I couldn’t call in sick. I need the money. I’ve just completed blowing through all the money my dad left me when he died a little over a year ago. (R.I.P.)

Recall: If a cabbie calls in, and can’t get covered, cabbie is still on the hook for the $96 gate.

I’m back in the Citizen’s Cab office and going for the pegboard of keys and medallions, for 137’s. Tony Sr., a.k.a The No-Go King, is tied up at dispatch in a back and forth with a new driver checking in, bidding on an order. Dude’s radioed his location as “California & Sacramento.” They do not intersect.

I slip Tony, Sr. a five for “tip” and whisper, “Congrats, grandpa,” as I head back out to the lot. He smiles warm and looks all proud – as any new grandpa would, then gets back to business with the green driver.

“I’d like tah kno wha pahrt ah San Francisco dat et iz ur aht, wheer Cal & Sac meeet, 561!”

I’m in my regular Prius, 137, and go through my bag for the usual tools of the trade: Cabulous phone and charger, clipboard and pen, hand towel, bottle of water, San Francisco TAXI (Book 1) and Royal Gate Prophet CDs to hawk, and most importantly, alcohol wipes. I start with the wipes.

Then, I hit the ‘ol “start” button on 137.

BEEP!

Shit.

Not again!!

I put in a shop ticket for this yesterday, post shift! 137 was beeping intermittently, like every 10 seconds or so, alerting me to low oil. I mean, SHIT! It was not long ago that Citizen’s Cab management had put up a memo on the corkboard, outside of the bullet-proof glass check-out window, saying that any driver who did not notify the mechanics when a cab’s oil is low would be stuck with the bill for a new engine! And the beeping all day yesterday was fucking Chinese water torture!! I don’t get it, that ticket was also for the cab camera, which was hanging down and swinging loose on its power cord. The adhesive failed that was keeping the camera mounted to the inside of the windshield. The mechanics did fix that. Why not fill the oil?!

And the only reason I didn’t turn her in yesterday for a spare, mid-shift, was that I figured I’d be all Jesus and shit… you know, “pebble in the shoe.” But AGAIN, today?? ARGHH!!! Crucify me, NOW!!

BEEP!

I roll…

 

5:20am:
It’s post Starbucks, and I figure maybe I can cover the predawn BEEP! with some jazz. KCSM 91.1 FM is playing OLD MAN HARLEM by Ethel Waters, when DAMN!, I just spilled coffee all over my bright white T-shirt. Jeez. I am suddenly, and painfully, reminded of the story that I just read on the toilet this morning, about a Lyft driver who killed his passenger all uninsured, and all the snarky comments below the story defending Lyft by making reference to how all taxi drivers are dirty, and their cabs stink. Ugh.

Now I’m worried about how I’ll be presented to my passengers throughout the day. But then again, I was worried long ago that I’d get fired, or possibly jailed, after writing these stories. (Though, I’m saving the REALLY incriminating ones for Book 3.) Alas, I had not counted on how jaded society has become. No one even makes eye contact anymore. Whatever.

BEEP!

 

6:29am:
The early morning has played out dead. Not one ride. And the worry about the coffee stain has been supplanted with worry over my career.

Of note, I’ve been cool with my old friend, band mate, and fellow driver Christian, again. (Have I mentioned that?) Well, we’re “cool.” But we don’t jam hardly ever anymore, or see each other very much. But when we do, Christian keeps giving me the hard sell to move over to DeSoto Cab, like he did a month back. And, BEEP!, I’m wondering why I don’t… For the same reason I don’t play the airport, I guess. Christian’s also been working the airport a lot lately. He IM’d me gloating the other night with a screen shot of his rides. He broke $500! With multiple “meter-and-a-half” rides to the netherworlds of the greater Bay Area and back to the SFO taxi line.

Recall: Any ride 15 miles away from San Francisco’s City Hall is charged a full meter rate, plus one half – even if starting from down at SFO. The logic being, I guess, that the time and gas a hack incurs returning to where they can legally pick up a fare (SFO, or the city proper) is split.

So, Christian has been berating me as being dumb for not changing cab companies, and not forsaking the city. He’s right. But I can’t bring myself to adapt. I mean, Zen masters hate change… er, don’t they? I suppose if I REALLY had to survive, I could sacrifice my soul, and play the airport. (But then, you all probably wouldn’t want to hear about suit after suit rides, eh?)

BEEP!

I can’t take it anymore!!!

I’m in the Castro now, on 18th. And there’s Walgreen’s! I’m going to fucking buy a quart of oil, put it in myself, and save the receipt to give to  Citizen’s and have them take it off my gate. Maybe Ivan (manager) will finally start giving 137 some attention, after ignoring all of my previous bitching. (Sigh.) Not likely. But I am WAY over this pebble!!

Alex Sack

Alex Sack, born 1970, is a taxi driver who grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland. He attended several different colleges and universities around the D.C./Baltimore region as a music major for 4 & 1/2 years before quitting - pre-diploma - to the horror of his father. He tried his hand as a professional musician/songwriter seeing him through travels domiciled in New York City’s East Village, Los Angeles (where he scored a few songs on The Disney Channel's 'Even Stevens') and San Francisco - where he's ultimately put down roots. Alex is a single dad to two boys, currently ages 15 and 17. His post-natal fallback occupation as Operations Assistant at a start-up clean-tech engineering consultancy came to a sudden end with the one-two punch of the owner’s fatal skiing accident in Tahoe and the subsequent downturn in the economy.This - and an acquired nervous twitch to cubicle work - has led to his latest job...

Latest posts by Alex Sack (see all)