Naked & Afraid (A Pre-Memorial Day)

After a while, driving a taxi around San Francisco can make one jaded to scenes from the street. You have to remind yourself to be impressed by those “only in San Francisco” moments; like that naked black dude commonly seen rocking only a pair of red, white and blue sport socks on his daily walks through the Castro. Invariably, all passersby either stay the course glued to their smart-phones, or just stroll by him on the sidewalk while casually holding the hand of their young child, with all eyes fixed straight ahead and nary breaking the stride of their conversation. It’s funny to watch. I mean, what does this tell us about the human condition?

I’ve been binge watching the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid lately, on Sundays. It’s a reality show about two strangers, a man and a woman, meeting for the first time naked on some godforsaken snake and insect-infested corner of the earth, like the Amazon or the Gobi Desert, with one personal survival item allowed each. They are left to make it as a team for twenty-one days, before utilizing the basic map provided to travel out through whatever harsh terrain to their “extraction point.” Of course, they always each retain the option (which they fight flint and machete) to “tap out.” Anyway, as with many of my dreams of late, this show has crept into MY reality. This is Naked and Afraid: San Francisco.
I’m at the Citizen’s Cab lot and inside of my now “regular” Fusion spare, 2976, sanitizing her insides.



What the hell is that pungent, musky smell declaring war on my nostrils??  (Sniff!!) And my very BEING!?


JEEZ! Did that homeless ex-taxi driver dude sleep in the cab overnight again!? Hmm. No. He didn’t smell the last time, when Tony the Dispatcher had me just tell Moe to switch cabs…

But, fuck. It’s cold out this morning. And now, I’m going to have to keep the windows all rolled down FULL, in the hopes that this overwhelming fetor eventually airs out! And, ugh! I am always reading online about some “rideshare” diehard who’s bitching about cabs and, by extension, cabbies ALWAYS reeking of body odor and vomit!

Aside: I have to say that this common gripe is either a lot of hype, or that one in a thousand ride. I’ve been driving a taxi for six years now (forty-two, if you count them as dog years – which you should) and I’ve only driven a cab maybe twice that smelled like vomit. (Left over from the night driver’s shift, of course.)

Damn. I REALLY don’t want my passengers today thinking that this stench is me. Which they no doubt will! It’s bad enough that my cabs, in actuality, usually stink of cheap third world cologne. (Every day I return home, my cats hiss at me for bearing this foreign aura.) Yes, ugh! How long will it take for this malodor to pass? Well, I guess we’ll find out.

Alcohol wiping the dash, I accidentally depress some random button around the FM radio. Hey! It’s SiriusXM! Satellite radio!! Oh my god! I’ve been driving 2976 for weeks now, and I’m just now realizing she still has her Sirius satellite subscription active?! Hell, yeah!! I’ll be rocking the Grateful Dead channel today, blasting it as I roll through Haight-Ashbury with my windows all down, full! Hmm. But it’s early. Let’s begin with a little soft rock, say, channel 17 – the Love channel… Ah! Rita Coolidge’s We’re All Alone. This’ll do nicely.
Two hours later…


The Friday before Memorial Day has traditionally been slow, quiet, and totally dead. But it’s strange, not even the Ubers are out. Usually, these are the days that some of them – the ones not “sharing” full time – have off of work and flood the streets to skim the cream off of taxis driving vacationers to the airport, for their long weekends out of town. But what gives?? Even they are not out! Hmm. Everyone probably left town yesterday. It was pretty slow then, too. But this is another animal… I should’ve known better, and slept in. Things do eventually wake up, albeit late, on these days. Happens every year. (Duh, Alex.)

Well, although fare-less, I have been privy to one interesting scene. But I had to remind myself to care. Despite the general slowness, there was an early morning traffic jam in the Castro. It was some burly dude with a thick grey beard, wearing a long, wavy, hot pink wig with curls, and holding up a line of cars behind him. Dude’s statement was completed by a tutu and white silk evening gloves. He was riding his bike down 18th, away from the Castro. The bike had dirty baby dolls tied to the handle bars and colorful plastic flowers weaved throughout the frame, while he/she/it was towing their life possessions, by one hand, in a shopping cart trailing behind. This left a log jam of cars in the wake, with all gesturing particular fingers wildly out of their windows, and honking. Only in San Francisco.

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...

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