Tourist Oil


Dad, “Ehhh, fif, eh, teeen.” He looks me in the eyes, adding, “Ehh, no, ehhh, ch-ange.”

Frenchie tips!


Gushing, Driver reiterates his suggestion that the family cut over to the Haight, when done taking pix in the dirt.

Driver, gesturing, “Haight Street is just four blocks that way, for after… Have a great day, guys!”

And Driver drives off, leaving Dad looking confused in the rear view, and starting off to mix in with the gaggle of gawkers gathered at this iconic San Franciscan attraction.

Two hours later…

I’m cruising the Haight for flags. I’ve been pretty lucky catching tourists here around this time, of late, in want of a ride back to their hotels, a twenty dollar jaunt over to Fisherman’s Wharf. That is, when done window shopping for bongs and hip shoes, and contemplating the ubiquitous street kids all selling pot in their colorfully patched bell bottoms with leashed cats sitting atop their shoulders.

And right at this famous intersection, synonymous with the 60’s, the corner of Haight and Ashbury, a lesbian couple runs out from a throng of selfie sticks, all snapping pix of peace sign-throwing tie-dyed vacationers.



And in the spirit of love, taxi throws on the hazards to pick up the bounty. (No room to pull to a curb, or anywhere else, amidst the patchouli-infused melee.)

Etheridge, “Thanks for stopping! We’re off to the Sheraton, in Fisherman’s Wharf.”


We roll east out of the Haight. And as my passengers start with the gab, I take note of a French family, that looks awfully familiar, lounging on the quiet hillside of Buena Vista Park, several blocks short of the action. Hmm.

Etheridge, “How long have you been driving?”

Driver, giving his usual rote response, “Well, six of your civilian years. But due to the nature of the job, I like to count it in dog years. So, forty-two.”

Etheridge and Ani both laugh on cue, before Etheridge adds,

“Looks like we got the right driver, Ani!”

And Etheridge offers, unprompted, “We’re visiting from Tucson, Arizona. I’m a yoga teacher.”

Driver, playing along, “Oh? I hear Tucson is pretty cool, and liberal. Do you get into the spiritual aspects of yoga? Or just stick to the physical workout?”

Etheridge, “Well, Tucson is open minded and liberal. But still, I don’t feel comfortable talking about the spiritual stuff there. But, uhhh…”

Etheridge suddenly gets all weird and hesitant.

But Ani then takes over the conversation in disclosing, “We’re in trouble, driver. We have a friend back at the hotel who’s mad at us. You see, we did Alcatraz yesterday and ate mushrooms without her, all of them. They were no good, anyway. So, we came over here to try and buy some more and make it up to her. She was pissed! Anyway, some homeless guy said we could find some on Haight Street.”

Driver, “Well, did it work out?”

Ani, “Yeah, we totally hooked up! And we’re on our way back to make peace with our friend now. We’ll see how it goes tonight, though, with the quality. Hopefully, this gets us out of hot water! We’re planning to go trip at the Wax Museum!”

Driver, “Well, good luck with that. And thanks for tripping Citizen’s Cab. It’s you guys that grease the wheels of this great city.”

And grease, they do!

At drop, Etheridge and Ani throw me $25 on the $18.70 meter for “being cool.” Before holding the door for a Midwestern family, all draped in plaid shorts and wearing matching “I ESCAPED ALCATRAZ” prison striped T-shirts.

Dad sits up front, as ma and the kids pile in back.

And Mr. Griswold queries,

“Driver, do you know where the Full House house is?”

Why, yes. Yes, I do…




Photo by Alex SacK

Check out Alex’s Book 1 – San Francisco TAXI: A 1st Week in the ZEN Life…
& Book 2 San Francisco TAXI: Life in the Merge Lane…

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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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