It’s 2:65 in the morning. And I can’t sleep, damn it!!
Eh, if I’m gonna be up, I might as well work. Despite its 4:15 medallion, I suspect my beautiful Prius, Citizen’s Cab #26, will be at the lot waiting idle and lonely for its driver. Me.
Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of condition downtown San Francisco is in, after yet another night of Trump protests. And the earlier I get out onto the streets, the fresher the scene oughta be. But if history is any guide, any rioting and looting will have been confined to Oakland, across the Bay. That’s their M.O. (But rest assured, coming soon to a theater near YOU!)
On THAT note, I have been on a self-imposed media blackout since Tuesday night. I just CAN’T bring myself to do it. I just cannot, in slow motion, watch as the world descends into holocaust.
Aside: No, this is NOT hyperbole. And we’re not “giving the guy a chance.” “Maybe he’ll surprise us.” “Good news! He’s pivoting!” The first 70 years of this man’s life were NOT a fluke, people. Look at his team! (Missionary General Michael Flynn? White Nationalist Steve Bannon?) Makes Cheney look eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I mean, I was already having a mid life crisis. But now, for good or ill, THAT gig has been superseded by a full blown identity crisis! Yes, for your driver, no news is NOT good news! No, it is… Um, yes??
Damn! I’m ADDICTED!!!
No! NO! NO!! No NPR!!! It’s soft rock ONLY in the cab from now on, 24/7… 98.1FM. The day has come. It is time for a ‘Cool Change.‘
I’m strolling across the Citizen’s Cab lot, out in the industrial Bayview district at the edge of town. And… yes! There’s my girl, 26.
I pop back into the office to find Tony Jr. sitting slouched in his chair at dispatch, He’s playing a video game on his phone while an irate driver is filling the speaker phone with an unceasing explicative laden rant about how Dmitry (new Russian dispatcher) has been giving away dude’s regular cab the last few nights, I think?
“FUCKIN SHIT!!! That FUCKER has been XXX!! With my XYZ!! AND I’m FUCKIN’ SICK of that DUMB SHITHEAD FUCKIN’ with MYYYY XYZ on MY GOD DAMNED XXX!!! I am NOT FUCKIN’ taking that SHITHEAD’s FUCKIN’ XYZ any… GOD… DAMNED… MORE!! And YOU make SURE to TELL that STUPID MOTHER FUCKER THAT!!! YOU HEAR ME!?!”
Anyway, Tony Jr. seems to be just casually waiting out the rant while ignoring it with his head in Angry Birds, or some such. (The current trend in video games is not my forte’.)
I slip Tony Jr. a ten under the dispatch keyboard, while banking on five of that going towards a phone call later with an airport. Junior’s been pretty good about that, without me paying him first. But he knows the hook up is in the mail, when I see him next. Our relationship has given me enough confidence to, once again, gamble on that extra five in advance. Let’s see what happens…
4:15am – Starbucks:
I stumble up to the line. And immediately, the older white dude in front of me with the white sneakers, blue jeans, navy windbreaker, baseball cap, Bluetooth headset and white trimmed mustache barks out, “Come on! What’s the hold up here, people!!” And then he turns around to look to me for support.
I turn away, and yawn.
First, I just got here.
Second, I’m only fourth in line.
Third, one does NOT bite the hand that caffeinates!
I don’t know what dude’s deal is, but these are my regular baristas. My people!
It is clear, that THIS is the guy who rolls three cars back from a halt for construction, or for pedestrians in a crosswalk, and HONKS impatiently and repeatedly – as if the cars ahead will suddenly heed his HONK and run down whatever is the obstacle. Jeez.
Hey! Desperate asshole? Bluetooth headset?? Hmm.
The line opens up. Dude gets his coffee and huffs over to the creamer station. My people already have my “tall” coffee at the ready. And I follow suit.
But Angry White Bluetooth is now standing SMACK in the MIDDLE of the creamer station, which is CLEARLY set up for two! I squeeze to his right.
But Angry White Bluetooth does not flinch.
Instead, he reaches in front of me and violently grabs a wooden stir stick, while pulling out eight more in the process – several of which jut up out of the container, and several of which spill out over the counter top.
Angry White Bluetooth just ignores it.
He huffs off out of Starbucks – yup, to the driver’s seat of his Uber, as I fix the mess he left behind, pour some milk and head out onto the road myself.
I’m rolling the Haight, yet to break the ice, when my generic iPhone ringtone sounds.
Hey! It’s Citizen’s Cab!
Tony Jr., “Sack. Go to 35 Buena Vista East. Now.”
Sack, “Will do! Thanks, Junior!!”
Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about!
I roll up on this very well-off, manicured home adjacent the Haight and Buena Vista Park.
I radio Tony Jr. for a call-out. And lickety-split, a rich earth momma hippie chick with purple lens glasses, a paisley dress and a safari hat comes out with luggage. I jump out and help load the hatch of ‘ol 26. And both jump back in the cab.
Stevie, bubbling, “Thanks for picking me up! We’re headed to the airport. Virgin America, please.”
Driver, with pen and waybill at the ready, repeating back, “SFO. Terminal 2. Virgin.”
It’s still quiet and dark out. And to the tune of The Commodores ‘Sail On‘ all seems peaceful in the world.
As we hit the highway, Stevie breaks out proudly with, “I’m going back to Standing Rock. I just raised $5000 in a Facebook fundraising campaign for the Sioux.”
Driver, “Oh? Wow. That’s great! I heard a pretty interesting hour of Forum on NPR with Michael Krasny on that whole Dakota Pipeline deal just last week! I really feel for the Native Americans. But what’s the deal with the pipeline company having a permit? If that’s true, it kinda muddies the waters. Er, so to speak.”
Stevie, “There was no permit! They got a permit for other parts of the pipeline, but NEVER for one running under their water! And they called eminent domain on a lot of other areas, too! That’s crap! Anyway, the money I raised will help with a lot of tents and other logistics. That’s what they need, tents and people!”
Driver, “Yeah, that’s what I heard! They want enough people to form a barrier that outnumbers all of the cops arresting them! Uh, the pro-pipeline advocate on the show made a point, though. Uh, how most of the people protesting are from out of state. And that are not really versed in the situation and don’t know the actual circumstances? Um, how did you come to, uh, get involved?”
Stevie, “Oh! I was in New York a couple of months ago visiting a friend. And when I was flying back, I looked at a map and thought to myself, ‘Hey! North Dakota is kind of on my way home.’ So, I changed my flight.
But when I got to Bismarck, all of the rental cars were taken! They say that happens a lot. Well, I thought, ‘I didn’t come all this way to stay in a hotel room two hours from the action!’ So, I got the idea to rent a U-Haul truck! And that worked out GREAT! I drove out to the reservation and slept in it that night. It got a lot of use transporting gear for the Sioux, also!
Anyway, yeah, there are a few outsider, white, protesters who have the wrong idea of what they’re doing out there. They come thinking that they’re gonna run the show. But the Standing Rock have been doing this for a LONG time. They really know how to most effectively approach it all. And I think they trust me now. They know I’m an asset.”
Driver, “Well, God bless.”
We drop Virgin, and Driver rolls $50 closer to nut. And with the day begun.