Salt of the Earth

Another order bid on over the radio, and won, by yours truly. I believe Tony has a special place reserved in Heaven for him.

2238 Geary. Kaiser Medical Building. Frankie.

I pull to the busy curb in front of Kaiser, dodging a few other taxis and several Paratransit bus shuttles. Frankie is waiting out in front, with the help of a walker and a like aged woman possibly in her 80’s, presumably his wife.

The lady approaches the cab, and leans into the open shotgun window.

“Hey, Citizen’s Cab. You here fer Da Mayor ah Folsom?”

Citizen’s Cab, “If his name is Frankie, I am!”

And the lady turns around to address her man, “Frankie, dis is our cab.” And as she opens the FRONT door and begins helping her man in, as I jump out and run around to fold and stow The Mayor’s walker into the hatch.

Once back in the driver’s seat, I grab my pen and clipboard/waybill, as lady introduces herself.

“I’m Gloria. Dis is Frankie. Buht ev’ryone knows him as Da Mayor ah Folsom. Hope ya don mind he sit uhp front. Aneeway, dat’s where we’re headin’. Home ta 2657 Folsom, en tha Mission. We live dere fer eightee yeers now. ‘N we seen it all.”

Citizen’s Cab, “Oh? I love driving old San Francisco around. What WAS the city like eighty years ago?”

Frankie smiles BIG, and takes over.

“Ah! Well! Dere use tah be horses ‘n carriages uhp en Twin Peeks dat wuud roll down Market. ‘N da poppies were ev’rywhere. Et waz beUtiful!”

Citizen’s Cab, “Wow! You really HAVE seen it all! I’m guessing that you were born here??”

Frankie, “Well, me ‘n my twin brutha were born en da house dere ahn Folsom. He live wit his wife, Anna, down en Daly City now. Been marriet fifty-six yeers! Same time as me ‘n Gloria here!”

And we drive, as Frankie glows and dreams on about how SF used to be, how it has changed, and how it sucks to be in his 80’s.

Frankie, “Been goin’ ta tha same church alla my life! St. Mattew’s! Dey gaht ah woman priess now, doh.” Frankie suddenly gets a mischievous glint in his eye, before expounding, “She’s reel purtty. Buht da problem wit growin’ old, ‘n gittin arthritis, is dat ev’ry pahrt ah ya gits stiff BUHT da WUN pahrt ya wahnt to! HA! HA!”

To which Gloria laughs, before admonishing, “Oh! Frankie!”

And as we roll up on the Mayor’s Victorian, Frankie caps, “I ain’t nevah sed I waz ah GOOD Catolic! HA!”

And Citizen’s Cab rolls off, with a smile and a fat tip, $25 richer. Cash.


The day nears an end…

Rolling west up Market, at the edge of the red light Tenderloin district, I figure I’ve got time for one more ride, before any threat to my 4 o’clock medallion’s pumpkin time.

And that woman in the old school diner waitress outfit at the bus stop flagging me looks like it. And Citizen’s Cab 1353 pulls to the curb for one last time today.

“Tanks fer stoppin’! Dat damm MUNI bus ain’t nevah comin’! ‘N Iz gunna bee late fer werk! Mel’s Drive-In owt ahn Geary, drivah!” Adding, “I try naht tah tak cahbs to much. Buht, I gahhta taday!”

With pen and clipboard/waybill at the ready, Drivah marks the ride and repeats back, “Mel’s Drive-In. Geary.” Adding, “Well, I’m sorry the bus let you down and you had to splurge on a cab. But, for what it’s worth, my landlord appreciates you VERY much!”

And we drive, as the sun gets low in the sky… 1353’s engine never seizes, and the chill never lifts very much. But it does yield right of way, for the warmth of old San Francisco, ahead the coming storm…



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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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