It’s Monday here in Citizen’s Cab world, my first day back on the job after a crazy weekend that saw the entire world protesting Herr Presidente’s Muslim ban at many of the major airports. Taxi drivers in New York (comprised of many a Muslim) were on strike over at JFK. In my neck of the woods, SFO was quite the scene down at the International Terminal. And in response to all of this, Uber sent out a tweet announcing that there would be no “price surge” during the strike.
Needless to say, many saw this as a heartless grab at market share from “big taxi” on the part of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. And for the salt, the move indicated that Uber had no problems with crossing a picket line formed in defense of human rights. But who among us would call Uber a scab?
Well, it seems that 200,000 plus people would. The papers reported this morning that this was the number engaged over the weekend in a wildfire push via social media to delete their Uber apps, while sharing screen grabs of the act. Turns out that for many of Uber’s millennial demographic this was the final straw. This, after much ballyhoo (complete with Inauguration Day protests at Uber HQ) over Mr. Kalanick’s eagerly joining #Illegitimate’s economic advisory council – in a thinly veiled move to secure Uber a lucrative seat at the corporate-friendly U.S. President’s policy making table.
To boot, many a Muslim Uber driver quit, er… annulled their “partnership” with Uber to go drive for Lyft. Likewise, many a defecting Uber customer switched over. And for the first time ever, Lyft beat out Uber in the number of new downloads of their app. (Never mind that billionaire Libertarian Paypal co-founder and vociferous Trump surrogate Peter Thiel is a MAJOR Lyft investor!)
(SIGH.) What would Bernie do?
So, yeah. It’s Monday. And for those of you who rode along on last week’s ride, it should be noted that (UGH!) my Cabulous taxi hailing-app is still down. Word on the street is they didn’t pay their Verizon bill for a whole host of phones. Hence, a good batch of them had their wireless shut off. Cabulous insists that they were overcharged and that they’re currently in talks with Verizon to work out the discrepancy. Either way, this does NOT bode well.
Even so, today, this hack is feeling pretty good…
Oddly enough, I am NOT having the shit day that I had Friday. I’ve upped my game, sans Cabulous, and even cracked nut by ten! (Yup. Gas, gate and brib… er, tips are in the sack.)
I give credit to some strange dreams that I’d been having over the last few nights, all with waterfalls, rocky beachfronts and boulder strewn rivers. I figured they were calling me to adjust my game, and be like water. That it’s Jung imploring me to adapt to, and navigate around, life’s present obstacles. (Or, hmm. Maybe I’ve just been forgetting to piss before bed.)
In any event, I’ve been assuming the former and responding by playing downtown more, the hotel lines and outlying BART stations. In addition to all of that, the radio calls, street hails and the airport gods today have seen me alllll right! Yup. It’s back to business!
I’m currently cruising west up Market, in ‘ol Citizen’s Cab 1015 – fresh from a Financial drop. As coming to a stop for a red at Kearny, Tony comes crackling over the radio.
“Pos ‘n Maysuhn… Pos ‘n Maysuhn… I need ah sedahn fer da regulah aht Pos ‘n Maysuhn. Aneewon? Pos ‘n Maysuhn fer ah sedahn.”
1015, “1015. Kearny & Market.”
Tony, “1015. Why donch yoo goh git fore-fiffee Pos.”
1015, “Copy. 450 Post. Rolling.”
This, just as some dude with gelled back hair sporting eurofag digs – shiny brown leather shoes, stressed jeans and a grey wool Nehru suit jacket with a Mandarin collar and chest flap pockets – hunches down to make eye contact and wave, as he crosses through the crosswalk in front of me, with the light now green.
Asshole. Still, I am not going to run you down, dude. I see your sporto ass!
But before I know it, Chip has jumped for my rear door and is now IN MY BACK SEAT!
Chip, “You just cost Uber nine bucks. 1455 Market, driver.”
Driver gets on the radio.
“Uh, 1015. Sorry. I just inadvertently took a flag. I know that sounds funny. But, that’s how it went down. You’ll have to give that 450 Post to someone else. Sorry!”
Tony, “Copee. No prahblem, 1015. Don woree ’bout it.”
Unfortunately, now it’s too late to head up Market. On account of where Chip’s flagged me, (well, jumped in) we now have to roll up Geary and then head down Mason to get back on Market. It’s just how I’m positioned.
And Chip starts in.
“I hope you don’t mind that you’re taking me to Uber headquarters. I’m an executive there. But, I believe there’s a place for taxis. I hail them often, when I need to get to Uber fast.”
Aside: Yes, you read that right. I was just hailed by an Uber executive! AND on the FIRST working day after the Muslim ban weekend, that saw Uber’s opportunistic market share grab and crossing of the picket line! AND with its consequent #DeleteUber backlash!
Chip expounds, “Yeah, I’m in charge of the lease program for new drivers.”
I must say… WOW!!! Chip is pretty damn ballsy, telling a cab driver that he’s not just INVOLVED with Uber as some LOWLY DRIVER. But this guy’s a GENERAL!!!
Well, he’s REAL lucky that he got THIS “asshole called taxi” as his boss is on record calling it! I mean, hell! JUST the other day, I drove an old school fellow Citizen’s Cab driver named Mouse, up to his SRO hotel in North Beach. And Mouse was telling me a story about how he’d kicked out a drunk passenger mid-ride on his previous night’s shift for letting on that he simply DROVE for Uber! If this was Mouse, Chip here would be getting kidnapped! And his throat SLIT!!
Anyway, I can’t say that my curiosity is not peaked. Let’s see what the deal is…
Driver, gaining trust, “So, you don’t always hail an Uber, eh? That’s cool. It must be a rough day for you guys, what with all that’s happened over the weekend.”
At this, Chip all at once grows melancholy, seemingly shell shocked, and defensive.
Chip looks down into his lap and frowns, with, “That was all just a misunderstanding! Travis is REALLY a good guy! His tweet was taken completely wrong!” (Yeah, my boy Chip here quite reverently refers to Uber’s CEO as “Travis.”) Adding, “We were trying to NOT take advantage of the situation by price surging. And everyone took it all wrong!”
Driver goes silent, and just let’s Chip roll. For it becomes quickly apparent that Chip is NOT interested in a debate. No. This is to be a one-sided conversation, where my passenger looks to sell… Himself, or his taxi driver? TBD.
Chip, “And it’s not like Travis could have gone to any of the protests, like Sergey did. He was on a plane at the time!”
Jeez. From the sound of it, this #DeleteUber movement has really shaken everyone back at HQ!
Suddenly, as we roll up Geary in the red carpeted bus/taxi lane, fast approaching my planned left onto Mason, the two one-way lanes here begin to merge for construction. I start to work the etiquette of merging zipper-like into the single lane, with every other car. But, the black Toyota Camry on my left, an Uber (lease, no doubt) has other ideas. He begins to sweat me, and hugs the Audi SUV in front of him.
However, your driver is NOT having it…