The Hope Dealer

9:55am:
I’m cruising the Haight for flags. And up ahead at Cole, there’s a fag, er… a flag! A skinny dude in a impeccable Levi’s jean jacket and impeccable matching jeans, with the cuffs rolled up all 50’s style. He’s got dark trendy sunglasses and a thick mustache, waxed at the tips – guess that’s the trend today, thick beard stubble, olive skin and shiny tan leather Italian shoes. (Eh, I’m just guessing they’re Italian.)

I ZOOM up to the curb, lest some Yellow bitch steal my lunch, and George jumps in back, flustered.

George, “Oh, please! Hurry driver! I’m late for work, again! The Cheese Shop, Polk and Pacific!”

Driver, “Polk & Pacific! No problem. FAST!”

I hit the gas.

Driver, pressing, “So, why are you late all the time? Is your manager cool?”

George, “Oh! Last night I went out drinking. And I got in another fight! Some big lumberjack looking dude on Polk Street walking down the sidewalk called me ‘faggot’ out of nowhere! I’m SO tired of that shit. It’s been happening A LOT, lately! In SAN FRANCISCO!

So anyway, I went up and got in that lumberjack’s face and started SCREAMING bloody murder. My friends tried to hold me back. As they were pulling me off, he was SO big that I had to jump UP to punch him in the mouth! That’s when he tackled me and started punching my face!”

George starts feeling his cheek and cranes up to try and see himself in the rear view, before asking me all self-conscious,

“How bad does it look, driver? My boss doesn’t like me coming to work selling premium cheese with bruises and scabs all over my face. Ohhhh.”

Driver checks the rear view, and assures, “Oh! I didn’t even notice before. Yeah. I guess the sunglasses help a bit. But now that you mention it, that’s quite a shiner! (Heh, heh.)”

Driver, diverting from nervous laughter, “I mean, does your boss understand? I think it’s great you didn’t take shit from that guy! Some people have been feeling a little too emboldened to be assholes these days. It was better when those people stayed in the closet! Er, so to speak.”

George, “Oh, my boss is from Texas. But, he’s not homophobic or anything. It’s just that I ran out of the shop just last week to scream at a customer who called me a faggot there! In a PREMIUM CHEESE SHOP! It didn’t USED to be like this!”

Suddenly, while flying down Oak towards Franklin, with all three lanes moving and timing the lights nicely, George perks up. And then he rolls down his window to yell out at some red Scion full of people on our right, as we pass.

George yells out of the taxi, while giving the finger, “Hey, you bitches! You were headed the same way! You COULD have driven me to work! LOOK!! I had to take a TAXI!!!”

And we roll on, passing George’s friends as they all start laughing, and George slumps back into his seat and frowns.

Then, George leans forward, with, “That was my sister and her friends. I live with her. I’ve actually only lived in the city for a year. I followed my sister out here, from Colorado. She went to USF.

Colorado Springs was pretty homophobic, because of the Army and Air Force bases. But even weirder was all of the pot tourism, now that Colorado is legal for recreational. Those guys would come into the bar where I worked super stoned out of their gourds! And they just didn’t know what to make of the gay scene there! It wasn’t homophobic, but it was… uncomfortable. I was like, ‘Hey people. Don’t come to my town to smoke pot if you can’t handle your shit!'”

And we roll up to George’s cheese shop, as he once again cranes to examine his bruises in the rear view and openly worry about his boss not caring for the look.

Driver assures, as George breaks out a MasterCard, “Your boss should be proud of you for sticking up for yourself. Really, though. Now that I see your face again, the bruises aren’t THAT bad!” Adding, “Oh, how much should I run your card for?”

George looks up to see the meter reading $13.40, and sighs, “(Sigh.) Thanks, driver. Round it up to $15 straight.”

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 14 and (a hormonal) 16. 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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