The Runner

One hour later…

I’ve been working Mission Street and Market, following the BART line. It’s down. And where I almost got trapped back at the Civic Center Station has since been flooded with cops. And the escalators at all corners of Hyde & Market have since been sectioned off with yellow crime scene tape.

I’ve been ferrying frustrated passengers along the line, with each one lamenting what we all assume: a jumper. What with all of the police and fire activity, someone MUST have jumped on the tracks. Or, have been pushed. Hmm.

Independently, my last three fares each complained the exact same, as if on script, “Someone just HAD to throw themselves on the tracks! And ruin everyone ELSE’s day!”

Oh, the humanity.

I’m still trying to work the lucrative payout, rolling west down Market. But, I’ve just passed Civic Center for the fourth time in the last hour, and it looks like the police are packing up shop. Oh, well.

I’m stopped at a red in the taxi/bus lane before 5th Street, at Westfield Mall. I can’t help but take note, or heed, of some skinny black guy running from the sidewalk, between cars, and onto the bus island next to me, with his hands waving in the air, flailing, not so unlike Cheech’s statement. I guess this IS the newest dance craze! Or, maybe just “craze.”

Dude dives into the back seat of my unlocked taxi. Damn. I GOTTA start locking my doors!

Sorry, Rose. (A Cab School Commandment I just CAN’T seem to master!)

Well, might as well break out the clipboard/waybill. Yup, with pen at the ready…

Driver, “Uh, where to, sir?”

Dude, all buggy, squirming and looking around nervous, “The BART station!”

Driver, laying down his clipboard/waybill, “Sir, that’s a BART station right there. Powell. Did you want a DIFFERENT BART station?”

Dude looks around, confused, as I watch him in the rear view. Hey, this guy looks kind of familiar. Hey! It’s Pryor! Of Tin Foil Hats fame!!! It’s been YEARS!

Recall: Pryor is the paranoid schizophrenic who jumped in my cab a few years back, not far from here, up at 7th & Market. Pryor was SUPER agitated at the time, BEGGING me to “DRIVE!!!” to get away from “THEM” all the while insisting that he had “NO IDEA” why “THEY” were “OUT TO GET” him, before freaking out that we had stopped for a red light, and then ultimately jumping out and darting off through speeding traffic to run for his imaginary life.

Anyway, back to the present. (Cause life’s a gift, and all…)

In the rear view I note that Pryor’s teeth are a bit more chipped than last time, and if at all possible, his eyes a little more bugged out of his head.

Driver, repeating the question, “Did you want me to take you to a DIFFERENT BART station?”

And Pryor begins squirming in his seat, now even MORE agitated, before jolting to slide over into the seat behind me, before opening the door and DARTING off WILDLY, once more, across speeding traffic on the now green light, and zig-zagging and flailing away out of sight, off towards Union Square.



My iPhone rings to life, “Bada-Ding-Ding-Boop-Ding-Ding! Bada-Ding-Ding-Boop-Ding-Ding!

I answer.

“Mr. Sack. It’s Officer Callahan. I’m sorry, I couldn’t get you a voucher. But, I called to verify some of your contact information. And to let you know that your perp is going to jail.”

Mr. Sack, “Huh? For jumping on the fare?”

Officer Callahan, “No, sir. He had an warrant out for his arrest for a failure to appear.”

Mr. Sack, “Oh! Well, I’m not surprised. Can you tell me what that case was that he failed to show in court for? Was it drugs?”

Officer Callahan, “I don’t know, sir. It doesn’t say. But, probably.”


JEEZ! I kinda feel bad for Cheech now. I just wanted to sweat him a little. For running on me. I didn’t want him to get him in REAL trouble!

Eh, I guess the law would have caught up with him on that warrant at some point, or other. He WAS pretty fucked up. And antisocial.

I mean, Cheech’s just made some bad decisions. But, who among us hasn’t? Cast the first stone, n’ all… I mean, it’s hard to be mad at Cheech. On account of he’s so fucked up. Dude just needs help.

Really, I didn’t mean for him to go to JAIL! Really, it could have just as easily been Cheech that was the benefactor of my usual homeless ritual. It could have been HIM that I stopped to give away half of my peanut butter sandwich to today!

Except today, I ate it all.



Please SHARE if so inclined, folks!

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…

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...

Latest posts by Alex Sack (see all)