Tony comes crackling over the radio with an order to bid on. It’s the slow time of day, and the order is in the Mission, where many drivers are proximate. It’s chum in the water.
Tony, “23rd & Dolores. 23rd & Dolores.”
417, “417. 16th & Mission!”
865, “865. 16th & Guerrero!!”
1015, “1015. 24th & Church!!!”
Tony, “1015. Sack. Looks like dis one’s yurs. Comin’ yer waay.”
“Cha-ching! – 3646 23rd St. Doug.”
And I ‘Accept’ the order.
I’m only a couple blocks away. I crest the Dolores hill, cross over, and come down 23rd to find Doug, and older grey haired guy in a brown leather jacket and blue jeans, waiting on the far side of the street out in front of his manicured single family Victorian. I mime through the window, signaling straight or back, should I pull a U?
And a confused Doug walks across traffic, albeit light traffic, to get in my cab. And with clipboard/waybill propped on the steering wheel and pen at the ready, I broach,
Doug, in a Brooklyn accent, “Took you guys long enough ta get here. I tried usin’ dat Ubah ting. But dose guys fucked me. Never use it before. Tha damn phone kept tellin’ me five minutes away, den ten, den five. ‘N tha guy never came. Now I’m late fer a docter’s apointment. 2333 Buchanan. CPMC. ‘N fass.”
Driver, scribing and repeating back, “2333 Buchanan. CPMC.”
Now, hmm. Doug should really have stayed in front of his house, so we could hit Dolores over. But we’re already facing Guerrero, however questionable the timing off the lights. I guess it is more direct. Don’t want Doug thinking I’m padding the meter. He already seems in a pretty bad mood. Guerrero, it is…
Doug, “How you goin’ drivah? Dis is tha slow way. You shoulda taken Dolores. (GASP!) Dis is NOT da good way ta go! ‘N I’m gonna be even latah!”
Then you should have stayed in front of your fucking house and let me make the U!
Driver, “Well, we’re already committed to Guerrero. And it’s more direct. I didn’t want you thinking I was padding them meter. It’s a good time of day. I should be able to work the lights.”
Doug, “Dis is NOT how I woulda gone. ‘N Ubah already gaht me all strees’d owt. “Neewaay, how you gonna go next? You gonna take Clay ovah?”
Driver, “Uhhh. Clay is the cross street where you’re going, perpendicular to us across town.”
Doug, “Oh. I’m all screwed up wit dat Ubah crap. Uhh, I gaht my streets all mixed. Maybee, wats dat one? Scott! You shood take Scott!”
Driver, “Uhhh. I do like Scott, generally, for getting across town. But, we’d have to go several blocks in the opposite direction, and take those same blocks to get back over to Buchanan. I’ll go any way you want, but I think Guerrero to Laguna is the fastest from here, and most direct.”
Doug, “Ahhh, Do whatevah you tink. Buht dis is NOT how I woulda gone! (GASP!)”
I stay the course, and go to calm the beast. I change the subject and get Doug talking about how long he’s been in San Francisco.
Doug, “I came owt heyah fer da Summah a Love, in ’67. But I was in da oil bidness down in Louisiana fer some yeers Own’d a oil company down dere. Buht I’m retir’d now, and been back livin’ in SF fer ovah twnetee yeers now.”
Then, Doug gasps again, and changes the subject back to our route, with, “(GASP!) Jeez! Dis gonna take us pass da Zen Centah! I go ta da Zen Centah! Ta meditate. (GASP!) Dis ain’t da way I woulda gone!”
Wow. The San Francisco Zen Center???
I do not think it’s working for you, Doug.
I’ve just received a Cabulous “Cha-ching!” mobile-to-mobile from an iPhone, from “Morgan.” I’m south of the Financial, downtown, and the order is about six blocks away from me at 401 Harrison, a newer glass and steel high rise of rich condos.
This will be the worst ride in my seven years as a cab driver…
After a five minute trek through thick traffic, navigating around and cutting off two of every three cars, all Ubers and Lyfts, I pull up on 401 Harrison and hit the ‘Arrived’ button on my Cabulous smartphone.
I ready my clipboard/waybill. And in short order, out of the tall, thick, tinted glass front doors of this gaudy show of wealth, hobbles brusquely, a thirty-ish blonde, Morgan.
I say “hobbles” as I take note of the stylish black boot cast on her right foot, and a left hand wrapped in Ace bandage. But it is obvious, Morgan is no shrinking violet. By the energy and seeming command with which she’s approaching my cab, I simply plan the ice breaker.
Hmm. How about, “I’m guessing you’ve been in an Uber recently.”
However, before I can utter my genius line, Morgan has violently ripped open the back door, thrown her body in back, and begun viciously berating her driver.
Morgan, “Thanks for the fucking help! You couldn’t see I’m in a cast??? You couldn’t get the fuck out to open the door for me!? I’m just going three blocks over, to 301 Main. And don’t hurt yourself getting there! Thanks a fucking lot!”
Morgan huffs, and slams her door shut. And stunned driver drives.
Wow. I’ve NEVER been dehumanized this way in my cab. Actually, I don’t believe I have EVER seen one human talk to another stranger in this way!
And, HA! Morgan has NO idea who she’s talking to! So, hmm. What do I do? Lay into her? Kick her out?? Not move, and turn around to stare coldly into her eyes until she gets the fuck out???
Nah. I’m too intrigued. Despite that I actually drove twice as far to pick Morgan up, than the ride will. I mean, how much dick does this bitch a taxi driver is going to suck for a six dollar fare?? No. This is FAR too curious. I’m just going to stay quiet, and drive Morgan to her destination. And think over the three blocks about how to cap this ride.
As I remain silent, Morgan continues to fume in back, huffing, and going on about my lack of human decency, and professionalism. (Unbeknownst that she is talking to the 2012 Paratransit Driver of the Year!)
Three blocks and a minute later, I have settled on and now pursue my master plan for capping this ride…
We pull in front of 301 Main (yet ANOTHER glass and steel high rise of rich gaudy condos) and I vehemently unlatch my seat belt, and throw open my door, and anxiously grovel,
“Wait! Let me come get the door for you!”
But, before I can exit the taxi, Morgan has once again, violently thrown open her door, and already begun to extract herself from the vehicle, shouting,
“No! It’s WAY too late for THAT! WAAAAAYYYY TOO LATE!!!”
And Morgan huffs off, brusquely once again, towards the almost identical tall, thick, tinted glass doors of 301 Main, as I plug the $6.25 fare into my Cabulous smartphone.
The sound chimes acknowledging Morgan’s card has been charged, and my remittance has been secured.
I drill down into the app…
Hey. A 20% tip!