It’s 6:50am on a foggy San Francisco any given morning, and I’m doin’ the rounds in Citizen’s Cab #1015 spacing out to Milos Cardaglic’s guitar on Classical KDFC 90.3FM jamming Suite Espanola: Asturias op. 47, no. 5. I am wakened from this dream with the radio crackling to life, as the concerned voice of Citizen’s Cab #1353 alerts Tony back at dispatch.
“Yeah, man. 1353. Somebody call and wake up 712. He’s been asleep at the Chevron on Jerrold for over two hours now.”
Tony, crackling back, “Ye-ah, 1353. Did ya try knahckin’ ahn tha window?”
1353, “1353. Yo. I did. But he wouldn’t wake up. ‘N his door was locked, too. Somebody better try callin’ him. He’s been there at the pump for over two hours, man… I hope he’s not dead.”
Tony, “Copee, 1353.”
I’m rolling up Sutter out of Union Square, fresh from dropping some Swedish tourist family off at the Nike outlet. The kids were amazingly outgoing, educated and inquisitive with their American cab driver. (Feel the Bern 2020!)
As I wait for the crossing Powell Street Cable Car to load its tourists, gouge the $7 ticket price, and make sure all those standing on the outside steps have a good grip on their nearest pole, I hear the brash hooting sound of a doorman’s taxi whistle blow across the intersection. Though, it is only the sweet sound of cha-ching! that this cabbie hears!
The cable car rolls off down Powell, clearing to reveal the military-themed decked out doorman at the Marine’s Memorial Club & Hotel out in the street, and blowing for support.
Citizen’s Cab #1015 ZOOMS to the curb, lest this Yellow bitch on my right try and steal my dinner!
The cavalry HAS arrived!!
Private First Class Pyle, holding the back door open for my passenger, “She’s headed out to the V.A., driver.”
I crane to see “she” is an older, slightly heavy-set woman with short dyed blonde hair and large glasses, donning light blue jeans and a T-shirt with the face of a droopy bulldog on it. She’s kissing goodbye a like aged, even more heavy-set man with a gray goatee, wearing a Navy ship-specific baseball cap and holding a tubby bulldog in his arms, with a suspiciously similar face to the one on Gunnery Annie’s T-shirt.
Gunnery Sergeant Annie climbs in back.
G.S. Annie, “Did he tell ya I’m headed out to 43rd & Clement?”
Driver, “Yup. The V.A., it is.” Adding, “You’re not taking your dog with you?”
G.S. Annie, “Nope. He’s my love, and a registered therapy dog. I could take Churchill, but he’d more than likely get in the way of the doctors. He’s gonna stay back with my hubby.”
G.S. Annie, continuing sans prompting, “Spent thirty-five years in the Navy. Enlisted back in ’73. Live in Nevada, but comin’ out here ta get treated for P.T.S.D.”
I check the rear view, to catch a frown. Or more, an annoyed scowl.
G.S. Annie, “They ought not have that ‘D’ in there, though. Ain’t no ‘D’ about it. Had to fight for treatment cause of that!”
Driver, “Oh? There are legal implications calling it a disorder? Actually, now that you mention it, I HAVE heard a lot about soldiers getting screwed out of compensation in the past, with the military denying they can prove their P.T.S.D. is tied their service. Man, that’s just wrong.”
G.S. Annie, “You got it! Took a long time fightin’, but I’m good now, covered. Bush has been a good ally in the fight, too.”
Driver, “Do you mind I ask? Did you get P.T.S., um, S… stationed abroad? In Afghanistan? Or Iraq?”
G.S. Annie, “Nah. I was raped.”
Driver, “Uh… Um…”
G.S. Annie, “Oh, I don’t mind talkin’ ’bout it. It’s good for me.”
Driver, “Wow. That’s messed up. Was it on account of young, testosterone-fueled enlistees, maybe from lower socioeconomic classes not getting the professional nature of military service?”
G.S. Annie, “No! That’s not the profile, at all! It’s the officers! Predators rise through the ranks, so they can get cover when they prey on their victims! All the rapes are coming from the officers that are supervising you.
I started out my career in the Navy playing drums in the band. And my superior didn’t think a woman should be in the band. He kept on me, tryin’ ta get me to quit, berating me. Then, one day in his office while he was dressin’ me down, he raped me. I reported it, but it went nowhere. Like I said, he made sure he had cover.
Anyway, I did quit the band after that. And I transferred to a hospital, nursing. Met a lot of good folks doin’ that work. I’ll tell ya. The Marines, they got yer back! They got mine! Good fellas, the Marines.”
Driver, “Wow! You were a female drummer in the Navy in the early 70’s? That’s awesome. I play music, too. Actually, drums are MY first instrument! Man, that sucks that they took music away from you!”
G.S. Annie, “I did a lot of good as a nurse. Thirty years treatin’ Marines. But yeah, God got me through it all. I’m Mormon.”
(Oh, right. Nevada!)
Driver, “Ha! Mormon? You guys are the red headed step child of Christianity, eh?”
G.S. Annie, “HA!! You said it! It’s ridiculous the rest of Christianity is so exclusive, and judging. The Latter-day Saints appreciate ALL religions. Even the Muslims. They love Jesus, too. It’s in the Koran. But… they got a problem there, though. They’re complicit in all the crap that’s goin’ on with the terrorists. They don’t tamp down on the bad ones.”
Driver, “Well, there’s 1.6 billion of them! You can’t really hold them all accountable. ALL religions have their nut bag extremists.” Adding, ” What if Mormons were held responsible for nut bags like that Westboro Baptist Church. That ‘God Hates Fags’ congregation that was going out and protesting dead soldier’s funerals?”
G.S. Annie, “Hmm. I guess you’re right. I would NOT want to own THAT!”
I turn up into the drive of the San Francisco Veterans Administration hospital out on the far west fringe of The City, with its majestic view overlooking the Pacific. I pull to drop at the usual spot outside the E.R., as Gunnery Sergeant Annie sets sail for treatment embarking with a warm smile and down home “God Bless,” and leaving Driver twenty-five bucks on the $19.45 meter.
P.S. – Never did find out if 712’s driver was dead, or what. (Sorry folks, these cab reports are not fiction.)
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Photo by Alex SacK
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