Charo and the E.R.


A flag, at the bustling drug market and ethic street scene at the 16th and Mission BART Plaza/MUNI bus stop. It’s a pudgy, long wavy-brown-haired, fabulous rhinestone-studded BIG sunglasses adorned transsexual, with hormone therapy pubescent breasts popping out of her tight, tight pink T. I pull hard to a stop at the curb next to my dinner. I’ve driven Charo before.

I’m rolling Citizen’s Cab #1015 today, old school, but for this one last tryst with my former girl. Back at dispatch this morning, Tony said that Citizen’s lost her medallion to DeSoto, starting tomorrow.

Charo, with her familiar lilt, “Thhhaaaanksss fer stahhhhping, driverrrr! Ohhhh! I neeeed ta get ta thaaa Shhhhevron ssstaaation aaat Seeear Shaaaavez ‘n Baaaaayshore. You knooow tha onnne, driverrr?? My exxx hasss ah prahbleeeeem. He neeeds tah go ta tha Hahhsspiiitalll!”

I dunnno why hee callsss meee, thooo. I’m hisss exxx! He should bee jus’ calling hissss girlfrieeeend. Why doo you tink heee callsss meeee, driverrr?? Huhhh???”

Driverrr, waybill and pen at the ready, “So, the Chevron at Bayshore and Cesar Chavez, by the cab lots? And then on to the ER, at SF General?”

Charo, “Yesss, Driverrr. That’sss riiiight. So, why dooo you tiiiink?? Huh???”

I hit the gas.

Driverrr, “Well, it sounds like he trusts you more than his ex. You’re his friend. No judgments.”

Charo, “You tiiink? Well, I tink hee jus’ doesssn’t waaaant her too knoow he’ss been sleeeeping wit evereee homelssss craaaackhead girl hee partee’s wit. Hee says his ballsss are hurting hiiim. REEEEL BAAAD! Theeeey’re REEEEL swollllennn. ‘Nd hee’s beeen hunched overr innn paaain ALLL niiight! Thaaaat’sss ah sign ah ah S… T… D…, iiisn’t it, Driverrr? Praaahbably gonorrheeeeea, riiiiight? Doo you knoooow??

Driverrr, “Yeah, I suppose that could be the reason he called you, instead, too. Hmm. Not sure about the STD thing, though… Sounds like that COULD be the culprit…. Yeah, I think you might be onto something there.”

Charo, “‘Nd ohhh myyy Gahhhd! Hee wanted ta sleeeep wit MEEEE jus’ tha otherrr niiiiiight! Buuut I said, ‘Nooo waaaay. You haaave ah giiirrrrlfrieeend. Wat doo you tink I aaaaamm?’

I’mmm SOOOO glaaaad I didnnn’ fuuuck hiiiiim. I donnn’ want ta tink whaaat almosss happennn ta my buuuuttholllle! Ohhh myyy Gahhhd, Driverrr!!”

Suddenly, Charo’s phone rings and she dives into fluid Spanish. With what I can garner through my limited understanding it’s her ex. She’s saying she’s in a cab on the way to get him and take him to the ER at General. (And some other stuff that went by too fast.)

And Charo hangs up.

Charo, “Okaaaay, Driverrr. He’ll bee ready fer usss. Hee’s going ta pay fer tha riiiide, too.”


Charo, on cue, “Ohhh, donnn worree, Driverrr! I haaaave moneee, toooo.”

I remind Charo that I drove her about a year ago, and she was asking me what to do about a boyfriend that she was living with at the time. On account of that he was cheating on her, and not treating her with respect. She confirms that the guy we’re on our way to pick up is one and the same. And she relays that her family was much relieved that she moved out and broke up with him, as they were worried about her.

We pull into the Chevron parking lot, and Charo jumps to direct, “Ohhhh noooo, Driverrr! Hee liiives iiiin dat beeeat uhppp yellloooow RRRRVVVVV overrr deeeere! Ahn Jerrrrollllld.” Then, reminiscing, “Iiiiit loooked SO muuch nicccer wheeen I liiiived deeeere, ‘n tooook caaare ah tha plaaaace.”

Per Charo’s direction, I pull up behind her ex’s beat up RV mixed in amongst a community of homeless RV’s, tents and make-shift encampments. And just a block from the Citizen’s Cab lot.

Charo, having tried to call again, and gotten voicemail, “Hee’s nooot answerrring, Driverrr. Leeeet mee go get hiiiim. Heeeere. I’lll leeeeave myyy driiink.”

And Charo hurriedly jumps out of the back of Citizen’s Cab #1015, and runs out of sight around to the side of her ex’s RV, leaving a half empty peach-infused bottled water on the back seat, presumably as collateral.

After about a minute, Charo reappears from the dark side of the RV, coughing, followed by a skinny, haggard looking Mexican dude in dirty clothes with a wiry mustache, and a macho, dirty, foam trucker’s cap. Dude looks pretty out of sorts, all hunched over and grabbing his crotch, as he waddles towards the cab, groaning. (Oh, and also coughing.)

Once settled in back Charo and her ex dive into fast Spanish. (Too fast to follow.) And I hit the gas for General, dropping $15 richer in crumpled up bills on the $11.60 fare.

I pinch the edges of my questionably virulent bounty, stretching the bills out and carefully filing them into my cash bank, making sure to take note of their place at the back of their like denominations. And I roll.

Now, who needs a ride? Huh?? Oh, sure I can break a twenty…



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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...

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