Tag Archives | san francisco

Driving Ms. Parks

first world homeless

1st world def

I took some days off, for the soul… to “think”.

Each time my kid came home from school to find me on the couch staring into space, he gave me crap, “Dad! You didn’t work, again?!”

I told him, “Son, I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking a lot. And you know what? Nothing is wrong right now. Absolutely NOTHING.”

So, it’s Friday morning. And I am now going into work, to drive a cab… in complete peace, come what may. (OM, baby.)


Heading out of the lot of ‘ol Citizen’s Cab in 137 – my trusty Prius, the headlights catch that feral, orange tabby lot cat frozen, er… like a deer. It would seem she is now spoiled after gorging on all the late night BBQ pitched from the recurring congregations of chatty drivers, and the likes of me occasionally tossing her half my lunch. Well not today, Sheba!… Read the rest

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Chocolate Nam

Sometimes, a ride just speaks for itself. Meet Chocolate Nam…

Choc Nam

It’s mid-day and I’m cruisin’ Haight-Ashbury. The sun is high and it is yet another perfect, beautiful San Francisco day. (Yawn.) The street is bustling with thrift store shoppers, retail workers and mid-western tourists congregating for snaps of themselves flashing peace signs below the famous intersecting street signage that marks this infamous corner. Post-selfie, it’s on to gawk at all the 60’s memorabilia glowing in black lights, as bongs and tie-dye emanate psychedelic from a multitude of head shops. And with leashed cats on their shoulders and unleashed pit-bulls at their sides, dirty-colorful neo-hippie runaways hawk pot vivacious to all that pass.

I drive past… and am immediately struck by the vision of an older black man at the peak of fashion, as he hobbles into the street to flag me with his black and silver-gilt cane on high.… Read the rest

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Dreams of a Short



I haven’t slept.

Well, I haven’t slept well. Okay, okay, I admit it… I relapsed into nighttime cough syrup abuse. And sedatives of this type are widely reputed to rob you of vital R.E.M. (Thanks, NPR.)

Maybe I’ll just go into Citizen’s Cab late today. At this point, I am willing to exchange the first few hours of the day and it’s $20-80 remuneration for a few more hours of half-sleep. (Actually, as it goes, I did just start getting some R.E.M. about an hour before my alarm went off.)

I better call-in to Kojak, though. Let him know. If you don’t show around an hour after your medallion time – 4:15am in my case, the dispatcher/office guy can (and usually will) give away your shift to a newbie not on the schedule.


Sack, “Koj, it’s Sack. I’ll be in around 7. Hold 137 for me.”

Koj, “Sack, you wanna see if I can get you a short?”

I hear Kojak broadcast over the radio, “Anybody want a short?… Read the rest

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City Lights Celebrates 60

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

When Gutenberg created the printing press, humanity took a massive leap in literacy, social equality, and political democracy. It’s hard to imagine in this day of tablet phones and digital literature, but after World War II the American paperback created a revolution of its own: it made books available for cheap and made publishing possible for all kinds of niche writing including that always-highly-touted, but-often-most-all-but-ignored object: the contemporary poetry collection. It wasn’t exactly the Gutenberg revolution, but the effect was impactful, widespread and, in the case of City Lights, sustained.

This year, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights paperback publisher and bookstore is 60. Here’s the Los Angeles Review of Books on the birthday and the publisher’s latest release…

Major cultural changes often result from individual vocation and choices. Ferlinghetti’s life story seems so characteristically American. He had a rocky beginning in life: his Italian father died six months before his birth and his French mother was sent to an asylum a few months after.

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No Quarter

Cal Hill


I awake to a drizzly San Francisco winter’s morning. Wait… It’s summer. And we’re in an historic drought.

Well, maybe the sprinkle will help… a little. On whatever rare occasion that the local news (incorrectly) predicts that we have rain coming, they inevitably go on to qualify how “it won’t be enough.” However, I did just catch on PBS’ The News Hour a show on Hetch Hetchy – the dam and reservoir system that brings San Francisco its water down from the Sierra Nevada. Hetch Hetchy is fed each spring by the melting snowpack from up around Tahoe, et al. Problem is this winter there was no snow.

But! The powers had been planning for several years now for a years-long drought. Consequently, they relayed that Hetch Hetchy is 70% full! Which said powers went on to qualify “is not enough”.

Well, we don’t have lawns and swimming pools here in San Francisco.

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Ganny & the Stormtroopers

SFO CAbbie Underworld


I wake before my alarm today, relaxed.


And this time, it’s a good “OM”! My last shift, I was way busy with a bunch of locals (in-town runs). But the real red meat was a ride I took to Redwood City. That’s meter and a half!

(If the ride takes you more than 15 miles from San Francisco’s City Hall, MTA rules sees the driver charging meter and a half. The logic being that the driver and passenger should split the gas and time down due to the return trip.)

Anyway, I walked away with $285! Tony Jr. was working check-out at the bullet-proof glass in the afternoon, and there’s a new deal where drivers can pay gate (cab rental) out of their day’s Cabulous take. Needless to say, Tony Jr. was pretty impressed after he saw that I still had around $210 set to hit my bank account (via direct deposit) AFTER paying gate!… Read the rest

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Nam’s Mission



I awake groggy from the weekend. And I want to call in sick. (ZzZzzzzzZZzzz.)

Ugh! I should work! (ZzzZZZzzz.)

Besides, the road might be a good distraction from my mental state. (ZZzzZZzzz.)

Okay! Okay! I’ll get up!

It’s a (now) rare foggy day in ‘ol San Francisco. I’m slogging up through the Citizen’s Cab lot and headed towards the office.

As I near, Sammy – the new office guy who’s taken over Kojak’s morning shift, passes me. He’s leaving the office with some new West African driver. They’re heading out to the lot … with a jump starter.

Note: Kojak has been moved to the afternoon office shift for some unknown reason. (Unknown to me, anyway.) This is how the cab biz works. Drivers, office workers; one day ya see ‘em. And the next, they’re gone.

Anyway, hmm.

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Off to Jail…

torbakhopper (CC BY-ND 2.0)

torbakhopper (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Originally posted at AlexSack.com.


It’s been a ho-hum morning rush hour, full of the same old beautiful and perfect California sun. I’m rollin’ easy, and business is like-wise temperate and smooth. The financial frost of winter is finally shaking loose.

It’s 10:35am, and I just dropped a fare down at Moscone Center for the Game Developers Conference. (Oops, wrong link.) I’m cruising away east up Market, as I head off towards my usual rounds fishing for flags out through the Mission, Castro, and Upper & Lower Haights.

I catch a player in my rear view in an older grey beat up Acura. Dude’s weaving up from behind, fast. (Enough time spent working the road, and you can smell these jokers in your peripheral.) Yeah, I feel the tug of competition. But I plan to take the high road, let Andretti play line leader. Why not?… Read the rest

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My Uber Breaking Point


Hello Lyft, My Old Friend

It’s Wednesday afternoon. The sky is pissing rain. I’m swerving through the Marina on my way to pick up Tina, trying to avoid crater lakes and double-parkers. Turn onto Van Ness. With rush hour traffic from Lombard on my back, I pull into a driveway a few doors down from the pinned location. Tap the arrive bar on the Lyft app and tap again to confirm that I’ve actually arrived. Ian Dury comes on the stereo. While I wait for Tina, I bang my fingers against the steering wheel along to the beat.

Just as the song ends, a girl emerges from the high-rise apartment building and dashes through the downpour towards my car. I turn down the music as she jumps in the front seat.

“I tried to get as close as I could,” I say. “But this was the only driveway.”

“That’s alright.” She slides the seat all the way back with authority and props her Uggs on the dashboard.… Read the rest

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Being Uber Ain’t Easy: Why Drivers Should Support Regulation


The global pushback against Uber domination continues to gain momentum. Over the past few weeks, the ride-hailing app was banned in IndiaThailand and Francesuspended in Spain and challenged in BelgiumGermanythe Netherlands and South Korea. Across the US, local governments in OregonArizonaNevadaTexasPennsylvania and California are cracking down on the San Francisco-based behemoth, as well as its smaller rival, Lyft. Every day there are more and more articles in major news outlets documenting the growing rideshare backlash.

Uber responds to the lawsuits and rampant criticism with aplomb, holding the ship steady amid a tempest of dissent. They are always quick to fire back. When they’re not threatening journalists, they accuse city councils of subjecting them to unfair burdens. They claim their model of ridesharing is under attack by government overregulation. Since they profess to be a technology and not a transportation company, they argue they’re immune to the same laws that taxi companies must adhere to.

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