Day Cabbie

San Francisco taxi stories from one of the very rare female drivers

The jaded girl

It was my first day as a cab driver. I was dispatched to a small alley in North Beach. Since it was a very small alley and since I was new, the dispatcher had told me which major street it was off of and which major streets it was inbetween.

I rang the door bell for number 5. It's my favorite number. An Asian girl and her White boyfriend came out. She was carrying a large silvery-gold purse that almost looked like a pet carrying container, except that it was silvery-gold and a purse. I asked her if she needed the trunk because that thing just looked so big to me. But it was just her purse and she said that no, she would keep it with her. She sat in the middle of the backseat, her boyfriend next to her, and she placed the large silver-gold purse down on the other side of her.

She said "New Montgomery and Mission, please." In an office worker context, that intersection was familiar to me. My lawyer ex-boyfriend had worked there. I assumed that she was an office worker as well, probably a sales executive or a project manager or maybe a lawyer. I was sure she didn't like her job too much.

I asked her "Do you take a cab to work every day?" I knew she was headed to work. Where else would she be going at 8:45am on the corner of New Montgomery and Mission? She said "Yes." It intrigued me that she took a cab to work every day. North Beach is really not that far from New Montgomery and Mission; surely there must be a convenient bus. But everybody has these little habits they do for themselves to make their day just a little more bearable. For some it's tea or coffee or a hot bath, for others it's cocaine or ice-cream or watching a reality TV show. For her, it was taking a cab to work.

I drove down Columbus. Her boyfriend said "Could you also take us to the Starbucks at Clay and Battery?"

"Sure, do you want to go there first?"

"Yes."

"Okay, so first I'll take you to the Starbucks at Clay and Battery and then I'll take you to New Montgomery and Mission?" (It was my first day.)

"Actually, I'll be getting out at the Starbucks," the guy said.

"Oh, so you don't want to go to New Montgomery and Mission?"

"No, first we're dropping him off, and then I'm continuing on to New Montgomery and Mission," the girl said.

"Got it."

I wondered if she was only in San Francisco temporarily and if her company paid for all her cab fares. I also wondered why she didn't seem to notice for a second that I was female or young and not the typical cab driver. I could have been a 60-year-old man with a beer belly, and her reaction to me wouldn't have been any different. I actually have many customers who don't react to the fact that I'm not the stereotypical cab driver, whatever that means, but for some reason I noticed it especially about this girl. She made me feel invisible.

She leaned back in the middle of the backseat, her eyes pointed towards the ceiling at an angle. Her boyfriend looked out the window. She seemed so jaded. I don't know how else to describe her. She didn't seem particularly unhappy or unfriendly, just really really jaded. It seemed like her days came one after the other in a pretty mechanical fashion, and she didn't particularly like it but she just went along for the ride.

We dropped off her boyfriend at the Starbucks at Clay and Battery. I was wondering if he was going to give me any money, but he didn't, so I assumed that the girl would take care of the whole fare. After he got out, the girl asked me "Do you mind stopping at the Wells Fargo at Bush and Montgomery?" Being a Wells Fargo customer myself, I said "No, not at all, if I can find a place to stop." I knew that the intersection of Bush and Montgomery was extremely busy, especially at this time of the day. But I pulled over and found a yellow zone. She said "I'll be back in one minute." She left her large silvery-gold purse on the backseat and ran up to the ATM. She was literally back in 30 seconds and nobody had honked at me. I said "Wow, that was fast!" She said nothing.

When I stopped to drop her off at New Montgomery and Mission, she quickly said thanks, gave me a decent tip, grabbed her large silvery-gold purse and left.

For many weeks after that I would hear her daily cab order for the little alley in North Beach announced over the radio of the cab company, but I was never in the neighborhood to pick her up again. And after a while, the calls stopped. I wondered if her assignment had ended or if she had quit her job or if she had moved to another apartment.

Somehow I have a feeling that I'm going to remember her for a long time. And I have no other reason than her very palpable jadedness.

4 Comments:

At 9/03/2006 04:35:00 PM, Blogger CharterJames said...

Wonderful story. I am still a newbie driver too. But you bring me back to those very first shifts wo effortlessly.

 
At 6/05/2008 03:40:00 PM, Anonymous Philippe Laurichesse said...

I don't get it. Should this girl's jaws have dropped to the floor in surprise at the fact that her driver was female ? Are you one of those people who need their non-default sex acknowledged every day ? What's your point ? This girl is "jaded" because she didn't respond to your attempts at small talk ? There are people who just want to get from point A to point B ; that's why they get in your cab and give you money. She left you a "decent" tip. What more do you want ? This is what I find most annoying about Americans ; they expect each interaction between two perfect strangers to be some kind of bonding experience. You Americans critique us French for being "snobs" or "cold," but at least we don't have to make friends with every stranger we meet. So she didn't respond when you made your inane remark ("Wow, that was fast"), wow, how "jaded" of her. What should she have said ? Some snappy one-liner to make your day, you egotistical moron ? Then again, who knows, maybe she was unpleasant, maybe there was something "palpable," but your lack of writing skills in describing this girl, other than repeating soulfully that she was "jaded," really made it hard to figure out what exactly was wrong with her. English is my second language, I learned it in high school and spent six years in the UK. Maybe if you learned to write your own language better, I might have an easier time reading your pathetic drivel.

 
At 11/13/2008 06:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you ought to find the soonest flight back to France, "Phillipe".

 
At 9/09/2009 01:17:00 PM, Anonymous Philippe Laurichesse said...

Ah, American mentality : "Like it or leave it" - "Go back to your country" - Americans love saying things like that ! I am sure you would like to tell the Native Americans to go back to their country too, right, "Anonymous" ?

 

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