Day Cabbie

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


This could be a cab story but it isn't really. It's the story of my day.

I was having a bad day today. My first two fares were airport fares but it all went downhill from there. Another cab driver stole my fare in Potrero Hill; I was honked at; I was even yelled at, by a woman on a motorcycle, "What the fuck are you DOING?" I tried to pass a bus and right as I started passing it, it started driving and cut me off. I started losing hope about the crush I have. Yes, I have a crush. And no, it's not a cab driver.

By 11 am I was having a horrible day. I was tired. A lady got in my cab. A guy standing on the sidewalk said into my rolled-down window "Excuse me. You have a flat tire." I dropped the lady off and returned the car to the garage to have the tire replaced.

I sat outside the office looking at a parking lot full of cabs and a couple of freeway overpasses. The sun was shining. It felt good to sit down and stare. I was thankful for the break. I started feeling better.

Then Larry walked by. Larry is one of the order takers at the taxi company I drive for. He always waves at me. Or maybe instead of wave I should say that he twirls his hand near his head as if taking off a hat. Sometimes Larry arrives at the office around 6am with a tray full of coffees and sundaes. It makes me smile. One time Larry said when he saw me "Look, it's Pippi!" (I tend to wear pig tails.) I said "Is it?" He said "Yes, it is. You're a Pippi. Your parents may have named you Vera but they didn't know. It's not their fault. But I know." That had made me smile too.

Today Larry asked me how my day had been going. I said that it had been rather slow for me. He said that back at the office, things had been really busy. I said that maybe I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time all day. Larry said that yes, that happens. And then he said something very smart. He said "On the slowest day, somebody is going to come home rich. And on the busiest day, somebody is not going to make any money." It's so true. Larry said that it was all completely random. But I don't think it's random; I think it's something else. The universe's deliberation, maybe. Larry went back inside the office.

After a while I went inside too to see how my car was doing. It wasn't ready yet. I sat on a couch. My face was facing 90 degrees from where Larry was sitting at a table, reading a book titled Poetry. His reading glasses were falling off his nose. He told me he likes to let them fall off in public, to make kids laugh. He said that he is very good at making kids laugh. I said "Making kids laugh is a great talent to have." He nodded. Then he beamed and said "Wanna see pictures of my grandkids?" I said sure and joined him at the table. He showed me pictures of a boy and girl, almost exactly the same age, but one is his daughter's and one is his son's. They were both blond and adorable. One of them lives in San Francisco and one on Long Island.

Larry told me that he "measures" people before interacting with them. He gives them a short "reading." He said he is only wrong in about 1% of his readings. I was all ears.

He told me about this guy he picked up several years ago, at 7th and Market. He was a very muscular black guy who was frantically trying to flag down a cab. Cabs kept passing him. Larry said his radar had told him that this guy was a bouncer at a club in North Beach. He stopped to pick him up. The guy was very angry. He said "Fucking cab drivers always the same fucking fuck fucking Yellow Cab." When he stopped to take a breath, Larry asked "So where are we going?" The guy said "Broadway." Larry said "Which club?" The guy told him, then continued cursing. When the guy stopped to take another breath, Larry said "Let me tell you a story." The guy said "Sure, but like it's going to make a difference." Larry told him that one time not too long ago, he had picked up a little old lady with blue hair on Nob Hill. She had been very angry and upon getting in his cab had said "Fucking cab drivers always the same fucking fuck fucking Yellow Cab." The guy leaned back in the backseat with his hands on the back of his head. He said "You mean Yellow Cab is an equal opportunity discriminator?" Larry said "I couldn't have said it better myself." And the guy started laughing. And he laughed all the way to the club, Larry said. He gave Larry a $20 bill and didn't want any change.

Larry said "If you can take the angriest person around and change their day, that's what it's all about."

Then he got up and said "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to talk your ear off." I said "No, no, thanks for the stories. They were great." And he said "Thanks for being such a delightful person."

When my car was ready, I was ready to keep driving. My day had just gotten a whole lot better.


At 9/04/2006 08:40:00 PM, Blogger CharterJames said...

I've added you to my roll. Your writing is wonderful. I love the details you pickout and your ability to describe your inner process. THis post is particularily amazing for that. Takes us right inside the mental workings of the beginning driver. Wonderful.


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