Day Cabbie

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

The Folsom Street Fair aftermath

Yesterday was the annual Folsom Street Fair. I went for a little bit but that has nothing to do with being a cab driver. But what is related to cab driving is all the Folsom Street Fair-related fares I had today.

6:17 AM. My first fare was at Folsom and Division. I rang the door bell. The door opened and there were two girls who looked at me surprisedly. I said "I have your taxi here." One of the girls said "Oh yes, awesome." The two girls kissed for a few seconds and one of them followed me to the car. She was very pretty. It seemed like she had been up all night. "Folsom Street Fair" I thought.

7:10 AM. I was driving on Castro and a guy standing at 18th shyly stuck up his hand. I almost didn't see him. I jerked the car over, and he looked at me doubtfully. I said "Yes, come on in." He smelled like he had smoked about 100 cigarettes throughout the night.

"I'm going to that park on the hill. Not Dolores Park."

"Is it Duboce Park?"

"No, not Dolores Park. It's...up the go up there and..." He pointed up Castro Street.

"Duboce Park?"

"I don't think it's Duboce Park."

"Do you know the intersection?"

"No...but I know how to get there. I'll just show you."

When we were driving on Castro near 16th, he looked to the left and said

"It's up there..."

"Buena Vista Park?"

"Yeah, I think it's Buena Vista Park."

"Are you visiting?"


"Did you come for LoveFest?"

"No. But that's what I ended up having. Hahahahaha!" I think he was still entoxicated.


"Hahahahaha! I was actually here for the Folsom Street Fair."

"Ah. I love the Folsom Street Fair."

I dropped him off where his truck was parked at Buena Vista Park.

"Thanks for stopping."

"You're welcome."

7:23 AM. Three short stocky Latino guys were standing on the corner of Market and 15th Street and flagged me down. As they piled into the cab, this really hot Caucasian guy on a bicycle that had been with them kept pointing in their direction and saying something in a really flirtatious way. I don't know what he said. It might have been something like "I'll call you" or "I'll be there." But I really don't know. But the way he kept looking and pointing made ME feel very flirtatious, and he wasn't even talking to me. We drove off and I couldn't stop smiling, and I kept scanning the three guys in the backseat. I wanted to say "Which one of you was he trying to get with?" But I didn't. The three guys spoke Spanish with each other the whole ride.

10:50 AM. I was dispatched to an address at 14th and Church. It was two French-speaking guys going to the airport. They told me they had come to San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair. They said that San Francisco was a beautiful city and that this wasn't the first time they had come here.

I also drove the usual old man to the dialysis center, couple with twin babies to the hospital, and businessmen to the financial district today. But the day was definitely somewhat Folsom Street Fair-themed.

Early morning in the dispatch office

Me: Hi Moe.
Moe (the cashier): Hi Vera.
Me: How's it going?
Moe: The only car I have is 852 but you have to change it at 1.
Me: Damn. You don't have any other car?
Moe: No.
Me: Mmmmmm. The thing is that I have to pick up my aunt at the airport around 1.
Moe: Well.
Andy (the dispatcher, takes off his headset and starts yelling across the room): Hey, is your aunt the woman they found in San Francisco who had worked at that concentration camp?
Me: Shut up!
Andy: Did you hear about that?
Me: Yeah, I did.
Andy: I thought maybe she was coming back.
Me: Yeah, no.

These are the kind of messages people leave on my cell phone now

I got this on Saturday night at 11:59PM.

Hey Vera, this is John. I don't know if you remem--you should remember me. I'm a friend of Heather's over at Heather's birthday. We were all cracking up together and stuff. I was wondering if you're working right now because we need a cab. All right. So give me a call back if you are. Bye.

Of course I remember you, John. You made me laugh really hard at Heather's birthday party. But I don't drive a cab at night. I sleep at night.

My biggest tip so far

On Friday I was driving around another cab driver. He asked

“What was the biggest tip you ever got?”

“You mean percentage-wise or the dollar amount?”

“Dollar amount.”

“I think maybe ten dollars?”

“Eh, that's nothing.”

“I know.”

He ended up giving me one of the smallest tips I have ever received. It was basically a negative number.

But today I got a tip worth mentioning. I had just stopped at the OfficeMax on Geary and Arguello to fax my timesheet for the freelance work I have been doing and was getting back in my cab to keep going. This tall skinny guy, probably about 50ish, was standing on the corner. He had just lit a cigarette. When he saw me get in the cab, his body jerked around and he tried to open the door. I said

“Sure, but no smoking in here.”

“Of course. First I need to go around the corner and then to North Beach.”

“So you want me to make a U-turn?”

“No, it's just around the corner on Clement.”

He had me stop at a computer place called Cyber-something on Clement. He had just bought a new laptop but the first night he had it, he said, his friends had messed it all up and he had needed to get it fixed. He told me that he was pretty illiterate when it comes to computers. He said he was the bass player in a band.

When he came out of the computer place, he said

“Can we go back to OfficeMax? I don't have the right router.”


“Don't worry, I'll make this worth your while. I'll give you like fifty bucks or something. I can afford it.”

“I'm not worried.”

I waited outside of the cab while he was inside OfficeMax. It was really hot. When he returned, he handed me a cold bottle of water.

“I got you a water.”

“Thanks! How nice. Now to North Beach?”

“Yeah, Columbus and Union. Actually, almost at Columbus and Bay.”


After talking about his laptop some more, he said

“You know what? We'll be on Franklin, right?”

“Yeah, I was going to take Franklin.”

“Okay, I need to pick up my laundry from the dry cleaner's. It's on the way, on Van Ness between Union and Filbert.”

“Which side of Van Ness?”

“This side. So you'll want to make a right on the street that's one past Union and then a right on Van Ness.”


While we were driving up Franklin, he told me what a great job the guy at Cyber-something had done on his laptop. He had made his life so much easier. He had gotten rid of Internet Explorer and installed Mozilla Firefox for him. And he had asked him what his favorite music was and had put some of that on there for him.

“How much did it cost you?”

“$120. I gave him $200.”

We picked up his laundry at Big Bubble Laundromat on Van Ness and then got back on Franklin towards Bay. Around Franklin and Lombard, the meter was around $18. He handed me two $20 bills. And then he handed me a five and three ones.

“There's $48.”

“Thank you!”

“Ah, it's going to be at least another $10 to North Beach. Here, and just give me those $8 back.” He handed me another $20.

“Okay.” I started digging in my purse.

“Nah, just keep it.”

“Thanks. You're a great tipper.”

“Yeah. Well, you guys don't have it easy.”

I had now received $68 from this guy. I dropped off him, his laptop and his laundry near Jones and Columbus in North Beach. The meter said $22.65.

The cosmetic dentist

I was dropping off a very chatty woman at California and Fillmore. This guy with a big bag waved at me. The woman got out of the car and said to him "I don't have time to chat right now." I'm not sure what that was all about.

I got out of the car and opened the trunk for the guy's big bag. He was wearing a badge with his name and the word DENTIST below it. I said

"Are you in town for the big dental convention?"


"Yeah, I heard about that one. So are you leaving already?"

"No no."

I was a little disappointed that he wasn't going to the airport. He was going to a hotel on New Montgomery and Market. I closed the trunk and we both got in the cab.

"So you're a dentist?"


"Do you have a specialty?"

"Yeah, I'm a cosmetic dentist."

"Ah. So do you work on famous people?"

"Yeah, some. I did Miss California's smile. I also did Miss World's smile."

"Really. Wow."

"Yeah, and a few others."

"Do you live in LA?"

"Yeah. How did you know?"


"I also donate some of my work. I donate smiles to battered women. I also donate smiles to kids whose teeth are all messed up from methamphetamine."

"So you work on them for free?"


"That's awesome."

He told me that he is very anti-meth. He is a member of some kind of organization that fights meth addiction. It seems to be a cause that means a lot to him.

He told me he has two kids, 11 and 8. When he smiled, I could see that he had very nice teeth. I wondered if he had worked on his own smile.

The kid is not my son

Today I was driving near the intersection of Eddy and Hyde and this white van passed me with all the windows rolled down and Billie Jean by Michael Jackson playing REALLY LOUDLY, and there was a big black guy in the driver's seat who was bobbing his head energetically and singing along, and he must have noticed me looking at him because he turned his head and bobbed his head at me and waved, and I bobbed my head too and waved back, and I think that was my favorite moment of the day.

Intersections where the guy fell

One time I was driving on Mission Street, and at 16th and Mission two people held out their hands to flag me down. I thought they needed separate cabs, but they were actually together and both got into my cab. The woman was Asian and a lot younger than the man. I think she was his medical helper. She was very quiet, but the man talked a lot. He had a cane with him. He said he had trouble walking and told me about all the intersections at which he had fallen. He said that one time he fell at the intersection of 10th and Mission. That one was the scariest one, he said. The other light had turned green and cars were starting to come straight towards him, and he was still lying on the ground. He said that he thought the cars were going to hit him and he was going to die. He told me he also fell at the intersections of 6th and Market, Van Ness and McAllister, and 14th and Guerrero.