Day Cabbie

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

Costume Cabbie: The 'fro

Costume Cabbie: The 'fro
Originally uploaded by Verabug.
I wore this in the cab today. Every time I caught my reflection, I had to crack up. Yes, the corduroys have bell bottoms, but I forgot my bug eye sunglasses.

Pat Montandon

On my first day of taxi school in March 2006, there was this guy in my class who had been a San Francisco taxi driver before. He told us that he had once had “the richest woman in San Francisco” in his cab, “Pat Matadawn” is what he called her. He didn't really tell us much about that experience, just that she lived on the crooked block of Lombard Street and that she was “Pat Matadawn, the richest woman in San Francisco.” He kept repeating that. “Pat Matadawn, the richest woman in San Francisco.” “Yeah, Pat Matadawn, the richest woman in San Francisco.” “Yeah, it was Pat Matadawn, the richest woman in San Francisco.”

Recently a friend recommended the book
Oh the Glory of It All, a memoir by Sean Wilsey. This is what the back of the book says:

Sean's blond bombshell mother regularly entertains Black Panthers and movie stars in the family's marble and glass penthouse. His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade. The three live happily together “eight-hundred feet in the air above San Francisco, in an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill: full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills.” But when his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend, Sean's life blows apart. His memoir shows us how he survived, spinning out a “deliriously searing and convincing” portrait of a wicked stepmother (The New York Times Book Review), a meeting with the pope, disastrous sexual awakenings, and a tour of “the planets' most interesting reform schools” (Details).

In the first chapter of the book it was revealed that the author's “blond bombshell mother” has the last name Montandon. I thought “Huh, that sounds familiar.” After the name sank in for a few moments, I thought “Could that be who the guy in taxi school had been referring to?” I concluded that it was very likely.

On page 23 I came across the following:

She changed the pronunciation of her last name “back to French.” From “Mawntandun” to “Moan-tan-dawn.”

“Yep!” I thought. “Matadawn, Moan-tan-dawn, it's the same thing. That's it!” I continued reading:

She had a date every night. She met and wed her second husband [...]. The moved into a beautiful apartment, on the crooked block of Lombard. Six months later the marriage was over. He moved out and Mom kept the lease on the apartment.

The apartment on the crooked part of Lombard settled it for me. This book's author's mother was the same woman as the one the guy in taxi school had been talking about. “Neat,” I thought.

However, the “marble and glass penthouse” in which the author lived with his parents before they got divorced was not on the crooked block of Lombard Street. It was on the top of Russian Hill. In chapter nine I found out that the penthouse is at Green and Jones. And in chapter seventeen I found out the exact location of this very tall building, which is 999 Green Street.

So one day recently, while driving my taxi, I decided to drive by 999 Green Street. I wanted to see this building because it's fun to connect literature with reality.

And when I drove by it, I realized that hey, this is the building where I had picked up the character from one of my own stories, Panic. Taxis and Pat Montandon had brought me full circle back to my own life.

Straight up

My regular customer Tony asked me this week

"Do you find that you get more tips when you are dressed in a costume?"

"Not really. And to be honest, I don't do it for the money. I do it for the attention."

A mission

A girl got in at Polk and Vallejo. She said "Mariposa and Pennsylvania, please." I said "Okay." Then neither of us said anything for a long time. I felt like I should start a conversation because she seemed like a cool person. But then Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode came on the radio so I decided to enjoy the silence. After a few more blocks I suddenly knew that she was psychic and that I had to tell her this. I felt shy though. I looked at her face in the rear view mirror. I thought that she didn't look like she wanted to hear this right now. But on 7th Street just past King I finally said

"Did you know...that you have psychic powers?"




"You didn't know that?"

"No. How can you tell?"

"I can just feel it. So you've never used them?"


"You should start using them."


"Might as well, right?"

"Yeah, if I have them."


"I mean, I know that I have intuition."

"Yeah, that's part of it. So you've been using that?"



Right after she got out, Read My Mind by the Killers came on the radio. I felt like I had done the right thing.

Deep shit

I arrived at the taxi headquarters under the freeway around 5:30 am. Santos was just getting off his night shift.

"How was your trip to Germany?" he said.

"Good. It was really awesome."

"Feel like taking me home?"


"Do you know your cab number yet?"

"331," I said when I found the cab number on my waybill.

The guy with the mustache and backwards leather cap said "I saw you on Craigslist." I had noticed him several times before in the taxi office, probably because he always wears the backwards leather cap. Also, there is something pleasant about the way he walks.

"Oh yeah?" I said.

"Yeah. Sometimes I read Craigslist."

"So what did you read?"

"Ummm, 'goth girl'?"


"'First day'."


And 'coffee date'.

"Ah. Cool."

"That's all, I think."

"What's your name?"


"Vera." We shook hands.

I went outside, got into cab 331 and parked it outside the office with the flashers on, waiting for Santos. As we pulled away from the lot, I said

"I'm in really deep shit."

"What happened?"

"I got a letter from the IRS. Saying that I owe them twelve thousand dollars."

"What for?"

"Well, in 2005? I was still working for a software company. And I had all these stock options. And I sold all of them that year. And I reported the profits I made from them on my tax return. It was about $10,000 in addition to my regular salary. But now the IRS is saying that there is $30,000 that I didn't report. I'm going to look into it with an accountant this weekend."

"I think it'll be okay. Don't sweat it. It's not like you did it on purpose."

"I know."

Driving on 3rd Street near Folsom I said

"When I was in Germany, I visited my grandpa's grave. He died last November."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"It's okay. I believe in life after death so it's not that hard for me. I can feel him around me all the time. I think he is protecting me now."


"So what is he going to do about those twelve thousand dollars, I wonder," I laughed.

"I just received the message from him to convey something to you that will make you not freak out. So just relax. Everything will be okay."

"You are so good."