Day Cabbie

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

A Messenger of Synchronicity

Sometimes I check out boys on bicycles as I drive by them. Sometimes, if I see one that's especially cute, I even squeal and/or giggle. I am a girly and more introverted version of the hollering and whistling construction worker.

A couple of months ago I saw the same boy on a bicycle about four times in one week. "What a weird coincidence," I thought. The next week my friend and fellow taxi driver Susan and I met at Atlas Cafe for coffee. As I parked my car, I saw the same bicycle boy again, locking up his bike in front of Atlas. "What an even weirder coincidence," I thought. I walked up to him and said "Hey. I see you everywhere, riding your bike. And now here you are again." I told him that I was a taxi driver. He told me that his name was Sean and asked me to please not run him over. I always think it's weird when people ask me that. Why would I ever run anybody over?

Recently, while walking near my house, I saw him and his bike again. We still remembered each other's names and chatted briefly.

This week I waved at him from my Green Cab once as I was dropping somebody off, and today, while driving a DeSoto cab, on Drumm Street I suddenly had a guy on a bicycle in front of me that I almost ran over. I slowed down and thought "Oooo, I like his style." As I passed him, I turned my head, and sure enough, it was Sean. We waved at each other. About half an hour later I saw him again, pushing his bike on Battery Street. I pulled over, rolled down my window and said "Sean!"

"Hey." He walked over to my car.

"So how come I see you everywhere? Do you just ride your bike around all day long?"

"Pretty much."

"For what?"

"It's my job."

"Are you a bike messenger?"


"Ahhhh. Now that makes sense."

Everything was making sense now. Also, it seems inevitable for taxi drivers and bike messengers to get to know each other. I'm surprised it took me this long to meet one.

Oh no, you didn't

After we talked about which way I should go to take him to the Saint Francis medical building, he asked

"Are you a native San Franciscan?"

"No. I grew up in Germany."

"I have been to England, France and Amsterdam. But I have never been to Germany."


"I would love to go to Germany and take a tour of all the concentration camps." I was fascinated by his mouth when he spoke. His face was a stiff mask, but his lips formed different shapes. Nothing else in his face moved when he spoke.

"Yeah, that would be an experience."

"What do you think about the new law that makes it illegal to deny that the holocaust happened? I think you can go to jail for that now."

"I generally don't like those kinds of laws. They infringe upon freedom of speech."

"Yeah, but those are lies."

"So you're in favor of the law?"

"Well, somebody has got to do something about those lies. If you were a politician, you could never get away with saying anything that condones genocide. Like if you said anything in favor of killing jews, or blacks, or Native Americans, you would never get anywhere as a public figure."

"But denying that something happened and being in favor of genocide are two different things, aren't they?"

"I think anybody that denies any kind of genocide is very suspect. They are probably in favor of genocide. Why else would they lie about it?"

"Maybe they just don't want to believe that the world could be that bad? Maybe they just don't want to believe that people could do something that horrible to each other?"

"I don't know."

"Like with the Native Americans--" I was going to say regarding Native Americans, that maybe patriotic Americans don't want to believe that their country ever committed genocide, so they try to tell themselves that it never happened. But he interrupted me.

"Well, we had to kill the Native Americans."


"We had to build railroads from the east to the west, and they didn't want that."

For the remainder of our time together, which luckily was only a few blocks' worth, I was very annoyed. Yes, it's a lie to say that the holocaust never happened. But it's also a lie to say that we had to kill the Native Americans.


As a cab driver, you should always have at least one ten, one five and five ones on you. At least that's what makes me feel safe from embarrassment in case somebody gives me a twenty.

Around noon today I was completely out of small bills and really needed to pee. I had just dropped somebody off at Church and Duboce and decided to go into the Safeway to take care of those two needs. A guy walking up Church raised his hand to flag me down. I shook my head no and pulled into the Safeway parking lot. I was determined to pee and get small bills. I was about to pull into a spot when I heard "Taxi!" coming from the left. A guy was sitting near the entrance with a cart full of shopping bags. Something made me say

"Where are you going?"

"Financial district." I knew that I had to pick up a couple at Union Square in half an hour, so this was the perfect segue fare.

"I have no change at all. Do you have small bills?"

"Yes, I have, " he said with a Mexican accent.

Ignoring my bladder, I helped him load his grocery bags into the trunk. On the way to the financial district, he told me that the groceries were for his deli. He said the deli was inside the Equinox gym on Pine and Sansome. He said that the food there was Mexican and healthy. I told him that I wanted to come check it out some day and that I was always looking for new places to get a good snack while driving.

He gave me a little card with a magnetic strip.

He said it was a discount card for $3 off. I thanked him and said

"That little guy on it is so cute!"

"Thass me when I wass five yiss ole."

I laughed loudly and turned around, in love with what he had just said.

"That's you when you were five years old? That is so cute!"

"My friend help me dessign it."

"I love it. And I love sombreros. The bigger the better."

"Sometime I use sombrero as umbrella."

I turned around again, even more in love. He told me that his mom used to sell food. His first job ever was to open coke bottles for customers. He said he was five years old. One time it was raining, and the sombrero kept him dry.

When I dropped him off at Pine and Sansome, he gave me two fives and seven ones. After I picked up the couple at Union Square and dropped them off at the airport, I peed.

The sound of the airport

Aside from the sound of engines starting, which I documented recently, there is another omnipresent sound at the airport: The ka-chuck sound the speed bumps make when a taxi drives down into the lot. I tried to record that sound on video today, with varying success. The last minute of this first video is rather sad and silent.

This very short video captures the sound I am talking about.

We hear it at the airport all day long. It echoes throughout the entire area. "Ka-chuck" says that another taxi has arrived and is about to file into the queue.

While I was filming the last video, which I did not post, a driver walked up to me and asked me if I was filming something. I told him and several others who had asked me before him that yes, I was recording the sound that the ramp makes. "You know, that ka-chuck sound?" Of course they all knew what I was talking about. This particular guy said "You are saying that you are in love with this sound?" I laughed and said that yes, that was exactly what I was saying.


"I'm going to Summerfield Suites in Pleasant Hill. Do you know where that is?" the guy at the airport asked.

"No. Do you?"

"No. I'm from New Jersey." There was something very sweet and innocent about him when he said this.

"It's okay. I can find out, " I assured him and opened the trunk.

As we pulled away from the terminal, I called Buzz, the dispatcher, on the phone, and he referred me to Jeff, who knows the East Bay like the back of his hand. Jeff gave me directions. He also told me the estimated fare. It made my heart jump.

The guy in my cab made a couple of phone calls on the way there, and we chatted a little here and there. He was the national sales manager of a technology company, in town for several meetings. As we got closer to Pleasant Hill, I asked him to tell me the exact address of the hotel one more time. He looked it up on his blackberryesque gadget.

"It's 2611 Contra Costa Boulevard."

"Thank you."

After a beat, I said

"It's funny that it's 2611 because today is 6/11."

"Oh. Yeah."

"I always love little things like that."

"I totally missed that." Of course you did, I thought to myself. Only a numbers nut like me would notice such a thing.

"I always think that it means that things are as they should be, that you're in the right place at the right time. I think it means that you're going to have good luck during your stay here. Is there anything at stake in the meetings you are going to?"

He told me that there actually was something at stake. He said that he could either receive good news or bad news.

When we arrived at the Summerfield Suites, he asked me what my name was. I told him, and he told me that his name was Jeff.

"There is another coincidence. Your name is Jeff, and the guy who gave me the directions to get here, his name is Jeff too."

"Oh. Wow."

"I think that you're going to have really good luck here."

Jeff got lucky. And I did too because the fare was $135 plus tip.

Another person's day made

It was one of those days where I'm in a bad mood, so of course every single passenger in my cab was in a bad mood too.

The woman I was taking to the airport seemed to be in a bad mood too. Not terribly bad, but definitely not good either. We made some half-assed attempts at conversation but nothing really clicked. But I was ready to turn my day around and thought that maybe she was too. So I didn't give up.

"Have you ever been to a non-traditional wedding?" I asked.

"I don't think so," she answered as we passed a big dead bird on the side of the freeway.

"I went to one last night. It was a big masquerade ball and circus show. Lots of elaborate costumes. Circus freaks, clowns, pirates, Victorian gowns."

"Wow. Cool."

"I think the reason I asked you is that I think you would look really good in one of those big, elaborate Victorian gowns." It's true. I really thought that.

"Oh... Really?" She smiled, and her eyes got big and blue. For the first time, I saw an actual expression on her face.

She then told me that her family had been "big into the Victorian stuff." She told me that she had seen many pictures of her great grandmother, wearing "one of those big pins" and "those big ruffles."

"Maybe one of these days for Halloween, " she said.

When she got out of the car at the airport, there was a spark in her eyes. I felt like something had just shifted for her. And something had definitely shifted for me.

Cabbie crush update

So I found out today that the cab driver I have a crush on is married. With children, no less.

Also, the guy who works at the airport and directs us to the terminals (hi Romano!) started reading my blog yesterday. Today he asked me

"Who is your crush? The DeSoto driver?"

I grinned.

"Which one is he?"

"I'm not telling."

Now I'm especially not telling. He's married! I had to pull over the car today to cry for a minute or two and feel very sorry for myself. That crush was so exciting, and now it's a moot point. I hate when that happens.

An unintelligible hot tip

I was at the airport, and I was walking from one lot to the other like I always do. This tall long-legged skinny dude was walking from the other lot to my lot like he always does. We always seem to be in different lots, crossing paths. I am always looking for Mustapha, and he is always looking for I don't know what.

When our paths crossed this time, I said "Hi."

"Mary Porter 700 today, " he said in a heavy Indian accent. I had expected him to have an accent but not one that heavy.


"Mary Porter 700 today."

"I don't understand."

"Mary Porter 700 people today."

"Mary who?"

"Mary Porter 700 airport."



"Is that a person?"

"No. Married Porter 700 airport."

"Married what?" I was wondering if he was asking me if I was married.

"Married Port."

"I don't understand."

"Married Hotel."

"Marriott Hotel?"

"Yes. Marriott 700 people airport today."

"Which Marriott?" I finally got it. He was trying to tell me that 700 people were going to be leaving the Marriott today to go to the airport. He was trying to tell me to sit in line at the Marriott because I would probably get an airport out of it.

"Marriott Port Street." There is no Port Street in San Francisco.

"Polk Street?"

"No, Port."



"P-O-L-K?" I spelled it out.

"No, F-O-U-R," he spelled.





"Fourth and Market."



Cabbie crush

So I have a huge crush on another DeSoto cab driver. I never thought this would happen. I have seen the other drivers, and while I have become friends with quite a few of them, I had never really seen one that is my type. The most likely candidate for me to develop a crush on turned out to feel more like a friend.

The guy I have a crush on is not my type at all. But when I was talking to him at the airport last week, I noticed that he has a really nice smile. And every time I have seen him after that, my heart has been pounding like crazy, and I felt other very interesting things in my body, and suddenly I can't get my mind off of him. It's a full on bodily crush.

Last year I came up with this fantasy. I made up a person in my head who lives in San Francisco and who has a crush on me and who knows that I'm a cab driver and who, every time he sees the blue DeSoto colors zoom by, turns around to see if it's me. My fantasy included a full scene where this person sees a blue DeSoto cab in the reflection of a store window and quickly turns around to look for his beloved, much like Pee Wee Herman in the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure turns around when he sees the reflection of a bike because he thinks it might be his beloved bike that has been lost.

And now I am that person. I am the person from my fantasy who turns her head every time she sees a blue DeSoto cab to see if it's my crush. Sometimes I even turn my head for a mere reflection, and then sometimes I have to realize that it was my own reflection. I do, after all, drive a blue DeSoto cab too.