Day Cabbie

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

Out-of-auto experience

The other day I was walking with a friend near his house. We were coming from Van Ness and crossed Franklin on Oak. We continued walking up Oak towards Buchanan. This means that we were walking the wrong way up a one way street. Not that it matters since we were pedestrians.

"Oh my god, I have never been here on foot before," I said.


"I drive by here probably several times a day when I'm driving a cab."


"Totally. But I have never walked here before."


"And I have never seen it from this perspective because I never go the wrong way on a one way street."


"It's really weird."

"Are you having an out-of-auto experience?"

"Yes. I think I am."

"Oh my god, my feet. They are moving!"


A surprise

"What are you listening to?" asked the woman as we were leaving the airport to go southbound on 101. She appeared to be in her mid to late thirties, had shoulder-length medium blond hair and was wearing a gray business suit.

"Apoptygma Berzerk."


"The name of the band is Apoptygma Berzerk."

"Oh. Wow."

"Yeah. I know. It's a crazy name."


"It's an industrial band from Norway."

"Ah. Industrial. I remember industrial."

"Really?" I looked at her face in the rear view mirror and tried to picture her younger, edgier, with a different hair color.


"You used to be into industrial, huh?"

"Yeah. But it was like Skinny Puppy and stuff."

"How long ago was this?"

"Like fifteen years ago? At least four hair colors ago."

"So now you're not into it anymore?" I pictured her with her blond hair and her business suit, listening to industrial with her business-suited friend.

"Well, now I'm into many different things."

"Yeah. But you still like it, right?"

"Oh yeah. You never lose it."

"You don't."

I turned up the music.

Feeling competitive towards a machine

I picked up a couple at the airport, probably in their 60's. They were from Maine.

"Where are you going?"

"The Suites at Fisherman's Wharf."

"The Suites?"

"Yes. It's on Hyde Street." Even though I hadn't heard of The Suites, I knew where I was going now. There is only really one block of Hyde Street that has stuff on it and that can be considered "at Fisherman's Wharf", and that's the block between Bay and North Point.


"I have a GPS system if you need help."

"Oh. I don't think so."

When we were on the freeway, I heard a mechanical voice coming from the backseat. The guy had turned on his GPS device.

"Continue. on. Airport. Boulevard," the voice said.

"Are we on Airport Boulevard?" the guy asked.

"No. We're on the freeway."


"Continue. for. two. point. one. miles," the voice said.

"Continue. going. on. Bayshore. Boulevard."

"It says Bayshore Boulevard," the guy said.

"Bayshore Boulevard?" the woman asked.

"Well, we're on the freeway," I said. It seems his GPS device was mapping out the route without freeways. There was no way I was going to not take the freeway into the city. Nobody would ever do that, unless the traffic on the freeway had come to a complete stop, which was not the case now. It was 2pm.

"Continue. for. four. point. six. miles," the voice said.

"It says four point six miles," the woman informed me. I tried hard not to laugh.

"We're on the 101!" the guy said proudly after consulting his device.

"Yes, we are," I said.

"Is that a rainbow right there?" The guy pointed to the right. There was a rainbow floating above the bay water, very low, with Monster Park right behind it.

"Oh yes, it is! How cool," I said.

"It's right in the hah-buh," he said with his East Coast accent.

"It's beautiful," I said.

"Don't take your eyes off the road though," the guy recommended.

I merged onto 280 to continue into the city. I was going to exit King Street and take the Embarcardero all the way up to Fisherman's Wharf.

"Are we on 280 now?" the guy asked.

"Yes, we are."

"You really need one of these," he said about his GPS device. "Maybe I'll get you one for your birthday."

I laughed a genuine laugh. I thought that was a sweet and funny thing to say.

"Keep. left," the voice said when we were coming up on the 6th Street exit.

I passed the exit and merged onto King Street. I was really annoyed about the GPS device in the backseat and the fact that it was still. turned. on. I imagined the couple proudly telling their children later: "It helped the cab driver in San Francisco find our hotel!"

"This thing thinks you're all right now," the guy said.

"Oh, good." I faked a smile.

"I mean, I knew that all along.."

Sure you did, I thought to myself.

Eventually, I made a left on Bay and then a right on Hyde, and wouldn't you know it, The Suites were right there.

A note to all my future passengers: I am a cabbie. I know this city. Your GPS device doesn't know shit compared to what I know, and it does not belong in my car, especially not when it's turned on. Yes, I have issues with GPS devices, and I have issues with you suggesting that it might know a better route to where we are going than I do. Did I mention that I'm a cab driver? I fully admit that this is cabbie-ego and pride talking but just listen to me and do not turn on your GPS device in my cab. Thank you.

Germans and the porn industry

I was driving on Brannan, approaching 2nd Street. A guy was standing at the intersection I was approaching, trying to flag a cab. Two cabs drove by him. I pulled over to pick him up. When he saw me, he raised his arm again and looked at me with a question mark on his face. I waved him towards me.

"It's funny how sometimes you know you are going to be somebody's cab before they do," I said after a couple of blocks.

"Oh yeah?"


"Where are you from?"


"Where in Germany?"

"A small town near Düsseldorf," I went through the motions, secretly sighing with boredom.

"You like it better here?"

"Yes, much," I said, still secretly sighing with boredom.


"This is something that didn't really occur to me until recently: I think there is still a lot of severity left in Germany after the war."

"Yeah, that kind of thing takes generations to disappear."


"But you'll also find some very open-minded individuals in Germany."


"I produce adult films, and Germans are very influential in that area."


"Yeah, I find them to be very open sexually."


"I think it's because Germany is not very religious. Isn't that true?"

"Yes, it is. Religion is sort of just a formality there. It's there but nobody really cares about it. It's totally on the sidelines."

"I think that's exactly why people are so open sexually."

"Wow. I always thought that Germans were rather closed and repressed."

"Yes, I think they are, on the outside, as a formality."

"But once you get past that--"

"--they are very open."

"And you think it's the absence of religion that creates that?"


"Wow. I'm actually proud of my people right now."


"Thank you for giving me that new perspective."

"You're welcome."

Apparently that was all he had

Right after I had made a right onto Taylor from Market, a woman flagged me down. She had a cell phone pressed to her ear and looked surprised that I stopped. She hopped in and said "Can you take me to California and Larkin, please." Then she said into the phone "Baby, baby, where are you right now? ---- Okay. ---- Okay, I'm coming right now."

"Can you go to Golden Gate and Jones, please?" she said to me.

"O...kay." It was a block away.

"Please. Thank you."

"O...kay. And then we're still going to California and Larkin?" I was a little nervous. We were in Crack Central.

"Yes. We're just going to pick him up. He'll be waiting at the corner. A black man. Very handsome."

I made a left on Turk, a left on Jones and another left on Golden Gate. She told me to pull over on the left. I heard her say into her phone "Baby, baby, where are you? I'm here with the taxi but I don't see you. ---- Please get into the taxi at the corner."

On the sidewalk was a pile of a human slumped against the wall. I looked into the rear view mirror and saw a hand holding a cell phone. The hand was attached to a tall body getting into my car.

"So everything went well with you today?" the handsome black man said to the woman in the backseat as he slid in. He seemed to be in a good mood.

"Yes yes, " she said. "I just needed to find an ATM. How much is it?"

I didn't catch his response but I did hear him say "Here."

"Is that all you have?" she said.

"Yeah," he said.

"Can you pull over and let him out?"

"Pull over? Right here?" I said. We were at Taylor again, just past Turk.

"Yes, please just let him out." I pulled over on the left.

"You guys have a nice day!" the handsome black man said and got out.

"Bye!" I said.

Then I took the woman and her drugs to California and Larkin.