Day Cabbie

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

When a drunk made my day

He ran into the street at Mason and Eddy and waved me over. He looked like a bum. My prejudices were surprised that I was pulling over, but I was. I wondered if he had any money but I also knew from experience that even bums (or people who look like bums) only flag down cabs when they actually have money. The people who end up ripping you off don't look like bums. It was a slow day anyway, so any fare was a good fare.

He looked surprised that I had stopped too. When he got in, he thanked me. I can imagine that some cab drivers might have passed him by, and again, that's my prejudices talking.

"Valencia and 14th, yeah, that's it," he said with a slurred speech and then "Merry christmas and happy new year and you're beautiful!"

"Thank you," I said and smiled.

"How is your day going?"

I rounded the wide corner that swallows Turk at Taylor and Market and noticed that he reeked of alcohol. Maybe he wasn't a bum, maybe just a drunk with bad hygiene.

I told him that my day had been okay, how about his. He said that he had seen worse, he had seen better, did I know? I absolutely knew. That's exactly how I was feeling that day.

We chatted a little about New Year's, and after everything I said, he said "Yeah, alright, okay," perhaps to let me know that he had understood or perhaps to let himself know that he had understood. It made the conversation easy-going and pleasant.

He commented on female cab drivers, and how there weren't many. He said he was glad he had a woman today because most of the men drivers, they weren't nice to him. My prejudices could imagine that some cab drivers weren't very nice to him. In fact, they could imagine that most people weren't nice to him. And if I had been around him for more than this seven minute cab ride, I might not have been nice to him either. I felt sad for him.

He had me pull over at the liquor store on Valencia and 14th. He said "I am going to give you a huge tip. I am going to make your day."

"Awesome," I said and smiled.

"Well, I might not make your day, but I am going to give you a huge tip."

I wondered what he meant by "huge tip." I have seen other people's "huge tips" be two or three dollars.

The fare was $7.60. He gave me a twenty and got out of the car. To me, that qualifies as a huge tip. And you know what? It totally made my day. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to tell him that.


At 12/31/2008 09:25:00 AM, Blogger thomasherrod said...

Hi Vera, good one. Ya never know. It's worth a gamble/judgement call sometimes. It's been so slow lately, personally I've been letting most in my cab. I recently met you down at Levi Plaza/I was walking w/my friend and told ya I read your blog...anyway, thought I'd finally check in. I drive days as well and it is a bit slow out there now eh(?!) I wish you a Happy New Year, and I'll keep reading. Thomas-DeSoto

At 12/31/2008 09:33:00 AM, Blogger Vera said...

Hi Thomas, I remember. Nice to hear from you!

At 12/31/2008 09:49:00 AM, Blogger simply_hibiscus said...

aawww thats a wonderful thing to wake up to and read
i'm glad your still posting when i first added you to my inspiration and motivation list and isaw that your last entry hadbeen october I was afraid I'd missed out on your wonderful entries
you seem like a wonderful women
happy new year

At 12/31/2008 11:58:00 AM, Blogger amy.leblanc said...

that was really beautiful.

your instincts are starting to override your brain - that's a good sign.

At 12/31/2008 02:36:00 PM, Blogger tangobaby said...

That's a wonderful story. I'll try to remember that for the next time I catch a cab with a wonderful driver (maybe it'll be you). Thanks for sharing.

At 1/01/2009 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Gilighan Qabista said...

Exquisitely written, captivating, nicely spaced and nuanced, heart wrenching, made MY day (off duty). I can pinpoint identical scenarios that occurred to me in a NYC taxicab.

At 1/02/2009 03:44:00 PM, Anonymous dorki said...

It is good to know that there are some good, thoughtful people still around. With so much suspicion and paranoia in many places, I sometimes get sad about society. As Amy implied above, an experienced person's instincts is many times better than a suspicion-centered thought process.

Also - very glad to see you back. I just discovered your blog a week or two before your last post.

At 1/06/2009 07:45:00 AM, Anonymous seth said...

It's funny about some people... they seem like they're drifting, drunk in the morning with plenty of money, seemingly unemployed, tipping well and enjoying life in their way. Wealth appears to be a strangely localized phenomenon, experienced best, like many things, from the driver's seat of a taxi.

At 1/08/2009 10:48:00 AM, Anonymous Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

nice story and I'm relating a whole bunch to it... here in my town(s) there are a few lady cabbies... but only in six cabs in the whole county. good story. ! ghb

At 1/31/2009 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Dispatch Her said...

Great story!

There are many calls that I get that I have to find a way to brush off because I know none of our drivers will go and I often sit here thinking about how grateful some of these people would be if a cab would actually come and wishing I could go pick them up myself! ;D


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