Day Cabbie

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

This made me laugh

A guy got into my cab.

"Can I take you to the opera?"


"I mean, can you take me to the opera?"

"Yes, I can."

Poopie cabs

People often complain to me how hard it is to get a cab on Friday and Saturday nights. I drive during the day on Mondays and Thursdays so I can't really help with that.

The problem is that the same number of cabs, i.e. all cabs in the city, are out at any given time. That's because it is in the cab companies' interest to have all cabs out all the time because that way they get paid for every cab for every minute of the day. This is a problem for customers because it means that during the really busy times it's hard to find a cab. And it's a problem for drivers because during the really slow times it's hard to find a fare. But that's the way the system works right now, and there is nothing I can do about it, and I have come to accept it as a driver and also as a passenger. On a recent New Year's Eve, for example, I would have liked a cab home but ended up walking the whole way because all the cabs that passed me were unavailable. That's just what happens sometimes, and it didn't make sense for me to get upset about it, especially since I have a perspective from the inside of the system and know how it works.

But I understand that it is frustrating for people who really need a cab at a busy time and can't get one. I got to experience that first-hand last Saturday.

It was about 9pm, and my boyfriend and I were on our way to the Mission from Cole Valley. We started walking down the hill of 17th Street, trying to flag down every cab that passed us. They all, well, passed us.

"Nobody is stopping for us," he said.

"Well, they are all taken."

"I don't think so."

"Yes, they are. I looked inside of every single one, and there was always somebody in the backseat."

We ended up walking all the way home, but not before my boyfriend said it well in behalf of all San Franciscans who have ever had a hard time getting a cab.

"They are all poopie cabs."

The day of huge tips

It all started with the orchid tip I received that day. A woman had flagged me down at 5th and Bryant. She needed to transport about fifteen bouquets of flowers to North Beach. I found out she works at a flower shop, a family business. The first thing she gave me was a single orchid blossom. I put it on my dashboard for good luck. When we got to the shop, she ran inside and brought me a couple of orchid twigs. I love the random gifts I sometimes receive from passengers. And it seems that the good luck orchid on the dashboard definitely worked because look at what kind of tips I got that day!

A lady way out in the Sunset had called for a Green Cab. The dispatcher recommended I give her a call before driving out there to make sure that she would wait for me. I called her. She laughed and said that yes, she would wait for me.

A few minutes later, she called me back and said "Can my dog come?" I said sure.

I took her and her dog to the Richmond. We talked about Priuses, dogs and sheep. The fare was $15; she gave me $25.

Then I took an architect from Baltimore to the airport. He said that I was a nice cab driver but that many other ones weren't. He said that some of them seemed like they were on crack.

"And those Slavs, they are all racists."

"Hm." In my head, I laughed.

He paid with a credit card and asked me to calculate 20% for the tip.

"Is that the going rate for a good tip?"

"Yes, it is."

The fare was $35.50. I told him that a 20% tip would be about $7.

"Make it ten," he said.

"Thanks," I said.

Then there was the well-dressed blond woman. She was going to the Radisson at Fisherman's Wharf. I thought for sure that she was a guest at the hotel, but when she asked me if Green Cab was hiring, my assumptions about her started changing. It turned out she was concierging there. She asked me all about cab driving. How long had I been doing it? How much money was I making in a day? What did I have to do to become a cab driver? It sounded like she was seriously considering switching from concierging to cab driving, and I gave her a lot of information she didn't have before.

She tipped me really well as well.

This wasn't going to be a story until he asked for one

I picked up two men in the Castro and took them to the Oakland Airport. They had been visiting a friend here in San Francisco and were going back to Dallas, TX. They asked me if I had ever been to Texas. I told them that I had been to Austin once and that I would love to visit Dallas and Houston. I told them that the reason I wanted to see more of Texas is to fight the stereotype and to form my own opinion. Then I paused and said

"You do know about the stereotype of Texas that exists here in California, right?"

"Stereotype? What? No..."

I couldn't believe that their friend hadn't told them. I told them that some of the words used to describe Texas are "hick", "cowboy", "conservative", "redneck", etc. Then I felt really bad for revealing these prejudices to their ignorant souls.

I don't remember how it came up but I also told them that I'm a writer. I told them that I write taxi stories.

Shortly before arriving at the Oakland Airport, one of the guys turned to the other and said

"I don't think she's going to write a story about us."

And that's when I knew that I was going to.

The old man

His cane was on the backseat before he was. He threw it in and it hit the opposite door with a clunk. A moment ago, he had used the cane to flag me down by holding it straight up into the air. That's what old men like to do, I have noticed. I'm thinking they either find it difficult to raise up an arm, or they don't trust their arm's visibility as much as their cane's.

He was excited to be in a green cab. He thanked me about three times for driving a green cab.

At Sutter and Webster, he said

"There are some nice pink blossoms to the left, if you can catch them."

I looked over and saw some pinkly blossoming trees. "Oh yeah, they are beautiful."

"It's always so nice to see them; I'm not sure why. But I like to notice them."

"I think that blossoms can make you feel peaceful and content. That could be why."

"I think you're probably right."

I was glad he had pointed them out to me. I always appreciate people pointing out little bits of beauty.

When I dropped him off at the medical center he was going to, he apologized for being slow to get out of the car and said

"Don't ever get old, okay?"

"Okay, I won't."

"If you can help it, try not to."

"I'm always trying."

"Thank you for giving me such a nice ride."

"You are very welcome."