Day Cabbie

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

The job interview

He was running towards me across the street and waving. He had long, stringy brown hair that was covering part of his face. At first I thought he was a woman. When I still thought he was a woman, something felt off about her, out of control, troubled, unsettled.

I stopped to pick him up and his stringy hair and his messenger bag. This was at Waller and Webster. He said he had to go to 2nd and Market and that he was running late. I convinced myself that he was on amphetamines. He kept sniffing his nose. And each of his movements made the whole backseat shake.

Near Market and Octavia he asked me about how many more blocks we had to go. I said about twelve. He received a phone call.

"I'm in a cab. I'm almost there. Am I in trouble?"


"What is the exact address that I can tell her?"


"Oh, that's at 2nd and Bryant?"


"It's at 2nd and Bryant," he said to me.

"Oh, that's a little bit farther."

"That's a little bit further, she says," he said into the phone.

I turned off of Market at 11th and took Folsom instead. Just before we turned on 2nd Street, he leaned forward to look at himself in the rear view mirror and said

"How do I look? Do I look okay?"


I wanted to say that he looked strung out. I wanted to say that he looked a little tired.

"I'm going to a job interview. Do I look okay for a job interview?"

I wanted to say that he looked like he was on drugs and that the people interviewing him would probably be able to tell.

"Maybe push the hair out of your face," I said. He pushed the hair out of his face.

"What kind of job is it for?"

"It's an art director position. I really need this job."

I dropped him off at 2nd and Bryant.

"Good luck," I said. He ambled towards a door on 2nd Street, shifting around his messenger bag, his hair hanging into his face. I looked at his clothing. He was wearing slacks and a dress shirt. I hadn't even noticed.


I took a couple from a hotel downtown to a car rental place at Fisherman's Wharf. It turned out that the woman was German. She had moved to America at the age of 18. I had been 20 when I came. She felt like the kind of woman my mom would be friends with. They were about the same age too.

We spoke in German for a little bit but then switched back to English so that her companion could understand us. She was from Berlin. I told her that if I had stayed in Germany, I would have wanted to live in Berlin. We agreed that Berlin and San Francisco had a similar feel. We also agreed that Cologne was a great city but a little stuffier than Berlin. She told me that she loved America and loved living here, but that she was German at heart. She asked me if I felt the same way. I told her that I was going through a phase where I was feeling very bitter about my German upbringing and that I was having a hard time seeing any positive in it. I asked her how she was able to prefer it here while at the same time appreciating her Germanness. She told me that some of her American friends of 40 years have helped her see how valuable some of her German traits were, such as that she was honest and hard-working.

I told her that I hoped to some day get to where she was today, and that it didn't feel good to be so negative about one's origin.

I dropped them off near Fisherman's Wharf, we shook hands, and I found out that her name was Dörte. I was about to get back into the car and leave.

"Vera," she called me back, pronouncing my name the German way. I turned back.

"One thing only: Keep the faith. You will get to where you want to go." She held both of my hands in front of her chest and said it with such emphasis and sincerity that I almost started crying.

Later, at the corner of 9th Avenue and Irving, I saw a couple standing on the street, kissing and hugging good-bye. When the girl had left and the boy was facing the street ready to cross it, our eyes met, and I wondered what he was thinking.