After waiting at the airport for two hours, I finally got my passenger. She needed to go to the German consulate.
I didn't know where that was so I asked her for the address. She said it was 1960 Jackson, which I guessed to be at Franklin, but it turned out to be one block farther, at Gough.
"I am German too but I have never actually been to the German consulate here," I said. And this is when the conversation turned to German.
She told me in German that she needed to get her German passport renewed. She said there was no German consulate in Seattle, where she lived, so she had flown into San Francisco for the day because San Francisco had a German consulate.
She was originally from a tiny village by Nürnberg, and sometimes it was hard for me to understand her because of her Bavarian accent.
She said she couldn't wait to move back to Germany because that's where she wanted her children to grow up. She had been in the U.S. for twenty years. Her children were 3 and 2. I loved what she called them: Their names were Joshua and Sophia, but she referred to them as Yoshi and Phia.
I gave her my card so she could call me when she was ready to go back to the airport. She called me about an hour later, but I was stuck at the airport. On the phone, we were back to speaking English. I knew that her flight wasn't for a few more hours, so I asked her if she didn't want to see a little more of San Francisco while waiting for me.
"Yes, but I am lost here."
I told her to keep walking on Jackson until she got to Fillmore and then walk down Fillmore Street. It had lots of shops and cafes, I told her. She agreed to wait for me there.
Another hour later, I called her to say that I was approaching Fillmore Street, ready to pick her up. She said that I had sent her to an interesting area. I was glad. She had walked all the way from Jackson down to O'Farrell Street. We were still speaking English.
As soon as she got back into my cab, we started speaking German again. I thought it was curious but it also felt very natural. On the way to the airport, she told me that she had noticed a lot of people smoking on Fillmore Street. She said that she had been a smoker for a long time but that she had quit a few years ago. She said she really missed it and that she was considering starting again when she was 70.
What I liked most about her was that her name was Anne but she didn't let people pronounce it the American way. Instead, she told people that her name was "Unnay" because that resembles how Anne is pronounced in German. She said that it made people want to put an accent on the 'e', and this annoyed her.