Monday, March 28, 2011

Cab Stories.

Here's some cab stories that got put up on the SF Taxi Talk forum and republished here on Taxi TownSF.  They're written by "TM".   Anyone can join the SF Taxi Talk list by going to...
One radio call I got was at about 4:25 AM one moist Sunday morning. From deep in the Sunset, a house off Noriaga street, possibly 43rd Ave, it did not state a destination. At that time of the morning virtually nothing is open in the Sunset. Only the bakers, at work on the Sunday’s donuts cakes breads and delectables. They say  a few other types of delectables are available at some therapeutic establishments. Some were busted recently by our well paid police with nothing better to do.

The dispatcher had a hard time convincing anyone to ride all the way out to the end of the Sunset to take it. I was driving back from the airport on 19th Ave so what the hell.  Out came the caller without delay. He presented extremely upset.  He looked about 25. That's when that's when humans are supposed to have fully formed brains. Matured, is the word. This kid appeared to be almost in tears.
Thoroughly upset. Distraught. Turns out he was almost had in a fight, with his brother; his brother told him to leave and not come back without money. So the fare told me to go to the ATM, which was two blocks away. “Great!” I thought, “All the way out here for a $4.90.” “Don’t worry,” he said, reading my mind, “I’ll make it up to you.” Although I have heard that one before he sounded sincere. Anyway, you take the good with the bad in taxi driving; it has been mostly good to me. He asked me how long I had been driving, blah blah and etc. This was to see if I was an old and driving a cab because I was wise or because I was a fool.  It seems I established to his satisfaction that I was the former.

He asked the question he really wanted an answer to, which was, “will I ever get along with my brother? I just had another fight with my brother. It always seems to end up this way. I don’t want to fight with him. It just always turns into one. We both want to get along.

Will I ever be able to get along with him” I answered him. “No,” I told him. He sank into his seat. Not from sadness but relief. He just needed an answer. An honest and accurate one. He did give me a good tip; $10.00. So I told him the epilogue; “You’ll never get along with your brother but you will always love him, and he will always love you. And, if you go into business together, it will be very successful. I have never known of a business run by brothers that has not been successful. But forget about him being your ‘friend’” It was true. And he knew it. And it was worth the ten dollar tip. I dropped him back at his brother’s house.

A friend suggested I write a word or two about the dangers of taxi driving, like robberies, since there was a piece in a Big Paper about it recently.  Big Paper speculated that taxi driving was getting more dangerous.

The answer can be summed up as follows: the level of taxi driving danger is the same as other times, that is, the worse the economy, the more desperate people become; taxi robberies go up (and not just by men, by the way; a few years ago there was a female duo who robbed taxi drivers by one of them grabbing the driver around the neck with the other held a knife to him while getting his or her money).
In San Francisco there has been no significant increase in taxi hold-ups lately despite the economy. My data are that there is a robbery about once every couple of months of a taxi driver in San Francisco for the last few years. Sometimes the driver is seriously injured. One taxi driver robbed last year is still in the hospital from multiple stabs and slashes he received (he was in a coma but I heard he may be recovering). A San Francisco taxi driver has not been killed in hold-up in several years. The biggest danger taxi drivers’ face is the stress of driving. We also get injured, but rarely, in car accidents.
People ask why we don’t have shields or dividers between the driver and passengers, like in the East. That was debated by our taxi regulators some years ago. Being objected to by a majority of drivers, the idea was shelved. We like to think we are a cut above other cities’ taxis; we believe San Franciscans are a cut-above citizenry too, such that we did not need dividers.

Also, by the way, there are a few female taxi drivers. One told me she has never been held-up or otherwise molested. I was robbed once, at gunpoint, to my face (I recall counting the bullets that I could see in the revolver); without signifying it was in anyway good one I can say it was a mind clearing experience. All of a sudden past and future is cleared from your mind; when your life may be shortly over one becomes 100% in the present; stream of conscious babbling stops. Now I understand the term, “the unbearable lightness of being.”

I hate to say it but I guess “enlightening” would be appropriate. Perhaps like bungee jumping. I don’t know. And I’m not brave enough to find out.

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