It’s quiet in the City driving between holidays.

an elevated view of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco
Above: an elevated view of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. (Source)

I didn’t want to fart around and write more blog entries yesterday, so I showed up to DeSoto early in the morning to see if they had an extra shift available. They had plenty of cars.

  • It was a tough time to drive taxi in the City. Many of the locals are still out of town and those that remain in the City aren’t working as usual. So decreased population combined with decreased demand. Ouch.
  • A saving grace was (what I perceived to be) a large number of tourists in town for the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park.
  • I was driving a van. There were quite a few van calls from low-end hotels to take loads of young college kids (mostly from Oregon) to bars near the ballpark so they could booze up before the big game.
  • I was impressed by the politeness and general friendliness of the Oregon fans. They reminded me of the personality type I more commonly associate with Canadians. They were friendly, inquired about my profession, wanted to learn more about the City and expressed above average compassion for fellow humans. Of course, it’s not possible to generalize about two huge populations from a day of driving a cab, but I’m just telling what I saw.
  • An officially sanctioned t-shirt and clothing vendor staying at a nice downtown hotel called a van cab (me) to help move boxes of shirts to the ballpark. We went from hotel to hotel picking up his staff and additional boxes, finally ending up at the stadium where I helped him unload. His tip was significant, more than the actual meter cost of the fare.
  • It reminded me of the summer after I graduated from Indiana University when I offered moving services for $10 per hour with my dad’s old pickup truck in Bloomington. It was a fun job, very similar to driving a cab. A big portion of the income was tips. Just like cab driving, it was also a way to gain a ‘secret’ inside scoop on the lives of others in the community that I couldn’t normally get. A big portion of the moving clients were international students who had no friends or family in the country, but had a real need for an extra pair of arms (and an old red Toyota truck) to get them into their new apartment.
  • I realized early on in the day that I was going to have a hard time making much money. I ended up making about $90 which is pretty good considering how dead it was in the morning. The City rested most of the morning, not waking up until around 1 or 2pm. The afternoon grew to be moderately busy with a mixture of downtown shoppers and Emerald Bowl revelers.
  • Earlier in the morning I took a guy to work while listening to Fresh Air on 91.7 FM. When we arrived he mentioned he wanted to stay and finish listening to Terry Gross interview Al Jean, a producer and writer for the Simpsons. It was a fun interview, great for lifting spirits on a sluggish and foggy Friday.
  • I took a group of guys from the Haight to their hotel downtown. Driving to and from the Haight is one of my favorite drives. First, and perhaps most important, it’s a quick and lucrative trip, like a mini-airport run. If you choose the right route going to/from the Haight can be done pretty quickly and it’s bound to be at least $15 after tip. But I also like the drive itself — it’s a fine pleasure indeed to have exclusively one-way, timed-light boulevards (Oak>Franklin>O’Farrell) on a fare. I also think the neighborhoods are beautiful. I love the look of Fell St. as you continue west up and down hillcrests which reveal sweeping views of the City out to Golden Gate Park. And, finally, the trip is long enough to get to know my passengers. A good chat makes everyone happy.
  • I’m working on mastering the art of ‘zen taxi driving’ which I saw on this great blog post. As long as you drive ‘smart’ there’s really not much you can do to make more money by driving like a maniac. I am working to calm down and accept what fares come my way. It’s hard, but it’s make me much happier in the end. I had a good day.
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