Post-Thanksgiving Cab Driving


Starting with Thanksgiving I drove 4 days in a row, a first for me. I wore out quickly. The driving doesn’t phase me nearly as much as waking up so early (5am). I didn’t get enough sleep any night.

After Thanksgiving, Friday through Sunday all blurred together into one gigantic taxi driving shift separated by brief periods of sleep.

Over the few days:

  • Downtown, especially Union Square, was packed with pedestrians and idiot drivers waiting in queues for the parking garages. I was dangerously close to screaming “CONGESTION CHARGE!” but I kept it to myself.
  • I drove a nice lady from the Castro to Lower Haight. It turned out that she works for Green Cab. We talked for a few minutes even after we got to her destination. She’s been driving for 4 years and still loves it.
  • I picked up from the airport for the first time in a while. Sunday everyone was returning to the City from visiting their family across the US (and beyond). The airport moved quickly.
  • I listened to so much San Francisco FM radio that my head wanted to explode. I flip around between 104.5, 105.3, 106.9, 107.7, 92.7, 99.7, 88.5, 91.1, 91.7 and 102.1. Even the classical 102.1 plays excessive amounts of ads. 104.5 is the best on Sunday mornings with its ‘acoustic sunrise’ which is commercial free from 9am to 10am. I think it’s about time I purchased an iPod.
  • I took a couple of gay guys from the Western Addition to do some after-Thanksgiving shopping at Best Buy. They were surprised and impressed that I was listening to 92.7, a dance music only station with a gay male target audience.
  • I took an older lady from a hospital to her home near the southern border of the San Francisco City and County. I had no idea how to get there, but she was extremely kind in giving me directions. She gave me a great tip too because she said I drove very safely. Thanks, lady.
  • This was my worst weekend ever (in terms of earnings). My average hourly wage among all four shifts was about $12/hr, considerably less than my all-time mean hourly wage of $19/hr. But, it was still an enjoyable experience. These shifts actually dropped my all-time mean hourly wage to below $19/hr for the first time.
  • I heard a cool econ idea on the EconTalk podcast: buyers can benefit (or ‘profit’) from a transaction just as a seller benefits (usually in the form of profits). A buyer has an upper limit he or she is willing to pay for a product or service. If the buyer can find that product or service at a price less than that upper limit, they have benefitted from that transaction. Through my shifts this past weekend I tried to imagine what different upper limits people would have had in different situations:
    • People on Mission street early in the morning are often very eager to hail a cab. Many of them are late for work, BART doesn’t run before a certain hour and/or it doesn’t directly service their end destination, and, of course, MUNI is a disaster. Some may have been willing to pay 2 or 3 times the fare to prevent being fired.
    • In contrast, I will pick up ‘MUNI exiles’ who don’t want to wait any longer for the bus. They often seem to have just barely been ‘tipped’ over the line to hail a cab. Their upper limit is quite close to the actual fare.
    • Business folks with expense accounts heading to/from the airport are an interesting case. Since it’s not their money they don’t really care about pricing. Their primary currency is time. A cab is actually ‘cheapest’ for them, in that it is the fastest and most hassle-free way to arrive at their destination.
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