I work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. There is no such thing as paid holidays when you’re an independent contractor driving a cab. In fact, it’s more difficult to get time off during the holidays since nobody else wants to take those undesirable shifts.
So, I ended up working Sunday, Monday (Christmas Eve) and Tuesday (Christmas) as usual.
Highlights from the shifts follow after the break.
During the holidays
- Sunday was very busy. Everyone was taking off for home. I had four separate trips to SFO.
- Whenever someone gets in the cab with luggage, especially a radio dispatched call, they’re usually going to the airport. An airport run is good, quick money — about $40. But, I always politely ask a destination anyway. When they say, “SFO,” I restrain the urge to say, “AWESOME!” Likewise, when they say, “closest BART,” I restrain the urge to say, “Fuck you! Take MUNI!” Just kidding, I’m always happy to have a fare. Ho ho ho.
- I took a guy that just smoked some weed to have breakfast with friends. Although he won’t remember much of our conversation, it was pretty funny to me. He was very excited about the breakfast.
- One of my early morning airport runs was also a guy that had just smoked some weed. The smell was so pungent I felt like bringing it up. But, I decided against it. He was flying home and, I presume, needed something to take the edge off the packed and delayed airports.
- I rescued a Spanish lady from the Mission District and took her to the next best chaotic immigrant destination: Chinatown. She didn’t feel very safe in the Mission. She shared my frustration with America’s collective inability to make plans and stick to them. (I’m talking dinner plans, not war plans or public policy.) And, she thought all her American friends were cheap. They never offer to pay for dinner. But, she said she liked me. She was a good tipper.
- I took an older guy from Pac Heights to the Castro via Divis. He was SF born and raised. I always like to chat with the SF born and raised, they seem to be a rare sight in the City, although they come out more during the holiday times. I quizzed him about his thoughts on City growth. I have strong beliefs that the City should continue to grow, especially to ease the burden of housing costs caused by a severely limited supply. I was surprised that he shared my view.
- The late Monday night bars were much busier than I had expected. Considering so many people were out of town, it was hoppin’.
- I had first scary interaction with a passenger. He was going home to West Portal. He was oddly close and super-smiley and started to touch my thigh. “Excuse me sir,” I politely said, “None of that or you’re getting out here.” ‘Here’ was a place on Upper Market where he would never have found a cab unless he called. He shrunk away as soon as I said something. He didn’t tip very well.
- Usually I can get through the midnight to 11am shift with one cup of coffee, but this Monday morning one cup wasn’t enough. I stopped to get a Red Bull at the 18th/Castro Walgreens. As soon as I got back in my cab a guy knocked on my door to go to ‘Poe’. He was pronounced it like Edgar Allen Poe. I was confused but followed his directions to turn left at 18th. It turns out he meant ‘Noe’ (pronounced No-eeee). I was thinking, it’s an odd place for an out-of-towner to be staying. He must have been staying with a friend?
- I normally hate to go downtown, especially Union Square, during the holidays because traffic is so awful. People and their SUVs search for parking garages like dogs looking for the perfect place to poop. They’re excruciatingly slow and go from garage to garage. But, Monday was so slow I was forced to do the unthinkable — I circled around Union Square and Market Street looking for fares. I found a few.
- I took a guy to work on Monday at 2nd and Mission, but I missed the turn onto 2nd from Mission as I was way too engrossed with this story on NPR. I felt really bad about it, but he tipped well. As long as I apologize for making a boo-boo, people seem to tip really well.
- Monday (Christmas Eve day) was the slowest day in my short half-year of driving a cab. I was still able to break even, but only made about $20. Compare that to $250 from the day before, thanks in large part to the airport runs.