While driving Sun-Mon (1am-12pm)
- These few days were slow, slow, slow. I find it funny that I have such a hard time estimating how much I’ll make beforehand. It’s almost like gambling. The only ‘sure-fire’ well-paying weekends are those with big street fairs or festivals, or huge conferences at Moscone Center.
I get a bit more stressed when my earnings are on track to be significantly below my all-time shift average of $170 (11-hour shifts). I try to separate out those things over which I have no control, most notably that would be demand for taxicabs in the City during my shifts. But, it’s tough to do in practice.
- I was struggling to find fares on Monday morning during the usual ‘morning rush’ to work. I saw a lady urgently hailing my cab on Fillmore as I headed down the hill in Cow Hollow/Pac Heights. It turned out she was hailing for her husband who was heading to a meeting downtown.
I really enjoy passengers that exhibit a steady and relaxed aura. Not cold, quiet people — confident and wise people comfortable with their person. This guy was one of those people.
The first thing he said after putting on his seat-belt was, “You don’t do this full-time, do you?” I replied, “Right now, it pays my rent.” We had a good conversation.
- I picked up a radio call in the Financial District after dropping someone off downtown. The guy was in his mid-20s. He hopped in my cab and said he needed to get to Cupertino. I was a bit worried — I had never gone that far outside of the City. I didn’t do a great job with the protocol.
I knew the general directions, but I had to call the dispatcher to get directions to the address in Cupertino. I looked up the price estimate and couldn’t believe it — a fare from SF to Cupertino is $160.* Wow.
*(This includes a 50% surcharge for empty return trip. The ‘meter fare’ is about $100 to Cupertino. SF law says taxis charge 150% of meter fare for trips 15 miles or greater outside of the City. The additional 50% pays for the cost of the empty return trip. I know, this seems like a lot to me too. But, I did the math in my head as I was heading there and back. It is a long trip down there, as much as 2 hours round trip. It uses a lot of gas, let’s say $10 worth. So I could make $20-40/hr for 2 hours and not spend as much on gas if I stayed in the City. So that’s as much as $80 that I would make if I stayed in the City, and I would make significantly more if I had an airport run. If cabs charged pure meter for out-of-town fares, there would be no additional motivation for the increased risk of traffic problems, unknown territory, and higher chance of/penalty from a no-pay that out-of-town fares bring. Thus, without the 50% surcharge, most cab drivers would turn down out-of-town trips.)
I warned him. He didn’t seem to happy about it, but he needed to be in Cupertino so he dealt with it.
- I was surprised how busy late Monday night (early Tuesday morning) was in the City. For some reason a lot of people went out on Monday night. But, Tuesday late morning and day was rather slow and I was getting stressed out.
I picked up a sedan call in the Marina. A ‘sedan’ call means no vans, no SUVs. Usually elderly persons request sedans because it’s easier to get in and out of the cars.
It turned out to be an older lady who had lived in San Francisco all her life. She was great fun. She was heading to the UC hospital from the Marina. She had to move very slowly because of a leg injury, hence the hospital trip. I always love getting older life-long San Francisco residents in my cab. I’ll quiz them all the way to our destination about what life was like in the City back in the day. I’ll also prod them about old school Muni (of course).
Like the older guy above, she had a comfortable, steady demeanor which really calmed my nerves from the stress of the busy City traffic mixed with low cab demand. Thanks, lady.
- I picked up a dispatcher and driver for another cab company early in the morning. He had missed his Muni bus connection because the first bus driver was flirting with a passenger and didn’t leave on time. Oh, Muni. We talked a bit about the difficulty of needing to judge passengers, especially late at night, before picking them up for our safety. It is a tough and scary thing to do.
- I picked up a Mexican guy in the Tenderloin. He didn’t speak English well and asked to go to “Seventh and Mission.” I started that way and when we arrived, he said, “No, Seventh and Mission.” I realized he had meant “17th”. I didn’t mind, started the meter over, and tried out my very limited Spanish with him. I confirmed that he wanted to go to 17th and Mission. I guess I should keep taking Spanish classes.