I started 3am Memorial Day Monday. It was more like a Sunday than a Monday, with plenty of people still partying the night away.
A friend sent me a tip that there was a big after party around 6th and Folsom. This, along with many other SOMA hotspots, was a major source for fares.
- I picked up 3 gay guys from the exodus of an underground party closing near 1st and Howard. They were heading back to one of the guy’s place to have sex and were very open about it. They seemed very excited and discussed some various related logistics such as bed size, supplies of prophylactics, and privacy from roommates.
- I picked up a group of young Asian partiers from one of these parties. They weren’t so drunk, they were more high and out of it. They talked about the effects of their respective pills. They said the party was really boring until they took the pills.
- I picked up a gay male couple who were super-hungry after dancing all night. They wanted to know where was closest to eat near Union Square, we headed for Denny’s on Mission just a few blocks away. I wanted some Denny’s too.
- Memorial day morning became considerably quiet after 6am. Not many people were in the City, and those that were didn’t seem to leave their apartments.
- Tuesday was busy, nearer to a Monday’s level of activity instead of a normally slow Tuesday.
- Early Tuesday morning I did a few runs in the Mission before heading up to Pac/Marina/Nob/Russian Hills-land. Usually the Mission isn’t too bad, but I did 2 prostitute runs in a row which was a bit unusual:
- I picked up two middle aged Mexican guys and an older black lady around 24th and Mission. I took them to a seedy hotel in the far outer Excelsior.
- I picked up a younger Mexican guy and a younger black lady also around 24th and Mission and took them back to the guy’s place in the Excelsior. The lady was talking the entire time on her cell phone to her boyfriend or a close male friend.
- You may ask me, “How did you know these were prostitute runs?” I don’t know for sure, but context clues pointed strongly in this direction.
I felt a little dirty about it, but also felt that if I didn’t take them, someone else would take them, what would me not taking them change about their transaction? Nothing. I would just miss out on a few fares during the quietest time of night.
- I picked up an older i-banker sort of guy from the Marina and took him to the Financial district. After he jumped in, I accelerated hard up Gough and he asked, “Are you rushin’?”
“Yeah,” I answered back, “But, I rush pretty much most of the day. It’s just a habit.”
“No,” he said, “Are you Russian?”
I laughed, “Well, actually, yeah my Mom’s side is Russian.”
His question is one of many variants of the core question, which is, more directly, “What is your background such that a young caucasian driver is driving this taxi?”
Other forms of the question include but are not limited to, “Are you in school?” “You don’t drive full time, do you?” “What are you doing besides driving a cab?” “How long [have you been]/[will you be] driving a cab?” “What made you want to drive a cab?”
- Another Tuesday passenger asked me if I was Jewish. I said, “My mom was raised Jewish, so I guess that means yes.”
- I picked up a lady I had driven before (first story of this post). She was just as chatty as I had remembered and we had a great time again.
She was heading back from a doctor appointment to get her teeth at her apartment, then heading to the bank. I asked her where she was heading, she opened her mouth and said, “To get my teeth!” keeping her mouth open after she said this. I laughed and she cackled a hilarious laugh which said, “I’m doing my best to freak you out, but you’re a good sport.”
She had a lot of spunk. She tipped well and we shared stories of family. I told her about my recent visit back home to Indiana to visit my family. I’m looking forward to picking her up again soon.
- I picked up two girls from Cal Train and took them to a City bus tour departing from the Fish Wharf. They were very quiet, but I got out of them that they hadn’t ever visited the City. So, I took it upon myself as my Civic Duty to tell them a bit about our path as we wound through the Financial district, by Chinatown, through North Beach to the Wharf. I thought they might have been annoyed, but they gave me a big tip ($15 on a $9 fare) in the end.
It seems that erring toward speaking too much trumps speaking too little in the effort to maximize tips.