Valentine’s Day (A delayed reaction.)
I screech to a halt at U.N. Plaza aside a bustling drug and stolen goods fencing scene. And I scan the gaggle for my suitor.
Ah! Some Indian looking dude runs up from behind my cab and leans in the open shotgun window, with a query.
Indian Dude, with a heavy Indian accent and a street smart attitude,
“How much to Redwood City, man? I nee’ to make it dere before 9 ‘o clock!”
Driver, “Well… that more than fifteen miles outside of the city. So, it’s meter and a half. I can get you there in like 40 minutes, if traffic is good. But let me ask my dispatcher how much the fare would be.”
Driver reaches for his CB radio and queries dispatch, “1015. Over.”
Tony Jr. comes back, “1015, what’s your over?”
Driver, “How much is it from U.N. Plaza to Redwood City?”
Tony Jr., “1015. With meter and a half you’re lookin’ at about $120 or $125.”
Driver, “Thanks, Junior.”
Indian Dude, “What is dis’ meter ‘n a haff business, maaan?”
Driver, “Well, San Francisco taxi drivers can’t pick up outside of the city, except for the airport. So, it’s MTA rules for when it’s more than fifteen miles outside of the city. I guess it’s so we split the difference of my time and gas coming back.
You want to go?”
Indian Dude, “Shit, man. I nee to get dere, fas’! I’ll give you a hundred.”
Driver, scratching his chin and thinking it over…
“Ok. Get in.”
But instead of reaching for the back door, Indian Dude turns around and starts yelling back to a heretofore unbeknownst associate,
“Babee! I got us a taxi! Come on!! Moooove, babee!!!”
Driver checks the rear view… to witness a well-endowed Babee running up from behind in a pretty flower patterned dress, pink high heels, a big poofy afro and nursing a shiny black hand purse in her delicate limp wrist. Babee immediately strikes Driver as a black, bubbly, package of cute.
Babee, “Baby, we can’t afford a cab! Let’s take the train!”
Indian Dude, “Come on, babee! I hocked some jewelry for dis’ ride! Your gonna be late! ‘N dey gonna put you in jail, babee! GET IN!!”
And Babee and I.D. scramble in back, as I.D. throws up five twenties to Driver in advance
Then, I.D. directs,
“Redwood City cour’ house, man! 400 County Road! ‘N step on it! We gotta beat rush hour ‘n make it dere by 9 ‘o clock, man!”
Well, hmm. I’ve never driven anyone to Redwood City before. I know you would USUALLY take 101 south, straight down. But traffic invariably locks up just past SFO at this time with Silicon Valley commuters. I’m thinking 280 south might be a safer bet. It’s parallel to 101 and a little less trafficky. But, I’d have to plug the address into my iPhone for directions to 400 County Road, and how to access the courthouse from there. Hell, I’d have to plug it in regardless. I’ve never been!
Driver, “I think 280 might be a safer bet to avoid rush hour traffic. You cool with that?”
I.D., “Sure. Whatevah, man. Jus’ GO!”
I plug ‘400 County Road, Redwood City’ into my iPhone. And Steve Jobs lights our way.
As we roll, I find my passengers to be cute, if not an odd couple. I mean, an olive skinned, street smart Indian dude? With a cute, bubbly, black chick with a BIG afro? As well, they start bantering and jabbing at each other, but very good natured. I like them.
I.D., “Don’ woree, babee. I got enough monee from the hock to pos’ your bail, when they lock you up! HA!”
Babee, “Honey, come on! I’m stressed enough, as it is. Don’t play like that!”
At the jab, Babee groans all cute, as I.D. now leans forward to address Driver.
I.D., “Man, lemme smoke in your cab. Can I smoke?”
Driver, “Smoke what?”
And at the question, I.D. and Babee both smile and break into laugher, before I.D. turns to Babee all assuredly, with,
“I like dis’ driver, babee. We got a GOOOD one!”
As we roll onto the highway, I.D. cracks open his window and lights up a cigarette. And then, he poses another question.
“Hey, man. Do you min’ if we do more den smoke?”
Unsure of what I.D. means exactly, and being a pretty amenable guy in general, Driver shrugs, as replying,
“Uhhh. Sure. Whatever.”
Shortly thereafter, emanating from the back of the taxi come the alternate sounds of a card chopping on glass, and sniffing, as the passengers of Citizen’s Cab 1015 grow a bit more animated, a little less anxious, and ever more sociable.
I.D. begins to get philosophical about life, fate and God.
“Maaan, I KNOW I am meant to be here! Or, I’d be dead by now! God has a plan for me, man!”
Driver relates, “Yeah, me too! I’ve been in three car wrecks in my life! And I should have died in ALL of them! But, I walked away from ALL three! I think it was so that I could bring my boys into this world.”
I.D. jumps on this, upping the ante with that he has been in FIVE car accidents in HIS life, all of which HE should have died in, as Babee interjects cooing, all girly, before jumping on my kids comment with a deep, motherly affection.
Babee, “Awwww. You have kids? How old are they? I have a girl. I love her SO much! She’s beautiful! A real light in this world. And she is SO pure! She’s eighteen and just got her FIRST boyfriend! And they believe in Jesus. They go to church together! Awwwww.”
Driver, “I have two boys. A fourteen year-old and a sixteen year-old. They’re doing pretty well, too… Actually, MUCH better than I was at their age. HA! And I hope it STAYS that way!”
Driver, adding, ” I hope your girl keeps the faith. I had a niece who got pretty disillusioned with the church, after she was VERY devout, for YEARS! She also had a boyfriend that she went to church with. They had promise rings and everything!
But one day, when she was in confession, after she was done confessing all of her sins, the priest went on, pushing her and asking, ‘And do you have anything ELSE to confess?’
To which my niece got confused and simply replied, ‘No.’
To which the priest came back all incredulous, with, ‘Oh? Come on. What about premarital sex?’
To which my niece responded with that she was a virgin!
But the priest kept pushing, harder and harder… and ACCUSED HER OF LYING!
RIGHT THERE in the CONFESSIONAL!!
Needless to say, she left the church after that. And she’s been atheist ever since.”
As we continue rolling down 280, I.D. starts gushing warmly at Babee, and wishes her a happy Valentine’s Day. He kisses her, as all succumb to the pretty ride that is 280 south, with its bounty of trees, cows, mountains, and the lake…
Alex Sack, born 1970, is a taxi driver who grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Maryland. He attended several different colleges and universities around the D.C./Baltimore region as a music major for 4 & 1/2 years before quitting – pre-diploma – to the horror of his father. He tried his hand as a professional musician/songwriter seeing him through travels domiciled in New York City’s East Village, Los Angeles (where he scored a few songs on The Disney Channel’s ‘Even Stevens’) and San Francisco – where he’s ultimately put down roots. Alex is a single dad to two boys, currently ages 14 and (a hormonal) 16. His post-natal fallback occupation as Operations Assistant at a start-up clean-tech engineering consultancy came to a sudden end with the one-two punch of the owner’s fatal skiing accident in Tahoe and the subsequent downturn in the economy.This – and an acquired nervous twitch to cubicle work – has led to his latest job…
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