Her medallion holder jumped ship over to DeSoto. And the mechanics magically transformed Citizen’s Cab #26, my trusty ‘ol Prius, into Citizen’s Cab #1015. Well, “magic” with the assistance of some green spray paint and a stencil. So, what is old is now new. And what is new is now… well, TBD. But as they say, what’s in a number?
Some days earlier…
It’s the Friday early morning before New Year’s Eve. And some San Franciscans have not been waiting to get their drink on.
I’m at the red at Castro and Market, waiting, dreamily, as KDFC 90.3FM weaves me within an ethereal web of Chopin; Nocturne #3 in B Op 9/3, to be precise. I am all at once yanked from the dream, when staggering across my path into the crosswalk, comes stumbling some young pretty gay dude with thick wavy hair, a 10 ‘o clock shadow, and dressed down in athletic shorts, a long sleeve T and a baseball cap. He stops in front of my taxi and leans down to secure eye contact, before, with raised pleading eyebrows, he signals a thumbs up, and then a thumbs down.
Driver returns with a thumbs up.
And George runs around to the side of the cab and jumps in back, gasping.
“Thank GOD you are available! I have had a MISERABLE night! I don’t remember ANYTHING from the last several hours! What time is it, anyway? 4??”
With clipboard/waybill propped on the steering wheel, ready to mark the ride, the light turns green. And an executive decision has to be made… NOW!
Driver, “Uh, where are you headed? Straight? Right??”
George, “Oh! Sorry! To the Richmond, please. 27th & Geary!”
And Driver guns it straight. (Er, so to speak.)
Sweet! After a fareless morn, not a bad way to break the ice, with a likely $17 ride out into residential San Francisco. Now, to answer George’s question. Driver checks the clock. I still need to mark my waybill with the time, anyway. (I’ve already scribbled George’s pickup and his drop while driving.)
Driver, “4 o’clock? Dude, it’s 6:40.”
George, “What?? OH… MY…. GOD! What has HAPPENED to me!? I have NO IDEA what’s happened to me over the last who knows HOW many hours! All I remember is drinking at a bar. And my phone got stolen! I’ve only had five drinks. That’s NOTHING! I NEVER black out from just five drinks. This SUCKS!”
Driver, “Are you sure some bartender doesn’t have it? Do you want me to try calling it?”
George, “Okay. Call it. But, if you get voicemail on the first ring, I’m screwed. I WAS going to go home and try to track it on my laptop. But, it’s an Android. No one steals iPhones now, cause they get bricked right away. But, not with Androids. This SUCKS!”
As passing the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park, I dial (415) 555-5555…
“The number you have dialed, is not available…. blah, blah, blah.”
Driver, “Uh. Sorry, dude.”
Driver, ” Did you at least get some Christmas money? That maybe you can use to replace your phone?”
George, “No. I WAS the Christmas money! That Samsung was a $200 phone. And I just maxed out my credit card helping out my mom, replacing the fuel pump in her car. Fuck! What am I gonna do without a phone??”
Hmm. Stolen phone. Maxed credit card. Hours blacked out after drinking. Kinda leaves a driver wondering whether he’s getting paid for this ride!
Driver, turning back to empathy, “Hey! Do you think you might have been roofied? Should I maybe take you to the hospital? For a rape kit? Uh, how does it feel… down there??”
But before George can respond, Driver further attempts to make light, adding, “Then again, that wouldn’t necessarily prove anything. It could have been an alien abduction. Maybe you were probed! Or, maybe it was some CIA operation. And they were JUST POSING as aliens!”
However, in response, nothing but crickets from the back seat, before George suddenly gasps, and starts pulling on his sleeve.
George, “And to make matters worse, there’s VOMIT all over my shirt! And it’s NOT MINE!!”
Driver, not missing a beat, “And they say that you can’t really DUST for vomit! Duuuude.”
George, “What the HELL has HAPPENED to ME!?”
Driver, looking to the bright side, “Well, at least you have your health.”
George, “(GASP!) Don’t get me started!”
And we pull up on George’s apartment building on 27th Avenue, between Geary and Clement. The meter is at $16.40. And George hands me up… a credit card??
George, “At least my debit card wasn’t stolen. And it still has some money on it. Make it $18. And thanks for the ride. Thank GOD at least YOU were there!”
Driver, “Glad to help. I hope everything works out, dude. Oh! And happy new year!”
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Photo by Alex SacK