Over the many long rides that we’ve shared together, you’ve read much ado regarding your driver’s introduction to this, um, “lively” street vocation, by way of cab school, of cab school teacher Rose, and her Ten Commandments.
Recall, my passengers, how in the three months long bureaucracy that it takes one San Francisco taxi driving hopeful to achieve legal status, cab school itself is just a regular ‘ol one week, forty-hour, Monday through Friday, nine-to-five class. The focus of which, is threefold…
In class, about a third of my crew’s time was spent learning about each and every one of the MANY arcane, municipally-concocted taxi regulations – courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, as well as several Federal regulations to boot, a la the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Why you can’t put your passenger’s seeing eye dog in the trunk, etc., etc.)
Another third of our time was spent studying (and being tested on) the maps of San Francisco: All the one-way streets, thoroughfares, and as well, the locations of each and every hospital and police station devoted to the service of this fine city. Yet, MOST importantly, every pupil was to memorize ONE address in particular… out in Bayview-Hunter’s Point: 1300 Evans. For, THIS was the address of the ONLY United States Post Office which would remain open in San Francisco until MIDNIGHT, every year, on April 15. A post office to which you, a San Francisco taxi driver, was ASSURED that you would be traveling to and fro on this date, repeatedly, into the late hours, as ferrying every tax return procrastinator from miles around… until your cab turned into a pumpkin.
Oh! The last third? Well, after Rose’s lesson on how taxi drivers were the second most assaulted vocation in North America – after 7-11 cashiers and BEFORE police officers, THIS third of our class time was spent studying, HARD, on how to NOT get killed! (And what to do in the unfortunate event that you are.) Yes, Rose, the great surrogate mother who had birthed all of us classmates into this new, absurd world of driving the streets of San Francisco for pay, spent THIS third of the class time on her gospel, preaching: Rose’s Ten Commandments.
Commandment I: ALWAYS keep your doors locked, and the window AT LEAST half rolled up.
Commandment II: If your passenger is wearing a hoodie AND sitting directly BEHIND you, DO NOT put on your seat-belt! (You legally don’t have to. The law sees this exemption for cabbies in light of that your passenger is WAY more of a threat to you than any collision at high speed.)
Commandment III: ALWAYS keep one foot on the brake, and one on the gas. And keep it in DRIVE!
Commandment IV: If a passenger’s drop is in an alley, always BACK into the alley! (Also, refer back to Commandment III.)
Commandment V: NEVER drive until the fare gives you an EXACT destination.
Commandment VI: NEVER let your fare out of the cab without paying first, or with an “I’ll be right back” with left behind collateral! (That “new” Macbook in the box is really an old phone book.)
Commandment VII: Thou shalt NOT commit adultery! But, it’s ok to drive your passenger there. (Okay, just kidding on this one, folks.)
Commandment VII (For real this time.): When cruising a street festival for fares, roll along a parallel street high ABOVE the festival. (Drunks don’t walk uphill very far in search of a cab.)
Commandment VIII: Always stop a few feet BEFORE your flag. (So you can first judge how drunk they are by how badly they are stumbling. Thus, giving you time and space for the getaway.)
Commandment IX: NEVER speed, make an illegal U-turn OR an illegal left, run a red light, or break ANY traffic laws, AT ALL, JUST because you’re fare is “in a HUGE hurry!!!” (They wouldn’t be taking a cab in the first place, if they weren’t. And no tip, no matter HOW large, is worth more than your livelihood.)
Commandment X (And one that I think we ALL should heed, taxi driver or no.): ALWAYS keep one eye on the road, and one eye in the rear-view…
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Photo by Alex SacK