My mom and sister are here this week and Saturday we went up to the city for some site-seeing, shopping, and a nice dinner. Took the BART down to Powell St and headed over to Union Square, where my mom wanted to show Ashley the seven story Macy’s. Seven fucking floors and no men’s clothes. Ridiculous, but Erin picked up a cute shirt. We had eight o’clock dinner reservations at the infamous House of Prime Rib but it was only 6:15p so we cabbed down to Pier 39 to show Ashley those horrible, horrible sea lions… and Alcatraz.
The cab ride down to the wharf was interesting insofar as a very bitter, racist cab driver is interesting. The cab ride could be broken down into 3 distinct “phases”:
- Phase 1: He wondered aloud why all the Mexicans lived “on the other side of the highway” in San Jose. He briefly railed against “all those Vietnamese” who own restaurants in downtown San Jose.
- Phase 2: He cursed the name of Vicente Fox because “an American can’t get a job washing dishes in Mexico City, but they send 8,000 illegals over the border every night to wash dishes here.” He proposed legislation so that Americans can “steal jobs” from Mexicans in Mexico. He also decried NAFTA.
- Phase 3 (the very best phase): He was extremely angry that Mexicans “steal strawberries and artichokes” straight from the fields in rural California. He then proceeded to tell us intricate details of how the artichoke theft is accomplished. He told us what part of the tree to snip and how we should work in teams to make a quicker getaway.
I was ready to name him Craziest Cabbie Of The Evening. Little did I know he would place a distant second to our last cab driver of the night.
After looking at the sea lions with a mixture of growing fear and disgust, we took another cab over to the restaurant for dinner. All that cab driver did was cough a lot, something that, as a person sitting in the front seat, concerned me greatly. The dinner was delicious; we taught those cows a thing or two about presuming to graze on our damn land. Once we were full of meat, we needed one final cab ride back to the BART station. This is the part of the story where we almost died… three times.
The cab we approached outside the restaurant had loud, thumping techno music emanating from its open windows. Inside, however, was an older Persian gentleman. I sat in front while the three gals got the backseat. We told him we’d like to go to the Poweel St. station and he immediately got pissed at the car that was double-parked by the valet so that the owners could get into it.
We pulled away from the curb and he floored it. He wanted to make a u-turn at the first light, but the cursed valet customer wanted to do the same thing. Instead of getting behind them in line, he swerved over to the middle of the street. When the light changed green our nemesis pulled out into the intersection to do a u-turn while our cab driver proceeded to pull out into the middle of the intersection with the intent of making a wider u-turn around them. The oncoming traffic was a neverending stream of cars, but our driver just kept inching out further and further into the intersection until I thought we were gonna get clipped. As soon as there was a break he again floored and spun the car around.
We went only two blocks before another death-defying opportunity presented itself. He wanted to turn left onto a street off of Van Ness. There was no left turn light at the intersection. The light was red for both directions on Van Ness, but no cars were on the street that had a green. So our cab driver pulled out into the intersection and got the car spread across all three lanes of oncoming traffic so that no one could go when the light turned green. As soon as it did he floored it again and off we were, up and down the hills of San Francisco at 70+mph.
A couple more crazy maneuvers resulted, including one that had me assured that I was going to perish, and the weird thing is that each would be a story unto itself if taken singularly. On this night though, mere frightening car situations were unnotable. A situation had to classify as “terrifying” to get into this story.
The third act in our three act play entitled “Taking a Cab Home” is known as “The Time We Went Into Oncoming Traffic In Union Square.” Down in front of the Westin Hotel on Union Square, the cab in front of us was trying to get over to the curb to let off a passenger, but oouldn’t find room. Our cabbie saw our destination in sight two blocks away and had had enough of our heretofore “safe” driving. He spun the wheel and put us into the oncoming lane so he could get around the other cab, just as the light turned green ahead of us and cars began streaming up the street. The car in the lane we were in jerked their wheel to the right to get out of our way just as our intrepid driver flipped us back into our lane. Two blocks and 3 seconds later we were home again, home again, jiggity jog, and I tipped him $8 for the funnest cab ride of my entire life.