Maybe it’s just my imagination. Or maybe I really do need to get my aura cleansed.
That was Irina’s sardonic recommendation to cast away the various misfortunes that have been following me around lately like a personalized rain cloud. Or, in her more succinct evaluation: to become less of a schlimazel.
It definitely feels like the universe has been having a cosmic giggle at my expense these days.
Half the time when I order take-out, I am given the wrong food… A perfectly healthy plant only has a 50-50 life expectancy under my care… Despite maintaining the same clothes sizes for over 20 years, I somehow invariably buy shirts in medium instead of large…
It makes no sense.
As I sit behind the wheel of my cab, stranded on Maritime Street at West Grand and waiting for the tow truck to arrive, I can’t help but contemplate my propensity for misfortune.
After all, it was my rotten luck to end up in a taxi without a spare tire in the trunk. Road flares? Check. Lug wrench? Got it. Donut?
Even worse, I’m out of cigarettes. And way too un-caffeinated to deal with this predicament.
Thirty minutes earlier, I was rushing out of my apartment, still groggy from the 40 winks I’d caught after a shift that started last year and stretched into the new one, and forgot my smokes on the kitchen counter.
It was only 14 minutes into The City, though, and I already planned on making a quick pit stop at Eighth and Harrison to suck down a few American Spirits and chug the least disgusting coffee beverage the Shell station had available.
This was, after all, the day for breakfasts of champions.
Besides dubious hangover cures or OTC speedballs, there was also THE Breakfast of Champions, a massive block party going on at The Great Northern and in the streets surrounding the club.
This year, “It’s a New Day,” another annual rave, merged with “Breakfast of Champions” to create an epic event, where thousands of die-hard revelers will be getting their freaks on until sundown.
Even though it’s more of an Uber/Lyft crowd, when that many people get together to indulge in EDM and associated proclivities, someone’s phone is going to die.
Halfway through the McArthur Maze, I notice there’s something wrong with the cab. Even though it never offers the smoothest ride, this is different.
I try not to panic and get off the freeway before the toll plaza. Slowly, I wind around on the overpass towards West Grand exit. The smell of burnt rubber makes it obvious what’s happened.
I find the safest place to pull over and call dispatch. They say it’ll take around 45 minutes.
As the sun beats down on me like an ugly stepchild, I hide behind the visor and fight off the DTs of my nic fit. There’s nothing around for miles. Just warehouses and vast parking lots for big rigs.
I consider flagging down a passing car to ask them for a cigarette. Or a sip of coffee. Something. Anything.
I scroll through my phone, wondering whom I could call at this hour on New Year’s Day to bring me a cigarette.
My eyes get heavy. I force myself to stay alert.
During this semi-fugue, the notion begins percolating in my cerebrum: perhaps my vibes are out of whack. Perhaps I should see about getting my aura cleansed.
Since we’re going to be in LA next week to celebrate our daughter’s second birthday, I could look for a professional or something… There’s probably an entire cottage industry down there for this kind of stuff.
Hey, where’s my guru?
Right before I’m about to totally crack up, the tow truck arrives.
I thank the guy profusely for showing up on a holiday.
“You lucked out,” he says, driving the cab onto the flatbed. “Not much traffic.”
As he leans forward to tighten the straps around the wheels, I notice a familiar shape in his shirt pocket.
“Can I bum one of those?”
He pulls out a pack of blue American Spirits.
I light the end and take a drag.
The nicotine surges through my system like an aura antiseptic.
“Thanks, man. I needed that.”
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. His zine “Behind the Wheel” is available at bookstores throughout The City. He is a guest columnist. Write to Kelly at email@example.com or visit www.idrivesf.com