Somehow, I seem to have spawned a budding little socialite. Whenever we’re in public, Baby Girl is all smiles, making eyes at strangers and shouting “Hey!” at anyone in earshot, from the stoop jockeys across the street to old ladies in Trader Joe’s.
Tèa’s quest for attention can get a little unnerving after a while. Especially after several taxi shifts, when I’m really not in the mood to interact with some random person who wants to know her age and name.
As much as I’d like to go to the store without answering a bunch of stupid questions — Why do they want to know her name anyway? To write her a letter? — it’s hard to be a sourpuss when there’s a gleeful baby strapped to your chest. So I play along.
While she’s usually an angel out in the world, at home, she’s like a drunken sorority girl. Since she learned to screech at the top of her lungs, that’s how she expresses excitement, frustration and when she’s really not in the mood for a diaper change. Much to the neighbor’s delight, I’m sure.
The shrieking of an infant reminds me of those impatient taxi drivers who use their horns to communicate …
A few weeks ago, I’m lining up on Market Street waiting for the Orpheum to break.
Several cabs have already queued. I pull behind an unmarked SUV with its hazards on. I don’t know if it’s an Uber, so I keep my distance. A Flywheel cab gets behind me and starts blowing his horn. Several taps at first, but then he really lays on it.
Is he honking at me? I wonder. And if so, why?
Finally, the guy gets out walks to the front of my cab. He starts gesturing at the space between the SUV and me. In broken English, he tells me to pull up. I try to explain that I don’t know what the SUV is going to do and want to avoid getting stuck. But he keeps shouting at me, so I just move up grudgingly.
He bellyaches all the way back to his cab.
A few minutes later, the show lets out, and people start getting in cabs.
The Flywheel driver, who doesn’t seem to know how to work the theaters, starts blowing his horn again and trying to get around me on the left. I see people get into the taxis in front of the SUV, which, predictably, doesn’t move. As a couple heads for my cab, the Flywheel is angled on my left so that when a lady tries to get into his cab, he’s too far away and she gets into the Fog City behind him.
I hit reverse to move around the SUV to escape the melee.
When it comes to an 8-month-old, screaming pretty much gets the desired result. According to baby experts, she doesn’t understand “No!” yet and, well, we really don’t want our neighbors to hate us too much. For taxi drivers who use their horns to communicate, though, it doesn’t always pay …
The other day, I’m turning left onto Drumm to work the Hyatt Regency taxi stand. As I wait for the flow of pedestrian traffic to cross the street, I hear someone blowing their horn behind me.
It’s a cab from my own company, Veterans cab 1151. I guess he disagrees with my decision not to plow down half a dozen pedestrians.
Whatever, dude. I ignore him. But a few seconds later, he makes the turn anyway, maneuvering between the people in the crosswalk and then accelerating toward the red light at California without stopping.
He comes to a screeching halt in the middle of the intersection and, when the light turns green, swerves in front of me and pulls behind a Luxor.
I’m not sure what he hopes to gain, but think to myself, “If this asshole gets an SFO, it’ll confirm my suspicion that the universe is designed to shit on those who don’t screw over their comrades.”
Once he’s on the throne, though, a couple approaches his cab and he takes off toward the Wharf.
As I chuckle to myself, a guy knocks on my window. I look over my shoulder and see that he’s got a suitcase …
I laugh all the way back to The City. For a brief moment, my faith in humanity is restored. But it’s still early in the day, and I have a few hours of working around taxi drivers until heading home to hang out with someone way more civilized.
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. His zine, “Behind the Wheel,” is available at bookstores throughout The City. Write to Kelly at email@example.com or visit his blog at www.idrivesf.com.