I can tell right away things aren’t what they seem…

I can tell right away things aren’t what they seem…

I Drive SF: Two strangers in the backseat

With the RSA conference in town last week, The City finally felt alive again. After weeks of struggling to survive, there were finally enough people with expense accounts willing to take taxis.

On Wednesday night, numerous RSA-related events were happening throughout Union Square and South of Market.

At 10 p.m., I’m on my way to check out a corporate sponsored concert at August Hall when I see an outstretched arm by The Donatello.

I quickly pull over. In the side mirror, I watch a man say goodbye to a woman. A few minutes later, though, she follows him to the cab.

I can tell right away things aren’t what they seem…

“Where to?” I ask.

The man is staying at the Hotel Zephyr. As I start to pull away, he asks the woman where she’s going.

“Let’s get something to eat,” she suggests.

“To be honest, I’m not hungry,” he replies.

“Well, we could go have another drink and just order appetizers.”

I drive slowly, waiting to hear her destination.

“Honestly, I just want to go to sleep,” he tells her. “Where’s your hotel?”

Clearly, he isn’t interested in prolonging things, but she doesn’t seem to be taking the hint and keeps recommending restaurants.

“I just want to go home,” he says firmly. “Please, tell the driver where you need to go.”

“If we’re not having dinner, then I’m going home!” she snaps and gives me an address in the Mission.

In a flash, her convivial tone becomes hostile. She accuses him of misleading her. “You lied to me. You said you were separated from your wife.”

“I never said that,” he tells her. “I don’t know why you think that.”

“You’re not wearing a wedding ring,” she points out. “Let’s ask the driver. Sir, what is your take on this?”

“Hey, I don’t know what’s going on. You guys just got into my cab a few minutes ago.”

“Great. That’s just perfect.”

I turn left on Jones and take Market to 11th. Along the way she berates the man relentlessly. Grateful not to be a target of her vitriol, I drive as quickly as possible.

The man reluctantly defends himself, almost humorously, while her attitude shifts from outright rage to bemused indignation to threats of legal action.

Waiting for the signal to change at South Van Ness and Mission, I curse the brutal light cycle. The woman’s anger escalates while the numbers slowly descend.

Once the signal turns green, I take off and manage to catch the light at Division and through 15th, then white-knuckle it the rest of the way to 24th Street.

In front of her building, I turn on the overhead light.

“Can you walk me to my door?” she asks me.

I open the back door and help her collect belongings. At her front gate she stumbles and grabs my arm.

“Do you have your keys?”

She reaches into her purse and then sighs hopelessly. “I must have lost them somewhere.”

“No!” I grab her purse and start feeling around inside for anything resembling keys. As I rummage through her possessions, she suggests possible hiding places while continuing to insult the man.

“Try the side pocket. Or the front. You know, he’s probably going to stiff you. I know his type.”

“Found them!”

I unlock the gate, hold it open for her and help her up the stairs to the front door. Once she’s inside, I hand her the keys and rush back to the cab.

Driving away, I ask the man, “What was that all about?”

“I don’t know!” he exclaims. “I only met her five minutes before we got in your taxi. I was leaving the restaurant and she grabbed my hand and demanded I help find her purse. She was obviously drunk and I only wanted to help. I didn’t realize I’d be taking her home.”

At this point, the meter is at $18.35 and we have a long way to go before reaching his hotel in the Wharf.

“You’re alright paying for this ride?”

“Of course.”

We agree it was imperative to make sure she got home, given her condition.

“I’ll just get my company to pay for it.”

Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. His zine “Behind the Wheel” is available at bookstores throughout The City. Write to him at piltdownlad@gmail.com or visit www.idrivesf.com. His column appears every other week in the Thursday Examiner. He is a guest opinion columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of the Examiner.

Bay Area Newssan francisco newsTransit

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear masks. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California orders vaccine or testing for health care workers, state employees

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases and… Continue reading

Jeremy Kahn and Monica Ho are excellent in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Lauren Yee’s “The Song of Summer,” being presented live and online. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Touching relationship at heart of ‘Song of Summer’

Lighthearted SF Playhouse show ‘feels right for this moment’

Most Read