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

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott leaves the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Brannan Street and Jack London Alley in the South Park area on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police

Officer says he ‘did not intend for his firearm to go off’

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Most Read