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When even the Warriors don’t cheer people up

Despite not wanting to set a bad example for my two-year-old by staring at a phone all day on the couch.


Despite not wanting to set a bad example for my two-year-old by staring at a phone all day on the couch, I can’t bear the thought of sitting hunched over the computer right now. That’s why I’m thumbing these words into my stupid iPhone, letter by letter, resisting idiotic autocorrect suggestions and feeling like a sad hypocrite in the process.

This weather is bumming me out. I’m ready for the fog of summer and the empty promises of warmth when it blows off. I mean, who doesn’t love summer in San Francisco?

Soon, there will be flocks of tourists again. Those who haven’t been scared off already by the gritty reality of a boomtown. Some might even take taxis.

Tomorrow, the sun’ll come out again. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But today, it’s cold and grey.

When Irina takes the kid toy shopping at Ikea, I sneak out back for a smoke. Survey my potted garden. All this rain has been hard on the marigolds. The mums might bloom any day, though, if we get more sunny ones in a row.

Returning to the couch, I grab a blanket. It’s not just the dank gloom outside making me want to crawl back under the covers. Any time I check Facebook, there’s even more gloom, mixed with plenty of doom, in the news. If it’s not the end of Game of Thrones, it’s the usual political nonsense or, based on your feed settings, the current state of San Francisco.

Which is – newsflash – horrible.

Everyone is bummed out.

The New Yorker and Washington Post have nothing good to report lately.

That’s nothing new. Hit pieces on The City come and go, each one more or less on target, the latest crop as close to a bulls-eye as any wordmonger can get, but hey… What are you gonna do?

As if anyone needs another reason to succumb to ennui and just drift into the oblivion of poly fibers on a rainy day…

It’s not just the three-free-articles-a-month news sources either. SFGate keeps posting “you know you’re done with San Francisco when…” pieces. The independent blogs are rife with vitriol and overwrought farewell posts to a once-beloved city.

In popular San Francisco nostalgia groups, the Pollyannas are outnumbered by the embittered mobs carrying torches for yesteryears.

On the streets, Uber/Lyft drivers from Sacramento and Davis protest the local work conditions.

All the liquor store owners I talk to are feeling the pinch.

The guy at my burger joint isn’t feeling optimistic.

All my taxi passengers are rabid contrarians.

Things are so bad even the Warriors latest victories can’t seem to cheer folks up. At least not in Oakland anymore…

“Nothing is good,” Richie Drano, who tends Mission bars from 16th to 29th, tells me while shivering in the cold, moist night, smoking the menthol cigarettes we just smuggled into the county. “Ask our unsheltered friend over here.”

Richie points the end of his Newport at a human bundled in cloth and paper squeezed into an alcove on Mission Street.

I think it’s safe to say there’s definitely something rotten in “Baghdad by the Bay.”

The worker bees crowding downtown sidewalks in their khaki-plaid bubbles must be hip to the scene as well.

What can you do, though, besides start binge watching the next item on your queue?

The other night I ran into John Penman at the Union Square Hilton cabstand. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed hearing his tales of growing up a flower child in San Francisco, seeing the Grateful Dead’s first show as The Warlocks at a Palo Alto pizza parlor and all the concerts he attended at the Fillmore, the Winterland and the Avalon Ballroom. One night, at a past barbecue, John was telling me about going to Altamont. Late Night Larry overhead our conversation and asked, “You were there too? What were you on?” John said, “Shrooms.” Larry responded, “I was on mescaline.” Then a few other cab drivers chimed in with their own trips…

Joining him on the curb next to the hotel where the streetwalkers mingle, I ask John, “How do you handle all these changes?”

“I’ve been here so long, man, I just focus on memories. What else can you do?” He shrugs. “Keep on truckin’, I guess.”

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


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