The kids were out in full force this weekend, despite the downpours and never-ending drizzle that challenged the windshield wipers on National 2976, the spare I had to drive while 182 gets a new master cylinder.
Some of them even ventured into taxis.
With two back-to-back, sold-out concerts at the Civic, numerous after-parties in SoMa, as well as several David Bowie tributes, there was plenty of business in The City on Friday, and even more on Saturday.
Perhaps the Uber and Lyft drivers protesting the latest round of fare cuts had something to do with the sudden popularity of cabs. Or maybe it was just another example of how app-based transportation doesn’t work well in large crowds.
On Saturday night, just as the Dreamstate event was about to break, two guys jumped in my cab. On their way to the Marina, they joked about the “suckers trying to find their Ubers” in the ensuing madhouse.
“Are you my Uber driver?” one said in a funny voice. “Are you my Uber?”
“These are not the Ubers we are looking for,” I pitched in, trying to make a funny. But the guys weren’t having it.
“Can you put the radio on 94.9 FM?”
You can always spot regular Uber users. They expect more than a ride.
Remember that scene in “The Big Lebowski” when The Dude asks his cab driver to change the radio station because he hates “the fucking Eagles, man” and ends up on the side of the road?
Now, because Uber and Lyft have so successfully catered to the self-entitled demands of Millenials, I have to listen to Justin Bieber. And I fucking hate Justin Bieber, man.
It gets to the point where I tell my young passengers how old I am, without provocation, just to emphasize the generation gap.
I guess I’ve become my parents, though slightly less miserable because I don’t have kids. I am old enough to be the parent of a Millennial, though, and it’s terrifying to think I could have possibly spawned one of these brats running around San Francisco, obsessed with apps and money. And partying like it’s Spring Break year-round.
“I work hard Monday through Thursday, making shit tons of money, so I can get fucked up on Friday and Saturday and act like a degenerate, like I don’t have a degree from a prestigious college,” said the guy in my backseat to his friend as I chauffeured them through the wet streets, my wipers beating back the pounding rain.
Turns out, he graduated from Cal. Just like my friend and fellow cab driver Colin, who, when asked by that loudmouth in the yard Toler why he didn’t do anything with his degree from Berkeley, replied, rather testily, “What’s wrong with driving a cab?”
Lately, I’ve been binge-watching the TV show “Taxi.” First time since becoming a hack. It’s strange to recognize the same experience in a sitcom from 35 years ago that I’m having today. As a kid, I used to think, why do they sit around the garage talking about their lives when they’re supposed to be driving taxis? Now, I know. They’re waiting for cabs to come in or they’re ending a shift and hanging around the office to wind down before going home. Just part of having a job with co-workers.
Recently, a bunch of tech journos got all worked up over Yellow Cab declaring bankruptcy. You could almost hear them doing the twist on the taxi industry’s grave.
Imagine, if you will, a world without taxicabs: Dynamic pricing all the time, pissed-off passengers, underpaid drivers, one scandal after another and — I know it doesn’t matter much to the young ones or those who hold grudges against taxis for not taking them to the Sunset or Richmond districts — the loss of a formerly lucrative occupation as well.
Driving for Uber never felt like a real profession. And I can’t imagine how it could, working for an app.
Over the weekend, I watched a video of an angry mob of disgruntled Uber drivers protesting the price cuts in the cellphone lot at SFO. It was mind-boggling to see them express loyalty to Uber, then look in the camera and ask Travis Kalanick to negotiate with them.
Meanwhile, Kalanick is in India, where he told a reporter, “I lose sleep because of competition.”
Well, good luck with that, guys.