As last call draws near, the lost souls of Halloween wander drunkenly through the late night/early morning fog, in tattered costumes and feeble disguises. And even though my top light is bright enough to guide them out of the thick gloom, nobody extends a hand in my direction.
So I keep driving.
After hunting for fares in the Haight, I cruise up Fillmore. At Geary, a sexy nurse holds onto the side of a building, as if she were taking its pulse.
A few blocks away, on Post, Luke Skywalker tries to use the Force to retrieve his broken phone from the sidewalk.
In the distance, a park ranger chases after a grizzly bear, whose companion is a cheese head.
At Gough, I contemplate venturing onward to Polk Street, and the inevitable revolting spectacle. But alas, I don’t have to the guts.
Instead, I head towards the Mission, and the usual Friday night haunts.
On Saturday, around 9 p.m., as I pass Double Dutch on 16th Street, a neon green dinosaur leaps in front of my taxi.
I slam on the brakes.
Once the guy inside the costume, clearly inebriated, wrestles himself through the backdoor, he gives me an address on Funston Ave.
I respond with the cross streets, to make sure I understand his garbled words, but he immediately changes his destination. The new street is unfamiliar to me, so I ask where it’s located.
“OK.” I hit the meter and make a left on Dolores. At the next light, I enter the address into Google Maps. It’s obvious this guy is in no condition to direct me.
“I’m having the worst night ever,” he says, a few blocks later.
“What’s going on?” I inquire.
“My girlfriend just …” His voice trails off.
“What?” It sounded like he said his girlfriend just broke up with him, but given the way he’s slurring his words, I can’t be sure. “What happened with your girlfriend?”
“I’m not talking to you!” he snarls back.
“Sorry.” I glance in the rearview. In the flicker of street lamps, it’s hard to tell if he’s talking on his phone or using earbuds. Whatever. Not my business.
I keep driving.
A few minutes later, he starts crying. At first, there’s just a little whimpering and some light groaning. But that’s quickly followed by repeated attempts to suppress a more powerful jag.
In order to drown out the guttural sobbing, I turn on the stereo and “Cubist Blues” by Alan Vega and Alex Chilton starts playing.
On I-280, the freeway noise overrides the smorgasbord of monotonous rhythms and chants as we race into the dense fog.
I’m about to exit at John C. Daly Blvd when the guy breaks his silence and tells me to take the next one. Which I do, since it’s, uh, his journey.
After getting off at Eastmoor, though, and waiting for the light at Washington, he tries to open the door.
“I’m getting out here,” he says.
“Hold up, man!” I shout. “We’re not there yet!”
I look at the meter, which reads $26.05.
Now I’m starting to worry. Now doubt when we get to his place, he’ll assume this is an Uber and try to leave without paying.
Meanwhile, as I’m trying to navigate the curves down Washington, barely distinguishable in the viscous fog, he tries to open the door at each stop.
“Where are we?” he asks, blindly.
“Almost there,” I keep saying.
When I reach his address, he’s ready to split. Naturally.
“You know you’re in a taxi, right?” I remind him, holding down the lock button.
He looks at me, confused.
I point at the meter. $28.25.
Grunting, he fishes around in the fabric of his costume. Eventually, he produces a credit card.
I stick it in my Square reader and hand it back.
“Do you wanna leave a … ?” I start to ask, but just decline the tip option.
Outside, he staggers towards the house. But he doesn’t open the door. He just stands in the driveway, until a motion sensor light goes on, illuminating the neon green fabric of his dinosaur costume and the fog that keeps rolling in, thicker with each gust of wind.
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. His zine “Behind the Wheel” is available at bookstores throughout The City. Write to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.idrivesf.com