“Do you know the AMC on Van Ness?” asks the girl who flags me at 16th and Valencia.
“Yeah, 1000 Van Ness, on the corner of O’Farrell.”
“See, this is why you take cabs,” she tells her friend.
Well, at least we’re good for something. Though still not good enough. And yet, there seemed to be a wave of anti-Uber sentiment this past week …
On a Flywheel call, I pick up a couple in Potrero Hill going to Bar Agricole. Along the way, he rants about how Uber is destroying The City by flooding the streets with unlicensed drivers and that his brother-in-law is a moron for letting his 15-year-old daughter ride alone in Ubers.
“Taxi drivers have to be fingerprinted, right?”
“Yeah, and now we get drug tested.”
As they get out of the cab, the man shouts, “Viva la Cab! Fuck Uber!”
Relax, I want to say. We’re not that great.
Later, I pick up a businessman at Second and Howard who just realized how much he’s been paying for his Uber rides and has decided to try Flywheel. “With all their surcharges, I figure you guys are probably cheaper.”
As he fiddles with the app, he asks, “Why can’t I put in my destination?”
“You’re supposed to just tell us where you’re going.”
Do you not even remember how taxis work? I wonder to myself.
I’m on deck at the Hyatt Regency. Two kids climb in. They’re going to Bar None.
“Do you know where that is?”
The guy calls their friends to coordinate a rendezvous for a little pre-gaming.
When he hangs up, I tell them, “You know you can drink in a taxi, right?”
“Yeah, it’s 100 percent legal to drink in the backseat of a taxicab.”
“Wow!” they both exclaim as the girl twists the lid off a pint of Jägermeister.
The guy cracks open a Red Bull chaser and asks, “Why can’t you drink in Ubers and Lyfts?”
“They’re private vehicles.”
They text their friends, who are in a Lyft, that they’re already off to the races. And then Snapchat the evidence.
Somehow, I end up on Chestnut, where I come upon two older guys. One is holding his phone out, but when the other guy sees me, he shouts, “Fuck your Uber! Taxi wins.” They lunge at my cab.
Apparently, they were having a contest to see who would show up, or happen by, first.
I don’t feel like much of a winner with this load.
After the guy with an Australian accent tells me, “1200 California,” they start fighting over who loves who more, punching each other and wrestling in the backseat as I careen through traffic on Lombard.
“Hey, don’t make me have to pull this taxi over!” I yell over my shoulder, jokingly.
“You see!” the Australian says. “It’s your constant insolence that got us kicked out of the last two bars!”
“And they kicked us out of the bars before that because you’re an asshole!”
From what I can gather, they only met that afternoon. The Australian man was down in the dumps but the American cheered him up with some “choo choo and a disco bit.”
Since then, they’ve been raging through the Marina. Now, they’re in my cab arguing over whose high-rise apartment has the better view.
“I can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, all that shit …”
“But it’s foggy as hell, mate.”
“Well, we pay our doorman $4,000 a month.”
“We pay our doorman $5,000.”
“1200 California it is,” I say, roaring up Clay Street.
“Do you even know where you’re going?” the American asks me.
“Shut up, mate. He’s a professional.”
“Yeah, shut up, mate!” I turn right on Jones and hook a quick right at California into the loading zone in front of 1200.
“Bravo,” the American slurs as he spills out onto the sidewalk.
The Australian counts out a bunch of wrinkled dollar bills. The meter reads $11.75. He keeps counting until he’s at $15.
I look at the mess of wadded up money in my hands, probably the most appropriate form of payment for this ride. “Yeah.”
“Cheers!” He climbs out of the cab and almost falls over his friend. “You bloody bastard! Get up off the fucking ground!”
It’s a good thing they pay their doorman so much money, I think as I drive away.