Last week is a blur. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought I could do five taxi shifts in a row. I’m no longer a young man. I have grown weary and paunchy around the waist.
At the time, though, it seemed like a good idea. With the Oracle convention winding down and the Folsom Street Fair gearing up, The City was hopping, and I didn’t want to miss out on any of the action.
The last thing I remember with any clarity is finishing my column on Wednesday morning and then calling Jacob at the National office to secure 182, my regular cab.
From there, things get a little muddy …
I hit the streets around 5 p.m. Move some conventioneers around in gridlock traffic.
“Where might I find a toy store?” asks a woman from the Netherlands.
Then there’s a software developer from Seattle who tells me he went to a strip club the night before and a girl wanted to charge him $2,000 to “go upstairs.”
“I’m not above paying for sex,” he says, “but that’s excessive.”
I pretend to share his outrage while secretly admiring the stripper’s chutzpah.
I drop him off at Butterfly on the Embarcadero, where a crowd of tourists who’ve just disembarked from two massive cruise ships are looking for cabs to Beach Blanket Babylon.
The hotels may all be at capacity, but let us go and make our visit …
That night, the Oracle appreciation event at AT&T Park features Gwen Stefani and Sting. But I never make it south of Market. Like a perfect storm, every event in The City breaks at the same time. I grab a fare from the Jane’s Addiction show at the Masonic. Take them to the Outer Sunset. Race back to find a straggler from the Die Antwoord show at Bill Graham.
When things settle, I’m craving Thai food, but parking around the House of Thai is a tedious argument.
Do I dare stop in front of a fire hydrant?
On Friday night, about 2 a.m., I get a fare going to Hayward. The young guy tells me he’d been at Oktoberfest, but his friends ditched him and his phone died, which is why he wasn’t able to call an Uber. Since he seems sober, I let him direct me. Until we end up in Livermore. Then I pull over. Demand to know his address.
I drive the 20 miles back to the Hayward in silence as a bead of sweat slowly drips down my chest.
As the week progresses, SoMa and the Castro begins to swell in anticipation of the Folsom Street Fair. I start collecting the first of what I hope to be many sweaty $20 bills.
That night, I work the new Mighty, AKA, the Great Northern. Eventually, I deadhead to Midway, at Illinois and Marin, where I promptly get a fare.
On the way to Noe Valley, my cab starts making a loud noise. At a light, I investigate.
Two flat tires.
I get my passengers home, limp down to the gas station. Not to be dissuaded, I grab a spare at the yard and keep working.
In the backseat of my cab, the passengers come and go, talking of sex and fellatio.
On Sunday, I work the Folsom Street Fair and the after parties. Around midnight, a couple flags me at Seventh Street.
“So how’s Uber treating you?” the man asks.
“I usually take Uber but my phone died.”
“Well then, how’s Uber treating you?” I ask.
There will be time for drug deals and late night meals at Grubstake for couples who escape neo-Nazis in Lyft lines. Or a vision quest for tater tots at 3 a.m.
Until everyone’s phones are dead. And then I’m trapped, talking about architecture, drugs and that lanky boy walking the streets for hours in a pink G-string. Or just naked butt cheeks, framed in leather jock straps.
On Monday morning, as the sun rises behind the Oakland hills, I crawl home, cursing the impending heat wave, knowing it’ll be impossible to sleep through the day. And as I toss and turn on sweat-drenched sheets, the previous week dissipates like a bad memory.
And I drown.