It’s almost last call on a quiet Friday night. There’s not much going on. Halloween was the previous weekend, and with the election on Tuesday, only the diehards are out partying …
On the corner of 16th and Sanchez, a young couple flags me. The girl gets in alone. Her eyes are glazed and she’s holding a plastic bag.
An ominous sensation rises from my gut.
“828 Acacia,” she says slowly. “By Cow Palace.”
On the way to the freeway, I ask how her night is going. I get no response. She’s already passed out.
I type the address into my phone, but there’s no 828 Acacia in San Francisco or Daly City. Just San Bruno.
Still, I drive to Cow Palace. When I get off the freeway, I wake her up.
“What’s your address again?”
“828 Acacia, like the tree.”
“There’s no street like that around here. Are you sure it’s not in San Bruno?”
“Yes. It’s in San Bruno.”
“Well … then why tell me it’s by Cow Palace?”
“You know you’re in a taxi, right?”
As I drive to San Bruno, I can’t shake this bad feeling. The meter currently reads $22.75. If she really lives in San Bruno, why not say she was next to the airport? And what’s with the plastic bag?
When I reach the 800 block of Acacia, I can’t find 828. The numbers are obscured from the street.
I wake her up again.
“Which one’s your place?”
As she opens the cab door, I remind her again she’s in a taxi and must pay me. The meter now reads $44.20.
“I don’t have any money. It’s inside.”
“What? You don’t have your ATM card on you?”
“I lost my purse and my phone somewhere. Maybe my friend has them …”
I shake my head. Try to remain calm.
I seem to be cursed with these drunken and disoriented millennials. As much as I try to avoid them, they keep getting in my cab. I had two non-payers during Halloween. Including one to South City. I pulled up to this kid’s house, $32.65 on the meter, and he told me, “I have no money. Sorry. I don’t even have keys to get inside.”
What the fuck?
Faced with the same prospect, I hesitantly watch the girl get out of the taxi.
“Where’s my house?” she asks.
“It’s not right in front of us?”
“No. I think it’s down the street a ways.”
What the fuck?
Back in the cab, I try to figure out where her night went wrong. She lives with her mom. Met a friend in The City. I ask if she’d taken any drugs. She says no, but she’s acting roofied. Tells me the guy she was with had ordered her an Uber, except the driver wouldn’t take her because she’d thrown up.
Is that what the bag is for?
As I’m cruising down what’s increasingly beginning to feel like some random street in San Bruno, she says, “You can let me out here. I think we’re close.”
“No, I’m trying to get you home,” I tell her. “But I need to know where you live!”
“88 Acacia. Like the tree.”
“Wait … you said 828 before,” I say.
“No, 88 Acacia.”
I search 88 Acacia, like the tree. There’s no 88 on the Acacia Street we’re currently on. And the only other 88 Acacia is in Pacifica.
Now I’m getting desperate. “Spell out your address.”
“Did you say two Cs?”
That’s not like the tree at all!
What the fuck?
I hit the freeway, pissed. Mostly at myself.
On Geneva, right across from Cow Palace, there it is: Accacia Street.
The meter reads $84.90. Not that I’m going to charge her for the entire fare. While I’m obviously no Porfiry Petrovich, I must hold myself partially culpable. I never should have driven to San Bruno. What a huge mistake!
The girl immediately recognizes her house. Jumps out of the cab. I follow and remind her to pay me. She drops the plastic bag in the garbage can and assures me she’ll return.
After a few minutes, the foyer light goes out.
That’s when I panic.
I walk up and ring the buzzer. The foyer lights come back on. The girl emerges with an ATM card.
“It’s my mom’s,” she says.
Relieved, I run it for $50.
I drive away shaking my head. Kids today are so screwed.
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. Write to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at www.idrivesf.com.