My third rain-drenched shift in a row begins on Saturday with the news of widespread power outages, disrupted BART service and, of course, the usual apocalyptic bridge traffic. Worst of all, though:
What began in 1974 as a Situationist-inspired attack on capitalist greed by a Danish theater collective, then introduced to San Francisco in the same spirit 20 years later by a couple of pranksters from the Cacophony Society, Santacon has since devolved into a directionless pub-crawl — just another reason for Marina bros, and the women who love them, to get wasted publicly in broad daylight. While clad in festive holiday outfits, naturally.
As I get ready for work, I hope the intermittent downpours wash away the vomit and shame by 5 p.m., when I begin my journey to the National Yard …
After dropping off my first fare at the Fillmore, a guy wearing Mardi Gras beads flags me at Post. Without much consternation, I wave him forward. Then, I see he’s not alone. Behind him are two Santas.
Those aren’t Mardi Gras beads, I realize. They’re Christmas ornaments!
Argh! I’ve been Shanghaied!
“Where to, guys?”
“The North Pole,” jokes the human Christmas tree.
I laugh, politely.
“Turn right here,” says a Santa in the back. “I’ll direct you.”
Not unless you are going to the North Pole, Kooky Kringle. “Where you guys heading exactly?”
“The owl bar.”
“The owl bar?” I ask. “You mean Owl Tree?”
“Just turn right here,” the Santa giving directions tells me.
I take a right onto Webster, even though Owl Tree is on the corner of Post, the street we’re on, and Taylor, several blocks east.
“Turn left here,” he says at Geary.
Whatever. It’s your dime. I have no problem meandering through The City. Until, that is, the guy up front asks, “Can I play some tunes?”
With electronic music blasting, I race down O’Farrell in the taxi lane.
“I do coke,” a female’s voice intones over dubstep. “So I can work longer, so I can earn more, so I can do more coke.”
What is this crap kids listen to these days? Is this supposed to be the Millennial version of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines”? Minus the social commentary?
One Santa hangs out the window while the other two talk about finding girls at the bar.
On Taylor, I try to change lanes to get around a double-parker, but a van thinks otherwise.
The Santa hanging out the window jeers at the driver until he stops honking and lets us pass.
“Show some fucking Christmas spirit!”
Once I’m rid of them, I look around. Deep in Santacon territory, I’m surrounded by a bevy of Santas: Half-dressed Santas, sexy Santas, sexy elves, semi-sexy reindeer and gender-neutral Christmas trees.
It seems the rain has only caused a delay in the festivities, turning what is usually a daytime event into a nighttime event.
A match made in HELL.
I try to escape on Sutter, but a Mr. and Mrs. Claus flag me at Jones. On the way to Route 101, the girl tells me, “We just met.”
For the rest of the ride, they make out vigorously, stabbing me in the back with their knees.
When I drop them off, another couple immediately gets in.
“Can you take us to 1532 Greenwich Street?”
The girl reeks of vomit. Besides her lunch, she’s lost her purse and her keys, which proves problematic since they’re going to her place.
I offer her an Altoid.
“Yeah, give me drugs!”
“These are breath mints,” I point out.
“Ew. No thanks.”
“She’s really a nice girl,” the guy tells me. “I promise.”
After solving their problem with a phone charger, I decide to embrace Santacon. Approach it from a sociological perspective. Why not?
I head to Union Street …
Three rides later, stuck in a Polk Street/Cow Hollow vortex, I’m ready to abandon the project. I’ve seen too much!
Just then, a Santa, whose red jacket barely conceals a forest of chest hair, and his little helper climb in back.
“24 Palisades Road.”
“Where’s that?” I ask.
Based on their conversation, they just hooked up at the bar.
“I’m emotionally mature,” the girl tells the boy. “But also passionate.”
“That’s so insightful,” he responds.
As I get on 280, they lock lips. Start twisting and turning and knocking the back of my seat.
I keep the needle between 65 and 70 mph the whole way, thinking to myself, “at least there won’t be roving bands of horny, drunken Santas in Daly City.”
Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver. Write to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at www.idrivesf.com.