Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Inner Reservoirs

Shift #12

SUNDAY, JANUARY 31 -- 7:30 AM -- Union/Hyde to Chestnut/Divisadero -- never turned on meter, but probably $6.25

EARLY SUNDAY MORNING -- the absolute deadest period of the entire cab week. I haven’t seen a single person on the streets in half an hour.

But as I’m climbing through a thick fog slathered on the flanks of Russian Hill, I see two young women standiing side-by-side in the bus zone at Union and Hyde. They look jarringly fresh and alert -- the word clear comes to mind. They’re chatting, trading smiles with each other, and I’m struck by how smooth their faces look. An Oakland police officer, a friend of mine, once told me that his favorite thing about his job was that it gave him an excuse -- and also the means -- to approach and talk to anyone who looked interesting. At the next intersection, Union and Leavenworth, I do a U-turn.

When they see me pull to the curb, the two women’s smiles fade but don't disappear. I notice that one has white, perfect teeth. Their clothes are sensible, not flashy, and they both appear lean and fit. I imagine them as semi-serious runners. I further imagine inner reservoirs of contentment pooled within them, even when they’re surprised, as they are now, by this Green Cab pulling to a stop right in front of them and the driver sliding down his passenger window. One of them shakes her head at me, but there’s no rebuke, just information being conveyed.

“Every day I give away one free ride,” I call to them. “I haven’t given away a free ride today, and I would very much like to offer the two of you a free ride.”

They look away from me and back toward each other. Their eyebrows lift, and their cheeks, too.

One of them was born in Michigan and the other is from Holland. They are in San Francisco to train with a yoga teacher over on Chestnut Street. In a few days they will be heading down to San Diego, where they will both be leading yoga courses. Yoga came into each of their lives “five or six years ago” and now, yes, they both agree, yoga is indeed the “number one thing” in their lives.

The ride takes almost no time at all, as there is virtually no traffic, and the lights on Lombard are timed. I would have preferred more time with them, but life and my cab roll on.


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