Monday, March 1, 2010

Toyota wants me!

Shift #29

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17 -- Hotel W to Eight and Market -- $7.15

THERE ARE MANY REASONS why I like working the Hotel W: the staff is cool about letting cab drivers use the lobby bathroom; in the morning, maybe half the rides are $40 airport fares; the doormen don’t squeeze you for tips like the jackals at some of the other nearby, supposedly classy, hotels (yes, unbelievable!); the other drivers who tend to work the W are mostly Brazilians, a happy bunch of guys, always laughing about something, always friendly toward me -- if I come back in another life, I won’t mind if I’m Brazilian. Also, the W’s clientele is usually interesting: Beyonce, the entire Dallas Mavericks squad; the drummer from Green Day (I’ve never had these folks in my cab, but the doorman tells me who’s staying, if I ask). And whether they’re celebrities or not, the W’s folks are almost always very personable.

For the past several months I have been picking up individual members of a team of Chicago-based consultants who each morning travel from the W to an office building at Eighth and Market, where they are working on a long-term contract. They stay at the W during the week, fly home to Chicago each weekend, and then fly back to San Francisco again. This morning I pick up a young woman who looks like her ancestry might be...Tibetan? Chinese? Peruvian? Her accent gives no clues -- it is as mainstream American as my own. I’ve had her in my cab a couple of times before, but it’s been a few weeks now.

“Are there still four of you on this job?” I ask.

“No, just two of us now.”

“Is it like Survivor? Will one of you get voted off the island soon?”

She laughs. “You never know… Maybe!

I often use the people in the back of my cab the same way I use my therapist: to share the things going on in my life. “I’m kind of excited,” I tell her. “Toyota is sending a film crew to our cab lot today to do a ‘test shoot’ for a possible commercial, and they want me and my Prius.”

“That’s great...” she says, with enthusiasm, and that’s all the opening I need. I barge ahead and spill all the rest of the details -- three trucks full of film gear, advertising honchos, free sandwiches... Hers is not a long ride, and I hog all the airspace during the last few blocks, at the end of which I tell her about my free ride. She seems to appreciate all of it. “Good luck with the commercial,” she says on the way to her day.

Cheaper than talking to my therapist, for sure.


No comments:

Post a Comment