Thursday, April 1, 2010


Shift #36

FRIDAY, APRIL 9 – Sacramento/Battery to Lombard/Battery -- $5.80


On Fridays I pay $102 to rent my cab (from 4 A.M. until 4 P.M. it’s mine to do with as I please), and gas costs me another $5-10, so I’ve got to clear about $110 before I start making money “for myself.” But today -- a windless, cloudless, beautiful spring day, expected high around seventy degrees -- I’m knocking off at noon. The San Francisco Giants play their first home baseball game today (the Giants are 3-0, the only undefeated team in the majors in this young season), and my old friend Larry Habegger and I are going to inaugurate my new season tickets.

Larry is in his late 50s, like me, and a few years ago had the special geezer thrill of seeing a Minneapolis newspaper columnist remember him as maybe “the best high school shortstop ever to play in the Twin Cities” or maybe it was “God’s gift to baseball” or something else kind of like that, but whatever it was, for the past decade Larry and I have enjoyed watching baseball together and polishing up our glory days.

My two seats constitute the “last row” in the stadium -- to reach them you go to the upper deck, walk down the right field section as far as you can walk, climb the last row of steps as high as you can climb, and voila, there you are. I have sat in seats all over the stadium and in my opinion there are many views worse than, but none better than, the view from my seats. You’re up so high that you actually look down on the flat top edge of the right field foul pole. One hundred feet straight below your right elbow you see kayakers and pleasure boaters puttering just beyond the right field fence, in McCovey Cove, waiting for a “splash hit” home run to come sailing out of the park. The long elegant arm of the Bay Bridge stretches across miles of blue water and seems to point, like Babe Ruth calling his shot, toward the cross-bay cities of Berkeley and Oakland. Thirty miles in the distance, beyond the green East Bay hills, you see the tip of the Bay Area’s highest mountain, Mt. Diablo (3,849 feet), at the base of which my daughter is in school this morning.

To me, it’s worth sacrificing a little income to sit in my seats on Opening Day. But in fact, it looks like I’ll be sacrificing all my income today -- by noon I’ll be lucky to have earned even one dollar of profit. After hitting the streets at 4:21 AM this morning I was empty for more than two hours, and since then I’ve had just four “local” rides (no airports) and grossed just $46. And now, at 8:55 A.M., I’m flagged in the Financial District by three thirty-something guys wearing business suits. I move all my stuff (notebook, computer, jacket) off the front seat and into the trunk so that one of them can, more comfortably, ride up front with me.

The three of them are from Atlanta, and as businessmen go, they are kind of rowdy, talking smack about which of them will do the speaking during their upcoming meeting. Eventually, each of them volunteers tongue-in-cheek to not say a friggin word, but to just sit there and shut up and let the other two do all the talking. The one in the front seat suggests that if they get this thing over with by noon, maybe they can go catch the Giants-Braves game. One of his colleagues in the backseat says, “The game isn’t even in San Francisco, doofus -- it’s in Atlanta.”

I butt in “No… They’re playing in San Francisco at 1:35 pm.”

The guy in the backseat: “No, I heard it on the tv in my hotel room this morning -- it’s in Atlanta.”

Me: “Now don’t make me stop this cab, get my jacket out of the back, and pull my game ticket out of the pocket for you...”

The man up front turns toward the backseat: “You know, James, it’s entirely possible that this fellow who actually lives here and actually has a ticket to the game, he might just know what he’s talking about. Not highly likely, but still, entirely possible…” And everyone laughs.

It’s a very short ride. I love the dumbfounded looks on their faces, especially the one in the back, when I tell them this is my free ride for the day. They recover, however, and seem to warm to the idea pretty quickly.

Two rides later: Oakland airport -- fifty bucks.

At noon I turn in with $28 in my pocket.

Play ball!


No comments:

Post a Comment