Saturday, May 1, 2010



SUNDAY, MAY 2 -- Hotel W to Pier 39 -- $8.95

RIDE #1: A MIDDLE-AGED COUPLE wearing full Giants’ fan gear -- black and orange everything -- walk out of the W Hotel. Their faces light up when they see me and my cab. The woman’s arms shoot into the air like she's just thrown the final strike-three of the World Series: "We've been looking for you!"

They live in Concord (or was it Walnut Creek?), have seen the Commercial too many times to count, and during the past couple of days they have talked about whether they might (they have even dared to hope they might) spot me. But to wind up in my cab! Oh, this is almost too much -- it’s just unbelievable!

They’re in San Francisco to have a big day with their son's Little League team -- the whole team is being allowed down onto the field this morning, before the game, and later the kids will get to run the bases. A block and a half from the ballpark, we see a line of about thirty people strung out along the Second Street sidewalk -- 10-12 year-old kids in blue “Braves” baseball uniforms, plus a few adults. When they see my cab they start cheering and whistling and calling out, “…commercial!...TV!...Green Cab!” Several of them start trotting down the street to try to keep up with us. The man says, “Oh, can you please pull over? Maybe we can get some photos?” And suddenly I'm beside my cab, surrounded by a Little League team, cameras, smiles... This has been FUN for me! And other drivers at Green Cab say it’s been fun for them, too -- throughout their shifts, customers keep bringing up the Ad. It is hot! [We exchange addresses, and I beg them to please send me some of the photos. They never arrive. Darnit.]

RIDE #3: THEY’RE YOUNG (they’re both 24), they’re each very personable and polite, they're attractive and fit-looking and brimming with youth, and to me they seem rather perfectly matched. They both grew up in Indianapolis but now they live in Chicago, where they feel quite at home. He works as a business consultant (“You’ve probably taken many of my brethren to the airport”) and she as a therapist focusing on relationships. I say, “Well then, you’re guaranteed lifelong happiness!” and they both chuckle convincingly, even though they’ve certainly heard that quip a million times before.

Today is a perfect weather day, perhaps the best of the year so far, and my fares are clearly in an excellent mood, as am I. They are here for three days to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, a tidbit I discover embarrassingly late in the ride. (Back on the sidewalk in front of the W Hotel, one of my cab driver brethren had warned them, “Be careful, this guy is famous now!” And so they had asked about it, and I spent the ride’s entire first half telling them the story.) At Pier 39 I apologize for having bogarted the conversation, wish them a lifetime of happiness, and tell them the ride is free.

“But,” shrieks the woman, “we love your story!”

Me: “Come on now... Don’t make me come back there and throw you out!”

And they flee, trailing laughter.

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