Friday, October 1, 2010

Bad omen / good omen

Shift #85

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31 -- Halloween Day -- Union/Van Ness to Union/Fillmore

upon waking is, “Why in the world didn’t (Giants manager Bruce) Bochy put Eli Whiteside at catcher last night, with Buster Posey at first base, Aubrey Huff at DH, Travis Ishikawa in right, and Cody Ross in left? Pat Burrell was a ghost last night -- he should get at least one night off, and my god, shouldn’t we send Pablo Sandoval home for the winter and let him get his head straight…?”

I look over at the alarm clock: 3:45 A.M.

SHORTLY AFTER 8 AM I’m rolling north on Van Ness, empty -- nobody’s up yet. I’m thinking I might get lucky and find a flag over in Cow Hollow, or maybe over in the Marina I’ll catch another airport off the radio. I’ve already caught one there earlier today.

I swing left onto Union Street and immediately spot a woman standing in the bus zone at Union and Van Ness. She’s dressed mostly in black, but I see a smudge of orange on the bill of her baseball cap and my cab swoops right in on her -- all by itself, it seems. Even before I can get my window rolled down she breaks into a great big smile and starts stomping her right foot up and down on the sidewalk -- she’s seen all my orange Giants gear and the pennant flying from the cab’s roof. My free ride pitch is not even half-finished when she shrieks, “I love it! Yes-yes, I love it!”

She’s only going seven blocks, so we have to talk fast. She’s about my own age and has been to twenty-six Giants games this year, but no playoff games (I’ve been to the ballpark maybe twenty times, including five times during the playoffs). One of her friends serves as a sort of extra-ticket clearinghouse for several Giants season ticket holders, so my fare often winds up with cheap tickets as a result. This morning she’s on fire. She wants to see the Giants win a World Series as much as I do, which is as much as any fan in the Bay Area does. She’ll accept last night’s loss (so will I), but we can NOT allow another one tonight.

She: “Texas is too good for us to let up -- we have to go all out tonight. Lots of idiots are saying, ‘Oh, I hope the Giants lose two in Texas so we can win it in San Francisco...' but that’s sheer stupidity. We need to win tonight, and we need to win tomorrow night... But tonight, especially, is a must-win.

I share with her the fully formed thought-chain that woke me up this morning.

She: “Oh, absolutely! Bochy can NOT let Pablo DH again tonight!”

At the end of the ride we sit in my cab for three or four or five minutes, talking about the unbelievable parts of the Series -- Timmy Lincecum’s heart-stopping “brain fart” in Game One; the ball that bounced off the top of the center field fence -- bounced backwards! -- and wound up in Andres Torres’ glove, a mere double for Texas instead of a game-changing homer; and simply everything about Juan OOO-ree-bay... And we agree that even if she and I had all day to talk to each other, we couldn’t even scratch the surface of Brian Wilson!

In Games One and Two, it seemed that every break went the Giants’ way, but Game Three started with a scary, even sickening, omen. In Row One, right behind the catcher, best seat in the Rangers’ house, there was the surly, bantam rooster face of George W. Bush, oozing a self-righteous surliness into just about every camera shot...

Me: “We Giants fans think we know something about torture -- but Bush knows more about torture than we’ll ever know -- and, for me, seeing him there all night -- that was pure torture!”

My fare laughs. “If that man had a speck of decency he’d stay out of sight forever. Just seeing him probably threw Jonathan Sanchez off his game.”

Me: “And didn’t Nolan Ryan (two seats to the right of Bush) start to look more and more like Dick Cheney the longer the game went on?”

She: “Oh, you said it! We just have to win tonight!”

As she’s walking away from my cab, I roll down my window again and call over: “Don’t worry -- I think I saw a good omen about an hour and a half ago. I was on my way to the airport just before dawn, the sky was still black and filled with clouds, but there was one crack down near the horizon, and you know what color was coming through?”

She: “Yes -- I love it -- Giants orange!”

Me: “Bingo! Giants orange.”

She: “I love it! Yes…!”

During the entire rest of my shift, I don’t meet a single person who isn’t planning to be in front of a t.v. by first pitch -- at 5:20 pm.


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