Friday, October 1, 2010


Shift #80

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8 -- Union/Buchanan to California/Front -- $9.85

who wave me down while they are in possession of a suitcase will often issue a hurried, introductory apology: “I’m sorry I’m not going to the airport...”

Over the years, I have customized a response: Oh, don’t worry -- at the Academy, they drill us and drill us and drill us on not getting overly-excited whenever we see luggage…

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to use my (always well-received) line, but when I see a young woman standing on the curb near the Cow Hollow Starbucks, a suitcase-on-wheels at her feet and her hand in the air, I get ready to blow the dust off of it just in case.

She doesn’t apologize (nor do I think she should), just tells me she’s going downtown (to her job at a real estate firm). She remarks enthusiastically on the absolutely wonderful fall day that has presented itself to us, and for a minute or two I play along, but then I get right down to business: “Are you a baseball fan?”

She: “Oh yes I am -- and I was at the game last night!

Me: “So was I!”

And we’re off and running…

Last night, in his very first postseason game, the Giants’ freaky young pitcher, Tim Lincecum (he’s 26), struck out 14 Atlanta Braves. The game’s only run was scored by the Giants’ kid catcher with the Hollywood name, Buster Posey (he’s 23), and now the Giants have a 1-0 lead in the opening round of the playoffs. At the other (imaginery) academy -- the All Sports Fools Academy -- they drill and they drill and they drill us sports idiots about not getting overly-excited about the unlikely possibility of our favorite teams winning the World Series, but no matter. All this week the city’s populace has been swaggering around in Giants orange-and-black. At night, City Hall and Coit Tower have been bathed in orange lighting. And the playoffs have brushed aside the weather as the number one topic of conversation. If our Giants win just ten more games, they’ll be world champs!

“The park is always great,” my fare tells me. “But last night -- all that energy was just phenomenal…”

Nearly 44,000 of us packed into our little jewel of a ballpark-by-the-Bay (the Giants’ stadium is the only major league sports stadium in the country built without taxpayer money -- the Giants raised $300 million and built it themselves), and all night long, strikeout after strikeout, we waved our silly orange rally rags and screamed our sports fool heads off.

In advanced coursework at the Taxicab Academy, we drivers are further trained to have an opinion on everything sports- or politics-related, and at least on this topic -- the San Francisco Giants’ chances of winning their first World Series championship -- I in fact do have a strong opinion, and whether my fare wants it or not, I give it to her:

“I think it would take some sort of miracle. I really like this team, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ like a World Series winner to me. The World Series always seems to go to one powerhouse team who just blows everyone else away, or sometimes there are two pretty strong teams who fight it out. But then, every once in a while, some unlikely bunch of overachievers will catch a rogue wave and ride it all the way to shore -- and I’m going to leave the door wide open for the Giants to be that bunch this year. There does seem to be something really good and pure about this group -- maybe it just seems that way because prickly old Barry Bonds and his big old bag of steroids are all gone, but whatever, it’s been a fun year.…”

I’m on my sports fool roll: “Still, for the Giants to win it all, they’re going to have to forget everything they think they know and surrender themselves to the baseball gods, allow themselves to be infused with that special… I hate to use the word magic...”

My fare: “Hey -- there’s nothing wrong with magic. I’ve never seen a World Series game. I’m ready. I’m willing. I’ll take magic any day…”

In our short ride, my fare and I have unmistakably created a feeling, and baby, you know what that means: Free Ride!

She squeals: “Oh, you have made my day -- you’ve made my whole weekend!”

Play ball!


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