Ode to street hustle




I’ve come to dread working Saturday nights. Even if I get to the yard on time — which is near impossible due to the inevitable congestion on the bridge and the fact that I didn’t get home until 6 a.m. that morning and barely squeezed in a few hours of shuteye — I’ll spend the first several hours of my shift driving around The City aimlessly, looking for random fares, hoping Flywheel isn’t on the fritz, idling in cabstands, checking Hackers for any leads or smoking cigarettes at Caltrain until the theaters start breaking. At which point, I struggle to penetrate one massive clusterfuck of unmarked sedans after another just to get close enough to the Opera House, the Orpheum or the Golden Gate Theater to find a patron of the arts willing to take a taxi.

After that, there’s not much to do besides monitor the concert venues and wait out the belly-to-the-bar slump before last call. Then, it’s time to line up at the DJ clubs …

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When I pull into the ad hoc taxi stand outside the Great Northern, there’s an unmarked sedan with its hazards flashing at the end of the line. I keep my distance until the driver realizes he’s supposed to be at the front of the line, in the muddle of nearly identical vehicles and equally homogenous youngsters playing “Pokemon Go.”

“Are you here for Tanya?”

“No, I’m picking up … Michael.”

“Tanya?”

“Julie.”

“Are you Eyasu?”

“No, David.”

A red minivan pulls up…

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