Article first appeared in sfcabbie stories, January 2004







Saturday, January 31st 2004 - 05:44:20 PM

Who Takes the Picture
of the Large City?

By R. Hart

I drive taxi 1010 during the day and do research what to say back when people say rude things. I guess it all started when a passenger at United said, "Take me to the Fairmont ... Do you know where it is?" I felt hurt. Years later I realized I could say, "And more!" and began to feel better.

Then I began to wonder the opposite. How do we hurt the passenger's feelings? What should a passenger say back if a cabbie says, "What do you mean? That's one block! You don't need a taxi - You can walk right over there! What the hell is wrong with you?"

Maybe I'd say, "Who cares? ... It doesn't cost that much!" just to see if the cabbie has a sense of humor, and get another cab if they don't.

My name is Richard ... Richard Hart, and one day a passenger asked, "Are you the Night Cabbie?" Well, it was ten o'clock in the morning, so I knew the fellow had a screw loose until he told me he was the editor for the Night Cabbie over at the Examiner (at the time) and had asked at least ten other cabbies if they, too, were the Night Cabbie, and six of them had said yes. Now we know who has a sense of humor.

I think the strangest thing I've seen in this city is Brewster Street(s). There are two of them, both with a white street sign starting at "00" over there at Bernal Heights. These two streets seem to be having a war, because the city put an extra green sign on the Brewster Street higher on the hill, proclaiming "Brewster Street" in a more forceful manner, with an arrow. However it's only a block long. The Brewster Street down the hill goes about an eighth of a mile.

There's a fellow who lives between the two Brewster Streets who used to work at IBM (as did I). He tells me when he calls a cab, he leaves his house, climbs the hill and looks down to see on which Brewster Street the cab will arrive.

I used to hear Peter, our day dispatcher, earnestly talk to cabbies about Brewster Street(s) at least a few times a week until Yellow Cab went digital, and Peter got his own cab. Well, turn about is fair play. Now I can listen in peace to distraught passengers letting off steam on their cell phones instead.

At least they no longer ask me if I know where the Fairmont is. And so far, only one has ever asked if I know about the two Brewster Streets, because he actually lives there, contributing to our overall sense of humor.

Who takes the picture of the large city? Each other.



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Illustration by Amoret Phillips /