Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good Night, Cabbie

Back in the late 1990's, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a weekly column on Mondays called The Night Cabbie. Does anyone else recall this great segment???

A local cab driver whom, to this day, I have yet to uncover his (or her!) identity, would dazzle us locals with tales of late night fares throughout the city. For some reason, I was always convinced this was a DeSoto cabbie, don't ask me why. Sometimes it was the ramblings of some homeless kid on Polk St; other times you'd hear tales of apathy and ignorance from wealthy tourists. They ranged from the hilarious to the bizarre, and you always got the feeling that this guy should have been a sociology professor at SF State, or at the least run some head shop on Haight.

His column ran until 2004, when he finally decided that struggling to make ends meet peddling cab fares was just not worth it, and he hung up his keys (and his pen) for good. It was a real loss - a real shame.

I enjoyed his stories because of his ability to tell it the way it was. I could almost imagine myself sitting in that back seat, watching these random, bizarre exchanges, wondering, "What is THAT guy's deal?"

About two or three times a year, although living out of state now, I still find myself googling "Night Cabbie" hoping to see him back in the drivers seat but alas, he has vanished from the cab scene it seems for good. He brought the realness of the city home - and he is greatly missed. I wonder if he ever googles himself, perhaps to see if anyone still remembers.....

Luckily, the online SF Chronicle keeps ALL his work archived on their site, so below I have posted a link to his final column, written shortly after Christmas of 2004.

You can find his last column here.

As you read it you truly understand why he gave it up and wonder how many other cab drivers out there are starving as well. You wonder why the city makes it so hard for these guys to make a living.

You are still missed, and not forgotten Night Cabbie. I hope that wherever you are today, that if the opportunity arises to make a little extra money driving looneys from the Fairmont to Big Al's on Broadway, you just might take it....

Remember when Scott Ostler wrote non-sports columns?? Tomorrow....

Link courtesy of and the SF Examiner/Chronicle.

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