If you see me, please wave
(This was written when I was still a night cab driver--since August 2004 I've been a day driver)
In 1982, just after we'd deposited all our possessions in San Francisco, my then-wife and I took a six-month trip backpack trip around the world. For week after week we wandered through exotic cities, beaches, and mountain ranges. Life with a capital L.
We had spent the previous decade living in the Rockies, but when we returned to the States we relocated to San Francisco, a place I had never lived before but which I had always liked visiting.
My most marketable skill was typing, and now I found work as a secretary on the eighteenth floor of a forty-story high-rise downtown. In contrast to the freedom of the Road, I now felt like a prisoner. During morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks I would ride the elevator down to the street, bolt outdoors, and gulp the fresh Bay air.
One day, I arrived at and realized that I had left my wallet at home. In mid-morning I caught a bus toward our apartment in the Haight-Ashbury district. Riding up Market Street, looking out the bus window, I saw dozens of casually dressed people, strolling, chatting, walking dogs, sorting through the bins full of fruits and vegetables in neighborhood produce shops. In scores of coffee shops I saw hundreds of people lounging, reading newspapers, pontificating, scribbling in notebooks. There was a long line of people in front of a movie theater showing first-run movies from 9 a.m. onward. Who were these people? And more importantly, how could I become one of them?
A few months later my wife asked for a divorce. I quit my secretary job and started working as a night cab driver. I’ve been behind the wheel for over twenty years now. If you pass the café where I have my mid-morning coffee, please wave. I’ll understand.