Taxi Driver Impressions, Potrero Hill Style

in by

I drive a cab, and pass through Potrero Hill often.  As a cabbie I’ve seen a lot: where people shop, their outbursts and frustrations, excitements, joys. I had one ride in which a husband and wife talked about their impending divorce, creating a dark mood in the car.  Then they got out.  The next ride was a happy couple planning their wedding.

The views from Potrero’s hills are magnificent. Some of the streets are so steep first-time customer gasp when they see them at the crest of a hill, and often gasp again when they go down the street. If they’re sufficiently scared, I reassure them by telling them there’s an excellent chance that the maintenance shop has done the necessary brake job; they shouldn’t worry!

A recent passenger of mine was Dogpatch Hill resident Walton C., who is soon on his way to Cuba. Walton and his son delivered the View for a long time; they like the paper a lot. Walton, who is Chinese-American, wants to find Chinese people in Cuba. On the ride, he took a crash course in Spanish from me.

“Por cuanto tiempo ha vivido en Potrero Hill, Walton?” I asked him.

“I’ve lived here and had a business here for 32 years,” he said. “Let me tell you, there is a wonderful tour called the Dogpatch-Potrero tour the first and third Friday of the month. You can find their information at and see where they pick you up, fun; bring a camera.”

“Que puede decir sobre la calidad de la vida aqui?” I asked.

“The quality of life on the Hill is safer, I’m happy to say” said Walton. “The new homeowners don’t like to have their cars broken into, and there have been auto break-ins around here. More new people, more eyes on the street, so safer.”

“Algo mas?”

“Si, Caltrain.  Too many cars parked around their station, day and night.”

“Hay tiendas para comida cerca?”

“Yes, there are good places.  For example, The Good Life on 20th Street. Great health food type store, and whole foods…much better than partial foods…my wife likes it.”

“Otros lugares que ud. conoce en Potrero Hill?”

“Bueno, si, there’s the CCA culinary school on 16th, and a School of Asian Traditional medicine at Arkansas and 20th. You can just drop on in, the medi-cal centers are close. Zynga is the game company here…nice gyms to work out.”

“Se ven muchos fotografos por aqui?”

“Pues si. Only Potrero Hill has the View.  There are more development projects in the works. The park is nice.

Algo mas…especial, Walton?

“Pues mire que si.  There’s an Opera stage warehouse two blocks long! It’s at 22nd and Indiana, gigantic panels like you never saw before, and they have to move them when the developments come; where are they going to put these giant art pieces?”

OK, vamos a finalizar la entrevista por favor, tengo que tomar café para no dormirme. Que quiere decir?

“Great, as final statement let’s see…my wife and I ride bikes to the Ferry Building and back from about Third and Tennessee all the way…there are some bookstores in this area, although their names elude me right now.

Garcias, Walton, buenas noches.

After Walton leaves I decide to get coffee. I just need 20 to 30 rides tonight, and if it’s dead because of the Uber thing, I’ll go home early and watch television, wait for Friday and Saturday.  Whole Foods has good coffee, I decide to go there.