Taxi Of The Beast

July 25th, 2007at 06:13pm Posted by Eli

I am totally not making this up:

It was a good day for the Devil in San Francisco on Tuesday, as the Taxicab Commission voted to keep the Dark Lord’s favorite number — 666 — affixed to an allegedly cursed cab.The vote, which came after an amused period of public comment and annoyed looks from the commissioners, extended the satanic reign of Taxi No. 666, which is driven by one Michael Byrne (pronounced burn).

Mr. Byrne, who did not appear at the hearing on Tuesday night and was not reachable for comment, had lobbied — out of superstition — to have his medallion number changed, and had found an ally in Jordanna Thigpen, deputy director of the Taxicab Commission.

In a memo distributed last week, Ms. Thigpen wrote that Mr. Byrne believed the number to be responsible for a series of calamities he had endured in a streak of bad luck that had led him to have his taxi blessed at a local church, to no apparent avail.

“This medallion holder would prefer not to speak about the specific problems,” Ms. Thigpen wrote, “but they are of great severity.”

Adding to the cab’s sinister mystique was the fact that Taxi No. 666 caught on fire on a Good Friday some years ago in a blaze that, as local legend has it, wrecked the car but left the offending medallion untouched.


[Some] saw the debate as a waste of time and money, two things the Great Deceiver would no doubt have approved.

“If we don’t have 666, what’s next?” said Tom Stanghellini, 59, a longtime cabbie. “What about medallion 13? Or 1313?”

Commissioner Patricia Breslin echoed that.

“Where does it end?” Ms. Breslin said. “I lived at a residence numbered 666, and I did not go over to the dark side.”

Ms. Thigpen said she did not want to set a precedent, but said the number in question had become increasingly difficult for her office to assign. “No other number causes an administrative burden like this number,” she said on Wednesday. “And I’m sure with all this attention it’s going to get worse.”

Personally, and speaking as someone who is really not superstitious at all, I have to ask, how big a deal is it to just give the poor guy a new medallion number, or let him swap with someone who doesn’t mind driving the Evil Satan Cab? As special dispensations go, this seems like a pretty minor and easily-granted request.

Now, if this had been a case where a cabbie had Cab #666 and some group of overzealous Christians was trying to force him to change it, I would have the opposite position, but I think my stance is consistent: Let the cabbie have a medallion number that he’s comfortable with. Why make him miserable over something that’s so simple to fix?

Entry Filed under: Religion,Weirdness

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