August of Last Year Before the Leaves Disappeared


It’s kind of funny how some of my passengers come in waves. I’ll go for a three or four week period where I pick up the same pax on a regular basis. And it’s not always to and from the same location.

In early August, I picked up a gentleman I’ll call “Shane” three times in less than a week. It was pretty clear from the get-go that Shane liked to drink. The first time I met Shane was when he requested a ride from the bar right around the corner from my house. I was waiting for him for a few minutes before he stumbled out with the help of a friend who placed him in the front seat of my car.

Slurring his words, he provided me with his address and we were on our way. Shane was pretty quiet on the way home but seemed almost to the point of unconscious but still physically awake. He told me that he was a regular at the bar I picked him up from. Based on his level of intoxication, I wouldn’t doubt if he was a regular at more than one bar.

Three days later, I picked him up from the Moose Lodge. This time, he was not nearly as inebriated the as the first time I drove him. In fact, he was very much aware. It was unsurprising to me though that our destination was the bar I had picked him up from last time. He wanted to see if it was safe to go there because he had recently ended a relationship and she was the type to just hang out at the bar waiting for him.

He instructed me to wait while he went in to scope the place out, but was unsatisfied with the crowd there so he came back and we set off for his house. His ex wasn’t there, but he was ready to call it a night all the same. On our way home, Shane told me about how the relationship started. She was really cool, a little older and seemed to have her shit together. He got along well with her adult son, and for the first few months, things were good.

Then he discovered the dark side when she exploded on him over something extremely trivial. Sounds like a typical woman to me, right? She would cuss him out and threaten him, then beg him to stay with her, crying uncontrollably. The last straw was when she revealed that she was off her meds and got violent with him. He called it quits and she would continue to call and harass him whenever she had an “episode.” He said he learned his lesson trying to forge a relationship with anyone who was diagnosed as bipolar.

Shane tagged himself as a “nut magnet” because all the crazies seem to flock to him. He punctuated his story with the most recent girl that was chasing him. It was one of the bartenders at the Moose who had gotten his number through a mutual friend. She text him after a shift one night and asked if he wanted to hang out. He had only ever really hung out with her when he was drinking at the lodge so he passed on the opportunity until the next time he was there.

He said she was very touchy feely with him once she learned that he was single again and would sext him even though he stopped responding to her text messages. He knew she was trouble when one night he received 43 unanswered text messages from her. Clearly this girl didn’t get the hint that he wasn’t interested. Girls are fucking crazy.

The following night, I received a request from the same bar I originally picked him up from, only it wasn’t from Shane. It was from Shane’s friend who was being a nice guy and paying for his ride home. Shane was very grateful for the ride, but it didn’t stop him from instructing me to stop at Jack in the Box on the way home to grab a bite to eat on his friend’s dime. As of the posting of this entry, I have not had the pleasure of getting another request from Shane again.

The day after I picked up Shane for the first time, another one of my periodical regulars came up on my phone. I’ve written about “Cathy” before in a previous post. She’s a cool country gal who works for a local credit union and loves her booze. She was getting an early start on Sunday Funday when I picked her up at home at around 9:45 a.m. to take her to her friend’s house where they would leave to hit up a popular brunch spot in town.

That day I picked up a couple more fares and logged out for a few hours. When I logged back in for the night, it was about 10:45 p.m. when I got Cathy’s request from a familiar sports bar. As soon as she barreled into my car the first words out of her mouth were “Don’t judge me!” and I laughed so hard. I safely got her home and admire her as a solid weekend warrior.

I finally saw another ghost of regulars past since early July in mid-August. You may remember me writing about “Amy,” the mother of five who was about to become a surrogate for a Chinese couple. Amy let me know that she was two weeks into her in vitro fertilization hormone therapy. She said the next time I see her, she may be full with child. She was excited to be meeting the couple in a couple of weeks. I have yet to see her again. I would assume if she was getting paid for the surrogacy though, it’s likely that she and her husband purchased a second vehicle which would eliminate her need for using Lyft.

Mid-August was also my first experience with picking up a young mother with two young children under 3. She had car seats for both kids and took a minute to install them in my backseat. I took them to the mall and waited again for her to get them both out of my car. It was less than half an hour later when I received her request again to take her back home. While it seems like it would be a pain in the ass, I am certainly impressed with this mother’s responsible parenting practices.

I had heard from some other drivers about having turned away riders with young children because they didn’t have proper child safety restraints. Various drivers have had experiences with unhappy passengers if they cancel the ride because they don’t have car seats, and it seems like the consensus response is “But the last driver said it was okay. We’re not going that far.”

That is infuriating. First, it makes all drivers look bad. Second, there is absolutely no fare worth the price of litigious people these days. Think about it, if you get into an accident while having kids in the car who are not in proper car seats and then get injured, that’s your ass if the passenger decides to sue, and neither Lyft or Uber will take responsibility and cover any damages or injuries. Foregoing anyone’s safety is stupid and should be cause to for termination from the company.

Throughout August, I toted my regular gay foodie, Artie, to and from work, home, and the fast food restaurant of his choice.

August also saw the regular ride requests from Hurley, the middle man for street pharmacy I previously wrote about. I learned that Hurley is actually an assistant manager for a bar in the south part of town. I picked him up from home and took him to work and also picked him up from work to take him to different bars where he wanted to get his own drink on.

One of my original regulars, Natalie the ER nurse, who I have also written about, needed another ride to work towards the end of August. You may remember that Natalie dates dudes she meets on Facebook or Instagram and that I had recently dropped her off at a steakhouse for a date with a guy in the CHP Academy. This time around, she told me she stopped talking to that guy and had started dating a sheriff’s deputy. That girl moves fast among the law enforcement circles.

“Christian” was another one of my temporary regulars who lives in the Oleander area of town. Christian is dog groomer at one of the national pet store chains. After a handful of rides, I had struck up a good rapport with him.

One day I picked up a guy whose profile name was “Cali.” That is actually his real profile name, but I put it in quotes because I knew right away it wasn’t his real name. I picked Cali up from the same little cluster of apartments where Christian lived. The very next day, I told Christian that I had picked up a guy named Cali from his complex and he laughed. He said that guy was his boyfriend and thought it would be funny if he plugged in his name in the app as Cali Ente.  Get it? Caliente? Yeah, I didn’t think it was that funny either.

At the end of August, Florida Georgia Line played a concert in town. It was one of the first times I drove when a local event caused a surge in Lyft prices. I picked up a couple just across from the concert venue and took them to the west side of town. What would have normally been like a $13 ride turned into a $25 fare. I would soon learn that Lyft price increases pale in comparison to Uber surge pricing which can reach up to 9 times the regular fare.

While it seems like the better financial choice would be to drive for Uber in addition to driving for Lyft, I don’t really think I’m in this to make money as much as I’m in it for the human experience. I’ve always kind of thought of myself as a writer, or at least one who enjoys writing as a creative outlet. And as such, writers crave experience. This is more of a sociological experiment as opposed to a money making endeavor. Don’t get me wrong, the extra money is a great bonus, but there’s something to be said for loyalty. And with all the negative stories in the press lately about Uber, I’m perfectly content with just being a Lyft driver.

Next post, we’ll delve into September.


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