When It’s Cold Outside, I’ve Got the Month of May

Bless me WordPress for I have sinned, it’s been 17 months since my last entry. So much can change in 17 short months. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that there have been many memorable and forgettable events since we last met.

Something triggered me to write today, although when I reviewed the last post I wrote, I discovered that I had already addressed the issue. It’s important enough that it bears repeating though.

In addition to the drunks, rideshare partners also play driver to those who are not fortunate enough to have their own vehicle. Rather than taking the bus, sometimes these folks rely on Lyft and Uber to get them to work or school or the store.

Recently, the law changed regarding our ability to transport minors. We can no longer drive anyone under the age of 18 without a parent or guardian. So that means if you parents relied on Lyft or Uber to chauffeur your kids to high school football conditioning or picking them up from a friend’s house to take them home, you’re in for an unpleasant cancellation when we arrive and your kid can’t produce a valid ID proving age of majority.

But I’m digressing. This afternoon, I accepted a ride request from “Tarshi” who I noticed had a 4.6 passenger rating. We can see your rating before we even accept the ride. A 4.6 is a pretty low rating in the grand scheme. I’d say the average pax rating is about a 4.8. Both pax and driver rating is an average of their last 100 rides.

Again, I’m digressing, but that low rating should have been my first clue about the quality of pax I was about to meet. I pull up to the apartment complex and park across the street. I tap the app so that she knows I have arrived. I’m waiting less than a minute when she emerges from the complex gates in a black polo shirt wearing a nametag and holding the hand of a little girl who couldn’t be more than 3 or 4. I immediately sigh and roll down my window to address her.

“Do you have a car seat for her?”

“What?”

“Does she need a car seat?”

Rather than answer me, she begins to retreat as if she is going back to get it, which is a good sign. Before she can take her third step back towards the apartment, she turns to me and says, “Nevermind, I’ll just cancel the ride.”

I say okay and pull out before a thought occurs to me and pull halfway down the block until I get her cancellation notification.

She and the little girl remained outside in the shade as she went back to the app to request a new driver. Knowing that the Lyft algorithm is based on distance, I logged out of the app so that she wouldn’t show up in my queue again.

I grabbed my phone and immediately began typing out a post on the local Facebook driver’s group. We often swap information to assist one another in the rideshare game. I let them know that that Tarshi was on a particular street, requesting a Lyft with a toddler and no car seat.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had to post on the group page about irresponsible parents. Every so often, I’m confronted with this situation and it really pisses me off that some parents have no regard for their own children’s safety. What’s even more infuriating is that she probably requested another driver, and that driver allowed her to put the kid in danger by taking them wherever she wanted to go without proper safety restraints.

I suppose if the parents don’t care, then there is little incentive for a driver to care. It’s difficult not to anticipate the next horror story about an accident involving a Lyft or Uber fare with unrestrained children casualties if it hasn’t already occurred.

New Trade Dress

You may recall that I had been driving around with that sweet glowstache mounted to the center of my dashboard when in driver mode. A few months ago, Lyft came out with a sweet new ride indicator called the Amp. It replaced the glowstache on the center of the dashboard.

Lyft Amp

The Amp is a small tube-shaped LED light with the logo in the center. The cool feature about this new thing is that if a pax has updated their app lately, their app will display a specific color once they request a ride. Instead of the standard pink color, the app may show blue, green, or orange. Once their driver has arrived, the Amp will display that color which corresponds to the pax’s app color as an additional indicator of having gotten into the right vehicle.

This helps to eliminate confusion when several drivers pull up to the same location where many pax are waiting for rides. I say this helps to eliminate confusion, but drunk idiots are drunk idiots, and even though the app specifically tells them the make, model, color and plate number of the car they should be waiting for, they still end up getting in the wrong damn car.

There are several stories out there of drivers picking up the wrong pax and having to cancel mid-trip because of it. I have my own example of this which just occurred in recent months, but I will write about that experience in some future post.

In addition to the Amp, Lyft also changed the display trade dress we are supposed to attach to our back windshields while in drive mode. It went from the square emblem to an oval or tube-shaped decal like the ones below.

Lyft Maxi.png

Am I the only one who sees a maxi pad? Now that I’ve brought it up, you can’t unsee it, can you? Sorry about the visual, but I just don’t understand why they switched it up. I suppose it’s better than the new toilet seat logo Uber began using.Toilet Seat

August of Last Year Before the Leaves Disappeared

Glowstache

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.

In August and Everything After, You Get a Little Less Than You Expected

Glowstache

August 1st was the Ronda Rousey/Bethe Correia fight and I drove intermittently during the night so that I could watch the fight and beat all the drunks in poker. It was somewhat of a slow night while I balanced my social life with my hustlin’ skills.

Come bar closing time, there were few drivers on the road so I ended up picking up a crew of friends and taking two trips from the same bar to the same apartment complex. Other than that, it was a pretty mellow night with only five fares total.

Since I was probably one of the very few not hungover on Sunday Funday, I logged into driver mode fairly early that morning. My first call came around 9:30 am. It would be a ride to remember as I picked up my very first law enforcement officer. He lived in a house on a corner across the street from a wooden fence where his patrol vehicle was parked.

I noticed the cop car across the street when I pulled up and made a quick u-turn so that I was directly in front of the house and across from the roller. I confirmed my arrival through the app and tapped “Blair’s” profile picture of him and his wife. It showed that Blair and I had four mutual friends including a local bail agent and a DA investigator. Yep, I was picking up a cop.

It just so happened to be Blair’s birthday and he and the wife were meeting some friend’s at a popular Basque restaurant for brunch. Over the weekend, Blair had gotten into a fight with a saw and ended up needing 13 stitches in his arm. He showed me pictures.

We made our way out of his neighborhood and when we approached our first stop sign, I made it a point to have both hands on the wheel, slowly creep to the limit line and look over at Blair and say “Full and complete stop, officer.”

His wife laughed from the backseat and Blair puffed out a breath and said, “I don’t even care about that stuff anymore.” I learned that Blair was about two years away from retiring and can’t be bothered with the paperwork anymore. He did say that the Mrs. tends to have a heavy foot.

“Sometimes I don’t even notice how fast I’m going!” She piped up.

We then got on the subject of DUIs and how their son had gotten one and now that Uber and Lyft are in town, the entire family takes advantage of the service. I had the 80’s station playing and both Blair and his wife loved the music selection as we made our way to their destination. We had a very pleasant conversation, though I never admitted to them what I do for a living. Then again, they never asked.

Once I got them to the restaurant, Blair sat in my front seat until he had completed a five-star rating and tipped me on the app. It wasn’t until the next day that I saw that he had been very generous with his gratuity because #CopTipsMatter. 😉

My next fare came from the train station, although the train had not yet arrived. “Sim” was an Indian college student from Fresno State. She was in town to hang out with one of her friends who was getting ready to head back to India to get married.

Sim was working on her Masters in Electrical Engineering. I asked her if she would be heading back to India once she completed her studies and she said she didn’t want to go back. I suppose I don’t blame her since this is probably the first taste of freedom she’s had this far away from home. When I asked what she did for fun in Fresno, she smiled shyly and admitted that apart from school, all she does is study. I admire that tenacity and discipline because they are virtues I have never seemed to possess.

Artie was next pax and was running late to work so we didn’t get to do our normal drive-thru run that are typical of my rides with him.

Late in the afternoon, I logged back in and picked up a very tipsy “Laura” from Johnny Garlic’s. Laura revealed that her grandfather was retired law enforcement and her uncle was a training officer still on the force. Despite coming from a family of LEOs, Laura was adamant that it was important for people to know their rights when they get pulled over or questioned in public by the cops. Apparently she’s had a few run-ins with officers herself. Once we reached her destination and I dropped her off, I checked my rearview mirror and saw that she was getting into the car parked in front…on the driver’s side. Now I have an idea as to why she has run-ins with police. But that’s none of my business.

The following Monday night, I only had one request. “Colby” was a massage therapist and I picked him and his massage table up from the house of one of his clients. We chatted a bit about Lyft as a service and he expressed his desire for a feature that allows pax to choose their drivers. I thought that was an interesting and good idea which could weed out some of the shittier drivers. But if people have favorite drivers and the ability to choose which driver they get, that could work against some of the newer drivers who may have just started. But it could mean big bucks for good drivers who have loyal riders.

I logged in later in the week fairly early in the day and picked up “Stewart” from downtown. Stewart explained that he had gotten a DUI a couple of years before and was just on the road to getting his license back, but had nothing but good things to say about Lyft and its drivers. Stewart was a farmer who used the service often since it was much cheaper than hiring a full time driver to chauffeur him around all the time.

It’s funny how everybody has a story. Shortly after I dropped Stewart off on the north side of town, another request came through from a nearby neighborhood. I counted three different law enforcement vehicles parked in the neighborhood when I picked up “Vanna” to take her to her brewery job. I mentioned to her how many cops lived around her and she laughed and said yeah, one of them is really young and has parties all the time. Oh, the things you can probably get away with when you wear a badge for a living.

It was a week of many first timers for me. “Tiffany” was a new rider who needed a Lyft from her job at a wireless phone company to her house way across town. Of course I greeted her with the usual sweets and we chatted about Lyft and how it was her first time since she usually takes Uber. She was impressed with selection of goodies in the backseat and mentioned that none of her Uber drivers ever do the same.

Later that same evening, “Delilah” had just finished up a paint night at one of the local watery holes in the southwest and had to get back to the east side of town. She explained that she had been looking forward to the night out with her girlfriends because she works as a nurse and recently had a baby, but that she had fallen a little ill during the evening so she left her friends a little earlier than anticipated. It was also her first Lyft ride. She was a little apprehensive about it but when she saw that she was getting a female driver on the app, she was extremely relieved. I told her a little about the service and how most drivers and pax are really super cool and she shouldn’t worry about too much. Delilah visibly relaxed and enjoyed a piece of gum as we made our way home.

“Bobby” and his buddy “Ryan” got a late evening start and were heading downtown for a few drinks. Bobby told me that he had received a DUI back in February and had hired my former employer to represent him. My jaw dropped when I heard how much the retainer was. It’s definitely gone up since I last worked there. Bobby was positive that any price he had to pay to keep the DUI off his record would be worth it. I only hope it works out that way for him.

There were several more pax throughout the week, some of which were regulars like Artie, Jax, and Fredo, but most were pretty uneventful. Until the first Friday night after bar closing.

“Tony” requested from an alley downtown after 2:00 a.m. I was able to find him relatively easily and he had three other with him. When I pulled up, a woman opened my back door and said that Tony, her husband, would sit in front and she and another couple piled in the back. I asked where they had been partying during the night and Tony said he was at a couple bars and that the other three had walked to a few more than he did but they were ready to call it a night.

At first their conversation didn’t seem out of the ordinary as we first headed to drop off the other female in the backseat. It wasn’t until half way through the ride that I realized the man and woman in the backseat weren’t actually a couple because the guy was gay. Once we got to her house, she stepped out of the car and pulled the gay guy out with her and stood by my car talking to him for a few minutes. Tony’s wife rhetorically asked what they were doing since the gay guy (I didn’t get his name) was going home with them and they were ready to go to bed. Tony rolled down his window and asked if the other guy was ready. The girl turned to him and said, “Yeah, just give us a minute,” and continued talking to the gay guy.

Once he got back in the car I got the whole story. A night of drinking and hanging out downtown with friends turned into drunk girl dramarama. The gay guy said that the drunk girl used the “F” word as they were walking to another bar and he called her out on it. Well, that didn’t go over well with her and the drunk girl started crying and yelling “Why do you hate me?!” Seems like a typical drunken overreaction. When Tony’s wife tried to calm her down, she pulled away screaming “Don’t touch me!” which caused people around to look at the three of them and ask the drunk girl if the other two were bothering her. Tony’s wife and the gay guy were floored because their drunk friend was acting so irrational and they looked like the bad guys to everyone else.

As they told the story, I looked at Tony who was positively bored and I said to him “Sounds like typical drunk girl drama.”

“That’s exactly what it is.” He concurred.

Tony explained that he was at another bar and hadn’t gone with them and was glad because he probably would have gone home earlier.

Drunk girls. Can’t calm them down, can’t stop hanging out with them. Despite the drama, Tony was an extremely generous tipper.

That about wraps up the first week of August. I’m trying to make a concerted effort to post more frequently, even if the posts are much shorter. I’ll be back with more interesting rides from August as soon as possible, but hopefully this will tide some of you voyeurs over until then.

And I’m Starting to Forget Just What Summer Ever Meant to You

Holy hell do we have a lot of time to cover. At the end of July, I was pretty busy giving rides and meeting new folks who would soon become regulars. Or at least become regulars until more drivers started popping up. I would start before the five o’clock hour if I didn’t have any hearings or meetings calendared.

It was a little after 3:00 pm on a Monday when D.J., his stripper wife and their daughter needed a ride from the grocery store. He told me that his kids had gone off to Canada and he was kind of sad. Their daughter was super cute and told me that she wasn’t allowed to have gum because the last time she had gum it got stuck in her hair. Mom did let her have a piece of candy, and as most kids often do, the little girl tried to convince her mom to allow her to have a second piece.

It was typical hot weather for a Bakersfield summer, but the humidity was starting to linger in the atmosphere which made for a sticky time in a black car. When I picked up “Erwin” from the mall, he had several shopping bags that took up the entire front seat with him. He lived right around the corner from me and told me that he had just gotten out of the US Navy the week before. I thanked him for his service and asked where he had been living prior to this week and he told me San Diego. He certainly wasn’t used to the heat, but had spent some time in Florida while he was in the service so the humidity was nearly as bad. He was getting ready to relocate to the Bay Area so that he could attend the Academy of Arts on the GI Bill.  I would give Erwin a ride six more times before he moved away at the end of August.

The second time I picked him up at the mall again and he had a couple bags from a shoe store. I suppose a few years in the military leaves little time to update the wardrobe. The next couple times I accepted his fares, he was with a girl. Sometimes not the same girl. Erwin did give off an air of being a ladies man. He had a great smile, and had a very confident exterior. He also recommended I see the movie Southpaw when I picked him and one of the girls up from the movies one evening. It’s funny to me that you can date without having a car nowadays. I know it sounds shallow, but I’m quite certain most women I know still wouldn’t date someone who didn’t have his own car. But I suppose if you don’t have a car yourself, you’re not going to have a problem dating someone else in the same boat since ridesharing is so accessible and convenient these days.

I had a couple more fares after I drove Erwin home the first time. The final ride was again from the mall all the way to the southern most point of the city limits during an awesome lightning storm. Both “Joe” and I were just amazed at each zigging and zagging bolt that lit up the entire sky if only for a split second. That was probably the beginning of a string of humid days that assaulted the town for a couple of weeks.

One of the things I had going for me when I waited for ride requests at home was that I was kind of the only one in the south central area of town that had a decent-sized perimeter. Imagine my disappointment when I noticed that two houses over, another Lyft driver had popped up on the radar. At first I was a little irritated that I’d now be vying for fares. I got over it rather quickly. It helped that the neighbor hardly ever logged in to drive.

I didn’t drive again until that Friday. I started in the early afternoon and my first ride was actually my next door neighbor! It was the first time I actually had a conversation with him, though I have met his husband on a handful of occasions. “Matthew” and I discussed the many mutual friends we had and the fact that his aunt is actually dating my grandfather. Kevin Bacon’s got nothing on this small town. He initially thought that it was his other neighbor who was on duty. Through Matthew, I discovered that the the other Lyft neighbor was female too. It seemed like she hardly ever turned on her app though. Matthew was a generous pax and wished me a good evening up reaching his destination.

I was halfway to my mom’s house when I dropped off Matthew so I decided to go hang out there for a bit and see if I’d get any fares on her side of town. It wasn’t long before “Salina” requested a ride just half a mile from mom’s. I picked her up from a very nice house in a locally affluent neighborhood. She wasn’t going far, but since I admitted that I wasn’t too familiar with the area, she gave me turn-by-turn directions. I immediately smelled her green “medicine” when she sat in the front seat and was tickled when I offered her an array of sweets as I normally do.

Salina told me she was a bartender, and we chatted a little about high school and the weather. Sometimes I forget how old I am. And I can only assume that I’m not that great at guessing how old some of my pax are. I say this because as we talked about high school and which ones we attended, I always think about the people I knew who attended the same school as the person I’m speaking with. I graduated high school in 1998, so imagine my widened eyes when Salina said she graduated in 2008! That’s like an entire generation worth of difference. Sometimes it makes me feel so uncool and decrepit.

I felt better when “Isaac” requested a ride for his buzzed 40-something year old uncle. Uncle “Rick” lived all the way across town and was noticeably impaired. Unless I know exactly where I’m going, I usually follow the Google Maps directions to the T. Rick corrected my route to take a main thoroughfare to which I politely agreed since he knew where we were going. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the main thoroughfare that traversed from the east side of town to the west side of town was closed for construction. Unfortunately for Isaac, we had to double back and Rick advised the rest of my route, even though it was quite possibly the longest way to get to his house as opposed to my original route which ended up in a rather large fare. But hey, the pax is always right, so who was I to argue.

My next fare was picking up two ladies at the ever-popular Mexican restaurant where Will works. I was hesitant at first since when the request comes in we can see the pax rating (out of 5). “Amanda’s” rating was a 4.4. That’s not very promising. But I sucked it up and accepted it anyway. The girls wanted to go downtown which was a decent enough distance to make it worthwhile. It was interesting to me because one of the first questions Amanda asked me is if anyone had ever puked in my car.

“Nope,” I replied. “Have you ever puked in a Lyft?” I asked, thinking that would definitely explain her low rating if she had.

“Hahahaha, no. I have just always wondered if anyone’s done that in a car.”

Right. I’m onto you, Amanda. But despite my reticence, Amanda and her friend were very sweet and no problem whatsoever, so I gave her a five-star rating. I do wonder what she did to deserve such a low number though.

“Spencer” requested a ride from a familiar area. As I turned into the neighborhood, I noticed a line of cars driving out. I pulled up in front of what I believed to be the address as more cars funneled out of the cul-de-sac and noticed a couple of police cars on the street. Then it hit me, I had just arrived on scene at a high school party. Three high school boys piled into the back seat of my car and just instructed me to drive until they could get an address for their next destination. They were happy to indulge in the goodies in the backseat and one proclaimed his love for Lyft. I couldn’t help but envy them a little. Back in my day, we had to drive around to our high school parties drunk. LOL! When they figured the new party was a bust, I dropped them off at home a few miles away.

It seemed to be quite a slow Friday night because my next call wasn’t until nearly bar closing. “Tammy” had been a pax of mine before. She’s a funny little Asian girl who’d recently broken up with her boyfriend of four years. We talked about her being the only one of her friends that uses this service and how much it pisses her off because they all know better than to drink and drive. I sympathized with her, because even my own friends will insist on driving after having quite a few beers. It’s just not worth it anymore because of how demonized drunk drivers are these days. But when you have stubborn friends, there’s only so much you can do.

Speaking of DUIs, my favorite DUI client, Javi was my next fare. It seems that sometimes people do learn their lesson, but it requires two DUI convictions before that happens.

My final fare that night was “Joe” who had just lost his ass in a poker game with his co-workers. Despite his $60 loss, he was nice enough to leave a decent tip after we stopped at Taco Bell to satisfy his drunken munchies.

The next day, I picked up another fellow Lyft driver and his girlfriend. “Manny” hadn’t been driving lately because he drives a big truck that seems to cost more than was worth for him. He didn’t have many pax stories either but he and his girlfriend were quite entertained with mine during our ride.

Deepak, the cheap drunken Indian bastard requested a Lyft from the Mexican restaurant at the mall well after closing time. I was happy he only wanted to go straight home. That guys has a serious drinking problem. But I’m not here to judge.

“Amy” was surprised when I pulled up because as long as she’s been using Lyft, I was her first female driver. I found that astounding since I’m aware of plenty of female drivers that are very active in our driver Facebook group.

Somehow, I found myself still in drive mode after bar closing while waiting around at home. “Angel” requested a ride from a house I was vaguely familiar with. When I approached, I realized that the house belonged to a friend of a friend who now lives out of town. She stays there when she comes to town from time to time and I’ve only ever dropped her off there because I have never actually met her friend.

I wasn’t paying to much attention when a thin gal with tattoos and brown hair hopped in my car. You know the feeling you get when someone is staring at you? That was happening as I was punching in her destination address. I looked up and she was smiling at me and asked me “How’ve you been?” as if she’d known me for years.

“I’ve been good,” I replied with a slight quirk to my brow because she honestly did not look familiar to me at all.

“Have you talked to [old friend’s name] lately?”

I studied her for a moment trying to place who we knew in common.

“[Old friend’s name] who?” As soon as the words left my mouth, my eyes lit up with recognition. “Holy shit, ‘Angel?!’ Wow, I didn’t recognize you, you’ve lost so much weight!” I’m not sure if that was the appropriate response, but it was mine at the time.

Angel smiled and nodded and we proceeded to catch up very briefly as I drove her the short ride home. I hadn’t seen her in about 10 or so years and learned that she had divorced her first husband she was married to when I knew her. Our mutual friend was never a fan of that husband. Angel was now re-married to a man a little older than her and she was leaving her friend’s house after a night on the town.

I confirmed that the friend’s house was indeed the place where my other friend stayed while in town. When I met her almost 15 years ago, Angel was our old friend’s best friend. She seemed a little sad when she said she hardly talks to our friend anymore and hadn’t since her dad passed away a couple of years back. That’s always kind of a bummer.

Again, Kevin Bacon’s six degrees pales in comparison to the interconnectedness of this town. I expect that I will know tons more people in common with my pax in the near future. Now that we can connect our Facebook profiles with our Lyft accounts, it makes it even easier to find out who our mutual friends are, if any.

One thing I’ve learned while driving people around is that it is very difficult not to listen to someone’s cell phone conversation. It almost becomes a game in trying to figure out what the only side of the conversation you’re hearing is about.

I picked up “Hurley” from a bar in the southwest on a Monday evening and he immediately directed me to the bar I would usually hang at with my friends. We made some small talk and found that we knew a lot of the same people from the bar, but I never remembered seeing him there, nor did he ever remember seeing me. About halfway to our destination, Hurley took a call that was no doubt from a lady friend.

Of course, I couldn’t help but overhear his side of the conversation which sounded normal enough until he said “well, you’re in luck. I have six on me right now.” My imagination ran wild, but I was pretty sure I had Hurley pegged as a guy with little inhibitions and a bad boy streak.

Once he ended his phone call he re-directed me to another bar I was very familiar with and said that he was meeting a couple of female friends who were with this awkward doctor he had met on a couple of occasions. The guy was cool, Hurley insisted, but “awkward doctor” is kind of redundant, right? Let’s be honest, most doctors are socially awkward. Hurley readily confessed to me that his friends were in the market for some “Molly” and he had the prescription they were looking for. I’m not one to judge anyone’s extra curricular activities, but personally, I wouldn’t want my doctor to be hopped up on any kind of pills he procured from some low level middle man on the street. Unfortunately, I never found out what kind of medicine this particular doctor practiced.

The following day I had a massive hole in my work schedule so I decided to start driving fairly early in the afternoon and decided to head down to the Burbank/North Hollywood area to try my hand at some weekday out of town driving. I had a few in town pick ups before jumping on the freeway, one of which was “Joey” who revealed to me that about 7 or 8 years ago, he was beat up by six guys and was coming from one of several MRIs as a result of that incident.

During the course of the ride, you could tell that Joey had suffered some brain trauma because his speech was very slow and deliberate. We chatted about doctors and how he believes they all suck (perhaps because they’re awkward and on drugs sometimes?) and I related to him how I was working with a nutritionist. Before he got out of my car, he asked for my nutritionist’s contact information which I happily provided to him. Joey was a pretty lean guy, so really there was no need for him to seek any help with weight loss, but he was a nice enough passenger that I obliged him his request.

Once I made it to Northern Los Angeles County, my first pax was “Rachel” from Pacoima. She was super friendly and had just gotten off of work. As I was taking her home, she asked how long I had been driving and all the typical pax questions I’ve become accustomed to asking. I told her where I was from and that I was in town for the day just looking to make a little extra cash and glean some road stories. I asked her what she did for fun in Pacoima and she laughed and said she and her boyfriend will usually head down to the San Gabriel Valley to hang out with friends. She was super excited that I had candy waiting for her in the backseat and was sweet enough to ask if she could take an extra piece for later.

“Chad” was my next fare in Burbank. He had a couple of packages with him and directed me to a FedEx office not too far from his apartment complex. His profile photo was a shirtless image of him and revealed a very chiseled physique. There was no doubt he was quite attractive and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was an aspiring actor as most people in southern California are. We chit chatted about how today’s music sucks and found a bonding moment over being children of the 80s before I dropped him at the FedEx doorstep.

“Marty” was my first Lyft Line pax which was kind of difficult for me to understand how to maneuver at first. When I arrive at the pickup location, I had to designate how many pax were in the fare. I can only assume that as Marty and I drive and another pax on the way requests a ride, I can pick them up and it somehow splits the fare between the two pax. I wasn’t quite sure how it all worked, but there were no requests while he was in the car. Marty told me that he’s actually an Uber driver and that Uber pays better and how you can get a $500 referral credit if you bring in new drivers. I’m pretty sure he was angling to try and get me to sign up so that he could get his referral fee, but I politely explained to him that I’m fiercely loyal and feel like driving for both companies would be more of a pain in the ass then a reward. Perhaps I’m naïve, but that’s just me.

My next fare was a pick up at the North Hollywood Metro Station in the Arts District. “Henley” had just moved out here three weeks before from Miami and got a gig working for a payroll company in downtown LA. A fresh-faced 18 year old with the world at her fingertips, I was in awe of her adventurous spirit to travel so far from home. She explained that she was the baby and her mom was really nervous about her coming out west. She said that her mom’s birthday was in a few months and that she had gotten her a ticket to come see her as a surprise but that she and her friend and her friend’s brother were getting ready to move into a 3 bedroom house for the low, low price of $2,600/month. Jesus, LA is expensive.

My final fare of the early evening before I made my way back home was from a couple of foreign film students. They attend the film school I took a tour of a few years back when I was entertaining the idea of trying my hand at screenwriting. From Burbank to West Hollywood, it took us nearly an hour. I guess getting paid to sit in traffic isn’t a bad deal though.

The following evening, I got a few regular requests. Of course, one of them was Artie and the other was “Jax,” a young guy who works for a solar company here in town who’s without a license because of a DUI. My third fare request came from the mall. “Prama” did not have a profile photo but did have a 4.7 rating. I waited a few minutes before seeing an Indian couple head toward my car with a car seat in a shopping cart.

When the front door opened, Gus appeared with a big smile on his face to greet me while his wife pulled their 9 month-old baby out of the stroller. “Every time I need to talk to you, you always come to pick me up!” He exclaimed gleefully. I smiled back and asked if he needed me to pop the trunk for him since they had some bags and baby belongings. He declined, and said that he could get everything in the backseat.

As he was fitting the car seat in my backseat, the shopping cart rolled down the curb and hit the side of my car. I was less than thrilled with that, especially since neither Gus nor his wife apologized for it. Once he secured their little one in his seat, Gus took the front and his wife sat in back. He directed me to an Indian restaurant so that he could grab some take out for them and asked if I would wait and I said of course. He was back in less than a minute because apparently the restaurant was closed.

We made our way to another Indian restaurant not far from our location. On the way, he told me that he had not heard back from my attorney friend and didn’t know what was going to happen at his next court date. I said that I had not heard from that friend in a while and was not aware of why his calls were not being returned. I could only surmise that Gus was a bit of a pain in the ass, and that’s why my friend was not interested in taking the case. I waited in the car with his wife while he went and ordered their dinner. It was an awkward silence as I know she does not speak English very well.

When he returned and put the baby back in the car seat, the boy immediately became fussy. Before I got them home, mom had pulled the baby out of the seat and was trying to calm him down. Now, I don’t have a problem with a fussy baby, but taking him out of the seat is just not cool. Once I got them home (safely I might add), Gus once again shook my hand and thanked me for the ride and for looking into the lawyer issue once again. They got out of my car and I immediately gave Gus’s wife’s account a 3 star rating and left a very nasty comment about her taking the kid out of the car seat. I’ll never get a request from her again.

My final fare that night was a very cool couple from Las Vegas who were riding on the boss’s dime from Johnny Garlic’s to a trailer park on the edge of town. “Mike” and “Erin” were awesome and graciously tipped me for the long haul during which they regaled me with stories about their recently divorced boss and his horrible ex-wife and the evil new girlfriend he had.

Imagine my surprise when I again saw that my driver rating had again dropped! Then I began to do some investigating to find out if there was a pattern since most of my fares were from regulars who love me. And just as I suspected, Gus was not giving his guardian angel the rating she deserved. I discovered that my rating dropped every time I gave him a ride. Every time. This mother fucker was a two-faced little shit and cannot be trusted. At least that’s what I’ve convinced myself about him. He was always so pleasant and nice, even if a little paranoid and weird, but it’s pretty clear that he had been scoring me at four stars no matter how much he said he appreciated my service.

I have yet to get him as a pax again, but trust me when I say, his rating will not be nearly as kind as the one I gave his wife. But knowing who his lawyer is, the guy probably ended up in jail by now.

In my last post, you may remember me writing about Adam, the good looking gay guy who had just ended his relationship with the married man. Well the last day of July, I picked him up once again from that popular Mexican restaurant and he came swaggering out and looked to be in a much better mood than when we first met.

He got in the car and we exchanged pleasantries and I commented on how he looked much happier this time around.

“You’re not still messing around with that married guy, are you?”

His eyes widened with a nervous smile before admitting that was who he was just seeing since the guy works at that restaurant.

“Oh no! Adam!” I said disappointed.

“I know! But I just can’t let him go, and it’s been really good between us these last few days!”

Someone is going to get their heart broken. Over and over again. Such a bad situation all the way around.

One of my final fares of the night was yet another one of my DUI clients who told me that she had gone to a karaoke competition and had made it to the second round of the contest that sounded like an opportunity to get an American Idol competition. She was quite tipsy, but I was happy she was being responsible about it. I thought about asking her to sing, but figured if she’s good, maybe I’ll see her on TV soon.

I realize that this post was a lot longer than I anticipated and we haven’t even gotten to August yet. I am going to do my best to try to get a couple more posts in within the coming days so everyone is brought up to speed on my latest adventures, but time is a luxury folks, so you’ll have to bear with me.

Be well, be kind, and be good. Until next time…

Another Chapter in a Book Where the Chapters are Endless

So we continue with July’s interesting ride tales. I thought for sure having been pulled over would be the best story from the month, but some of my passengers never cease to amaze (or amuse) me. We pick up where we left off on Saturday, July 11. I started driving rather late in the evening because I try to maintain somewhat of a social life.

I should have known that the I was in for some fun when my first pax were two women in their mid-40’s who were tipsy and extremely open about their sexual inclinations. I picked up “Cecilia” and “Sandra” from a local brewery and could tell immediately that these ladies caught a healthy buzz while they were out. Cecilia was irritated that her boyfriend had not picked up her 14 year-old daughter from her friend’s house like he said he would. Sandra was a little bit of an instigator in taking shots at the boyfriend for being so selfish since it was “Girls’ Night Out.” Cecilia gave me directions to where her daughter was and we set off to pick her up.

On our way there, Sandra questioned why Cecilia stayed with the boyfriend who had so little interest in helping her with day-to-day operations, but then chalked it up to “but I guess if the sex is amazing, you have your reasons to stick around.” Cecilia immediately corrected Sandra, admitting that sex with the current boyfriend was just “average.” She’s all about the butt play, and the boyfriend freaks out if she even lurks in that area of his during adult time. That’s like the Lyft holy grail of conversations when passengers start talking about butt stuff.

They asked if I was married, to which I quickly replied “Hell no!” and they laughed and told me to stay smart and single. Cecilia carried on about how her boyfriend is extremely vanilla in the sack and how she likes it rough sometimes.

“I want him to grab my head and push it down on his cock and make me choke on it!” She proclaimed. It made me laugh since most women I know hate giving head. I can only surmise that women like Cecilia are the ones who ruin it for other women when it comes to male expectations in the bedroom. And I’m sure there are tons of men chomping at the bit to find themselves a Cecilia. “I love it when they slap me in the face with their dick!” Cecilia was just precious and all Sandra could do was laugh hysterically at her friend’s candor.

Once we picked up the 14 year-old, the conversation became very tame and we discovered that the boyfriend had been waiting for the daughter to call so he could go get her, and that she didn’t call anyone but Cecilia when she was ready to go. The poor boyfriend was victim of an unfair character assassination during the ride, but of course, the drunken cougars decided that he should have text the 14 year-old to let her know he would go get her when she was ready.

We dropped off the daughter, who did not seem pleased at all that mom was already three sheets to the wind, and I continued driving a couple more miles so Cecilia and Sandra could attend a house party of a mutual friend. It was definitely a fun ride with those two, and I hope to see them again soon.

My second ride of the night was a previous passenger who had opened a new account because she had gotten a new phone. “Tabby” told me that she was headed to a party on the East side from the very southern edge of town. As we made our way to the freeway, I had my second run-in with law enforcement that weekend, only this time, it was through a DUI checkpoint. I have to say, they make those checkpoints extremely confusing for even the most sober drivers, including myself.

First of all, it was not that busy of a street where they had set up their perimeter. Secondly, the floodlights in an otherwise poorly lit area of town were beaming at approaching vehicles. The first officer you see is waving cars through from the median, and another officer about 50 feet further is also motioning as though you should keep driving.

I had my window down, and the glowstache was prominently displayed on my dash when I crept up on the next officer. I was slowing down, but didn’t know if I was to keep going, or stop right there. When I reached his area, I had to ask, “Do I stop or what?” I already had my license in my hand, and the officer reached for it without answering if I should stop.

He looked at it and asked if I’d had anything to drink. I replied “no sir,” as he gave back my license and he said, “have a good night” without even looking at me. I have to wonder if the only reason they ever arrest anyone at a DUI checkpoint is because someone admits to having a few drinks earlier. I can’t imagine that they actually smell the booze and see red watery eyes if they don’t even look at the driver. Are they just banking on people being honest about having boozed it up earlier? Or maybe with the confusing tactic of waving people through, but not telling them to actually stop helps them in describing how some folks drove right through the checkpoint without stopping in their arrest reports. It lends more credibility to the claim that a driver was just drunk and that’s why he or she didn’t stop. But I digress.

Tabby told me about her run-ins with police officers who have tried to get her and her friends to admit to doing drugs while sitting in a car in between classes at the junior college. She told the officer to go ahead and search her car for whatever he thought he would find since he insisted that he was smelling marijuana, and that she and her friends should just admit that is what they were doing. That seems like a common tactic among police; get a suspect to “just admit” something when they don’t have any concrete proof or probable cause of wrong-doing. But again, I digress.

We changed the topic of conversation and Tabby explained that she had tried out for the Voice a few weeks earlier and had been asked back for a second round, but didn’t make it out of that round. By the time she was telling me about her audition experience, we were already pulling up to her destination so I didn’t get to ask her to sing something for me so I could hear for myself how talented she was.

“Ally” and “Sean” were hanging out at a local bar ready to call it a night when they got in my car. As I was pulling away from the parking lot, they spotted a couple of their friends down the road and told me to pull up next to them so they could try to get them in the car. I parked the car a few feet ahead of two guys who were slightly stumbling with their arms around each other shoulders as Sean called out to them to get in the car. One of the guys, who was slightly more inebriated than the other began to unsteadily shuffle towards my vehicle until he saw Ally in the backseat.

“Fuck that. Fuck her, dude.” He mumbled drunkenly, and continued on his way down the sidewalk.

With a heavy sigh, Ally directed me to her address and the three of us were on our way. During the ride, I learned that the drunken guy who refused the ride was actually Ally’s fiancé and was pissed that when they started the night at a bar downtown, she didn’t tell him that her ex-boyfriend was there. Once they got to the bar I had picked her and Sean up from, she mentioned in passing, and her fiancé flew off the handle about it as if she was trying to hide something from him. Chalk it up to drunken rage, or jealous douchebag, but either way, I could imagine that wasn’t a fun night at home if he ever actually made it home that night.

I picked up “Cathy” and a couple of her guy friends when they shut down a bar around the corner from my house. Cathy is a regular now and frequents many of the same watering holes I do, though I have never actually seen her in a social setting. Since it was after 2:00 am and no liquor would be sold, we stopped at her friend’s house first so he could grab a bottle of Jack Daniels and continue drinking at the motel down the street where they were planning to check in for the night. One of their buddies was in town from North Dakota and they were looking to continue the party until everyone was too drunk to remain conscious. You gotta admire those booze warriors.

My final fare of the night was requested by a woman who wanted me to pick up her husband from a bar downtown after he had just played a gig with his band. They loaded the equipment into my trunk and “Joe” and his buddy “John” piled in my car and bombarded me with questions about my experience with Lyft and regaled me about their stories with Lyft, Uber, and cabs in general. Both gentlemen had consumed a fair amount of alcohol and it wasn’t until halfway through the ride that I recognized John as a kid I went to Jr. High with. I didn’t ask him if he remembered me, in all likelihood, he probably wouldn’t have considering his level of intoxication and the fact that we haven’t seen each other in more than 20 years. But it just goes to show you how small this town can be and how funny the job is.

The next day was really slow for rides. I only had three all day, but the most memorable had to be my second fare. I picked up both Artie and his boyfriend Andy. It was the first time I had ever ridden with both of them. They first had to go to Home Depot to pick up some items for Andy and his jewelry-making business then our next destination was Radio Shack. I didn’t even know Radio Shack still existed.

I waited for them in the parking lot at Home Depot, and when they got back in the car, we started to reverse from our spot. We were talking as I was slowly backing out, and didn’t notice or hear a man and a woman with several wooden planks on a cart saying “Hellooo! Helloooo!” behind my car. When I finally saw them, I stopped and they continued rolling their wood to their big ass diesel truck that was a few spots passed where I was.

Andy’s window happened to be rolled down when they passed by, and although I didn’t hear it, Andy said that the woman muttered “bitch” under her breath. I don’t get riled up easily by complete strangers, so it didn’t bother me none, but boy, Andy went into bitchy queen mode and came unglued. As we drove past them, Andy yelled out the window, “Don’t be calling anyone a bitch, you stupid bitch, fuck you, you old hag!” and proceeded to flip them off as we exited the parking lot.

I could tell that the woman was caught off guard being called out like that and I couldn’t exactly make out what she was screaming back to Andy, but I was laughing while Artie just shook his head and quietly said “you see what I have to put up with? He’s always like this.” That just made me laugh even more.

On the way to Radio Shack, the boys were trying to decide what they were going to eat for lunch until Andy said “UGH! That bitch just put me in the worst mood! I can’t even believe her. Now I’m mad. She ruined my whole day.” I’m stoked that my regular pax have my back even when it’s no big deal to me.

Deepak was my third fare that night, and as annoying as he is, I was even more annoyed when I drove all the way to his house to pick him up and as we were about half a mile from his house on our way to the casino, he said that he was too tired and that he wanted to just go back home. Not a very spectacular way to end a Sunday but that’s how I ended mine.

On Monday, July 13, I logged in late in the afternoon and my first call was from D.J., the strip club DJ. It was just him this time and he needed to go to the grocery store for dogfood after I picked him up from a Popeye’s Chicken. D.J. related that he was feeling pretty emotional that day because he just signed a letter allowing his ex-father-in-law to take his three kids ages 9, 10, and 12, to go live with their mom in Canada.

He said that he had pretty much raised the kids since he and their mom split over seven years ago. She moved to Canada when they were still very little and while they had only visited her once over there and she had come to see them only a handful of times, the kids were very much interested in developing a relationship with her and had decided that they would like to give living with her a try. As he was explaining the story, it became very apparent how much he loved his children.

He spoke to his only son (the 9 year-old) one on one and told him that this was an adult decision he was making, and that he needed to be a man of his word and own the decision for at least a year. D.J. was firm with his children in that he was going to let them move in with mom, but that they had to commit to at least a year because he was not going to pull them out of school in the middle of the year because they all of a sudden decided that they don’t like living with mom. Even though it pained him to let them go, he wasn’t going to stand in the way of them having a relationship with their mother. They were set to leave the last week of July.

Later that evening, Pedro requested a ride. Pedro is a fellow Lyft driver and was requesting a ride for his very inebriated cousin “Juan” and Juan’s 10 year-old daughter. Pedro called me to tell me that Juan was extremely intoxicated and would probably be a pain in the ass so he was apologizing in advance if Juan did anything offensive or was rude and obnoxious. I laughed and told him it was no problem, we’ve all been there.

I pulled up to address Pedro gave me and saw four or five people sitting out in the front yard and one shorter Hispanic man talking loudly and walking toward my car with an open can of Bud Light. He hurled a few slurred yells back at the party who was yelling at him, presumably because he was so drunk. Juan got in the car and was a very flamboyant gay man and yelled through my window for his daughter to come with us.

A little girl came up to my window and gave me the address I was to drop Juan off at and apologized for her dad being so drunk. It was funny, but sad at the same time. At first the girl wasn’t going to go with us, but then realized that they had to leave for out of town early the next morning so she ran back to the house to grab her backpack and the rest of her things.

I directed Juan to either finish his beer, or leave it outside the car, because the last thing I wanted was to get pulled over for this drunk sloshing around an open container in my car. He pounded what was left in the can and haphazardly tossed the empty can out the window onto the neighbor’s driveway. The 10 year-old got in my backseat and we were on the road, with Juan woohooing the whole way down the freeway. I lost count of how many times the girl said “Dad, shut up you’re drunk.”

Juan wanted to make a quick pit stop at the 7-11 to get more beer and cigarettes. I obliged him, but quickly realized with how fucked up he was, that stopping may have been a mistake. As he got out of the car, he asked the little girl if she had any money. When she said no, he stumbled into the store anyway.

As we waited for him to make his purchases, the little girl explained, “If you haven’t already guessed, he’s gay.” I wasn’t quite sure how to respond but just kind of smiled at her from the rearview mirror. She told me that sometimes their family was mean to him, and that’s why they left, because they were kind of making fun of him. I figured he was really drunk and they were just irritated with him, but I felt bad for the little girl who sees them as making fun of her dad. One of her dad’s brothers had passed away and that’s they the family had all gotten together and they were leaving for Sacramento in the morning where her uncle would be buried.

I saw Juan swaying at the register as he spoke with the man behind the counter. I thought for a minute maybe his card wasn’t working or something and contemplated for a moment whether I was going to have to actually go in and retrieve him. Luckily he was only in there for another minute or so before grabbing his bag of purchases and walking out the door.

He fell into my front seat again and excitedly yelled “what’s up motherfuckers?!” Despite his drunken stupor, Juan was rather entertaining. I dropped them both off and watched him storm into the house, again screaming “what’s up motherfuckers?!” I bet he’s a party. I later received a very nice comment from Pedro thanking me for getting his drunken family member home safely. You can read the comment on one of the photos from the previous post.

Later that evening I picked Artie up from work and took him to McDonald’s so he could get a late dinner for him and Andy. As we waited, Artie explained how he’s basically Andy’s mommy because he lays out his clothes for him for work every day. Sounds to me like Artie is the housewife, but that’s none of my business. 😉

The next day was another slow one. Tuesday’s usually pick up a bit because of the delicious taco specials so many restaurants around town offer. I took a guy to work at T-Mobile and had a pleasant conversation about dogs, bad drivers and how cats suck. “Jeremy” was super excited that I had candy and gum and took advantage of my customer service in that area.

Artie was my next fare and I actually picked him up from a grocery store for the first time in quite a few weeks. Before we took him home, we stopped by the mall to pick up Andy from work who had grabbed them some Chipotle for them. It just recently opened in the mall and Andy said he had pretty much been eating there every day since.

My third fare of the day again belonged to Gus, the Indian guy who I had referred to another attorney friend of mine. I picked him up from his house again, where he had just been hanging out with his wife, despite the criminal protective order in place for her. He was delighted to see me and told me that he wanted me to take him to my attorney friend right after I took him to the post office so he could deliver some packages. We talked a little about his case and he again asked me advice about firing his current attorney. Before he got out of the car at the post office, he told me how he was so grateful that he got me as a driver because he had been thinking about our last conversation and wanted to thank me again for talking to him about all that was going on with him. One thing that struck me about this ride was that Gus seemed to be a little paranoid and told me to let him know if I thought someone was following us.

I gave him my attorney friend’s number again and told him that I couldn’t just take him to his house, that he would need to schedule an appointment. He called my friend as I was driving him to the mall and left a message that I had given him his number. Once we arrived at his destination, he again looked me in the eye, told me how grateful he was to me and that I must be his guardian angel. We shook hands and he was gone.

After a couple of hours of no calls, I was about to log out of driver mode for the night, when I got Artie’s request for the second time that day. I picked him up from home and took him to Wienerschnitzel because, again, he and Andy needed to eat.

On Wednesday, July 15, Gus again requested a ride. This time, it was from a different residential address than I had been picking him up from before. When he got in the car, he again raved about how I’m his angel because he wanted to talk to me again. He told me that my friend never called him back, and I thought it was a tad strange, so I assured him I would text my friend and find out what was happening. As usual, Gus was very polite and thankful to me and shook my hand before getting out of my car at his house. He did tell me that his wife was staying with family so that way he wouldn’t get in trouble if the cops decided to stop by unannounced.

Like I said, Gus is a bit paranoid because during this ride, he was convinced that someone was tracking his internet activity and he believed it was an old friend who had done some computer work for him many years before. I just smiled and nodded placating his odd behavior.

My second and third fare was the same woman. She reminded me of Emma Stone, including the weird mouth thing that girl has. I picked her up from her boyfriend’s house, but learned that he was out of town with some buddies and she was going to have dinner before heading downtown to see a comedy show with a friend of hers. I dropped her off at the restaurant, then waited about a mile down the road for her second request.

Luckily I got it, and it was a solid fare since we ended up picking her friend up and that was out of the way of the comedy show. She was telling me about her much older boyfriend who was a doctor. She admitted that to most girls, he wasn’t attractive, but that she found him very attractive. She scrolled through her phone and showed me a photo of him, and when I saw it, I immediately recognized that he looked like Woogie from There’s Something About Mary. In case you forgot who that is, it’s this guy, Chris Elliott.

Woogie

I shit you not, the guy is a dead ringer for this actor.

“Brittany” explained that it’s kind of a sore spot with her boyfriend, because everywhere they go, people tell him he reminds them of Woogie. I could only laugh and nod in agreement.

July 18, 2015

I decided to try my hand at making a little money while on a mini weekend vacation in Huntington Beach. After spending more hours in the car on the way to Huntington on Friday, July 17, I decided to take it easy and just hang with friends and make a healthy dinner to accommodate this serious diet I’ve been one for the last couple of months.

I woke up early on Saturday, which I never do when I’m in HB and logged in as a driver around 8:15 a.m. I was logged in for less than five minutes when I got my first request. “Kylie” was waiting at an AMPM gas station for me just around the corner from her boyfriend’s house who had already left for work. They had been to a ska show the night before and Kylie freely admitted that she was very hungover, so I kept the conversation to a minimum, because the last thing I want to do when I’m hungover is talk to people.

Kylie did tell me that she lived in San Diego, but that she had lived in Orange County for a brief period during school. Our destination was Costa Mesa and was a decent distance for the first fare of the morning.

After I dropped off Kylie, I was having problems with the app because while I was following Google Maps directions back to my friend’s house, I got another request just a minute later. I tried getting back to the app to accept the request, but unfortunately, it froze up and I didn’t get the fare in time. I went back to the map program to continue following directions and as I pulled up to my friend’s house, I went back to the app and saw that another request had come in that I had missed, but the phone had never alerted to the request like it normally does. I can only chalk it up to possible connectivity problems because that had never happened before.

Almost immediately as I pulled up to my friend’s house again, I received a request from “Steve” in the apartment complex that was halfway down the block. He had his wife or girlfriend with him and a couple of duffel bags. Their destination was an Irish restaurant just one town over in Fountain Valley. I gathered from their conversation that Steve was in a band that was traveling at the time.

My third fare was a nice young couple who was headed to Newport Beach to attend a wedding on a Yacht. It was a tad overcast at the beach at the time and was the weekend of the big thunderstorms in San Diego, LA and Bakersfield. H.B. was spared, but the humid overcast did lead to scattered sprinkles which made for a nice drive along PCH.

After the first three fares, I logged out for a bit and caught Trainwreck at Bella Terra. Funny stuff, though not a great movie by any means. John Cena definitely stole the show in that flick. When we returned to my weekend retreat, I helped make dinner then got a call from “Tyson” the Italian guy and his Asian friend, “Neil.” They were planning on meeting up with some chicks, and arguing over which chick was “theirs” for the night. They were pretty funny, and had me cracking up the entire drive to Irvine with their herpes jokes.

They were going to one of the girl’s apartments that one of them would be hooking up with later. They had never been to her house, and complained about how far it was when we were nearly there. Neil seemed to be the one who procured these girls they were meeting up with and taking to the Orange County Fair. He kept showing Tyson photos of chicks he was “talking to online” and every so often, I’d hear Tyson rant and rave about how hot some of the chicks were. Sometimes this job really is just a one big sociology study on human behavior toward the opposite sex. It was refreshing that while they were funny and joking around, they were never disrespectful in their discussions.

Later that evening, I picked up “Gigi” from McDonald’s as she was just ending her shift. I explained to her that I didn’t live in HB and where I was from. For some odd reason, she said that she had always wanted to go to my hometown. I warned her that it was an extremely boring place to live and that there’s nothing really fun to do so it would be a waste of a trip. Then she said that she’d really like to visit Taft, because some music video was filmed there. I hated to burst her bubble, but I had to be honest and tell her that Taft was a bigger shit hole than Bako and that she should aim higher in terms of travel experiences. I’ve never heard anyone say that they actually wanted to go to Taft, so it was quite strange.

As soon as Gigi’s Lyft was complete, I immediately received a request from “Felice.” I waited on her and her boyfriend for just a couple of minutes, but when they got in the backseat, wow! They reeked of booze, but were quite able to maintain. They told me that they had been day drinking at a bar earlier and were ready to head downtown to another bar and finish the night. Shakira provided the soundtrack for our ride and both Felice and her boyfriend sang the chorus to “Hips Don’t Lie” while not giving a single fuck. It was fabulous. I learned that Felice was getting ready to visit her sister back in Italy in a few weeks, but I couldn’t tell if Felice had an Italian accent or maybe a hint of a Portuguese accent. Either way, she was a lovely young lady.

Each time I tried making my way back to CenCom, I would get another request. I was definitely loving the consistency of each fare request and hope that I can try to make it back down to HB at least once a month to drive and make pretty good dough. It seemed like there were a lot more users in Orange County than back at home.

“Davin” and his buddy requested a ride and I picked them up from an area of the town I wasn’t too familiar with. They too wanted to head downtown with there’s no shortage of bars and clubs along Main Street. When they got in, I directed them to the goodies they could help themselves too, and asked what they would like to listen to on Satellite radio which I typically try to ask each of my pax.

Davin’s tall blonde friend asked if I could put it on xL Backspin, which at the time was channel 46. When I would catch the blonde guy in my rearview mirror, he reminded me of an old friend named Paul who passed away five years ago this September 1.

Paul

My buddy, Paul. RIP ❤

Paul’s doppelgänger was just a young Huntington Beach white boy with a taste for 80’s and 90’s hip-hop. This became evident when these two baby-faced white boys hollered “OOOOOOOHHHHHH!” when the bass line drum intro to Geto Boys’ “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” kicked in.

Damn, It feels Good to be a Gangsta

For those unfamiliar with the song, but have maybe seen the movie “Office Space,” this is the jam that’s playing during Peter’s carefree montage of living life and working post-hypnosis without being so high strung.

Office Space Gangsta Scene

Much to my surprise, these boys rapped along with the song in its entirety and lamented their high school days. At the risk of sounding old, they couldn’t have been too far gone from high school because they both looked extremely young. If I were keeping score, I’d probably say that the best and most fun rides for me are when there are two really cool guys are in my car talking about whatever and jamming out to their favorite tunes. It’s also funny to me that the only people who ever actually have music preferences during the trip are typically young men. It also cracks me up how much some white guys love rap. I dropped Davin and his blonde friend off in front of a bust Main Street bar while my stereo system blared Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”

“Les” and a bunch of his friends standing outside an apartment complex were waiting for me and another driver to escort them downtown so that they could party. What was weird was that the three girls that piled into my backseat while Les occupied the front weren’t dressed to the nines, opting instead for casual jeans and tops with flip flops or sneakers. I guess that’s not really the weird part given I was in the middle of a bro-beach town. I suppose the weird part was that they were literally three blocks from the middle of downtown that they could’ve walked instead of paying the three dollar fare.

But that lead me to another discovery about the Lyft system. Anytime I see the final fare at the end of a ride, the pax sees a different total. Their total is $1.50 more which is Lyft’s “Trust and Safety Fee.” But what was even more surprising is that rates in Huntington Beach are actually less than those in Bako. The base fare in Bako for a short ride is $4.00, while the HB ride minimum is $3.00.

My final fare of the night came shortly before midnight from “Chucky” and who I assume was his girlfriend. His apartment was just a block from PCH and the beach and when the couple got in, I was directed to the Newport Peninsula. We set off on PCH and I could feel a slight tension in the air given the silence in the backseat. My Spidey senses were tingling and I presumed that the couple may have been fighting before I picked them up.

About halfway into our trip down a drizzly PCH, Chucky apologized and asked if I could turn around and take them back where I had picked them up. No problem, buddy. Sounds like you got some major ass kissing to do since your girl doesn’t seem to happy with you. Of course, this is just what I thought, I didn’t actually say that to him.

I arrived back at my weekend base right around midnight and despite how busy Saturday night could have turned out, I opted to chill and hang with my hospitable homies for the rest of the night.

July 19, 2015

Sundays are typically slow, but being in a new city, I was eager to see how many fares I could get before I got back on the road home. My first catch of the day happened to be an older lady who was in the shopping center right across the street from where I was staying. “Jacky” was probably in her mid-60s or so, and her daughter had told her about Lyft since her car was in the shop. She had taken the bus to the shopping center, but I was her very first Lyft ride and she had many questions which I answered politely and to her satisfaction. She gave me a five star rating and left me a very nice comment about her first experience and how I made her feel very safe. If Lyft is keeping a personnel file on me, then comments like that should work to my advantage and I should get a bonus, right?

“Wong” was my second Lyft request waiting for me at Home Depot. He bought a ladder so we had to fold my backseat down so that it could accommodate more trunk space for him. He didn’t seem to speak very fluent English so it was a pretty quiet ride for just a few blocks for the minimum fare.

“Dave” sought a ride for his 14 year-old son and his friend who were waiting for me in swim trunks and carrying boogie boards. They just wanted to head down to the beach so they could go boarding. Beach kids are so lucky. I remember boarding in the waters of the San Diego beaches as much as I could during law school. Those were the days.

“Sylvia” lived in the same neighborhood as Chucky from the night before and was on her way to the big swap meet they have every weekend at Goldenwest Junior College. She was on the hunt for new luggage. We stopped so she could grab some cash and chatted along the way about the crazy weather and weird humidity it brought over the weekend. I learned that Sylvia was originally from Florida. When I questioned if it was business or pleasure, she truthfully admitted that what brought her out here was a 90-day rehab/recovery facility. After a surgery a few years ago, she became addicted to pain pills and was seeking treatment for it. She was very candid about it and confessed that she may have actually traded in her opiate addiction for a shopping addiction because she had been spending a little more money than she cared to admit as of late.

My final HB request came immediately after Sylvia was on her way to get her shopping fix. The first thing I noticed about “Max” was his very defined thigh muscle that started just above his knee when he got into my car. Max had a hell of a time the night before partying it up with friends and Jameson and was still hungover at 1:30 pm when I scooped him up from his house.

Max was a very good looking 24 year-old personal trainer. Blonde with an All-American boy smile, Max was pleasant, polite, and quite entertaining as he recorded a “Snap Story” on his Snapchat account, featuring me as we drove him back to his car. The coolest thing about Max was that when he learned I didn’t live in town, he told me to disregard my Google maps directions and said he was in no rush so we could take the scenic route along PCH. We talked about his job, favorite cocktails, and laughed about both having seen Trainwreck over the weekend. He agreed that John Cena was the quintessential meat head in the film, and since he works with meat heads all day, I imagine that Max knows what he’s talking about. It was the perfect fare to end my HB work day.

I got back in town before the sunset and logged back in around 7:30 pm. “Oz” needed a ride from his gig at Chuck E. Cheese and was in a bit of a hurry. He had gotten off work late, and he and his girlfriend were supposed to go to the 8:00 pm showing of Trainwreck and she got pissed that he was asked to stay late. I wished him luck as he jumped out of my car and ran into his house.

A half an hour later, a very good looking photo of “Adam” popped up on my phone. “Hell yes, I’ll go pick you up, hot stuff.” I thought to myself. Okay, I may have said it out loud as well. It was like I hit the weekend Lyft jackpot of good looking male pax. I have yet to have a stunningly hot female pax though. Again, I digress.

Imagine my disappointment when Adam swished his way out of the Mexican restaurant (where Will works) with tears in his eyes. He gave me an address, but was extremely distraught. He asked me, “How can you say you love someone if you don’t want to run away and be with that person forever?” Kind of a loaded question, Adam, but let’s talk about this, shall we?

Adam went into detail about how he was in love with a married man. This married man strings him along and plays with his emotions. He tells Adam that he loves him, and that if he would have met him three months before, he never would have married his wife. Sounds like a narcissistic, selfish closet case to me. Adam has a good job as a collector and moonlights as a bartender at various places here in town, including the most popular gay bar.

He begged his married boyfriend to leave town with him and start a new life somewhere, but was rejected. The way Adam was talking, it sounded to me like he ended it for good with the guy, because he was never going to leave his wife. He cried some more and just looked so defeated and tormented that I felt so sorry for him. The most surprising thing about the story Adam told was the fact that the wife knows about her husband’s philandering. But she doesn’t want to let him go either, so we have a stalemate love triangle folks. It’s so delicious. I love this job.

“Jose” and his wife were about to celebrate their 17th Anniversary, late on a Sunday night. We headed to a fairly new bar so they could get drinks and dinner and when we arrived, it was already closed. Faced with the reality of getting such a late start, the couple started kind of arguing about whether to go back home or pick a different spot for dinner and drinks. I rattled off a few suggestions, but they ultimately decided on the Moose Lodge.

My final fare for the evening belonged to one of my favorite DUI clients. I’d given “Javi” rides before, and if you’ll recall from a previous post, he’s the client who is Fredo’s cousin. Usually when I’m taking Javi home, I’m wearing both my lawyer hat and my Lyft hat, because inevitably we start talking about his case. This ride was no different. By the time I dropped Javi off, it was passed 11, and I was ready to call it a successful weekend.

I know I left you guys hanging last time about who I suspected was the pax who wasn’t showing the love in terms of my rating, but guess what? Everyone is a suspect. But because we’re 2/3rds of the way through July and there are so many more stories, I’m going to have to leave you with another cliffhanger. I’ll be interested to hear if you guys have any suspects yet. If so, please leave a comment with your guesses. In the meantime, I will work on the final July post and hopefully include some of my interesting August rides so far as well.

Until then, stay safe, and keep both eyes on the road!

Light a Roman Candle and Hold it in Your Hand

July was a pretty busy month for driving so, naturally, I have many stories. I had only given 264 lifetime rides before I picked up my first July pax. I ended the month with 388 lifetime rides so needless to say, I met quite a few new people this month. The downside of giving that many rides is that my driver rating went from a pristine 4.99 to a ridiculous 4.91. I can almost guarantee I know which riders weren’t showing me the love, and you may be surprised when I tell you who the suspects are.

As I’ve previously written, all pax and drivers have an opportunity to rate one another on a 5-star system with the option of writing a little comment to explain your rating or just to be cool. I’m not sure if passengers can actually see any comments that drivers write about them, but we drivers get to see all comments that are attached to every 5-star rating, if any.

I received quite a few decent reviews this month. But this by far is my favorite:

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I don’t even like cats, but knowing someone trusts me to care for theirs makes my heart swell.

Lyft runs its pay period from Monday at 5:00 am to Sunday at 4:59 am. Every morning at about 8:30 am, drivers will receive a daily driver summary via email if we logged into driver mode at any time the previous day. The summary breaks down how much will be included in our next weekly deposit, how much each fare was and Lyft’s fee, any tips paid to you on top of the fare, how long you were logged into driver mode as well as any cancellations, your driver rating, acceptance rate, and a color time graph indicating when you were logged in.

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Every Friday, drivers receive an email giving us our weekly feedback summary for the previous Friday through Thursday. It breaks down your star ratings and shows the comments riders left for you who gave you 5 stars. It will also show you your previous week’s rating, this week’s rating and the average driver rating as well as a lifetime ride counter.

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Every Tuesday morning, you are emailed a weekly earnings summary. It tallies your total “paycheck” to be deposited on Wednesday and indicates whether you earned a 10 or 20% bonus, shows the whole week’s color graph of the time you were in drive mode and each day’s earnings, tips, and fees as well as the number of trips you took. Each email is like a number cruncher’s wet dream, filled with statistical analysis.

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But enough about the employment process, let’s talk riders.

The weekend of 4th of July was somewhat busy, however I only logged in for a couple hours at a time since I visited with family before waiting for the occasional ride request. That Thursday and Friday before, I only gave eight rides. None were very exciting, although I did have a young couple that I picked up from the mall and when they got in the car, “Rudy” asked me if I would take the freeway. I assured her that I would, and she proceeded to tell me that other drivers tend to take the surface streets, which greatly inflates the price of the Lyft. Hearing shitty practices of other drivers irritates me because it makes us all look bad. Until we make ourselves look bad.

Once I hopped on the freeway, Rudy, her boyfriend and I were chatting away. I was in the middle of answering a question when I realized I had missed the interchange I needed and apologized profusely to Rudy because I had to double back at the next exit on the surface streets which led us to a snag in traffic due to a non-working signal. I felt horrible. When we finally got back on the freeway, I told Rudy that I was going to end the meter on the ride when we got on the off-ramp so that it wouldn’t charge her anymore since that was totally my fault. Rudy was very pleasant about it and thanked me once she and her boyfriend got out of the car.

My next pax were sisters in town from Nacogdoches, TX. They were fleeing the scene of a popular wine bar they had closed down to get away from a guy who had been hitting on them all night and wanted to know where they were headed next. The buzzed ladies monopolized the conversation so I didn’t get to ask them why they were in town. They directed me to head to a bar downtown but not a dance club. I started rattling off a few different dive bars since that was their preference, and they scoffed at the cash only bar they thought they wanted to go to. I ended up taking them to a great dive bar that my friends and I used to frequent when we were in our early 20’s.

We chatted about the large Basque culture our town boasts and the various restaurants that serve the same cuisine. “Erica” and I were in agreement that pickled tongue is pretty nasty. Like I always say, I don’t want to eat anything that can taste me back. It’s just weird.

My fifth and final pax for Friday night was one of my regulars I’ve written about before. Will was at his Mexican restaurant job when he requested a ride. You may remember that he was the server who complained about people who get stingy with tips during the “drinking holidays.” It’s funny to me when a rider’s profile picture pops up and when they get in your car, they don’t really look like their photo. That’s the case with Will. He looks rather homely in his picture, but I’ve noticed that something about him reminds me a little of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Only really short.

It was just about 12:30 a.m. when I got to him and we had to run him home real quick so he could change before heading to one of the popular downtown bars. I teased him that he was only going to get there in time for one drink before the bar closed and he laughed saying that his friends were bugging him to come out and hang with them.

“So, I’m going to meet up with Fredo and them.”

I looked at Will and smiled and said “You know Fredo?!”

“Haha, yeah, I was with him the last time you picked us up. I was in the backseat.”

We laughed because I had no idea. Fredo is always with a different friend or family member whenever I pick him up. He knows a hell of a lot of people here in town.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Throughout the day, I logged in and out of the app for just an hour or two at a time. My first fare was at 9:30 am and was Andy, Artie’s boyfriend. I got to learn a little more about Andy and his side job on our way to his day job selling shoes at the mall. On his days off he makes jewelry for drag queens and has had some pieces featured in some obscure magazine. Some of my regulars are so interesting.

In the late afternoon, my regular Natalie who I had taken to meet her first date a few days before called for a ride to work. I soon learned that Natalie was an ER nurse for a local hospital and had to work the holiday. I asked if she thought there would be a spike in missing finger emergencies tonight. She chuckled and said she definitely expected a few burn victims for sure.

She told me that the first date went really well and she was excited about him, but he dropped a bomb when he told her that he was leaving for the CHP academy in a few weeks. That academy is about 6 months long, but she wasn’t about to wait for a guy she just met, especially since she wasn’t a big fan of law enforcement.

Jack, the friendly bartender, was the next request. He was pissed that for the first time, the owner decided to open the bar for the holiday and he drew the short straw to have to work it. I surmised that since it was Saturday, once the fireworks were over, business would probably pick up. Jack was of the opinion that this was a BBQ, pool, and beer drinking day at the house and that he hoped it stayed as dead as it was when we pulled up so he could tell the boss that it wasn’t worth it. Jack is one of my favorite bartenders because he’s always ready with cash tips.

Once my family’s fireworks show was over, I logged back in just in time to pick up “Mickey” from his grocery store job. He asked me if I knew Spanish because his friends were texting him in Spanish and he didn’t understand what they were saying. I told him I probably couldn’t help him out much unless they were asking him where the bathroom was or for another beer.

Artie requested a Lyft from work almost immediately after I dropped off Mickey at home. Artie has a paraplegic brother who he actually cares for through a county program. So basically, Artie works at his mom’s house. While they were outside lighting fireworks, a few of their neighbors had the illegal fireworks show across the street. This led to cops coming and ticketing one set of neighbors because the other neighbors grabbed their stuff and ran inside when they saw the cop turn onto the street.

I was shocked when I received a ride request from the very east side of town because I figured that there would be plenty of drivers out for the holiday. I drove all the way out to the country club area and picked up “Jay” and his three friends from a house party. The very animated young lady who sat in the front seat told me how good it smelled in my car courtesy of my air fresheners. I estimated that each of my pax were about 5-6 years younger than me so I entertained them with the satellite radio station that plays music from 2000-2010. It’s always funny when people say “I haven’t heard this song in forever!” before they bust into singing along.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you about my Glow-In-The-Dark Mustache I received from Lyft after giving 100 rides, but I have one that is just mounted to my dash via magnet. Ever since I received the mustache a couple of months ago, it has been featured in many a pax Snapchat or Instagram account. But that’s because it’s so cool looking.

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It was no different when I picked up “Shelly” and her two friends. They requested a specific satellite station (Channel 47 “The Heat”) and when their jam came on, all three harmonized it pretty well and even recorded themselves singing it. Shelly’s male friend sat in front and manned the radio while the ladies took turns taking photos with Mr. Mustache. When I dropped them off downtown, homie sitting in front started patting down his pockets and remembered that he had left his wallet in Shelly’s other friend’s car that was parked at her dad’s house. The girls were pissed at him, but rather than drive them to go pick up the wallet, he was confident that the bar wouldn’t card him. I tried not to laugh, but it was highly unlikely they were getting into any bar on a Saturday night without ID.

“Kevin” and his buddy “Sean” were in a gated community when I went to pick them up. The first thing Kevin asked was whether he could smoke a cigarette in my car. I politely declined explaining I was an ex-smoker and could no longer stand the smell of a burning cigarette. He was cool about it, but I told him if he had weed, I wouldn’t mind him smoking it, but no cigarettes. I could see his eyes get big in the dark before he asked “Really?!”

“Sure. I don’t care.”

“So we can smoke this blunt in my pocket right now?”

“Go for it.”

“Sweet!” And they did as I drove them to a downtown apartment building. While they were kind enough to offer me some, I again politely declined. After all, I was on the clock.

My final fare was one of my regular pax named Sammy. He was being nice and requesting a ride for his couple friends who needed to get home after a solid holiday drinking and having a good time. I think people ordering a Lyft or Uber for their friends who don’t have the app are our best allies because that’s how we get more users. At the end of the ride, they asked me how much it was, and I explained that this ride was on Sammy and that it is all paid for through the app. They were still kind enough to give me a cash tip which was more than the actual fare.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

When I saw Deepak’s request come through in the mid-afternoon, I grimaced, but begrudgingly drove to his house to pick him up. He was sober and remembered me from our casino excursion the week before. He wanted me to drop him off at the dollar store not too far from his house. I thought at first that maybe he worked there because he said I didn’t need to wait for him. So I was on my merry way.

Later in the afternoon I picked up “D.J.,” who is an actual DJ at a local strip club, and his stripper girlfriend. No really, she’s a stripper. But they were cool peeps who had just discovered Lyft and thought it was a Godsend since they had such bad luck with cab companies. I dropped off D.J.’s girlfriend at work first, then took him to the other strip club not too far away. D.J. asked if I would be driving around 2:00 am to pick them up later and I told him that since it was a “school night” for me, that I would be done driving much earlier than that. I would pick D.J. up a few more times in the month and he’s really a good guy and sounds like a great father. We’ll get to that later.

Once the sun went down, I got a second request from Deepak who was still in the same shopping center where I had left him. When I arrived, the dollar store was already closed, and Deepak came stumbling out of the little bar right next door. I can only assume he had been there drinking since I dropped him off because he reeked of booze and had a noticeable slur to his speech. Dude is a serious alcoholic. But hey, at least he’s not driving right?

My final fare of the night belonged to “Ronnie” who is a bartender and co-worker of Jack’s. He told me that he worked earlier in the day and had been drinking with this hairdresser pretty much the whole time. She had appointments at her shop, and he casually suggested that she should cancel them and drink with him all day instead. Calling his bluff, she did just that before going home to her baby daddy. And now, here he was, heading back to the scene of the crime at the bar to drink more even though he told himself he wouldn’t.

Ronnie was an interesting character and told me a story about how the week before, he took out a 22 year-old on a date and asked if she could hold her liquor. I told him his first mistake was trying to drink with a 22 year-old, because of course she thought she could hang with him. Three pineapple vodka’s and four tequila shots later, the girl was so sloppy drunk, she had to carry her to the Lyft, then carry her to her front door while he rummaged through her purse to find her house keys. When he couldn’t find them, he pounded on the door until her mom answered and had her brother help him carry her inside. Sounds like a hot mess to me. Of course, being in the service industry, Ronnie left me a tip.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I hadn’t seen “Amy” in months since there are so many more Lyft drivers in town now. Amy works at a great BBQ joint and has five kids with her husband. She told me that the new development in her life was that she was going to be a surrogate for a wealthy Chinese couple who were flying in from China to meet her in a couple of weeks. I had so many questions that she happily answered on our way home. She and her husband thought about it long and hard, and given that she would be traveling for free, get full medical care on the couple’s dime and walk away with nearly $50,000 in her pocket, she felt pretty good about their decision. I commend her for her selflessness when it comes to her body. Amy is certainly a better woman than me.

When I got the request from “Gus,” I didn’t know to expect a male or female when I pulled up. I was waiting for a few minutes before I called to find out where he/she was. A female voice with a thick Indian accent answered and said they would be out soon. Come to find out, it was the wife of Gus who answered, but only Gus would be riding with me to a motel just south of the house. On the way, Gus told me that his wife had called the cops on him a few weeks ago and he ended up charged with five felony counts of spousal abuse.

The story caught my attention since I am very familiar with the local criminal defense bar and I found out that he had hired an attorney I would never refer to anybody. The lawyer is kind of a joke in our small legal community. I was recently sitting outside a courtroom and saw him interacting with a couple of his clients and the way he spoke to both of them with such disdain was appalling.

I must have made a face when Gus told me the name of this attorney because he asked me what I knew about him. I had to be honest. When I relayed what I knew about this man, Gus shook his head in defeat and admitted that when he met with him, he had a bad feeling about him, but paid him a retainer anyway because he needed representation. I told him he had to go with his gut on those kinds of things because big decisions like hiring an attorney can be life-altering.

He pressed me as to how I knew the things I knew, and I reluctantly told him that I was also a criminal attorney. His eyes lit up like he had just won the jackpot, and immediately began asking questions trying to get some free advice. I explained to him that felonies were not my bag, but I could refer him to an excellent attorney who could help him out. Considering his court date was the very next morning, he asked for my recommendation regarding the attorney he had already hired. I told him he was within his rights to fire the guy, but not to expect a refund of any fees already paid.

He thanked me profusely and said that he thought I was his guardian angel and that he would call the lawyer I referred him to first thing in the morning. He shook my hand and walked away with a little more confidence.

I had a couple other fares that night, but was surprised when I saw that my driver rating had gone down despite what I thought were four really good fares and 5-star worthy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I had 11 total rides this busy Friday night. It was a pretty good night and the same night I got the best review I posted above. I am pretty sure that the guy who gave me that review was “Stan” who was extremely animated in the front seat while his three friends chatted in my backseat. When you have the right music for the mood, it makes the ride so much more enjoyable. It also helps that white people LOVE Uptown Funk. Stan serenaded me on the way to the bar, changing the words to “Too hot! Hot Stan!” as we drove. He was a big ball of hysterical making inappropriate uncle-touching jokes. He was impressed when I kept up with him using some of my own inappropriate remarks.

Once it was bar closing time, I made my way to a bar I had previously dropped off “Barry” because one of Stan friends had found some keys in my backseat which had to have been Barry’s. As I waited to see if I could pick him out of the crowd forming in front of the bar, I received a couple of requests from people leaving the same bar. After taking “Aspen” and her friends home, I came back to the bar hoping to find Barry again, but instead, I got another request from a Deepak who had been drinking at the bar as well. Guess where he wanted to go? Yep, the casino. And as usual, the cheap fucker still didn’t tip.

This Friday night was probably the most memorable for me because it was the first time I had ever been pulled over with pax in my car! Once I left the casino, a immediately got a request from downtown. I picked up “Cory” and his three pals from the taco truck and was waiting for the light to turn green when I noticed a cop car pull out from the police station and turn onto the street I was about to turn on. The cop was waiting at the red when I pulled up immediately next to him at the stoplight.

Knowing I was sober and had no reason to trail behind him like most drivers do whenever they see the cop, I hit the accelerator as soon as the green light came on. Apparently the officer didn’t like that too much as he immediately got behind me in our lane and lit me up. I quickly put on my right blinker and pulled over to the curb. My pax were pretty upset at how lame it was that I was doing a community service by getting the drunks home when there’s  real crime happening right now that they should be worried about.

Sitting in my car with the bright spotlight attacking my eyes from my sideview mirror, I readied my driver’s license for the officer. He was an older officer who came up to my window shining a flashlight in my face and asking if I knew what the speed limit was.

“Isn’t it 40?” I asked.

“It was 25 where we were stopped at the light and this is a 35 mile an hour zone but we got you going 38. Let me see your license, registration and insurance.”

So I was going a whole 3 miles over the speed limit which was enough to detain me and my pax. Excellent.

I handed him my license while my I had Cory reach into my glove box for my registration.

“My insurance card is on my phone if I can pull it up for you.” I had my hands on the steering wheel as I spoke in case the cop was trigger happy if I grabbed my phone out of the holster. He told me to go ahead and retrieve it to show him and took my license and registration. I did reach for my glow-in-the-dark mustache on top of the dash as we waited for the insurance card to pop up and I showed that to him and said, “By the way, I’m a Lyft driver and sober in case you were wondering.”

“Alright.” He replied as he walked away with my documents.

The tension in the car was thick, but the only female in the back of my seat said, “Maybe he’ll just give you a warning. You didn’t do anything wrong, this is retarded.” I agreed with her, but for now, we just had to wait.

I told them that I may need to call them as witnesses if I end up getting a traffic ticket and they gladly said that they’d help me out if it came to that. I apologized to Cory as I knew the delay would increase the amount of the fare by the end of the ride and told him I would stop the meter a couple miles from his destination to make up for it. “Don’t worry about it! I’m using a free ride code for up to $20 so this ride isn’t costing me a thing!” I immediately felt better about that.

When the officer returned, it was his much younger, baby-faced partner who was likely a recent graduate and trainee because he handed me back my license and registration with a huge smile on his face and stuttered a bit when he said, “Here you go ma’am. Just watch your speed okay? There’s a sign right there *he points across the street just behind us* that says the speed limit is 30, I know you probably can’t see it because the light’s in your eyes, but just slow down, okay?”

“You got it, thank you officer.”

And with that, he nearly skipped all the way back the patrol vehicle. It’s probably been about 8 years since I’ve gotten a speeding ticket. It was pretty obvious that these guys were fishing for DUI’s, and were likely disappointed when stopping me turned up nothing for them.

Since being a lawyer, I’ve always questioned officers about the equipment they were using to obtain my speed during the contact and when they discover I’m a lawyer, they grant me a “professional courtesy” and let me off with a warning to slow down. It’s happened a few times. This was an instant where I knew I should just keep my mouth shut and hope for the best. In a car filled with drunks, it’s usually the best idea.

I know I’m not even through half the month of July, but I will go ahead and wrap this up and try to post another update this weekend to cover the second half because there is so much more to tell. Stay tuned everybody, and drive safe!

This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a…

I know we’re nearly half way through July, but I wasn’t able to update as often as I want so I feel like I should tell a few tales from some of my June rides. I won’t discuss all of them since most are just to and from work or a typical drunk ride home from the club.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Total Friday night fare count was eight. Some were repeat riders, some weren’t. One of the more creepier rides I gave was to a guy by the name of “Mo.” He may or may not have been Indian. Truthfully, I couldn’t quite peg his nationality and would rather not speculate since it really doesn’t matter.

I picked him up at a gas station and he sat in the back. That’s always somewhat of a red flag to me as I’ve explained in a previous post; too many movies, gun to the head, etc.  Mo told me he was from New York and was a CPA for a very large, well-known oil corporation.

Somehow, he got on the subject of relationships and asked if I was married. When I told him no, he took that as an invitation to tell me how beautiful I was. He then went on to tell me how well he treats his women and how he has plenty of money to keep someone happy and that the last girl he dated for about a month after meeting over the internet and asked her to move in with him “because a month is plenty of time to know if you want to live someone.” I told him he was crazy and that you did not know someone at all after only a month of talking to them and that I would never move in with someone like that. When I tried to divert the conversation from relationships to Lyft vs. Uber driving and what he did for a living, he came back with a very verbose soliloquy about his feelings on relationships and how, according to him, they are supposed to develop. Needless to say, the creepy guy got 3 stars as soon as I dropped him off at his hotel.

Immediately after Mo the creeper, I got my fellow Lyft driving buddy Fredo’s request. A little back story about Fredo and I; The night of the Ronda Rousey/Cat Zingano fight in late February, I was less than sober at my sister’s house and requested a Lyft home since my dad had picked me up to take me there before the fight. Fredo was my driver. I told him I was a Lyft driver too and had just started earlier in the month. He had wondered if I was a driver because of the background of my photo. All of the driver profiles have a photoshopped image of green bushes in the background. We chatted a bit about the app and driving for it, although I was pretty buzzed so the memory of our discussion is a bit fuzzy. I just remember him telling me that he also drove for Uber as well. I would come to learn that most Lyft drivers here in town are also Uber drivers. While people have encouraged me to drive for both to increase the number of fares available, I feel like it would be more of a pain in the ass.

Anyway, about three weeks after Fredo dropped me off that first time, I happened to get his request and picked up him and his brother to take them to Applebee’s. During that ride, we got to know each other a little more and swapped a couple driver stories. Neither of us had ever had a puker at that point, but had been nervous on more than one trip that it may happen. The best story he told me was about a couple he picked up from the bar one night and the girl was super fucked up and lied down in the back of his car while the guy sat in front and chitchatted a little with him on the way. With all the windows rolled up, the drunk chick passed out in the back, and a lull in the conversation, Fredo recalled that suddenly he and the boyfriend heard the obvious escape of air from the butt cheeks in the backseat and it took everything out of him not to laugh hysterically at the drunk girl. He had me laughing all the way to Applebee’s.

A couple weeks after that, I had received a request from Fredo’s brother. He and a couple of their buddies were going to Firehouse. It would be later that same night that I would pick up their cousin who also just happened to be one of my DUI clients. Small fucking world, right?

So on June 5th when I picked him and one of his friends up to take them to a house party, it kinda felt like we were already comrades, if not homies. On our way to the party, he told me that there was a Facebook group specifically for Lyft and Uber drivers that sometimes planned driver meet-ups and stuff and really felt like a cool little community of fellow drivers. He told me he was going to send me an invitation to the group but we soon discovered that we actually had to be friends on Facebook before he could invite me. Needless to say, Fredo and I became real life Facebook friends and the next morning I had the invitation to the group waiting for me to accept.

Later that night, I picked up a cute dude I’ll call “Joey.” Joey lived down the street from the bar that I picked him up from and his fare was only $4. On the way, he assured me that he wouldn’t be a cheap tipper. One thing I’ve learned about the service industry as a whole is that if a customer says they’ll tip me big, chances are I won’t get shit. This cutie, however, was the exception to that rule when the next morning I saw that he added $10 to the $4 he was charged. Cute and generous is a great combination.

When I picked up Aaron and his three girlfriends from the bar, they were the loudest fare that night. Aaron sat in the back with the two loudmouths and the most sober passenger sat in front and apologized for her drunk friends several times as I drove. They made me laugh so it wasn’t as obnoxious as it could have been. As they were exiting the backseat, the girl in the middle grabbed my face and told me I was beautiful. I told her she was beautiful too and chuckled since she was the second person to say that to me that night. When she finally got out of the car and I turned to face the front, Aaron was tipsily leaning into my driver side window asking for a kiss. I slowly moved toward him and turned my face like my niece does when you ask her for a kiss so he actually placed a peck on my cheek. Despite how creepy that may sound, there wasn’t really a creepy factor to it because he seemed like a nice dorky guy that just had one too many. Entertaining passengers get a pass I suppose.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The following day was the Belmont Stakes when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown. My first passenger of the evening was “Cecil” and was on Cloud 9 since he had won a ton of money on the race. He explained to me the odds and types of bets involved in horse racing since I’ve never been to horse races and didn’t know much about them. Honestly, even after our talk, I still don’t know much about them.

My third passenger of the night just happened to be my 200th Lyft ride. I told “Tatum” when she got in my car and she asked me what she won. Ha! Probably should’ve expected that reaction but I offered her Starburst which I provide to all my riders and she was happy to take a couple.

The fourth and final fare of the night was again, Fredo!! I picked up him and his friend Sergio from downtown and first took them back to Fredo’s house to pick up more beer since it was already after 2:00 am. Once the package was secured, we headed west across town to their friend’s house. During the second trip, Fredo let me know that he may puke but that he would give me plenty of warning to pull over if he did. He tapped my leg in a really nice neighborhood so I pulled off of the main thoroughfare we were traveling and he ralphed all along the big white wall of a gated community. Sergio was in the backseat laughing at him and giving him a hard time about holding his liquor. But like a champ, Fredo puked and rallied and was ready to drink some more. I would see Fredo one more time in June. I can only assume that I get his requests most often because I am one of the drivers who lives closest to him. He’s a cool kid.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I started driving fairly early in the day and picked up a gal and her boyfriend from a rundown motel in a relatively bad part of town. “Nyesha” and her boyfriend were from Florida and came out here because someone she thought was a “friend” was supposed to help her get a bartending job and they were going to move out here. Apparently the “friendship” soured upon her arrival and they were kind of left high and dry. I told her about the many bars and clubs she may want to apply at and the afternoon became a mission to find them a barbershop that took walk-ins. After a few internet searches and approximately 17 miles traveled around town, they finally chose one that was just a couple miles from where they were staying. Sucks for their wallet, but mine was pretty happy after that fare.

The next request I got was from “Andy,” who just so happens to be “Artie’s” boyfriend. You remember Artie, right? He’s the overweight gay boy regular who broke his diet and is always directing me to the closest fast food restaurant before we get to his final destination. Andy works at the mall and was requesting a ride home which is just a little over a mile away. Like Artie, Andy is on the wrong side of ideal weight, though he wears it a little better. When he got in the car and I noticed our destination, I asked if he was Artie’s boyfriend. Andy smiled and said yes and that Artie always talks about his rides with me because he really likes me. That’s always refreshing to hear.

Monday, June 25, 2015

A couple days later, I picked up “Boyd” and a couple friends who had been at a job-related BBQ off right around the corner from my house. It was a weekday, but that did not deter Boyd and his two pals from directing me to take them to a steakhouse so they could continue to get their drink on. I’ve given Beau and one of the passengers, “Jake” a few rides before. Jake especially remembers me because we have discussed his past DUI and that he had hired my former employer to represent him on the case. Super nice guys. Boyd was especially generous when he tipped more than the cost of the fare. It’s crazy how quickly some regulars become my favorite pax.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Speaking of tippers, I picked up “Nick” and his 3 drunk friends from two streets over from my house. It was quite a long wait for these guys and on a crowded street that had me double-parked. A little Lyft tip from a driver, don’t ever request a Lyft when your phone is literally about to die. If we arrive, you have no way of getting notified via text message and even though we have the capability to call you when we get there, it does no good if you can’t answer your dead phone. Luckily, Nick was sober enough to come look for me and let me know of his phone dilemma and that we were still waiting on his friends to get ready.

Thanks to Nick, I have implemented a new practice of not ending the ride until everyone is completely out of the vehicle and I’m starting to pull away absent exigent circumstances. So everyone started getting out of the car and Nick says to me, “Hey, I have $20 for you if you just take me to the store real quick so I can pick up some more beer.” Knowing that his phone is dead and taking him at his word, I agree and I take him the mile down the road and wait for him as he buys his booze.

Once he gets back in the car, he said he asked his friend that was with him earlier if he gave the $20 to me and was told that his friend didn’t have the $20. But nevertheless, he assured me that there would be a big tip in it for me once his phone was charged. Essentially, Nick got a free ride out of the deal because there was no tip at all from him when I checked my morning email log. See what happens when you try to be nice? Prick.

A few hours later, I was again greeted by Nick and two of the three friends he was with when I picked them up from the house I dropped them off at. This time, the requesting account was from a “Clawhon.” I can only speculate that it is a first name/last name combination somehow. I took the three of them back to the original location I had picked them up at, and once again, did not receive a gratuity. I don’t really expect tips, but if the service is above and beyond, then one would think that it should go without saying. Clearly, these guys have never worked the service industry.

It is also noteworthy that on this particular Friday, our home air conditioner went out. It was a miserable 95 degrees inside pretty much all day long which resulted in client meeting cancellations and a lot of my time over the weekend in my car with the air blasting since we were experiencing triple digit temperatures for many days.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My first pax were a young Hispanic couple with a 9-month old baby! They had the carseat and everything and strapped him in my backseat like good, responsible parents. Now, had they not had a seat for the baby, you can bet I would have turned them away. I could not in good conscience allow people to get in my car while holding a young child despite the fact that I rode in the back of a banana yellow Chevy Nova at the age of 2 standing in the backseat while my dad took me off-roading in the surrounding hills.

As it closed in on 7 o’clock, my fourth request of the day came from “Jack,” a bartender at a very popular downtown establishment that has been featured in t.v. shows and movies. Since he lived quite a ways away from the bar, we had a great conversation about liquor. He’s a Crown Royal guy and lamented about how American whiskey is shit compared to how the Canadian’s barrel their whiskey. We chatted about how Grey Goose is overpriced bullshit compared to Kettle One. And in his professional opinion, Avion tequila is the best and pretty popular right now. If you’re an Entourage fan, you know that Avion is the brand that Turtle was pushing in the show. Of course, because Jack is in the service industry, he generously tipped me five dollars in cash before he got out of the car. I love bartenders for more than one reason now.

It was probably around 9:30 pm before I got my next request from the local casino near the fairgrounds. “Deepak” was pretty inebriated when he got into my car. He was excited because he had just won $5,000 playing on $2,000. I congratulated him and asked which game he was playing. It had all come by way of the Blackjack table. He explained that his mom had given him $2,000 to come down and play because he is so lucky and he decided it was time to go reimburse her the money she lent him, give her an extra thousand, and deposit the rest or maybe most of it into his bank account.

Deepak’s Indian accent, and slurred, drunken speech made it quite difficult to understand exactly what he was saying or what the appropriate response to many “you know’s?” were supposed to be. He was so drunk, he laughed with his entire body. Deepak was also a repeater. He told me the story of his mom and her lending him the money to play several times. He was very happy to share with me that his mother is very important to him and that he will do anything for her. His father died when he was very young so it’s just been his ‘moms’ who took care of him and his three brothers. Deepak got giddy each time he told me that he was his mother’s favorite son and took pleasure in explaining that to me several times throughout our trip.

He asked if it was okay to go to his house then the bank then possibly back to the casino. Hell, it was his dime, I didn’t mind driving him around. Then, he told me that he would “take care” of me and tip well. He also delighted in telling me that he had purchased a gold necklace and bracelet set for his mom for Mother’s Day. He probably told that story a good 4 times while we were in the car. Once he paid his mom, we went to the bank. When he got back in the car, he directed me back to the casino. This guy gave off the impression that he didn’t think highly of women because he kept giving me directions back to the casino as if I was an idiot. Clearly he didn’t realize the GPS on my phone that’s connected to the dash was providing me with directions in spite of his own.

Somehow, the conversation turned to DUI’s and he volunteered the information that he had 3 DUI’s. That would explain his need for a Lyft. I learned that he hired my ex-boss at an exorbitant rate. I could’ve gotten the same deal for him for less than half what he was charged. But that’s none of my business. Towards the end of the ride, Deepak was getting more and more obnoxious until he started getting a tad touchy feely with me, grabbing my arm in excitement. He was weird, but hey, it was a long ride and even without a tip, it would still be a good fare.

I had to pick him up a second time less than an hour later after he lost the remainder of the money (or got kicked out, whichever one is really unclear). He then was barking directions at me to go back home and again, I had to politely remind him that I knew where we were going since we had just been there mere hours before.

And guess what? Yep, no tip from Deepak. Winning money doesn’t make people very generous I suppose.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I had my second ride with Andy, Artie’s boyfriend, which is funny because it had been several weeks since I had seen Artie. Andy is definitely more outgoing and a tad more flamboyant than Artie. He is a cat person. *insert eyeroll here* We discussed our mutual love for animals, but I confessed that I was a dog person and he jokingly said I needed to stop this ride right now so he could get out. It was all in good fun.

I had plans to meet my mom and 19 month old niece at the movies around 11:30, so I grabbed a couple more fares before making my way to the theater. The last fare I picked up before I knew I was going to log off driver mode belonged to a couple of gays guys who had just finished brunch downtown. They had already entered the destination address by the time they were in my car and it just so happened that they were going to the same theater I was so that worked out as smoothly as it could have. They were going to be watching Ted 2 while we saw Inside Out.

After spending a few hours with mom and the niece, I logged back into driver mode for a bit just to see if I would get a couple more fares. The next one I got was from one of my new regulars, Natalie, whom you may remember from Cinco de Mayo. Earlier in the month, I had dropped her off at a strip mall but she was vague on which business she was actually going to. However, being a DUI attorney and familiar with one particular business in the strip mall, I surmised that she was attending the DUI school given the time she was going. But it would also explain why she was using Lyft since it’s difficult to drive with a suspended license. Again, this is all just speculation.

This time, I was taking Natalie to a nice steakhouse where she was about to have a first date with a guy. She explained that she had divorced the father of her children about two years ago and only recently started dating within the last year. What surprised me is that Natalie said that she and her ex are very amicable when it comes to their kids and that all throughout their 7 year marriage, they never fought in front of the kids. That’s admirable.

Even more surprisingly, she told me that she met this guy she was about to go on a date with through Instagram. I didn’t realize Instagram was a dating or hook up site. But apparently, the last few dates she’s been on has been a result of Instagram or Facebook. We talked about the way the world has changed when it comes to online dating and meeting people through internet sites and social media. She said that it’s even changed in the 9 years since she first got together with her ex-husband. I wished her luck on her date and headed home.

That night, my final fare was Rick, the standoffish pharmacy tech I usually take home when he gets off work. I picked him up from the movie theater by the mall. Remember, the last time I saw him was Cinco de Mayo when we rolled around town giving out his resume so I was curious to know if he was still working at the same pharmacy. He was. He had just watched Ted 2 and thought it was hilarious. Rick was even more excited for the new Terminator movie to come out and said that he would be at the midweek premiere after work in just a few days.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

With our a/c still not working, I decided to start driving really early on this day. The first fare came from the south side of town. “Johnathan” had two female friends with him and really bad cell service when I tried to call him to let him know I was waiting for him outside his apartment complex. All three got into my car and he let me know that we would be going several places. Score!

The first spot he wanted to go was one of those chain dollar store on the north side of town. This area is called Oildale and is the butt of many a white trash joke. When we arrived, he instructed me to take the two girls where they needed to go and when they were done with their errands, we would come back to pick him up and take them all back home.

Once Johnathan was off the car, the girls directed me to a different dollar store on the east side of town. I waited for them to grab a few things they needed then we headed toward one of the girls’ sister’s apartment not too far from the store. Again, I waited for them a few minutes while they unloaded the car and came back with several bags of laundry.

We began to make our way back to pick up Johnathan and one of the girls called to make sure he was still at the location where we left him. He told the girl that he would find another way back home and that I should just take them back to the house. So that’s what we did. The fare was more than $40 which was awesome and by the time I got back home, the A/C was fixed. All was right with the world.

Later in the evening, I picked up a drunk and giggly “Stacey” plus a friend from the bar and grill around the corner from my house and took them all the way to the northwest part of town. What I typically do when I have people in my car and there are lulls in the conversation, I try to guess what kind of music they listen to if they don’t ever answer what they want to listen to. I don’t know if people are trying to seem easy going, but 9 times out of 10, when I ask what they would like to listen to and let them know I have satellite radio with virtually every genre, the typical response is “whatever, this is fine.”

Having sized up Stacey and her pal, I made an executive decision to put it on the 2000s station which plays all the hits from 2000-2010 which seemed to be right about high school years for them somewhere in between. It seemed to pay off when they both started singing along to Britney Spears, and every other song that came off after was met with an enthusiastic “I haven’t heard this song in FOREVER!!!” They were fun. And it’s no surprise since they started day drinking on a Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.

I miss those days.

Memorial Day Weekend in ‘Murica – Part 2

I know this one has been a long time coming, but sometimes, life gets in the way of the creative process.

On Saturday, the weekend of Memorial Day, I had eight total fares and started kind of early and was able to end before sunset since the totals were pretty good for the day. It was around 9:45 am that I logged into driver mode and my first ride request was from none other than Artie, my gay boy regular. I was eager to see him to find out how he had been doing on his diet and wondered if I would be able to notice any weight loss visually.

Artie was still half-asleep when I picked him up and told me we were first going to the bank, then hitting up Jack-in-the-Box. He unabashedly admitted that he had blown his diet, but was proud of the fact that he wasn’t drinking soda…as much. Haha. We had an interesting discussion about lining up people we knew to slap them one right after another and agreed that being an octopus would be the most efficient way of slapping them. What can I say, we have a very active imagination when we’re in the car together.

That Saturday there was a big Craft Beer Festival happening at the University, so I knew that fares to and from would be many. My second fare came from “Kyle” and his girlfriend who would be attending the beer fest. I told them I had gone to last year’s festival and was hammered before 4:00 pm so I felt okay about not going this year. Kyle offered up that he was an insurance agent with State Farm and that if I ever got into an accident with passengers, that I shouldn’t tell my insurance I had passengers with me. Not sure if that’s some sort of insurance trick or what, but considering I’m going to have to start carrying “rideshare coverage” on my policy as of tomorrow. Otherwise, I will likely not be covered while in driver mode.

My next fare was pretty boring. “Shaun” had just been grocery shopping and needed a quick lift home. He just had a few bags that he put in my trunk and explained that he was taking his kids to a birthday party for the day. No Craft Beer Festival for him.

When I pulled up to my next fare’s home address, I was not the only Lyft driver on the block. A group of about 8 friends had called for rides to the beer festival. “Carson” was my co-pilot, however, he did not actually ride in my car, but three of his friends did. It’s funny how when multiple people ride with me, I usually only know one by name unless the other passengers either introduce themselves, or I just pick up on it based on the conversation in the car. So me and these three strangers talked about beer. Our favorite beers, our least favorite beers, and what beers they were looking forward to tasting at their eventual destination.

As I dropped them off as close to the front entrance as possible, the lone female passenger passed me a five dollar bill before getting off the car. I expressed my utmost gratitude because it’s next to impossible to get tipped out by a fare who doesn’t actually ride with you and was on my way.

While I was en route to the festival with my last fare, a friend of mine had text me to find out where I was because she and three of her friends were at the bar waiting to head to the Rock & Country Music Festival which was happening across town from the beer festival. I text her that I was heading her way and to request the ride when I was around the corner from her location so it was certain that I would get the request.

Her request came through and this was the first time I had ever given a ride to a close personal friend! Jess manages two different bars and was with the her employer, his wife, and what I assumed to be a co-worker. They were already buzzin’ and ready for the festival. It was only about an $8 ride, but Jess’s employer, Thomas, gave me a $5 and Jessica tipped well on the app. Again, people in the service industry who rely on tips are always the best tippers.

As the afternoon waned, the requests started coming in from people needing to be picked up from the beer festival. I grabbed “Robby” and his buddy from the festival and they were in a hurry to get home because they had ordered the UFC fight between Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier and were going to be hosting some friends. Our conversation turned to dads and how as kids, we used to mock each other about our dads being better at something than other dads. Robby’s friend said his dad was better at getting drunk at softball games and cursing out the umpires. He wins.

Once Robby and his buddy were safely at home, I immediately got another request from the beer festival. It was “Jim,” the electrician I had driven on Cinco de Mayo. When I pulled up to the only exit from the beer festival, mostly everyone except those working the event had already left. I called him to find out where he was. He was slurring his words and I couldn’t make out exactly what he was saying to me aside from a mumbled “coming right now.” As I was speaking with him through my cars Bluetooth, I happened to look in my side mirror and see a thin guy with a hat on and a phone to his ear stumbling along the temporary chain link fence that surrounded the festival area. He leaned his back against it and nearly took a nasty spill on the grass, but was able to catch himself with the grace of toddler learning how to walk. He got in my car with a shit-eating grin and apologized profusely for how hammered he was as I took him home. I can only imagine the horrible hangover he had Sunday morning.

My final fare of the day was a nice couple in their 30’s who were heading downtown for dinner and a few drinks. We passed by a construction site on one of the main thoroughfares in town and they began speculating what was being built until “Cory” noticed the sign that said it was a future site for a Habit Burger Grill. I told them I had never been to one since we don’t have one in town. Cory gave a glowing recommendation and we started talking burgers. 5 Guys and In-N-Out are always in everyone’s top 5, but when I told them about Slater’s 50/50 in Huntington Beach, neither of them had ever been there. I explained that their patties are 50% beef and 50% bacon, and that was enough to trigger Cory’s determination to eat there when he was in Huntington Beach the following weekend.

By the time I dropped off Cory and his female companion, I was ready to call it a day. Cash tips and the combined fares were enough to tied me over until the next time. I was able to spend actual Memorial Day with my own friends having some great food, with great company, and playing an intense game of Catchphrase. The entire weekend was enjoyable for me without a doubt.

It’s been a month since that weekend, and boy have I given a ton of rides since then. More than 50, that’s for sure. Expect another blog post this weekend because there’s plenty of stories to tell.

Memorial Day Weekend in ‘Murica – Part 1

There’s something about those drinking holidays that now represent opportunity to me more than partying and carrying on with my friends anymore. I trust that everyone had a very fun extra-long weekend, and if you didn’t, well, you should have. There were quite a lot of activities to keep people busy in town this weekend if traveling was not on the itinerary. I’ve learned my lesson about going out of town on Memorial Day Weekend, but it was a lot of trial and error in my younger days.

Last week, I had a second time passenger, “Will” who was going out on a weeknight and we chit chatted about the various drinking holidays that will typically pack the bars. He told me that he works at one of the Mexican restaurants I had picked up and dropped off from on Cinco de Mayo and they were extremely busy, especially since this particular restaurant does their own Taco Tuesday promotion. “I don’t know what it is about people on drinking holidays, but they get stingy with their tips,” he complained. I empathized with him as I had and have many friends who work in the service industry. And I’m also happy to report that he was, indeed, a good tipper as most in the industry tend to be. But his complaint resonated with me a little so I told myself I was not going to expect well-tipping passengers during the holiday weekend.

So Friday night started like any other. I set my app to Driver Mode and waited for my first fare at home while I caught up on some of my favorite podcasts. One of the nifty features on the Lyft app is that both drivers and passengers rate each other once the ride is over. It is a five star system with the option of leaving a comment – good or bad. As a passenger, if you rate a driver three stars or less, you will never be paired up with that driver again. The reverse is true as well. Drivers can rate their passengers and will never have to give them rides again if they rate them three stars or less. I have only ever exercised this option once. It was a shady fare that I got a weird vibe about so I’ll never see that guy again. I’ve given a four star rating to another passenger on the basis that he was not using his own account but that was about it.

When the fare request comes through the app, I can see what the passenger rating is before I accept it. Once I’ve accepted the fare, the passenger on the other end can see my rating as well. Currently, I am a 4.86 out of 5. Not sure what I did in the early rides to warrant less than a five, but some people have been stingy with the stars. As of late, I’ve been getting great 5 star ratings, probably because most of my fares are regulars now.

My first fare came through from “Stan” and he did not have a photo accompanying his profile like most passengers do. That’s usually a little bit of a red flag, but more so out of inconvenience since I’m picking up blind. But the second thing I noticed was that the passenger rating was a 4.7. Not necessarily a red flag, but still an interesting first impression.

When I arrived at Stan’s location, he had a buddy with him and they were standing outside and across the street from the address given in the app. Then I saw Stan up close. He was a shaved-head Hispanic guy with tattoos on his face. That’s right, his face. Stan has probably done prison time, or will do some soon, either way, not my place to judge. I smiled at both him and his skinny Asian buddy and noticed they were both wearing t-shirts and basketball shorts and the Asian guy had a gym bag with him.

I asked where we were headed and they just needed to be dropped off about 6 blocks away and gave me verbal directions as we drove. The Asian guy complimented my driving skills and joked that I drive a lot better than him since, you know, he’s Asian. I know I have picked that kid up before a couple of times in one night and realized that the second time, he had this same tattooed dude with him. I never felt threatened, but I could understand why some drivers would feel uncomfortable just based on how this guy looks. They were both very polite and I would be willing to bet all of my life’s monetary worth that Stan would never be able to flag down a cab purely based on his body art choices.

I dropped them off and it was only a $4.00 fare, but they were nothing but nice. So I went ahead and gave Stan a 5 star rating. It was a pleasant and easy fare and I was happy to help them out by doing my job. And I knew it would help bring up his passenger rating, because not all guys who look bad are bad. The following morning I was pleasantly surprised to see that Stan showed his own gratitude by leaving me a $5.00 tip on the app. Win!

Realizing that there were several drivers on the road for the weekend, vying for fares, I decided to keep traveling the main thoroughfares to try to score as many as possible. I didn’t get another bite until about an hour later when “Monica” requested a ride. I pulled up to a residence with several cars in the driveway and parked around the corner house address I was given. I could hear loud music from the backyard and knew it must have been a successful party. As I waited, a young blonde woman emerged from the front door and jogged as best she could in her wedge sandals to ask if I would wait just a couple minutes while she retrieved some items from her car. I agreed and noticed another young lady walking down the walkway, onto the grass like a wounded gazelle before getting tangled in her own feet and falling to the ground while laughing hysterically. Monica helped her friend up and dashed over to her car.

In the meantime, her friend finally made her way into my backseat and cursed the grassy knoll which caused her to take a spill just moments before. I could only laugh and say that it must’ve been a great party. The drunk girl informed me that it was an end of the year party of teachers, but before I could get any additional information from her, Monica hopped in my car and declared that I was going to take them to pick up a couple more dudes and go to another party.

As I made my way out of the neighborhood, Monica was on the phone trying to get an address for the final destination. In the meantime, I was to continue driving toward a large apartment complex across town where the other two passengers were waiting. Our backseat friend was going on and on about wanting a cigarette, and as an ex-smoker, I had to politely decline her request during the ride. Monica was quite chatty and very open. She told me that we were en route to pick up a 6’6″ German guy and a Scottish guy and she loudly asked “Casey” in the back seat which one she should fuck tonight. She apologized to me for coming off like a whore but explained to me that she hadn’t had sex since December and she was horny as all get out. I suggested she do them both Eiffel Tower style and that joke seemed to go over well.

Monica reminded me of my days with my friends in our early 20s when we would go out, get trashed, and hook-up with randoms when we could. She was extroverted, fun, and friendly. Somehow, I learned that she used to be a much larger girl and lost 95 lbs. After complaining to her mom that her body was “sag city” so she got a $10,000 boob job. At least she’s got the self-esteem she probably didn’t have 95 lbs ago. As we neared the complex where the two foreign choices were waiting, Casey’s nicotine addiction won out and they both decided that I could just drop them off at the corner of the complex and they would walk the rest of the way and Casey would request the next ride.

My third fare was much less eventful, though I still don’t know his name. His profile name came up as 2. That’s it, just 2. But funny enough, he is not the first 2 to request a ride. People who hastily set up their profile opt not to put their name in. For situations like those, I need to make a hard and fast rule to give them 4 stars until they get an actual name. Anyway, I picked 2 up at Applebee’s and his destination was a bar down the street that is actually “my” bar. Or at least it is the only bar I ever go to have a drink with my friends. 2 was by himself and was telling me that his bartender “Mitch” was more interested in flirting with the two girls that were at the bar than making sure 2 was topped off. According to 2, he tried three times to get Mitch’s attention for another drink and when he finally gave up, he asked another waitress for his check. On the tip line, 2 wrote “thanks a lot, Mitch.” This asshole thinks I’m going to give him some sort of sympathy for being cheap but I wasn’t about to give him what he wanted. Instead, I politely said, “well, here’s hoping those girls he was paying more attention to tipped him enough for you too.” Get the fuck out of my car, 2. He got a four star rating. And if you were wondering, nope, he didn’t tip me either.

My 4th fare of the night just so happened to be at the large apartment complex I had dropped off Monica and Casey at so I was half expecting them to be with “Brad” when I arrived. I was wrong. Brad was a very forward young guy with black rimmed glasses who opened my driver side door and shook my hand introducing himself before hopping in my backseat. Again, at no point did I feel threatened, he was clearly a very mild-mannered, slightly inebriated dude and super skinny so I could take him if I wanted. On the other side of my car, “Jerry” opened my back passenger door and also introduced himself. I immediately pegged Jerry as a young gay man on account of his voice. It wasn’t overtly flamboyant, but there was just enough of intonation that I could confidently surmise.

Brad and Jerry had quite a few drinks and were undecided if they were going to call it a night or go out to another bar. By this time it was already midnight so they were running against the clock. But first, Brad explained that his car was in the shop, but he forgot to get his house key from the ring so we needed to stop at his German friend “Franz’s” house to get his spare key. Jerry and I talked a little as Brad called to wake up Franz and let him know we were on our way. I discovered that Brad and Jerry work for a local renewable energy company that Brad actually has some sort of ownership stake. He was young, definitely younger than 30 in my estimation. Brad was babbling to Franz about his “baby mama drama” and all his trials and tribulations while at the same time apologizing for inconveniencing Franz so late at night. Once Brad ended his phone call he tried to pretend that he was actually Elon Musk and asked if he kind of looked like him. He didn’t. I told him he would have better luck convincing people he was Rivers Cuomo instead. Jerry pulled up a picture of Cuomo on his phone to show Brad prompting him to ask, “but who’s better looking?”

“You are, of course!” I replied much to Brad’s delight. Brad is a toucher. You know the type; the ones who invade your personal space when they talk to you? He probably touched my arm from the backseat 8 times total during our ride. But for whatever reason, he didn’t annoy me like most touchers tend to do. Maybe it’s the gay thing. I can’t be sure, but he was just cute and endearing and I had a lot of fun on this ride.

When we pulled up to Franz’s place in a nice gated community, Jerry and I had a moment to talk a little more. Jerry asked if I was ever scared of guys I pick up because his best friend drives for Uber and gets hit on regularly by her male fares. He then assured me that I had nothing to worry about because he and his “boyfriend” were gay. Bless his heart. I just wanted to pat him on the head. I turned and looked at him and realized he was pretty hot. So I said “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Zachary Quinto?” Never before have I seen a man’s eyes light up so bright. I think he was extremely flattered by that compliment, and I wasn’t even bullshitting him.

Like a hurricane, Brad came barreling down Franz’s walkway with keys in hand ready to go. They decided that they would go ahead and close the night out at the popular gay bar in town. We made our way down there and talked about parents, drugs, work and I asked them if they happened to know a guy that I knew worked for the same company they did. It was a resounding YES! I explained that this particular guy was my first boyfriend from 5th grade. Like most gay men, they encouraged me to bang him and I reminded them that he is very married and has several kids. They were almost shocked at that information but both agreed that he was really nice and they liked him a lot. I found out that Jerry used to sell marijuana in high school. He’s 24 now so it wasn’t that long ago, but his mom knew about it and was totally on board back then. Jerry comes from a very Christian family who encouraged him to pray the gay away at first. He also told me that he had just lost his dad about three weeks ago but was handling it okay for now considering he had also recently gotten out of a fucked up relationship with a man who was married to a woman.

We were just blocks away from the bar and I was waiting for a green left turn signal when a young woman in jeans and short sleeved top was crossing the street in front of us. Brad told Jerry to roll his window down and he began whistling at the woman from the backseat. She turned around to look at us but kept walking which caused Brad to decide to get out of the car and go talk to her. “She’s hot, I’ll be right back!” He exclaimed as Jerry and I were trying to convince him to get back in the car because our light had turned green. Jerry asked me to follow him and of course I did once it was clear to cross three lanes of traffic to make a right turn onto the street we were waiting to turn left at. I parked the car as Brad spoke with the young woman and the hand gestures looked a little hostile from where Jerry and I were sitting. Jerry explained that Brad was kind of a free spirit and that they clicked right away but he “has a straight thing.” Before I could ask him what he meant, he thought he should go make sure everything was okay.

I watched from my car as the three of them talked on the sidewalk and I saw the young woman use Brad’s phone. Jerry came back to the car and was astounded. He said that she had just gotten out of jail and had no money, no phone, and needed to get back to Lemoore where she lived. He said that Brad offered to have me drive her to Lemoore (a town that’s about 100 miles away give or take) and he would pay for it if she needed, but all she wanted to do was to use his phone. Jerry first observed that “Jesus works in mysterious ways” and went on to tell me that Brad was rich and is just so gracious and giving and a good soul. Jerry then started praying to Jesus in my backseat asking that this young lady find her way, to keep her safe and to guide her path so that she makes the right choices. It was quite an interesting experience to say the least. Brad hopped in my front seat once she was done with her phone call and explained that her initial story didn’t really add up because she kept changing it so he didn’t quite trust what she had told him. Either way, she made a phone call and was walking to someone’s house she knew, so his good deed was done for the day.

I pulled up to the bar and Brad embraced me in the front seat after declining to shake my hand. Jerry got out of the backseat and came around to my side and I got out so that I could hug him too. These guys were probably one of my favorite rides so far and they were definitely good boys. Brad tried to convince me to park the car and come have a drink with them, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before I needed to pick up more fares once the bars closed down so I bid them good evening.

As I was making my way back to my side of town, “Marnie” needed a ride from a 7-11 back to her house which was just a couple of blocks away. It was my 3rd time giving Marnie a ride. Coincidentally enough, the first place I ever picked Marnie up at was the gay bar where I had just dropped off those sweet gay boys. Marnie locked her keys in the car after a quick munchie run so I took her back home so she could break into her apartment to get her spare. The mission was successful.

Soon it was after bar closing and my next fare was a friend of a friend. My friend is roommates with him and we’ve run in the same circle of people on multiple occasions. “Nate” was quiet at first. He and I never really had a one-on-one conversation when we hung out with our mutual friends. We talked a little about comedy since we were listening to the Comedy Central Channel on Sirius. The comedian was doing a bit about how forward some guys are with women, especially after a little liquid courage. Nate spontaneously observed that he wasn’t one of those guys. He’s real shy, and is “not a numbers guy” like some of those dudes who just want quantity instead of quality. Nate actually offered up that in his 37 years he has been with 12 women total.

“That’s a good run,” I replied.

“I just seem to go from one bad relationship to the next.” He continued.

“That’s not uncommon.”

Nate then went on to describe how the typical cycle of relationship with him is that it starts out great, then you realize “I’m an alcoholic and not going to marry you, move in together and start shittin’ out babies. I’m a bartender and that’s all I’m gonna be. And I kind of have a low sex drive now.” Alcohol may very well be the greatest of truth serums.

Fearing that his roommate (my buddy) might have drank the rest of his beer, we made a pit stop so that Nate could grab some beer since it wasn’t quite 2:00 am yet. When he got back in the car, he said he thought he may have fucked up earlier because as he was playing pool at the bar, this girl he knows bent down and puckered her lips at him as he was about to take his shot and without really thinking about it, he puckered up too and just touched their lips together. The way he gesticulated in no way seemed sexy or with any real sexual intent because of how goofy he puckered up. But he was worried that his girlfriend would be mad about it and consider it cheating. I was actually on the fence about it, if the way he described it was true, but still not cool to do when you have a girlfriend. “I’m gonna go with borderline,” He decided before he got out of my car. As long as she doesn’t find out, buddy.

My final fare of the night belonged to “Claudine,” her friend, and a guy they had just picked up at the bar. All three of them piled into the back seat with a plate of street tacos they were sharing and I dropped off the guy first at his motel. I suppose if he was going back to the motel by himself for the night, at least he got a free ride out of it.

Claudine and her friend asked me a little about how I liked driving for Lyft and the friend told me that her husband has been driving for Lyft until about February because so many new drivers were driving that his fares dropped significantly.

If you’re still reading this, I’m impressed. That was quite an eventful Friday night but since it was a holiday weekend, I suppose we shouldn’t really be surprised. Stay tuned for part two of the Memorial Day weekend.

Cinco de Drinko!

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy for me so there’s been little time to dedicate to picking up folks. I probably picked up one or two passengers over the course of three or four days at a time so there hasn’t been much activity that would warrant an insightful post. But last night was the Americanized holiday which is just an excuse to drink Mexican beer and eat some tacos and the perfect day to get back on the horse. I started my driving shift fairly early after getting all my lawyerly duties completed for the day.

My first fare was yet another regular. Usually I pick up “Rick” from his job as a pharmacy tech at a chain drugstore at night and take him for a Jack in the Box or Taco Bell run before dropping him off at home. Rick is one of my only regulars who knows what I do for a living and will ask me about my cases and practice every time we ride together. He strikes me as a little standoffish and seems like he’d be that dick coworker you love to hate.

I picked him up just after 3:30 from his apartment which is right across the street from my old high school so I had to maneuver around several teenagers before parking in his lot. Rick told me that he “saw the writing on the wall” when he looked at his work schedule and noticed he wasn’t listed for next week and his boss never text him back as to why. So Rick and I had a little adventure yesterday stopping off at Kinko’s before dropping his resume off at a few other pharmacies. It took us a little over an hour. Once we were done, I dropped him off at his job and wished him luck going in there and finding out if he still had one.

At the end of each fare, I tap a button indicating that I have dropped off a passenger which then reveals the price of the fare and then prompts me to rate the passenger on a 5 star system. I will usually tap that before the passenger has exited my vehicle because, like a taxi, the meter runs not only based on distance, but also per minute. I never want my passengers to think I am milking the clock on them, but I may need to change up the practice in the future because Rick was floored when the drop off screen revealed a fare of over $46.00. His response was “I guess I won’t be going to the bar tonight.” Can’t please ’em all I guess.

Rick’s place of (current) employment is just a few blocks away from my house so I ended up heading home to freshen up and take a little break. I kept the app in driver mode becomes it seems that my fellow Lyft drivers seem to wait at home most of the time for a fare. So as I wait for another fare, I have some time to grab a bite to eat or relieve myself as necessary, sometimes even write up some stuff for the blog or watch something on Netflix or even do some more work.

To be honest, waiting at home may not be the optimal way to get more fares. It seems that the application’s algorithm places ride requests first to the driver who is closest in distance. Often times in my big little town, there are anywhere from 6-8 drivers available while I am also in driver mode. Once a request comes in, we have approximately 10 seconds to accept the fare. Once the fare is accepted, you can tap on the navigation system to guide you to the location of the pick-up. If you don’t accept the fare by the time the countdown expires, then a message pops up that you did not accept the fare in time and I can only speculate that the fare goes to the next driver closest in distance.

Lyft encourages drivers to have an acceptance rating of at least 90%. For those of you who are bad with math, that means that you must accept 9 out of 10 ride requests to have a chance at a 10% bonus or avoid potential suspension from driving. There have only been a couple of times that I have dipped below 90% and it was unintentional because I didn’t get to my phone in time. I haven’t had anything less than 100% in several weeks though.

The next request I got was from “Erin.” It’s important to note that when you set up the app on your phone, you have the ability to upload a profile photo. This request came in without a photo and that always gives me a little bit of a nagging feeling since I’d like to know who I should be looking for. In addition to the lack of profile photo, the request indicated that Erin was a NEW user. Usually that means it’s their very first Lyft ride.

Erin lived in the most southeast corner of town and since most other drivers were well west of me and centralized downtown where most of the bars are, I was probably the closest driver available to pick up Erin and her boyfriend. I tried a little small talk and the boyfriend was the one who did all the talking. In fact, I don’t even think Erin said one word during the ride. Their destination was a bar and grill that I had never been to and had actually never even heard of which is a rare thing for me.

My third fare of the night was literally right around the corner from my house. “Natalie” and her friend were both very young and wearing very little clothes, ready to head out to the popular Mexican restaurant that hosted a big Taco Tuesday with one of the local radio stations. This venue was packed! They had a large outdoor area where the music was blaring and Natalie told me that there was some party bus that was taking people from restaurant to restaurant since it is a local chain here in town. It floored me how many cars were parked in the parking lot and the nearby home improvement store parking lot, especially knowing that most of those drivers would be drinking and carrying on as well.

It seemed only smart to just park nearby and wait for fares to come out of this establishment if people smartened up and decided not to drive. So that’s what I did. No sooner had I parked did I get another request from “Jake” who was at another Mexican restaurant down the street from where I dropped off Natalie and her friend. By this time, it was a little after 10 pm and Jake was leaving his roommates to head home since he had to work at 4:00 a.m. We chatted a little about his line of work in the oil and gas industry and he guided me to his house which was just a few miles away.

Since Jake’s house was on the same side of town as the big radio station event, I headed back to the home improvement store lot to wait again. This time, my next fare was one that I had picked up my 3rd night on the job. “Sammy” was a Latino gentleman in his mid-late 40’s and again with his girlfriend who was in the same age bracket. The first time I had picked them up, I took them to a restaurant and they were gracious enough to give me a $10 cash tip. Last night, I picked them up from another bar not too far from where I was parked and they requested a quick McDonald’s run before they went home. Both of them were definitely buzzed and I kept them entertained with the Cumbia station from my satellite radio because Sammy’s girlfriend really wanted to hear some more Mexican music. I got them home safely and was again rewarded with a $10 cash tip. Older passengers are so much more considerate than their younger counterparts.

Back across the street from the radio event, I landed a request from that very Mexican restaurant. I didn’t recognize him at first when I picked him up, but once “Jim” got into my car and we started talking, I realized that I had picked him up my second night on the job. Jim is an electrician for a cement company and told me that he had waited in line at the restaurant for over a half an hour before they finally came out and told everyone waiting that they could not let anybody else in and that they would be shutting down by 11 or 12 anyway. He first requested that I take him to the other Mexican restaurant where I had picked up Jake from earlier so we headed there. Before we ended the fare, he asked if I would wait for him while he went inside and asked what time they closed. A minute or two later he came back out disappointed that they too would be closing within the hour and so just wanted to go home and drink there.

As I was driving back to the radio event from dropping Jim off, I received a request that was in the Northwest part of town. Since it was closing in on 11 pm, I figured most of the other drivers may be transporting fares which would leave me as the closest one for pick up. I began to make my way to the address listed in the app when it suddenly disappeared and I got a text from the local Lyft number indicating that “Jerry” canceled his request. I continued to drive with the intention of going back to the radio event, when a few seconds later, Jerry requested a Lyft again. Once I accepted it, for whatever reason, Jerry canceled again. My guess is that Jerry was hoping for a specific driver, but the app doesn’t exactly allow you to choose which driver takes your fare.

I was down the street from the radio event when I got a fare request from that very same restaurant. I pulled up and floods of people were milling about in the front and a few cabs were lined up as well. “Ginger” and her friend happily hopped in my car and took me up on my offers of gum and Starbursts as I drove them to their favorite bar downtown. Like Natalie and her friend earlier, Ginger and her pal were extremely young and wearing less clothes than their fathers would like, I’m sure. Oh to be 21 again. Going out is a young gal’s game for sure.

My final fare of the night was a gentleman about my age. He was a bartender at one of the downtown hotels next to the convention center and during our ride I was telling him about all the youngins I had given rides to and we lamented about getting older and preferring to drink at home these days. “Blaine” was really cool and cute and easy to talk to, but man, he had some gnarly foot fungus or something because it was extremely unpleasant to smell feet in my car. Despite how chilly it had gotten l had to roll my window down to endure the powerful odor while he was in the car, but luckily he took his stench with him when I finally got him home.

I figured that Blaine would be my final fare, but I was curious about the Taco Tuesday radio event so I made my way in that direction from the east side of town and was surprised to see that many people were still hanging around the restaurant. But what was even more interesting was seeing the four local police cars parked around the exit driveway of the restaurant. This restaurant has an open and angled parking lot which actually has more than one exit, but this was the main exit the patrol vehicles had surrounded. I counted six officers standing on the grassy knoll just adjacent to the driveway all talking and smiling. I could only imagine that this was some sort of tactic to scare patrons into calling cabs or rides rather than risk rolling by these guys with their makeshift checkpoint area.

All in all, it was an interesting night and pretty lucrative for me so no complaints here. Hope you all had a wonderful Cinco de Mayo. See you soon!