So I often have people ask me if I’ve ever kicked somebody out of the car. The answer is obviously a resounding YES, because people are terrible and sometimes you can only take so much before you stand up for yourself. I’ve only ever kicked someone out one time. You’d probably assume is was late at night, probably some drunk frat guys.
Nope, you are definitely wrong. It was 7am, with a middle aged white lady headed to LAX airport. I would like to preface this story by saying objectively that travel makes everyone get a little stressed out.
But it’s no reason to treat someone like garbage. Particularly if they haven’t done anything wrong.
So I receive the ride request at the start of rush hour. I head to the address to pick up a customer named Luna. I’m sitting at the address for nearly five minutes, and am sort of fuming. It’s super disrespectful to waste your driver’s time, but I’m used to it. I mean, I still don’t like it, but I’m used to it. That’s when a huge semi truck pulls up behind me and starts blaring his horn.
I have my hazard lights on, and have had them on the entire time. So he saw them, and has plenty of room to go around me. I’m about to cancel on Luna when I realize that she’s on the opposite side of the street trying to flag me down. She put in the wrong address. We share a quick exchange of polite laughter at the simple mistake, and she grabs her tiny carry-on and I start the trip. I see now that it says LAX is the destination, so I prepare myself mentally for 90 minutes of traffic. Truck driver guy is still behind me, just laying on that goddamn horn as I assume Luna is making her way across the street.
30 seconds have passed and I look up to see her still standing on her side of the empty street, now looking very angry. She motions for me to roll down the window and I oblige. “Are you David?”
“Yes, are you Luna?”
“Yes. Are you gonna fucking help me with my fucking luggage? Never mind, I’ll fucking do it myself. Jesus Christ.”
Clearly Luna is short for Lunatic.
She gets in the car with her teenage daughter, who is totally silent. They each have a very small carry-on. Here’s something I would be remiss if I didn’t point out:
It is not your driver’s job to handle luggage. I repeat, it is not your driver’s job to handle luggage. If a driver has ever done this, and they probably have, it is because they are a courteous person, and the traffic conditions allowed for this to safely happen. Drivers are not required to get out of the car at any point, ever. Period. They make no extra money for these little courtesies, mind you.
Because of this very common misconception, rather than explain that and anger her further (what’s the point?!), I apologized to Luna. I said I normally always help with luggage, but with a quick misunderstanding of body language, and the fact that I assumed she was hurrying because of the asshole in the truck, I figured she was getting her tiny bag into the car on her own. My explanation and apology are met with, let’s say “boldness.”
“Los Angeles International Airport, please. Jesus fucking Christ.”
I am desperate to make her calm down, because I have to spend roughly the next 90 minutes in a car with this swamp woman and her spawn. I say “Absolutely. Do you know what terminal you’re flying out of?” On my end, it simply says LAX. Nothing more. And the fact that over a dozen airlines have shuffled around LAX terminals in May and June of 2017, I wanted to be sure so we have an efficient ride.
“Well last time I checked, it was your fucking job to know where I’m going, but sure. I’ll fucking look it up on my phone!” she shouts angrily at me.
She tells me it’s Southwest Airlines, so I say not to worry. That’s Terminal 1 and it hasn’t changed, so we now know where we’re going. She then asks when we’re getting there. I tell her the GPS is currently saying 8:20, but this time of day traffic tends to build up a bit, especially in the last 2 miles or so of an LAX trip, so expect a few minutes to be added to that. She then, THROUGH GRITTED TEETH, growls at me “I’M ASKING *HOW* WE ARE GETTING THERE, NOT *WHEN*!”
Um, bitch. That is not what you fucking asked me.
No. I keep calm, and smile like a good customer service professional. I tell her it’s likely that we’re going to be routed to surface level streets because the freeways are terrible during rush hour, then confirm that’s what the GPS is telling me to do. “Oh,” she retorts. “So we’re not taking the 110 to the 105?”
Congratulations, Luna you have a phone too! And it has shown you one of many ways that a person can get to LAX! Now shut the fuck up.
“Forget it,” she barks, exasperated. “Just fucking do your job and get me there.” I’m trying so hard to not respond angrily. At this point it would’ve been worth it to wreck the car and injure all three of us.
30 seconds go by, and she says “What the fuck is wrong with your air conditioning?”
“This car is 5 months old. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s on, but we just had all the doors and hatchback open, so it’ll take a second to cool back down. Let me turn it up for you.” I turn on the fan full blast and the temperature to its lowest setting.
“It’s not fucking on!” she shouts in my ear. Her daughter has been silent this whole time, mind you.
I assure her that it’s on, full blast, pointing to the controls and telling her that the vents are by her feet.
“Well it’s not fucking on!”
Now, I’m still being polite. Very polite. Like, I deserve a fucking award for this performance.
But I’ve had enough. I pull the car over to the side of the road and put on my hazard lights. I tell her, again politely, “You seem very uncomfortable with this ride for some reason. So I think it’s best for everyone that we go ahead and cancel this trip. You can wait in the car until your next Uber arrives.”
That’s when she says, “Shut up and drive.”
I cancelled the trip and said, “Nope, get out of the car. This trip is over.” She was now LIVID because she knew there was really nothing she could do, and she had made this bed herself.
“You’re taking me to the fucking airport!”
“Actually, I’m not – because I have another customer now. So now you are just a crazy stranger in my car. And if you don’t get out, I’m calling the police.”
She huffs and puffs, and gets out of the car. I was almost hoping that she’d ask for help with her luggage, so I could throw it into the middle of the fucking street. But she didn’t. She did, however, leave the car door open. Her daughter pointed it out and she barked, “He can close his own fucking door.”
So I got out of the car to close it, smiling the whole time. “Have a safe flight, ladies!”
My next customer, also headed to LAX, was a very nice person, who tipped me $20 for helping with his luggage. I sent Uber a long pre-emptive strike detailing the account, and as predicted, so did she. But we’ve all moved on.
At first I thought I was at fault. After all, she probably doesn’t realize that it’s not my job to carry her luggage. But the more I mulled it over, absolutely no way. I handled that situation perfectly and professionally – apologizing for the misstep and moving forward in a positive way. It was not about me. She was just an angry person. If I was the waitress at breakfast, or the barista at Starbucks, whoever it is. Whoever is first to receive her abuse, that’s who gets it. But sorry, dear. That guy isn’t me.
Her poor silent daughter seemed like this was totally normal. But I suspect that part of her silence has to do with the fact that if she spoke up, she’d be on the receiving end of the abuse.