So in a city as busy and traffic-plagued as Los Angeles, people don’t always think ahead of time about how easy or difficult a time their driver might have picking them up on a busy street. They’re not always ready and waiting, and we’re not always able to stop. This problem is made worse when they have luggage. People get a little testy in LA traffic when you stop in the middle of the street and put your hazards on and wait.
As has been established in previous posts, I am a kind person. I will help with luggage if I can safely get out of the car to do so. But also as has been established, it is not a requirement of my job; just a suggestion of my pseudo-midwestern upbringing.
So this morning I get a request on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, right by Cahuenga, which is a very busy street that runs right off of the 101 Freeway. I look at my map and see that I’ll be picking up my customer just after Cahuenga, but I see that the address is actually blocked off. There’s a huge sinkhole on that street, and it’s been blocked off for more than a week. Let’s see if ladyfriend has the good sense to contact me or be at a convenient spot. If history has taught me anything, she’s an idiot and will not be partaking in either of those.
Traffic is almost at a standstill, and that’s when I see her. Squinting at her phone and then at me. Standing in the middle of the goddamn street. With two huge suitcases. This gargantuan Australian woman, she looks like that cartoon with from the old 60s cartoons, Broom Hilda. The lady who sips on sludge. And she’s waving me down.
Even though my car is slowing down to a stop (again, because of traffic), I can’t stop everything and go through the production of getting her and her belongings into the car. I’m frantically motioning for her to walk to the nearest curb, about 60 feet away. I could pull over there. Hell, I could even get out of the car to help with her luggage! She opens the car door and gets in and says “That’s my luggage,” insinuating that I needed to get out of the car and get it. I told her I could get a ticket for stopping in the middle of traffic and getting out (Not sure if that’s true, but it seems legit? A risk I don’t feel like taking for a number of reasons.). “Jesus Christ, you’re not gonna help with my fucking luggage?” She slams the door and takes care of it. Meanwhile people behind me are losing their minds, swearing and honking and giving death stares.
She finally gets in (In the front seat, mind you. THAT IS WEIRD, GUYS! DON’T DO IT!!), and I apologize but explain how dangerous and possibly illegal that was, and that under normal circumstances, I would’ve helped. She tuts for a minute or two but eventually decides that is was a misunderstanding and that we’ll move forward in a positive-ish way.
That’s when she starts humming. Loudly. And then singing some song I don’t know.
Thankfully, she’s just going downtown. This is maybe a 15 minute ride. I can handle 15 minutes of this, I think. I think.
We have polite small talk about Los Angeles and Australia and the weather and I point out local landmarks that she asks about. It was the annotated tour of the 101 and the 110 South.
As we approach her block, I see it’s directing me to the alley. I ask if that’s correct, because about 1% of the time, it is. She shrugged her broad shoulders and said, “I don’t know. You’re the one who lives here.”
That’s right. And when you live in a city, you know the ins and outs of literally every single building in the entire fucking county.
I figured it’s probably the front of the building, so I drive down the actual block. I’m not sure which side of the street it’s on, so I’m looking back and forth to see if I can spot a number telling me which side is odds and which side is evens. I find one, and learn that she needs to be on the opposite side of this very very skinny street. I could go around the block, but in DTLA, that could mean another 15 minutes. She tells me to do a U-turn, despite a sign right in front of me prohibiting it, a police car several cars in front of me, probably ready to enforce it, and the fact that it is a tight little street.
I tell her I can’t do that, and she starts bitching and moaning to me about how I’m an idiot and how I just need to do it. The thought of another minute in the car with this woman is enough to make me risk it. I pull a way-too-fast, super unsafe U-turn and it becomes apparent that she’s going to the Ace Hotel on Broadway. It’s a single lane at this point, and I’m waiting for a taxi to leave so that I can pull into his spot but he’s really taking his time.
I’ve got my turn signal on, and people are beeping at me to just keep moving. That’s when she just gets out of the car, right in the middle of traffic. Again.
She stands up, with the car door open, and says “Ya gonna fucking help with my luggage this time?” And I half laughed because it really felt like she was being funny. She wasn’t serious, right?
“I can’t get out of the car here, I’m really sorry. I was trying to pull into the hotel curbside!”
“You really are a fucking prick,” she says as she slams the car door.
She opens up the hatchback and just as she gets the last of her stuff, I hear between honks from angry drivers behind me, she has some parting words for me, with a big fake smile on her goony cartoon-witch face.
Ummmm…. Excuse me?
“Goodbye, faggot! I hope you die of AIDS!” She smiles, slams the hatchback shut and waves as she wheels her luggage away.
I contacted Uber about it, and they insisted that this is a very serious incident, they’re “sorry that it happened” and that someone from their team would be reaching out to talk to me about it. I wanted her to be deactivated from the platform, but the best they could offer is that they would “do their best to see that she is not matched with me again.”
Big shoutout to Uber for caring about their drivers. The number of people who reached out to me personally from their team? ZERO.
RIDESHARE LESSON #26: SOME SERVICES UNAVAILABLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN STREET.