Precious Cargo

I spend a lot of unhappy hours in my car throughout the week.  People are annoying, traffic is terrible, and it’s tedious to always be worried if you’re going to make enough money to survive, without getting into an accident.

From time to time, I’ll get a request where the person wants me to deliver an item rather than give someone a ride somewhere.  They always frame it as “Hey!  This is a real treat!  You don’t have to deal with people!”  What they don’t realize is that I am aware of how much more expensive a messenger service is.

uber190

But hey, a ride is a ride.  Knowing that it is against the terms of service, I’m willing to do their bidding under two conditions:  1) I get to act really dramatic like it’s really putting me out while they explain it, and 2) there absolutely has to be a person standing outside at the receiving address, because I’m not driving around looking for parking for a “Thanks so much!”.  It’s the one of the reasons why I don’t do Postmates or any food delivery.  It’s not that I’m above food service, it’s just that I am.

uber191

So one day, I’m all the way on the West side of town on a Friday afternoon.  To get back East would take well over an hour, so I rolled the dice and hoped I would get something in that direction.  Miracle of miracles, I did!  Because everything is terrible, it was an UberPool trip, which means it’s going to take 17 hours instead of 1.  No worries, I’ve only been on the road for 10 hours already.

UBER192

When I showed up at this guy’s house, who we’ll call Glen, he took a while to come out.  As a driver, when someone orders a cheap pool trip, I pull no punches.  I won’t do a U-turn to get to them, I don’t answer when they call, and I definitely cancel after exactly two minutes.  Glen waves at me from his place and I pretend not to see him, and he comes over to the driver’s side window.  I motion for old Glen to sit in the back, but Glen comes over to the front passenger side window and motions for me to roll down the window.  I can see he’s got a huge ziplock bag with many smaller ziplock bags in it, and they’ve all got something in them.  Oh, Glen.

uber193

I roll down the window and confirm his name, and he says, “Yeah, that’s me.  I’m not coming.  You’re gonna take these to a testing facility on the East side.”  Oh, am I, Glen?  Am I really?

I am always blown away at the inconsiderate and entitled nature of this abuse of service, but to do it in an UberPool, where this trip normally is an hour?  How fucking cheap can you be?  Also, what in the fuck am I transporting?  Is my life about to become a reboot of Orange Is The New Black?  I am way too fragile for prison, so if I’m going, it’s because I murdered my roommate.  Not because I was an inadvertent drug mule for a cheap Westsider named Glen.  GLEN, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!

I asked if there would be someone outside at the testing facility, considering that for starters, I don’t want to get out of the car and waste my own time, but when you do that in a pool, it inconveniences everyone else in the car who has also paid for a trip.

uber194

Also, lest we forget, I don’t even get a percentage of what this guy pays.  I get a flat, shitty mileage rate.  $0.57 a mile on Pool trips.  Why the fuck am I bending over backwards for old Glen?

Nobody would be at the receiving end waiting.  Do you think he cared?  No.  Do you think I felt like risking my job if he wanted to complain to Uber?  No.  Do you think I was in a good mood for the next hour?

…Actually, yes.  

I realized I could just turn off the app and take the longest-mile route on the way home, maximizing what I get paid for the trip, and avoid the hassle of picking up more people.  This is actually kind of a nice ending to the week.  Winding down stress-free.  But it wasn’t smooth sailing just yet.  I put on my favorite podcast and rolled down the windows, hopped on the freeway and immediately sat in gridlock Friday afternoon traffic.

uber196

As I’m sitting there, curiosity got the best of me. What was in that bag?  I grabbed the big ziplock bag as I sat in a sea of brake lights, and looked more closely at the little bags inside of it. I see that they all have little clear vials in them, with red liquid sloshing around.  They were all labelled with different peoples’ names on them, a few alphanumeric codes, and the words “BLOOD SAMPLE.”

uber195

uber197

uber198

Too late to turn back now, I suppose.  What was I going to do, drive back to his place, throw a bunch of blood at him, and end the trip?  By this point he would’ve been charged something, which means he can rate me as a driver, and file a complaint.  And if you don’t know, Uber would do anything to not lose a customer.  Even a terribly cheap one like good ol’ Glen.

So what could I do but pull out my hand sanitizer, drive for what felt like months, and enjoy the most recent episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!  When I finally arrived at the facility, there was nobody outside.

uber199

I parked the car and got out, huffing and puffing the whole way.  I almost wish I could’ve watched this on tv, because it surely must’ve been a fun sight if you had no emotional investment in it.

I went in and saw two receptionist desks, both with employees that had no sense of urgency to greet me.  In the most distant, irritated demeanor I could muster up, I said “Hi, I’m delivering these for Glen.”

uber200

“Your guess is as good as mine.  I’m an Uber driver, and he was too cheap to order an actual delivery service.  But he insinuated that you guys would be expecting his delivery, sooo…. Here’s some blood from Glen.”

“Um, ok.  Thanks?”

I got back in the car and went home, took a few baths in bleach, cursed humanity and hit up a bar with some friends.  After so many unhappy hours… It was finally happy hour.

RIDESHARE TIP #0-NEGATIVE:  Your driver is not equipped with a HAZMAT suit, so obey the golden rule:  NO MEDICAL WASTE!

Advertisements

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I almost never pick up at the airport.  “Why,” you ask?  Drivers often can wait for a long time to get a ride and it can be going a very short distance.  I once waited over two hours for a ride at LAX, only to have the passenger get in my car and head less than 2 miles from the airport itself.  I won’t lie to you, I cried in my car that day.  Then again, I cry in my car most days.

uber185

Bigger than the risk of a short ride, is the wildcard of a very long ride… to the middle of nowhere.  While any rideshare trip can take you anywhere without you knowing it ahead of time, the airport is a true rolling of the dice.  Often times it takes you to Orange County, which is the kiss of death.  You can make a good 30-50 dollars on the way there, and then have to suck it up and drive the 60-90 minutes back to civilization in your car by yourself, burning both your gas and your time for nothing.

uber183

But one morning recently I was dropping off at a hotel near the airport and they sent me a request inside the airport.  There was a surge happening, so I quickly thought to myself, “Hmm.  Even if it is going to the middle of nowhere, I stand to make pretty decent money off of it.  Let’s roll the goddamn dice.”  So I accept it, and drive into the airport.

An Asian woman gets in and says, “Please!  You have to hurry!”

Yes, this was the actual greeting that I received from a stranger who was getting into my car.

uber184

So I politely said, “Sure, just let me start the trip and see where we’re going…”

“Please!  I have to teach a class!”

“Okayyyy…. Santa Barbara?  Really?”  Apparently she didn’t realize that she was at the airport, and that planes also go to Santa Barbara.

Now this is normally a 2.5+ hour ride, and Uber’s app is telling me about that much time, except it’s telling me to take the 101.  That would be perfectly fine, but this was literally a week after a deadly mudslide that killed over 20 people in the Santa Barbara area.  The 101 was shut down in that area, as were the surface level streets.  They were still doing search and rescue.

uber186 

I told her that I’m going to try my best to find a route here, but that Santa Barbara is sort of stranded at the moment.  They keep saying on NPR that people can’t get in or out for the meantime, and she says “No!  You have to take me!  I have to teach a class!”

Look, honey.  I’m not debating your need to be there.  I’m debating our ability to get there by car.

“I’m going to check a few different GPS apps, and in the meantime, you start looking up flights out of Burbank.  It’ll be faster and probably cheaper for you.”  Also, I hate you and want to drive the car into the ocean with the child locks on.  #worthit

uber187

Uber’s app is telling me to take the 101, which is literally not an option (Glad I’m an informed citizen.  That would’ve been a fun thing to stumble upon two hours later, trying to do a U-turn on the standstill freeway).  I check the Waze app, and it literally tells me “No route available,” so I’m starting to sweat a little.  I download Google Maps and lo and behold, it’s found a route!

But instead of the usual 2 and a half hours, it’s a little more like…. 6 and a half hours.  I told her this and she said, “Please! Let’s go!”  Sure, you’re in a hurry.  But your trip just got four hours longer.  Who the fuck cares if we dawdle?

So we get started.  If you live in LA, I’ll speak your language for a sentence or two:  Instead of the 101, we took the 405 up to the 5, all the way up to the 166, 100 more miles till it hits the 101 then back down 60 miles until we reach Santa Barbara.  This is the equivalent of driving from Philadelphia to New York, but stopping through Chicago.

uber188

Now, as hellishly long as this trip was, keep in mind that I have to take that same route back home.  So multiple my time by two.  I was praying that she would at least be chatty, considering that we’d be spending half her waking day together in the car.  But instead she laid down and went to sleep in the back seat.  So this solidifies my fate:  12-14 hours in my car, not talking, not engaging, not doing anything but silently driving.  Reeeeeeallllly getting to know myself.

uber189

I dropped her off just over six hours later.  Less than a mile from the Santa Barbara airport.  Started crying.  Drove for seven more hours, crying several times, both out of exhaustion and existential questioning.  When I got home that night, I collapsed in bed and slept HARD.  It could’ve been emotional exhaustion, or a possible diabetic coma (I hadn’t eaten yet that day).  All I know is that for one very rare day, I made very good money in a day.  But my average was cut down because I slept the entire next day.

RIDESHARE TIP #451:  Airplanes are faster than cars!  I’ll see you in Hell.