You Seem Fun.

Monday holidays in LA are always a reminder of why I don’t work driving at night.  My main problem is that I don’t deal well with drunk people when I’m sober.  No poker face whatsoever.

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So I stick to my morning routine to avoid the drunk bar crowd.  I wake up early and I get lots of airport runs and people in a hurry to go to class or to work or wherever people go during the day.  (Let’s not kid ourselves:  it’s LA.  They’re all going to brunch.)

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So on President’s Day, which is on a Monday, I wake up early, completely forgetting that to some freelancers, today is more like Sunday morning.  And their Sunday mornings typically tend to be a very late Saturday night.  I immediately see that there is no surge pricing and realize that my day is going to be a lot slower and longer than a typical Monday morning.

My first call is a guy named Steven.  I show up at his address and he comes mozying down the hill slower than a turtle on Nyqil.

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He gets in, and between the smell and the incoherent, delayed nature of his speech pattern, I can tell he hasn’t gone to sleep.  Also, it’s 6am and he asked how my night was going.  This guy has been partying all night long and is using UberPOOL to get to the next stop on this bender.

He tells me in microbursts (between very pregnant pauses) how his night has gone until now.  Opens up about his ex-girlfriend, who’s going to be at the address where he’s going.  (His initial mention insinuated that there was a party happening there, but then he admits that he’s going there to see her alone.  Gross.)  A few minutes later, he thanks me for the ride, even though we’ve got a solid 12-15  minutes ahead of us.  At least he’s trying to be polite.  I’ll take it.

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He then starts giving me directions that are completely incoherent.  “Turn left on 6th,” even though 6th Street is parallel to us, so that is literally never going to be possible.  I follow a few directions here and there until he asks what street we are even on.

“We’re on Fountain,” I tell him.

“Shit, I literally don’t even fucking know where we are.”

Then stop fucking giving directions to the guy who is sober, has the address, and is running two GPS’s, trying to get you out of his fucking car.  I politely request that he let me do my fucking job.

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That’s when he backpedals (of course with another pregnant pause).  “Hey man.  Thank you for this.  You don’t gotta take me all the way there.  I know you probably got shit to do.”  Wait, can I really kick this drunk idiot out of my car?  I’ve been literally counting the seconds until the ride ends!  

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I’m a little put off, and I ask if he wants a different address or something, and he says, “No, I just really appreciate this.  You’re too nice.  What’s your name again?”  I tell him my first name and he asks for my last.  Then he repeats my full name back to me and tells me that he loves me.  Not awkward at all!

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I ask his name, because we’ve still got 6 or so minutes and I’m like “Do I say I love him back?”  In a split second, I let it roll around in my head and settled on “It’s nice to meet you, Steven.”  Which felt a little like a burn, whether or not I meant it to be.

He’s quiet for a minute or two and then talks about the punk band he’s in, tells me he’s surprised that the shitty music I’m playing sounds good (#tactful) and after a second of realization, asks if I know Elena (?).  I do not.  He’s a little puzzled.  “Did I meet you last night?  Or are you friends with Chris?”  

Oh God, he doesn’t fucking know that I’m an Uber driver. 

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I tell him, “I don’t know you.  You ordered an Uber, and I’m your driver.”

“Oh.  That makes way more sense.  But I think you’re really nice anyway.”

I dropped him off and wished him good luck with whatever the hell he was doing with his ex.  Just hoping they use a condom, because if she’s dumb enough to have sex with that idiot, I can’t imagine how few functional brain cells their offspring would have.  I realize fully that this could’ve gone much worse, however I would’ve much rather taken a sober person to the airport.

RIDESHARE TIP #1745: While ordering a car seems safer than driving when you’re wasted, you’re still at risk from making your driver wreck the car on purpose.  For best results, keep the conversation to a minimum.

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Hey Baby, What’s Wrong?

There are few things that irritate me as much as waiting outside someone’s house during rush hour because they’re not ready.  I’m kidding, there are plenty of things that irritate me that much.  Everything irritates me.

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So I’m picking up a woman in mid-city (just the thought of mid-city makes me mad!).  I’m about to cancel because I’ve messaged her to no response and it’s been almost five minutes.  She finally comes out and slams first the door to her house and then the door to my car.

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I don’t say anything, but sometimes I don’t really need to.  You know that feeling when you just know someone’s angry?  That’s largely the same feeling I try to exude when I drive for Uber.

Her destination is a bank on the West side of LA, which isn’t a terribly long drive.  I assume she’s going to work.  I fire up Waze and we get on our way.  That’s when she begins giving me directions.  “It says to take the 10 but don’t take the 10.”  My favorite type of California right here.
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It was a short trip, and as much as I felt like arguing, I didn’t do it.  Just then she asks for a charger.  Bitch, you just came from your HOUSE.  Don’t they have chargers in mid-city? Again, it was a short trip so I lent her mine.  But then she makes a phone call, but since my charger is the one that came with my phone, it doesn’t extended very well to the back seat.  So she starts out by just leaning forward almost in my ear having a conversation, and then leans back and switches to speakerphone.  So no matter what, I’m gonna know the details of this call whether I like it or not.  And it sounds like it’s a fight with her boyfriend.

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He was barely saying anything, because he was clearly gaslighting her about something.  From what I gathered, he’s insinuating that she’s having an affair with her boss.  He can tell this because the passenger’s seat of her car was moved when he went to use it.  She explains why this is ridiculous:

“Babe, I work 18 fucking hours a day.  And you get to stay home and sit on your ass while our kid sleeps.  It’s 8am and I won’t get home until after 2am.  The fact that you think I have the fucking energy to consider cheating on you is insane.  Do you know what I fucking gave up to be with you?  And after you cheated on me anyway?  I would not do this.  We have a child together, and another one on the way.  You know I would never do this.”

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She starts explaining how her boss moves her car for her every day so she doesn’t have to pay for parking.  And that her boyfriend (husband?  fiancee?  future murderer?) knows this.  The reason the passenger seat was moved was because he took someone else to their car because they were done with their day, as opposed to this poor woman who would have a whole second job ahead of her once the shift is over.

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The idiot guy just talked in circles and repeated his insinuations and insisted she didn’t care about his feelings, but wouldn’t listen to her.  She begged him to trust her, to listen to her, to have faith in their relationship and her dedication to him as a part of their family.  She says when he gets like this, it makes her feel like he’s cheating again.  Please keep in mind that I am silent and just driving, as I’m not a part of this.

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She hangs up the phone because they’re not getting anywhere, and asks for my advice.  She explains the situation that I already understood, because she doesn’t realize I’m an excellent eavesdropper.  “What would you do in this situation?”

I told her my honest advice.  That right now, it doesn’t make sense to engage about it, because emotions are running high and people have a difficult time listening to reason when that happens.  But also, her suspicion of him seems spot on.  I told her that while I know nothing about their dynamic, it seems like he’s trying to blame her for something that didn’t happen, to deflect blame or guilt on his behalf.  18 hours a day at home with a child that can’t speak to tell you what he’s seen?  Seems like the perfect opportunity for a scumbag to cheat.

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I told her I’d wait a few days until things were more calm, and set a list of goals for the conversation before starting it.  Ensure that his feelings are valid and get to the root of why he doesn’t trust her.  He clearly doesn’t trust her, and he is very possibly cheating, and she deserves better than that.

“You’re totally right,” she says.  I was engaged to a really rich guy when I met him.  He doesn’t have a pot to piss in.  But I fell in love, and I was set for life with my ex.  He took me to the fanciest places, we’d fly all the time.  I gave it all up for him.  You’re totally right.  I do deserve better.”  She grabs the phone to call him back again.  “Carlos, I’m leaving you.  Have your shit packed by the time I’m home tonight.  Don’t try to leave with my son because the cops will be escorting me home tonight.  I gotta go, I’m at work now.”

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She completely misinterpreted my advice!  I wanted the family to stay together but I wanted her d-bag man to clean up his act!  Did I just break up a family?  At any rate, I feel like I could’ve said anything at all, and she would’ve pieced together a way to leave her man.  It seemed like that was her plan all along, which I totally respect.  You can only take so much.

“Thanks for the advice, I’ll be sure to give you five stars.”

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You’ve done some great work here today.  This is a breakthrough.  I’ll see you the same time next week?

RIDESHARE TIP #90210: Your driver is not your therapist, but please know you’re a strong intelligent woman.

An UberPOOL Love Story

One of the things that annoys me most about driving for a rideshare company is their pool features.  If you’re not in a major metro area, it may not be available to you, so I’ll briefly explain:  for a little less money, you can share your Uber or Lyft potentially with other people who are headed generally in the same direction.  It takes longer, but if you’re all about the bottom line and don’t mind fraternizing with the freakshow general public, this is your deal.  For Uber it’s called UberPOOL, for Lyft it’s call LyftLine.  Most of the time, people don’t want to talk to each other, so it’s twice the social awkwardness for half the price.

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But every now and then, you get someone who wants to talk.  I once had a great conversation with a guy and a girl and they ended up exchanging numbers.  That was maybe the only time it was a good trip.

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One of the things that makes it awkward, is that people often don’t realize that there is already someone in the car, so they don’t know where to sit.  Sane people tend to sit in the rear passenger side seat, which is perfect.  But sometimes they’ll sit up with me, which I hate.  I can not stress it enough:  your driver wants you to sit in the back seat, no matter how cool of a passenger you are.  Trust me on this.  Without realizing, you may start to forget that you’re not in your friend’s car.

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Sometimes people open the door without looking and see that someone’s in that seat, then walk all the way around the car.  It’s weird, uncomfortable and awkward.

One morning I’m in a Northwest suburb in the valley and a girl orders an UberPOOL, and naturally, I’m immediately in a bad mood.  I make a lot less money on these trips, and I’m already in a zone that has probably never surged, ever.  How much fucking cheaper do you need the ride to be?

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So I ask her if she meant to do a Pool trip, because sometimes they do it accidentally.  She says it’s fine.  And I can’t help but think, “Is it?  You cheap prick?”

They add another passenger and when I go to pick him up, he of course tries to enter the wrong side, and the girl is still in that seat, buckled in.  He opens the door and shouts “WHAT THE FUCK MAN???” and slams the door shut.  Oh, hell no.

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So he comes around to the rear driver’s side and gets in.  “This never happened to me before,” he says angrily.  And I’m like, dude?  Get real.  You’re probably paying $2.00 for this ride and I’m making far less than that.  You ordered a Pool, get over it.  Sometimes you get lucky and have it to yourself, but the price is lower because sometimes you do have to share it.

The car is now completely silent as the two, in classic UberPOOL style, completely try to ignore each other.  That’s when the guy speaks up.

“Sooooo, um……. How have you been?”

O.

M.

G.

These two have a past.

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She responds in a sullen, depressed tone, “I’ve… I’ve been good.  How about you?”  You can almost hear the acoustic rom-com magical moment music playing as you read this, can’t you?  I’m thinking something from Sheryl Crow.

They start to talk a little, and they’re only together in the car for a few minutes.  Long enough for him to invite her to a party that weekend, which she tentatively agrees to.

I have to drop off the guy first, so we get to his address and he tells her it was good seeing her, and that he’s looking forward to this weekend, and she says the same.  He exits, and she rolls up her window and just about explodes, almost crying.

“That guy is such a fucking asshole!”  I agree, lady.  But what is YOUR reasoning?

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“That was my ex boyfriend.  He dumped me after he hooked up with my best friend.  Then to get out of it, he told everyone in my sorority that we broke up because I was pregnant to his best friend.  He’s such a lying dickhead!  He fucking ruined my life!”

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RIDESHARE TIP #21418:  If you’re looking to dodge an ex, don’t use UberPOOL a block away from him in your teeny tiny suburb.

Scream, Queens!

Driving around in a city like Los Angeles, you see celebrities fairly regularly.  I came here from a small town, so for a while it was quite shocking to me.

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My very first week living in LA, I saw someone in Beverly Hills walking down the street, and bigger than life – I knew him!  What are the odds?!  I thought to myself, “Wow!  What a small world!  I drove 2,000 miles to get here and in the first week I see an old friend!”  I slowed down and couldn’t place where I knew him from.  Was it high school?  Were we friends in college?  Did we work together at some point?  Oh, no.  It wasn’t an actual friend.  It was Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad.

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Maybe in my mind we were friends, but not in real life.  So one morning I was flying down South Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, near all the super-fancy shops of Rodeo Drive).  I was keeping up with the somehow smooth, fast flow of traffic.  If you’ve ever been around this area, you probably will find this part of the story to be the least believable.

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But it’s true!  Anyway, I’m marveling at the rare and wonderful treat of moving quickly in Beverly Hills, and there’s an older woman on the sidewalk coming up from where the shops are.  She’s got short gray hair and is trying to make a call on her phone, but it’s clear that she’s not getting great reception.  She’s doing that thing where she’s holding it to her ear, then pulling away to look at it, and realizing she can’t see that well because she’s old and needs to have it further from her face to see clearly, then putting it up against her ear again.

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We’ve all been there, right?  Where’s the Verizon guy when you need him?   I continue flying down the street when this woman, completely lost in her struggle of trying to complete a telephone call, walks RIGHT OUT INTO TRAFFIC.

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I slam on my brakes and slam on my horn as loudly as I can, and she immediately realizes what she’s done, backing up onto the sidewalk, nonverbally apologizing.  That’s when I recognize her face.  Jamie Lee Curtis, is that you?!

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I’m a huge fan, but really, you need to take better care of yourself!  I realize how badly that could’ve gone, and go about my day with thankfulness that I did not kill international film star Jamie Lee Curtis.

Several months later, I’m on the West Side in Santa Monica very early in the morning and have to pick up someone closer to Malibu.  If you aren’t aware of the social geography of LA, Malibu is more posh than posh.  Private beaches galore.  I rarely have pickups in Malibu because a lot of those people have their own drivers and couldn’t be seen living like one of the plebeians who uses something so cheap and common as an Uber!  Aka the opposite of me.

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I adore making sweeping generalizations, so I’ll tell you that this place is largely a bunch of 1% d-bags.  Filthy rich people who only care about themselves.  This was illustrated perfectly as I tried to enter Malibu on surface level streets.  They are tight in some spots, near the hills of the Pacific Palisades, and at one point a two way street was down to a single lane because a moving truck was sitting there unloading.  I was heading in, but it was rush hour, so everyone else was heading out towards the city.  And every single person went right past without any regard for me at all.

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I got angry, I swore, I saw red, but the bottom line was that I needed someone to do the right thing.  Just one single person in this sea of pricks to look out of their Tesla roadster through their Gucci sunglasses and see that there is a human being in need of some help.  Just a simple act of, not even kindness, but civility more than anything.  That’s when my savior appears.

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Some really fancy car, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what kind, as my mind was foggy from every Mercedes, Maserati, Ferrari, Bentley and Porsche that passed me over those several minutes.  The woman driving slows down and stops traffic, leaving room for me to go around the truck, rolls down her window and waves me in.  I give profuse thank-you waves, and literally say it out loud, even though she can’t hear me.  And as I pass her up close, I recognize her face.  OMFG IS THAT JAMIE LEE CURTIS??!

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It was nice to know that after our last encounter, she didn’t hold any bad blood against me.  Considering it was her fault anyway, I felt like maybe this could be interpreted as her making up for her little misstep near Rodeo Drive.  On days like this, LA drivers could all stand to be a little more like Jamie Lee Curtis.  LA pedestrians on the other hand, not so much.

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RIDESHARE TIP #177:  IF YOU ARE JAMIE LEE CURTIS, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING.  BECAUSE LA TRAFFIC CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE YOU.