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.

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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.

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One morning I drove an Uberpool trip from Venice to Beverly Hills.   Let me start with a few judgmental statements:

  1. I have never had a positive interaction with a customer going to or from Beverly Hills.
  2. UberPOOL customers largely are absolute garbage.

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I may be biased because of how Uber financially rapes their drivers with pool trips (speaking to Los Angeles, specifically.  I don’t know the rates for all cities).  In LA, if you take a Pool trip, you get a  completely made up “upfront price” that in no way reflects what the driver is making.  He or she is paid $0.57 a mile and $0.08 a minute from the start to the end of your trip, no matter how many people are in the car.  They recently upgraded that, so that for each additional pickup during a pool trip, the driver gets $0.95.  95 whole cents, you guys.  Have you ever noticed that if you do a pool, your driver is kind of angry as fuck?

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Annnnnywayyyyy, so I pick up the Beverly Hills d-bag and I’m praying that we get another customer joining the trip before I hop on the freeway, because after that it becomes increasingly more annoying.  I have to stay in the slow lane during pool trips, because Uber can add another passenger at any time and I often have to exit at the drop of a hat.

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I sat waiting for a solid 3 minutes at a light to turn onto the 405, and my customer, Johnny Confidence, is huffing and puffing in the back seat.  I’m praying that someone will join before I get on that freeway.  The light turns green, I make the irreversible turn, and as soon as I’m almost fully merged onto the 405, I get my next passenger joining the pool.  Her location?  At that intersection where I just sat for 3 or 4 minutes.  So this will now take another 10 minutes to get to the next exit to go back (it’s rush hour in the morning, mind you.)

I’m at the next off ramp trying to turn right but I’ve got a red light.  Good news is that there is virtually nobody on the road.  I turn right and immediately hear a siren and see the red and blue lights in my rear view.  A motorcycle cop is waving me to pull over.

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Did I have a tail light out?  Did I speed at some point?  Does he just hate gay people?  I’ve never been pulled over before so I  have literally no idea what I’m in for, and I am about to throw up in the car.

I pull over in traffic and he waves me on to go into a parking lot.  I oblige, and he keeps waving me to go further and further forward.  I’m starting to think he’s going to gay bash me once he gets me into a remote area.  He motions for me to stop the car and he takes his grand old time making his way over, and thats’ when I see the sign “NO TURN ON RED, 6AM-9AM.”  It was 8:58.

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I’m sweating bullets, I know these guys don’t like minorities.  But the news has shown that the shootings tend to happen to brown and black people.  Was I safe?  Police always made me nervous anyway.

He asks me if I know why he pulled me over, and I say, “Well, yeah.  I know now that I see that sign.”  He asked if I was around here and I wanted to say something proverbial and thought-provoking and sarcastic like “The road is my home” but I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate my sense of humor (I’m an acquired taste).

So I told him I’ve never been pulled over and I don’t know which is a registration and which is an insurance document.  I hand him the loan details of my car and the receipt for my last oil change, because I’m really that stupid under pressure.

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He appreciates that I’mt trying to do the right thing, and ultimately after several minutes of deliberation, lets me go with his “final” verbal warning of the day.  THANK GOD.  I drive away with the biggest sigh of relief and maybe just a drop or two of pee in my pants, and I remember I have a customer in the car.

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“So sorry about that, we’re on our way now.”  I look at the Uber app and see THAT GIRL HAS STILL NOT CANCELLED FROM THAT OLD INTERSECTION.  I go to pick her up, and it’s now been nearly 20 minutes.  She gets in, a small Asian college student, and is upset, but not overly upset.

“You took so long!” she says to me.

“Yeah, I’m sorry.  It sent me the request as soon as I pulled away from you onto the freeway.”

“Yeah but you stop for really long time.”

“About that…”

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The best part of her trip is that she was literally only going a few blocks away.  She was in the car for less than two minutes.

Rideshare Tip #999: Use UberPOOL if you want to save 50 cents and get to your destination within three to four hours!

That Escalated Quickly

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

“Goodbye, faggot!”

Ummmm…. Excuse me?

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“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.

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RIDESHARE LESSON #26:  SOME SERVICES UNAVAILABLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN STREET.

 

“I Hope You Make Your Flight! And That Your Plane Doesn’t Crash, Killing You and Sending You to Hell!”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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RIDESHARE LESSON #15098:  NOTHING IS GUARANTEED, SO BE NICE.