Tales of a Lyft/Uber driver, Volume One


Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take 'em to Harlem. I don't care. Don't make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won't even take spooks. Don't make no difference to me. — Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver (1976)

I've taken to doing Lyft/Uber for supplemental income, to get me through a rough financial spot as mentioned before.

The pay is better than an average cab driver or McDonald's, depending on how long I do it.

In Tulsa, I net about $10/hr on average. Note this is "on average." Some days I get fuck all and make $6. Other days I roll in tons of money and get like $120. It all depends.

Yes, Lyft/Uber are incredibly unethical companies who don't give a fuck about their drivers, but I needed something to do fast, and contracts for programming just weren't going to pay the bills fast enough.

I probably won't be doing this very much after this month, except for extra money.

Weird-ass rides

Yeah, I've had my share of weird-ass rides. I'm going to change names and pickup/dropoff locations; mostly to protect passenger identities, but partially because I can never fucking remember or I never even find out, to be honest.

My First Ride™

I'm in East Tulsa and get a ping. I pull up. Five college kids pile into my car.

"Is it cool if we have five people?"

Technically my car has six seat belts, but no one sits in the front middle seat ever because I fucking say so. So I say "yeah, but someone's sitting in someone's lap." And that's the truth, I just don't give a fuck.

(Not giving a fuck is a recurring theme in my rides, by the way)

In pile in a bunch of University of Tulsa students. Everyone is extremely loud. Everyone is extremely drunk. I get told my music's great (90's/00's dance), then I get told to play Blink 182 or Green Day.

The thing is, I don't use Spotify in the car because the last thing anyone needs is to hear Death Grips singing about "too many hoes in my motherfucking meal, asking if I know how a motherfucker feels" when this is my job. (Yes, I listen to that kind of music. No, don't judge.) So I put on the 90's Alt Rock station and they begin singing along to every song on the radio at the top of their lungs.

They constantly apologise for being drunk the entire time, but do nothing to change behaviour. I pretend not to care.

So I drop them off at this bar somewhere in Cherry Street. At least I made $20 off the ride.

The widow

I'm downtown when I pick up this widow. She's like 50 years old. It's like broad daylight on a weekday out and she's already three sheets to the wind. At least she tells me she had the day off.

So she begins going on this story about how hard it is to find decent men at her age and how "none of them want anything serious" or "don't want to commmit," and how she was married for 32 years but was "miserable the entire time."

No hint of remorse for her dead husband who died of cancer. None. She cared more about being lonely than her dead husband. She goes on to say shit like "I'd probably still be with him if he was still alive."

The way she went about saying it just made me feel... unease. But I listened. Because it's not my job to tell people how they feel.

Like 32 years of marriage and the only thing you don't like is "I'm alone." People are messed up.

Attempts to relate felt hollow on account of my longest relationship before breakup lasting 2 years. I'm 26 years old, after all.

The raver

I pick up this guy from his house on the south side. Average looking place. Guy clearly isn't a deadbeat, but he's clearly sweating like no tomorrow. He immediately asks me if I know what MDMA is in a stammering, clearly high as fuck voice. He's asking to go to a local pub for some reason.

I ask him, point blank, "I don't give a fuck if you are or not, but you're high as shit right now aren't you?" Because I just don't give a fuck.

"Nah just drunk." Biggest lie of the century.

He keeps going on about how he'll make it worth my while since it's a short trip and how he'll tip good. He never tips. I think he simply forgot.

At the end of the ride he asks, "do you want some E?"

"No thanks, I can't get high."

I have fucking work to do. And E isn't my thing. And I doubt E and Buproprion interact well.

The sketchy-ass gay boys ride

I get this ping for this really horrible part of town near a factory. I think it's probably an Indian res or something. All the houses are fucked up and not even close to code. I pick up a native guy and three of his buddies. They're blitzed. I was afraid the entire time I was gonna get mugged in the neighbourhood.

One guy asks me:

"Can I bring this open container of beer?"

Me, a stoic: "I don't care, if the cops ask I thought it was soda."

"Can I smoke in the car?"

Me, hating smoking: "I would rather you didn't." I have boundaries.

Their buds talked him out of doing either. A wise choice.

I get asked if I'm lesbian because I'm listening to 90's/00's dance.

"I mean I don't care, we're all down to fuck whoever in this car."

"You guys bi?"

"Hell yeah, we'll do whoever."

They start talking about the new Call of Duty, how modern video games are in decline, and how Quake and Doom "just didn't keep up with the times."

Now that's what I'm talking about.

This was my favourite ride.

One minor thing though: they kept trying to give me directions over the GPS. They were just a repeat of the GPS directions. This is the only part I didn't like.

The sketchy-ass gay boys ride, part deux

By coincidence, I pick them up again from the bar. They're even more blitzed. It's more of the same stuff, but more from them.

One of them says "man I gotta stab someone" (mostly drunken joking but I know how this can escalate) and he pulls out this tiny scalpel.

"Woah man put that away!"

And I'm like, "if you're gonna stab someome, I ask you not do it in the car."

"Why, don't want to deal with the cops and the hospital and shit?"

"No, I'll just kick you out for getting blood on my seat. I don't give a fuck what you do, it's the 'no body fluids' rule. I don't want body fluids in the car. I'll have to make Lyft charge a clean-up fee." They thought I was joking. The punchline was, I wasn't.

"My nigga!!!"

And then they say typical white guy drunk shit.

"I'm a straight-up gangsta!"

Me, an intellectual: "yeah, you're a member of the sweats, you couldn't take the bloods"

"The sweats‽"

"Well yeah, the bloods were taken. They were gonna call them The Cums but..."

"Oh God!" More laughter. I'll be here all night.

The junkie

My first ping on Uber proper (though not first ride by any means). I get a guy who's clearly taking his girlfriend who's high on heroin from one hotel bar to another.

He claims she's just tired. She definitely was not "just tired." Tracks so obvious you could run a marathon on them. You could tell she was high as fuck. She even tried to cover up the tracks with her hand. (PROTIP: this never actually works)

I'm like half sure this wasn't his girlfriend, but he told me something about "oh her mother thinks I'm beating her 'cause of the seizures." Which I mean, yeah, seizures can leave you black and blue.

So I dunno. I don't really care if it's a prostitute, a chick he picked up at the bar, or actually his girlfriend.

I just found it strange I picked up a junkie and a drunk guy. Junkies aren't known for taking Uber or Lyft.

To be continued

I'll write more about these really fucked-up rides later.