The next fare is a highly cautious woman from a good restaurant in a dicey-adjacent neighborhood. I reassure, don't make eye contact, offer amenities that she's impressed by, and we're off. It turns out she's African-American, retired, used to teach second graders and shares my political science degree. Goddamit. Fine, Rideshare Gods, I'm not made of stone. The app takes me through a neighborhood that concerns her, but I reassure and distract with conversation, and since I'm winning on so many conversational levels, I prove my progressive bona fides with a name drop of "The 1619 Project" as it's now got a Hulu series (she hadn't heard of it, was instantly intrigued), then ask her professional opinion on "Abbott Elementary" (loves it). She calls me the best Uber driver ever and tips later. Fine, Rideshare Gods, I'm back in the saddle. Let's be available for people.
The very next ride, because the Rideshare Gods are absolutely ham-handed with the timing, is for a woman outside of a closed Starbucks who is having what seems to be the worst day of her life. Her father is having a horrifying time with what may be a terminal disease, and her adult daughters are taking the opportunity to, seemingly, lash out at her. She's missed her train back to NYC, and I've got her for 20 minutes to a train station that she'll wait at for the next hour. There's absolutely nothing I can do for other than inadequate transportation (no, I'm not taking her to NYC, and it sounds like she doesn't have the money for it anyway), and the last 18 minutes of the ride is her alternating between talking and sobbing to a friend on her phone.
I go home, write an overly long email to the person that inspired the original bad mood, and contemplate this blog post. Goddamn Rideshare Gods.