a rideshare moment from a (bad) french art film

the hail comes from a woman at a supermarket on mission street, in a city i can't afford, having shopped for food i can't afford

the wind and the gray whip the street and my car, as i park not well, because my passenger is right there and wants Speed, because Wind and Cold and Life

the hatchback trunk lifts and the wind whips in to catch a plastic bag and toss it to the sky

relieving it from my service, where it has lived for months, because california is a place where such things are paid for, and paying for things is something i try very hard not to do

the wind takes the bag high above the street, over the elevated train tracks, over the two lanes of busy road, and into the shopping center across the street

where it will start a new and terrible life as litter and sewer trap

and i want to chase after it, like a child after a balloon, like a man who is holding on to everything he can, even something as mean and small as a single plastic bag

while still seeing the moment where it flies against the sky as the new passenger blithely moves into the car as a moment of small art (very lower case)

in frozen time as i think of what to do next, as if there is any real choice othen than to

drive on, drive on, drives on, before someone calls me on my litter

and before the money that is in front of me floats away as well


Nudge Or Shove?

In the past few weeks, Lyft has decided to add a bonus structure. A reasonably good one, too; one that pushes my hourly net as a driver to heights that it hasn't usually seen in the 16+ months that I've done the work.

Image result for nudge

The trouble is that the bonus is, well, perfectly calculated to be just on the edge of a stretch. Instead of being able to get to my own, self-assigned, target in 30 to 40 hours of driving, now I'm going for 45 to 55... and that extra time is coming at the cost of the gym work that I used to be able to do, sometimes even every day of the week.

It is, of course, Not Sustainable, and in all likelihood, Lyft will curtail these bonuses once they get out of seasonal calendar demands. The Bay Area is collegiate enough to have a high amount of turnover at this time of the year, and we also see a spike in traffic after Labor Day, so I'm pretty much thinking this is a short-term deal to try to gain market share.

Also, well, I took a week and a half off for personal travel not too long ago, which means the bonuses are coming at a particularly opportune time...

But, um, still? I almost wish they hadn't done it. If for no other reason than I really do miss being able to eat without worrying about fitting into my clothes, or wondering if my 9 to 5 at a standing desk covers the damage done by my 6 to 12 at a sitting one.

And if this is the New Normal, and I'm going to just be pushed into making this progressively harder number every week?

Well, I wouldn't be driving if I didn't need the money, right?

The Driver Is In

Image result for lucy psychiatric help booth

Three times in the last week, the passenger has been a psychotherapist. The most fun of these being an older married couple who both do couples counseling, and who claim to have never used their powers in their own relationship. (Yeah, I'm not sure I believe them either, but they did seem happy with each other, so... maybe.)

For each ride, there was conversation, because I'm not sure that a therapist *can't* engage with their driver, and as a driver who is now logging upwards of 50 hours a week in the app (more on that later), I'm thrilled for conversation, too.

There are, of course, some light similarities in the gigs, in that both of us are, to an extent, matching and mirroring the other person to make them comfortable and more open to conversation. We ask open-ended questions, we listen and bring back conversational callbacks, and we engage, at least for a little while, in the simultaneously selfless and selfish act of listening.

The key differences being that you are paying your therapist a lot more than you are your driver. Also, that the therapist is actually licensed and trained and so forth, while I'm just a guy...

With 6,500+ passengers and counting, which is making me start to wonder who has more experience in talking to people...

Things That Get Left Behind

Drive ride-share long enough, and your car will be a lost and found. Mostly, this consists of phones, especially when the passenger is charging. (Note to the world: don't charge your phone in ride share cars. It's rarely worth it.)

That's always an absurd mess, mostly because you wind up holding the item that you'd, well, use to communicate with that person. But the last few weeks on the side hustle have added the following two items, with side stories as well.

First, the rock If you are in the Bay Area, you are going to meet people who seem out there compared to the rest of the nation, but totally in the pocket for the area. The rock was a gift from a great conversationalist who was with me for the better part of a half hour throughout SF. It's been a nice reminder ever since, in my change slot, that sometimes the hustle can be entertaining, too.

Next, the OK button. I think this one came from a wildly funny couple that I got in Palo Alto a couple of nights ago, who decided to tell me about their Foot Mask plans for the evening (And what is a Foot Mask? A concoction of booze and bizarre ingredients that you mix into a plastic bag, then wear on your foot for an hour. At the end of the hour, you are left with skin like a baby... which seems like a poor idea, in that babies don't run on treadmills, manage the standing desk, and so on.

But you want to know what's better to give your driver? Yup... a freaking tip!

Story Time: Very Old and Very Winning

Image result for winning never grows oldTwo different fares, both in Palo Alto, in the last few months. Passenger A: 98 years old. World War II veteran. Was a CTO at 3 different companies, knew his phone backwards and forwards. An author who didn't write books until he retired. Bought his house in Palo Alto for $12K in 1952. There's no way this house isn't worth at least $2.5 million today. Passenger B: 97 years old. Was 4-F in WWII, so he wound up as a tech at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. All of his kids are now retired, and the house he's living in was bought by him, in 1953, for $13,200. It's worth over $2.7 million today, judging by what comparable houses in the neighborhood have sold for. Both guys were sharp as a tack, both knew their phone backwards and forwards, and both could hold a conversation better than the vast majority of folks who I've driven in the past 18 months.

Greatest Generation?

At least on the real estate front, yes...

a rideshare moment from a (bad) french art film

the hail comes from a woman at a supermarket on mission street, in a city i can't afford, having shopped for food i can't afford t...