Story Time: R Carlos Nokai and the Trickster Rideshare Gods

The pick up comes in the heart of San Francisco, a woman, and her (likely) father. They are chatty, and we get to talking about music.

A brief word about the in-flight entertainment on board my Honda hybrid. It varies between three options.

1) Fairly rarely, a ball game. The A's are good this year, and I've occasionally pulled up an NBA game as well.

2) The local NPR station (here in the Bay Area, that's KQED). The nice part about NPR is that it tends to drain the knucklehead out of people. Also, anyone that's really enthused about this choice is usually capable of a good conversation from. So NPR is a go-to, a lot.

3) My iPod, which will be on Random Shuffle Play. Option 3 has nearly 8,000 songs since it has my own stuff, as well as work from my wife and kids' collections. It also has some work that I don't even know about...

Like, well, R Carlos Nokai.

Which came on, without me doing anything, DURING THE CONVERSATION. (Which made said passenger more than a little freaked out for the remainder of the ride, but I think she got over it. Not sure I have.)

There are Rideshare Gods, folks. And they are Trickster Gods...

Story Time: 12 Angry Minutes

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Like this, but less attractive
I'm doing personal stuff on July 4, but have a few hours before my next commitment. I turn on the app in the East Bay to kill some time and make a bit more of my nut, and because I'm out in the middle of Burb Land, the pings tend to come from far away.

Here's the thing about when your driver has to come a long way to get you: it's usually not good. We aren't paid for the time and distance that it took to get to you. It's just unpaid miles and minutes, and a good chunk of the time, the passenger will cancel on the way, and make the trip pointless. It's a big reason why, frankly, I avoid a lot of suburban driving, despite being easier on my car, and frequently good if you catch long rides. The fact that the ping is coming from far away tells you that I'm not alone in this assessment. Drivers figure out, pretty quick, the best ways to make their money.

But usually, there's one saving grace to it all: a happy passenger, because they know that it's a rare and good service to get someone where they are. Sometimes the rides are long and maybe you can get a tip out of them as well.

Note: usually.

The ping comes in from 12 minutes and 5 miles away in Fremont, a nice enough suburb. I take the request against my better judgment and make my way to a pizza place, where an annoyed woman and her male companion are waiting. They get in, I offer my usual service, and my Jedi mind trick of offering a breath mint to draw out the knuckleheads works yet again.

"No, I don't need a goddamned breath mint," she says, as angry as you will find a person in paradisical California. Then, "Effin' miracle."

The ride is, I'm not kidding, 3 minutes and 0.7 miles down the road. The entire time, the woman is irate about the length of her wait, while the guy is trying to calm her down. She's convinced that since this ride is usually less time, I've personally delivered poor service by coming from 12 minutes away. On a holiday, while plenty of surge pricing is going on in Oakland and elsewhere.

"Are you gonna ask him?" I try to explain to her that the system simply sends the closest driver at all times, but she's having none of it, then finally resolves with, "So I guess *I'm* the b****."

Note: this is a grown woman, likely in her 30s. Not a petulant teen. Also, not looking like she couldn't use the walk of 0.7 miles, rather than wait 15 minutes for a ride. If you catch my meaning.

I drop them off, bask in the glow of my $3.75 for 15 minutes and six miles of driving, and rest easy in the knowledge that, thanks to the 2-star rating that I fired off as soon as they were out of eyeshot, that I'd never get to agree with her again...

Story Time: Two Star Trainwreck

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Two stars
I'm rolling in residential SF when I get a ping. It starts off badly with my fare not being on the street for a couple of minutes of double parking, and ends when a woman and man enter the car. Mid-20s, not a lot of clothes on for a lot of person on the female, bearded and dazed look for the guy. Well, let's get to it.

My standard move when someone enters the car is to offer water, mints and cough drops. There is something special that truly dumb people do when this is brought up: they, invariably, take offense at being offered a breath mint. "Are you saying I have bad breath?"

Because it's my rideshare dream not to inspire tips and good behavior from my passengers, but rather to make them feel bad about their oral hygiene. Also, that I've developed this opinion of you, despite you entering the car in the back, and me being in the front. The app tells us when you've got the breath that could knock a buzzard off a poo wagon, and makes sure to filter out all non-equipped drivers. Sure.

Normally I back down from such a conversational gambit, but I'm running on pretty low energy and not loving this person, so instead, I just wait a few seconds and say, "Yes."

Bearded Guy laughs way too loud and way at this, Not Enough Clothes rummages about the dish for a while, and a block later rolls down her window to spit a cough drop out the window.

And we're off!

She asks me if I can play some music -- no genre -- so I just turn up my random iPod a few ticks, because that will allow this Mensa member to have her next 20 minutes in the back of my hatchback to be a private conversation because that's how sound works? They proceed to start sucking face pretty hard, and with each weight shift, it's, well, noticeable. They don't seem to be shedding clothes and they outnumber me, so it's not as if I am going to censor their behavior.

Every few minutes, they come up for air and talk to each other. That's when the ride gets, well, special.

"I'm just so grateful that you are hanging out with me tonight. Especially after the way our first date ended."

Oh, please. GO ON.

A few more minutes of sucking face later, and Beardo says "At least the police took you to Berkeley."

"I know, right? It could have been worse. Dublin, Pleasanton..."

More suck, then. "I just feel bad for putting you at risk." Aww, she's sweet! "I mean, it's a DUI, it's..." and Beardo interrupts with, "These things happen."

Um, Beardo? If you are being driven around by Drunk People, that's not a These Things Happen Thing. That's a These Things Should Not Happen, and You Should Get Your Bearded Ass Out Of There Before It Happens.

But, well, she's pretty much throwing herself at him hard, and it is, after all, Date Number Two. Which I'm thinking is a pretty good chance for something communicable for Our Young Lovers, given all of their wonderful choices to date.

Oh, and the final coup d'grace... they aren't taking a Lyft tonight due to the DUI. They are in the car because... "I think it's actually for the best. What with the engine block dropping out of my car the next day."

I get to the drop point, they leave with a final suspension-shaking heave out of the Honda, and off they go for the rest of their enchanted lives. I also resisted the urge of telling Beardo that for an extra $5, I'd wait outside for the 10 minutes until he was ready to go, and gave them the rating that made sure I'd never see them again. Because, honestly, trainwrecks are kind of fun to look at, but not from that up close...

It Was The Best Of Rides, It Was The Worst Of Rides

Not, to my knowledge, a rideshare driver I'm doing the hustle on a Saturday night, and trying to stay close to my home base because...