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...

Passenger Tips: Five Myths About Tipping

Image result for rideshare tipping

Myth 1: Tips Aren't Important.

I'd like you to look at your latest pay stub. Then, multiply your gross amount by .07, or your take home by .10. Whatever that number is, I'd like you to convert into paper currency, then look at it.

(Wondering where I got that number from? It's my lifetime gross and net percentage from rideshare work, i.e., the part that tips make up. From what I can glean from other drivers and columns, it's a fairly high number for rideshare, low for cabbies, and insulting if you are wait or bar staff.)

Is that an important enough amount of money to you?

I'm thinking that it is. And if it isn't, set it on fire, you know, for funsies. Or donate it to my Paypal link at the top of this blog.

Oh, and if you think it's crass to make everything about money, you can also do this exercise. Sit down in a chair, then don't get up for about 3.5 to 4.0 hours. Don't use your phone for entertainment, don't look at a screen, don't read a book, don't clean your house or do your laundry or make food or go to the bathroom or pet your dog or, well, damn near anything else that's fun.

Now, do that once a week, at a time when you *could* be doing any of those other activities.

That's the difference between rideshare without tips, and rideshare with. A significant and meaningful chunk of my remaining time on the planet, that I get to use like, well, a person who doesn't have to supplement their income.

Myth 2: Tips Should Be All About A Percentage.

Well, sure, it's a reasonable starting point, but the level of service and customer experience that you get from your ride can be all over the map. If you are in the car for five minutes as part of a shared ride, I totally get that you think it's too short and skimpy to tip. (I'd still do it, myself. The only way I'm not tipping is if I'm also leaving an explanation of why not, and what my server needs to do to be better.)

But if it's an hour and a half out to distant lands, with luggage and conversation and so on?

Well, it's your money, your life, your karma. But be fair, for heaven's sake. Especially if you want anyone to want to do this work in the future.

Myth 3: If You Don't Have Cash, Don't Tip.

I won't speak for all drivers, but personally, I prefer the tip to be in the ap. I'm declaring everything on my taxes anyway -- yes, not because I'm a huge fan of the current Administration, but more because it's my duty, not to mention my desire to live in a country with laws and standards and such.

Personally, I tend to tip in cash in restaurants, because I can't be certain that the management isn't getting its beak wet on credit card tipping, because some management, well, sucks. And we all know wait staff are getting killed on the hourly wage. But for rideshare, it's all going to your driver, so just use the card. Besides, I'm not carrying cash to make change and/or be a target in dicey neighborhoods.

Myth 4: You Shouldn't Tip Unless The Service Is Exemplary

Keep in mind that as your driver, I'm trying to match the experience to my read of your needs. If you come into the car with a modicum of conversation and engage with a companion or your device, I'm going to leave you alone. If you get into the front seat, make eye contact and start talking, I'm going to do the same. The first 15 seconds are, frankly, when I'm making all of those decisions.

So if your driver doesn't seem friendly or outgoing and you want that, you might want to think about the signals that you were throwing out first. I'm not a mind reader. And if you want a terse and business-like ride because you are in Work Mode, don't tip as if the driver made a mistake to give you just that.

Myth 5: Tipping Is For Professionals, and Ride Sharing Is Done By Amateurs

This one's just wrong, mostly because your driver is likely to have done this activity very often and for a lot of hours. (Not all of us, of course.)

Bonus: Don't Tip Drivers Who Are All About The GPS

We are all about the GPS because that's the recommended course of action from our provider, and in the long run, it saves us time. Your driver may or may not know your area very well, because drivers don't control where they are going, but even if they are a local, it's hardly fair to limit tips just to those of us who, well, got lucky with you.

So, in summation -- tip your driver. Or tell them why you didn't.

Story Time: Oh, It Doesn't

doesntmatterThe ping comes in Hayward, and right after I accept, I get a call from the fare. It turns out that my passenger and his wife are totally blind, so I'm going to need to get out of the car and guide them in. Not a unique occurrence and no worries, so off I go.

They get in the car and we're off for a 10-minute ride. It turns out that these folks are new parents and a little tipsy, so we talk a bit about parenting (I've done it, twice). Their kid is 2 now, which is an extremely challenging age under the best of circumstances... and, well, the parents are blind.

The kid... is not.

And she's a wonderful child, and understands that there are things she can do that Mommy and Daddy can not... which is not such a helpful thing when she gets angry at them. Because she can just, well, move their things to places that they can not find.

Like phones, and keys, and so on.

I'm kind of amazed at the level of challenge here, so I ask, "Wow, how does that work?"

To which the mom replies, with a not small amount of energy, "Oh, it *doesn't*!"

I'm certain that, in the long run, they'll be better off for having a sighted person in their home. I'm sure that their child will grow up to be kind and compassionate and helpful as hell.

But in the short run?

Not so much...

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...