Warning Signs

Track Four With A Bullet
I get a ping while in my own home for a restroom break, which is always a cause for some suspense, as many passengers will cancel a ride if they don't see the driver's car moving pretty quickly. I spill a drink on my way out, delaying my leave for extra time, but my rider doesn't cancel. Five minutes later, I'm rolling up to the client, who has chosen to use a single letter for his user name (Warning Sign #1).

My guy is a white guy in his late 40s / early 50s, wearing shorts and a collared shirt, just sitting in front of his garage as a I roll up. He gets into the front seat (that's pretty rare for the East Coast, and Warning Sign #2) and brings his filled plastic cup with him. It's got alcohol in it (Warning Sign #3), and it's... 4 pm on a weekday (Warning Sign #4). He then tells me it's got alcohol in it, and if I want to cancel, it's OK. I check the duration of the ride (5 minutes), do a silent calculation of how much I need the fare to get to my bonus targets (um, always) and tell him it's fine. And we're off.

My car is a 2010 Honda Insight, which is to say, the perfect car for ride share from a math and driver standpoint, but not exactly transportation that should impress the hell out of you. That's not the case for Day Drunkie here, who marvels at the quiet and ride (um, sure, fine, I like my car well enough) and asks if I have any music. Normally for guys like this one, I've got NPR firing away to try to drain away the knucklehead with news, but as we're four minutes away from him being out of my life, sure, fine, tunes it is. My magical Random iPod connects for him (Talking Heads, which fans of the blog will remember from the Santacon post), and he's decided that I'm now his best friend.

Oh, and I'm burying the lead here, which is that he's asked me perhaps the worst question any ride share passenger has ever asked:

"Do you find me creepy?"

I demur with something along the lines of how many rides I've given (+10K at this point), which leads him to add "My relatives find me creepy."

Well, they should know, yes?

I resist the urge to say or ask more about this, because Drunkie is (like most adults, really) bigger than me, and... yeah. Three minutes to go.

Drunkie then notes that his drop off (a store) isn't really his drop off, but across the street (Warning Sign # I'm Losing Count). Well, sure, in for a penny... The next ask is if I'm busy after I drop him off (Warning Sign # Pulp Fiction Gimp Callback), to which I assure him that I am. He doesn't like this much, and wants to know how much I make per hour (Warning Sign # Oh Dear God How Soon Until I Can Get You Out Of My Car). I sidestep the question, as we're now just a couple of blocks away from the drop...

But since the Rideshare Gods are Trickster Gods, it's a beautiful day outside and they've summoned a half dozen teenagers piled two per bike, just ambling all over the road in front of me. "Don't run over the kids!" yells Drunkie, in between telling me who lives in what house on this block, and who he had to beat the fecal matter out of Back In The Day.

Because telling your ride share driver who you want to hire on the side for cash about your tendencies toward violence is just what New Best Friends Who Aren't Creepy At All do, right?

Because all good things must end, we get to the drop point. Drunkie pulls a loose $20 out of his shorts, thinks about it for a second, then tells me that's too much and he'll tip in the app. (Note: if you tell me you are tipping in the app, please note that only about 10% of people who say this wind up doing it, and I do check and cut your star rating if you lie. Because lying should have consequences, especially when you are doing it in ways that are comically easy to check.) I say that's fine, wish him a lovely day, and move off before I close the ride, so I can 3-star him without a chance of him seeing it and having a reaction.

When a driver gives a passenger 3 stars or less, we are not paired with that person again... but that doesn't prevent them from getting back in touch with us through the app. Which is what happens two days later (Warning Sign Off The Charts Has Never Happened Before), when Drunkie decides to tell the platform that he left cash and credit cards in my car.

Um, no, he didn't.

And that's how this story ended before it got far more interesting...

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