Murphy’s Law, and why you should mind your manners with your rideshare driver

How a ride request to the suburbs became a “Murphy’s Law” pain in the neck for my riders

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Admittedly, not all drivers are going after the bonuses that the companies offer us.  At the time of this writing (July 2017) Lyft has static weekly bonuses that do not change. Uber’s bonuses change twice weekly. Without getting into all the details, I was near an important bonus at 2:00am on Sunday morning. In that mode of slight desperation, a driver takes every ping that comes their way as they must keep a 90% acceptance rate.

My surgeless-ping brings me near the corner of Wells and Division, an area that is full of night life. Further, I was driving an XL/Plus eligible vehicle but still get regular, less financially lucrative requests. Its a regular ride (not XL/Plus ride with a mandatory 1.5x multiplier), I wait nearly the entire 5 minutes (note: this is inconsiderate behavior) as the map begins to surge, and immediately regret not cancelling the ride.

Two dudes, and two females get in and two of them determine that they need to sit in the way back without my assistance. Putting the seat down so a rider can enter the back-backseat is a two-part process that few riders can comprehend while inebriated, and choose the most logical alternative which is to just step all over my seats and head rests. That’s what these riders did, stomped all over my seats and head rests, against my verbal warning.

The guy in the front seat promptly passes out with his forehead resting on the passenger airbag release area.

Before I even get to the first stop sign a female in the seat immediately behind me makes a verbal demand.

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Female1 rider: Can you give me the Aux cord?

Driver: Sorry, I don’t carry an Aux cord. Is there something wrong with the Blues?

Female1 rider: Why not? I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and… (other bands that I don’t care to remember. Blah blah, music, Aux cord)

Driver: (muttered excruciating slow) Its. A. Choice. I don’t carry, an Aux cord.

At this point I mention that I run Pandora. So I throw on the Chief Keef Pandora station, which as you might well imagine is a platinum-level hit with many riders whom have successfully steered me away from the Chicago Blues Pandora station… Not even one (1) minute into the song and she has something to say-

Female1 rider: This is the worst (I’ve ever heard. Blah blah, I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, blah blah)

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Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Blood Sugar Sex Majik” is overrated

So then I amend the selection to the 1980’s Pop Pandora station.  The riders begin to sing with some of the songs, but Female1 rider is pressing for the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and other bands that I don’t care to remember).  The passive aggression was unrelenting. I had already been driving for about 8 hours and had now made the final determination that this was my last ride of my night: the suburbs have little if any demand after 10:00pm, and a deadhead ride back to civilization will be a minimum of 16 minutes.

The comatose rider in my front seat made a couple of concerning grumbling sounds which had me fantasizing about pushing him out of my car on the Eisenhower Expressway.  Female Rider2 in the way back is talking on her phone endlessly about all the relationship gossip that most males would bristle at.

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O M G! That’s what she did when he said what?!

This had quickly turned into a one-star ride based on the amount of undue stress the riders were causing me:

  1. Dislike the vehicle atmosphere that I carefully procure
  2. Possible puker next to me
  3. Passive agressiveness
  4. Gas guzzling vehicle on a long suburban trip down I-290

Finally we exit the expressway, but we still have 9 minutes of suburban back-roads to traverse before their drop-point.

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“I Ran” from Flock of Seagulls briefly cheered me up and moments later we finally arrived at the destination.

Three (3) of the passengers exit my vehicle from the back and the dead human next to my was still headbutt into my dashboard with no sign of life. Per the various conversations occurring in my vehicle, he had a flight to make in just a few hours.

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Enjoy that flight

The other male says he’s going to handle him, and after negotiation and cajoling by the conscious male passenger, he finally gets the dead guy on his wobbly feet only to walk in the opposite direction of his apartment complex toward a characterless parking lot. I check the back seat for belongings and proceed to exit this suburb which was lifeless and devoid of energy.

Driver thoughts: [Great. 1-Star Rating. Its over. Great. Time to drive home and sleep.]

Not even 5 minutes into the drive home I start to hear a noise in the back seat that I immediately recognized as a cell phone ringtone. And *I laughed to myself*– Aux cord, passive aggression, threat of vomit… I will not be stopping my vehicle to investigate the ringtone.  It must have went off seven (7) times during my drive back home.

Dear reader, when a rider leaves something in our car, we as drivers are given wide latitude on how to return it.  One advertised method is to get a mailing package sent to us, I put the item in the package, and then mail the package- I am thinking that method would take a minimum of four (4) business days to complete.

After arriving in my garage, I notified the rideshare company of the phone that was left in my vehicle.  Dropped the phone in a ziplock bag and put it on my porch and emailed instructions to the rideshare company on how the errant rider should retrieve her property from under my door mat.

Without complete information this situation might not seem so bad to you. But how would you feel (as a suburbanite) about driving into one of the most dangerous and violent neighborhoods in Chicago to retrieve your property? A neighborhood that you talk about avoiding in platitudes with your friends, and never visit?

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Chicago’s 15th police district is action-packed!

This could all have been avoided if the riders listened to me when I asked them not to sit in the way back of my vehicle.  When I scanned my backseat, I would have seen the mobile phone at their destination and alerted my passengers to my finding their mobile phone- however, the way back of my vehicle was not within my view.

Would I have delivered the phone back to the riders that night before driving home?  It is a real possibility! The previous month I delivered a purse to a rider’s hotel, just before 2:00a.m. In that instance I received a thank you from the rideshare company the next day.  As drivers, we are not required to stop working, or what we are doing, to deliver your property back to you, should you leave it in our vehicle.

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Murphy’s Law is defined as: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. You’ll lose your phone, and you’ll have to retrieve it within a run-down, crime-ridden neighborhood, deep in Chicago’s west side which has seen little outside investment since the white-flight of the 1960s.

Moral of this story: be on your best behavior in your driver’s vehicle.

Great Uber Pool Story From A Fantastic Rider

A recent rider shared an outstanding Uber Pool ride story that he experienced

Sharing Line/Pool stories

Recently I had the privilege to drive an excellent listener and storyteller, whom was also a full-time physician. I think we improved each other’s lives by riding together.

We briefly discussed the differences between Lyft and Uber. I told him my story, and he told me the below story, and we were having a roaring good time!

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He ordered up an Uber at around 5:00pm in the evening on a weekday about a month ago while in Hinsdale. Uber had recently changed the interface on the app which will explain some of the issues with this ride.

He sees his driver pull away from his location, but is able to successfully flag him down and then sees that there already sits a female passenger in the vehicle (in her 50s, blonde, suburban housewife).  He’s never ordered an Uber Pool before, but why not give it a chance.

For some Uber customers the Uber app’s default riding option became Pool instead of UberX after the app was recently updated, and I have heard this from other riders in the past.

He gets into the car and greets his driver by telling the driver his name.

Who am I Pooling with Today?

Since it was his first time riding in a Pool he had questions:

  1. where are we going first?
  2. when do I get to my destination?
  3. who am I sharing a ride with?
  4. how does Uber Pool work?

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He asks his driver a series of questions and immediately determines that English is not a language that his driver is familiar with.  Also, the female passenger next to him is worrying him as there is definitely something wrong with her.  As a physician he is typically able to determine if someone is intoxicated, on recreational drugs, or mentally ill, and he can’t quite figure her out.

He starts to ask the blonde suburban mom where she’s going, what her name is, and a few other questions pertinent to the ride.

Her: Yes.

Yes

She answered “yes” to every single one of his many questions!

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After this big reveal, the driver communicates to him that he’s going to find where to drop off the blonde passenger.  The rider then puts the puzzle together.  His driver was searching for him and asked people as they walked by, “are you _____”, and this woman answered “yes” and got into the vehicle. The best part, in my opinion, was the rider’s unusual name and this woman agreed that it was also her name when asked.

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He determines that he needs to be in a public place and get the authorities involved. He announces to the driver that he’s calling 9-11, the driver doesn’t like the idea, but the rider retorts that “…this is the only way that this ends well.

Mall Cop response

He calls 9-11 and they are at the Oakbrook Mall surrounded by 2 mall cops and 2 police cruisers.  The blonde was passed out drunk on his shoulder.

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The mall cops proceed to ask the rider, “What were you doing with her?

My rider was astonished that a suburban mom could be piss-drunk at 5 in the afternoon on a weekday. While I agree that one shouldn’t become blackout drunk until at least 8:00pm on a weekday, the biggest issue for me is this Uber Pool driver just picked up a random person and prioritized her drop-off ahead of his paying customer.

Have some standards, buddy!

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What Happened When My 4.2 Starred Rider Accused Me Of Battery And Refused To Exit My Car, or The Worst Possible Customer in the World

My rider had a 4.2 rating and I accepted the ride which turned out to be a mistake as I ended up calling 911

Before I accepted the ping

In the previous week I had 2 Line / Pool rides where the rider made a decision to not count their infant baby as a human. At those moments I exhibited a scarcity mentality (regarding rides), did not challenge the rider, and drove them to the arranged location.

On this day, I ended up in Evanston during a busy college tavern time and I was happy until my next Line/Pool ride took me out of Evanston and into the far north side. They were fine except it was 3 people, yet 2 people is the maximum in a Line/Pool. That act got under my skin. I scored them 3.0 stars and left a note in the app purposing my score.

Immediately after dropping them off at a tavern, I received a new ping.

Rating of 4.2 Stars

The next ping had a rating of 4.2 stars.  This is the lowest rating that I have ever seen and yet, I smirked and said to myself ‘this will be fun’ as I accepted the ping. (What a horrendous decision that was!!!)

It is difficult for me to stress to you how abysmally low a 4.2 star rating is, except to say that I don’t recall seeing anything lower than a 4.6 or a 4.7.

Allow me tell you, dear reader, I can easily tell the difference between a 4.9 and a 4.8 rated rider.  The gulf between the two is immense; a 4.7 will drop backhanded compliments and have insults sprinkled into conversation. 4.7‘s often lack standard socialization and conversational skills.

The app made a recommendation to me

My rider comes to the car with an infant carrier in tow.  She plunked the carrier in the middle of my back seat without securing it as she didn’t have a base to secure it (FYI: that’s illegal in Illinois).

When riders get into my vehicle on a Line/Pool ride, I need to select “1 passenger” or “2 passengers” so the app can correctly route me to more riders during the trip.  This is so the app understands how many people are in the vehicle and how many more people are eligible to be added.  I pressed “2 passengers” on the app, and the app responds with “the passenger must cancel the ride” or something to that affect.

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A metaphoric bomb exploded when I told her to cancel the ride

A metaphoric bomb exploded in my vehicle when I politely told her that she would need to cancel the ride as she and the baby are two people.

In less than 30 seconds she veered from loudly complaining that she shouldn’t be charged and blathering about how I was going to take her home to general incoherence.

So I cancelled the ride.

The bomb became nuclear when I told her to get out of my car as the ride was cancelled

I told her that she needed to get out of my car, and she outright refused!

What would you do if someone refused to get out of your vehicle?

“STOP HITTING ME!” “DON’T PULL ME OUT OF THE CAR!” “DON’T HIT MY BABY!” “YOU’RE HURTING ME!” “I’M PREGNANT! DON’T HURT ME OR MY BABY!” was all screamed toward me in a foreign accent.

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As the situation escalates, what do you do?

Fight, Flight, or Freeze?

I froze.

Its at this point that I realize that I am dealing with the worst type of an excuse for a human. The probability of me being arrested or spending the night in jail had increased to somewhere around 1 in 100. I hadn’t touched her or made a motion toward her.  I simply cancelled the ride and told her to exit my vehicle.

(As of this writing, I see that her ride would cost her about $7.00.)

My decision tree was limited at this point.

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The wretched human in my backseat then faux called 9-11 (I later figured this out based on context), and she complained to the ghost operator that I was beating her and her infant child. It was surreal.

She then called her husband and kept pushing her phone at me while shouting “TALK TO MY HUSBAND!”

Me: “Nah, I’m not talking to him.” [twice]

Why would I talk to someone who willfully married a mentally unfit sociopath? What helpful insight could that person provide to me during this nightmare?

Difficulties on the telephone; can you hear me now?

During her shouting episode, I tried calling the rideshare emergency help line. After waiting for 3 minutes to speak with someone, I hung up, and dialed 9-11 and exited my own vehicle. By the way, she was still screaming at me which made it nearly impossible to tell if the voice on the line was a live person or a recording, which necessitated me abandoning my property.

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I gave the 9-11 operator the wrong address and the dispatcher hollered at me as the address I gave her was not in Chicago. I asked a passerby for help, and he did give me the address and seemed mildly interested in assisting me. Because I was carrying on 2 conversations, and I determined that the 9-11 call was paramount, the passerby eventually moved along.

Make her ears bleed?

After the call to 9-11 I got back in the car only to be berated further.  I thought about what I could do to make sitting in my car an uncomfortable experience- the only thing that popped into my brain was turning on the Pantera Pandora channel and blaring it to uncomfortable levels.  Lucky for her, she had her infant in the vehicle, so this idea did not enter the implementation stage.

Chicago Police arrived!

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A Chicago Police cruiser pulled ahead of me relatively quickly.  After exiting my vehicle and flagging them down, the officer on the passenger side rolled down her window, and I explained the circumstances:

  1. I’m a rideshare driver
  2. I cancelled the ride
  3. She won’t get out of my car
  4. She falsely accused me of bludgeoning her and her infant
  5. I called 9-11

The Chicago police quickly consulted and questioned both me and the cancelled passenger. She says something about the $5.00 cancellation fee and both the officers look at me like I have her 5 dollar bill in my back pocket to hand right back to her.

Me: “That’s between her and the rideshare company.”

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The Police get both of our stories and confer with one another.

Dear reader, how should the Chicago Police handle this situation?

What’s the solution to this ridesharing dilemma?

The Chicago Police suggested to the passenger that they transport her and her infant in its infant car seat (without its base) to her destination in their CPD SUV. This was 100% what I was hoping for.

Yet she refused the officers’ solution and continued to refuse to exit my vehicle. Rather, she demanded that I, the rideshare driver (whom she outrageously and wrongfully alleged had committed violence against her AND her infant), drive them home. Seriously, WTF?!

Please diagnose her mental condition in the comment section below.

The male officer comes back to me and speaks under his breath about how she’s accused me of some serious stuff and that if I drive her, they’ll tail me and intervene should their assistance be warranted.  He followed up the solution with a final comment about not egging her on.

Me: “I just want this nightmare to end.”

I drove the mentally unstable sociopath passenger and her infant to their home. The Police followed, as promised. I turned Pandora off and said nothing on the 8 minute trip to her home. Somewhere in the middle of the ride she complained about the potholes I had run over. That’s indicative of why she’s a 4.2.

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I dropped the passenger off and she thanked me/someone (!). I never even looked in the rear-view mirror so I think its just as likely that she was talking to her invisible friend on the sidewalk.

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The Police debriefed me after I dropped her off and said that this type of work- rideshare driving- was a poor vocational choice on my part as there exist many illogical, impossible, manipulative, and unruly passengers, just like her.

More time wasted on the telephone

I drove to a nearby parking lot and called the rideshare emergency help line.  While on hold, I typed out a ‘help email’ to the rideshare company, because why not?  After being on hold for 9 minutes I talked to a representative for 20 minutes.

If its an emergency, shouldn’t you pick up within the first 3 rings?

During the call and in my ‘help email’, I listed out all the issues that I need addressed. Over 80 hours, and 4 followup emails later, and I have heard zero from the rideshare company.

My thoughts on the riders

That infant and the supposed embryo have a tough road ahead.  The genes they have inherited are deficient and their environment is a septic tank of awful manners, horrendous communication, and the worst of humanity.

Please leave a comment and mental diagnosis of the passenger described, in the comment section below: