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

pexels-photo-54278

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.

plug-round-electricity-power

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)

pexels-photo-290657
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.

pexels-photo-256621
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.

pexels-photo-259098

“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.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
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?

pexels-photo-271265
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

My 5:30a.m. Monday morning ride was unusually exciting: crotch punches and presumably nightclub PEDs by a couple that had not slept yet

My most exciting Monday morning ride included crotch punches!

Monday mornings are often a drag

Starting the day driving rideshare super-early can be a drag, or it can be invigorating, it’s what one makes of it.  After doing a rather quick carpool, I was in downtown Chicago, with no traffic, no weather, and morning-person energy.

My West Loop riders were not airport bound (Yes!)

pexels-photo-40077

My next ping (5:30a.m.) took me to the West Loop where I patiently waited for my rider.  Having noticed that this was not a trip to either O’Hare (ORD) or Midway (MDW), a smile washed across my face.

My riders were not done partying yet

musician-rockstar-band-music-37862

The riders were presumably boyfriend and girlfriend, were dressed for the clubs and were clearly not done partying yet.  Both were intoxicated, the female rider a bit more intoxicated than her male companion.  They whispered to each other a few times, something about sex was muttered and then a quick discussion about their mutual distaste for the newly opened Concrete Cowboy Bar.

Being extremely familiar with the Chicago foodie culture, dance clubs, and miscellaneous attractions in downtown Chicago, I injected myself into the conversation, and stated, “But it has a Late Hour license, right?”- trying to ferret out at least one positive trait about the new tavern.  While they did agree- they and I knew that there were several other Late Hour licenses (that are better) within walking distance of the Concrete Cowboy Bar.

CROTCH PUNCHING

night-78924

I used that Late Hour license bit of interaction to segway into a probing conversation:

Driver: “Where were you guys hanging out tonight?”

Woman: “We didn’t sleep, sex? We didn’t have sex.”

couple-love-bedroom-kissing

Man: [inaudible comments]

Woman: “No, we didn’t have sex, we tried to sleep.”

Man: [inaudible comments] “Sex.”

***Woman lifts fist into the air and quickly slams fist into man’s genitalia***

Driver: “That’s true love right there.” [sarcasm intended]

**Woman pauses, lifts fist into air, slams fist into man’s genitalia five (5) consecutive times**

Man: “Do it again, you know I like it. Felt good.”

*Woman, lifts fist into the air, raining down hammer-fist-punches to her boyfriend’s genitalia five (5) more consecutive times*

The woman put everything she had into those crotch punches.  The full force of a 130 pound woman slamming her closed fists into her boyfriend’s junk could have been mood altering for the man, but he was unphased.

Did she miss the target?  I am certain some of the punches were off-target, and had she wiffed on all of those hammer-fists, her boyfriend would have told her as much.

Our friends are in from Los Angeles, let’s party!

pexels-photo-143654

They continued to tell me that they had friends in from Los Angeles and that they were going to continue to party with them.  Without asking about alcohol, I was sure I knew what they implied.

winter-snow-nature-60561

When we arrived at their Humboldt Park destination, I gave them brief directions to the residential staircase.

Thanks for the best posssible Monday morning ride a rideshare driver could hope for! Maybe next time we can draft more people into a one-sided game of Roshambo.

Anxious, scared, and on edge while waiting for a passenger

The only ride request to date where I was overly anxious about picking up my rider

On Friday, October 21, 2016 a Lyft driver was shot multiple times during a robbery on Chicago’s west side. From the article:

About 7 p.m. Friday, a 23-year-old man was shot in the 5000 block of West Monroe Street in the Austin neighborhood, a police spokesman said. The victim was a Lyft driver who was shot as many as four times, including at least once in the stomach, a source said.

The man was in a vehicle and stopped when someone on foot approached and announced a robbery before firing shots and fleeing. The victim was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where his condition was stabilized.

Think about that for a second.

Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds, it is completely ridiculous, and it borders on malpractice by a criminal. Rideshare drivers have no need to carry cash or anything of value.  I might have as much as $2.63 in change scattered throughout my vehicle, and not in one easily accessible location. Did this clown-criminal think he was going to swipe the Lyft driver’s phone so the police could track him down and arrest him?

The clown-criminal could engage in almost any other criminal conduct and come out better than robbing a rideshare driver. Robbing a panhandler begging for change on the interstate off-ramps would offer a better ROI.

banksy-keep-your-coins-i-want-change

That Sunday, which was October 24, 2016, I had accepted a pickup that was on the 4900 block of West Monroe Street, a block away from the ominous location of the attempted robbery.  This was after midnight and I had full knowledge of the shooting that occurred only a couple of days prior.

I began to feel extremely anxious and employed the following atypical behavior:

  • Locked the doors
  • Parked in the middle of the street, so I could watch my mirrors, and where I was being approached
  • Turned off my music, so that I would be more aware
  • Kept the manual transmission in 1st gear, with the clutch engaged, to take off quickly should I have needed to activate my “flight response”

As the minutes passed, and the longer that I waited, the more anxious I became. It got to the point where I was sure that I waited the requisite 5 minutes, heck it was probably 10 minutes!  I hit “rider no-show”, effectively cancelling the ride request and scurried away as quickly as I could.

Just as I turned off West Monroe Street, I received a second ping from the same person at the same address.  Nah, F*CK THAT (I thought). After denying the ride I turned the rideshare app completely off until I had escaped the immediate vicinity of the ping.

After a series of emails, I found out that I did not wait the requisite 5 minutes at 4900 West Monroe Street and that the rideshare company was not going to compensate me for lost time- I even inquired about hazard pay while forwarding the article, which was not acknowledged in the rideshare company’s final email response back to me. Asking for hazard pay was a ‘shot in the dark’ as rideshare customer service is a gravity well where only a tiny bit of useful information successfully escapes.

pia20051-nustarsolo

Peering back, the whole episode was odd.  I don’t regularly read the police blotters. The feeling of anxiousness is usually a dull emotion within me; I can’t recall feeling that emotion with that level of intensity. And I have lived in the same Austin neighborhood for over 10 years, so I had something in common with the would-be passenger.

Please leave a comment below of something that unexpectedly made you anxious.

 

 

 

Rideshare Pilfered $3.88, Then Gave It Back, With A Bonus

After completing 1,000 rides, I’ve noticed only 2-3% of them are permanently memorable, and all the others have an memory expiration date of 1-3 weeks. Below is a memorable ride for 2 different reasons.

Drove to the pickup location: Erie Cafe. Dude opens the door, he bought the ride, and tells me “She’s all your now!” Woman gets in the car, we are going for a quick jaunt to the Gold Coast and then I’ll go hunt for another fare from there.

As an aside, easily 10-20% of my rides are purchased by someone other than the actual rider. Routinely, a male purchases a ride for a female.

Trying to start a conversation with passengers is not always met with enthusiastic open discussion. In this case, I noticed she was fucking annihilated. When she talked she tried to breathe in to prevent the smell of alcohol permeating my vehicle and only spoke a word or two at any time.

She did end up telling me that she was at the Erie Cafe for after work drinks and sucked down too many whisky shots.

Perhaps 2 blocks from her home, she requests that she get out of the vehicle. I did what I could and she successfully got out of my vehicle at the 100-150 block of W Division St.

I threw on my hazards, and got out of the vehicle to check on her. She had vomited all over the front of her black mini-skirt, mostly beer suds and froth, no visible chunks. Thankfully for her, nothing on her cream colored high heels. I asked how I could help, and she wanted napkins. I handed her a half dozen sheets of paper towel from my rideshare bugout bag and she was thankful.

Image result for bugoutbag
Not actual rideshare bugout bag

Back in the car, I proceed to give her a pep talk after she wanted to end the ride and walk. I told her “We are in this together, we are a team. We are going to get you home, the doorman is going to get you into your condo, and everything is going to be fine. We only have 2 more blocks to go!”

Minutes later, I unceremoniously saw her to the door, and the doorman handled the rest.

Later I see that the requester was charged $5.00 for the ride of which my take was $3.88…

…Five weeks later my payment statement from the rideshare company lists a debit of $3.88. Curious, I check what I was being docked for, I realized that I remembered this ride, VIVIDLY. The rideshare company had removed the payment from one of my most memorable rides.

I then kicked-off what turned out to be an infuriating 3-hour email battle with rideshare customer service reps. They stated, quite emphatically, that I gave a ride to the wrong passenger, and that the requester did not take the ride. The second part was technically true. Nonetheless, everything on this fare was compliant.  The requester probably just looked at his rideshare statement a month after he got blackout drunk at the Erie Cafe. How would you communicate this situation, your rage, and your sarcasm via email to a customer service representative, who’s primary language is not English?

After several ridiculous replies from customer service representatives, I reached a sympathetic person at the rideshare company that thanked me for my professionalism with the female passenger. She reapportioned me $3.88 for the ride, and re-reviewed the ride, thereby rewarding me with an additional $0.50 for something she didn’t identify.

That ride and that passenger will never be forgotten.

What is $5.00 worth to you?  Please leave a comment below.