Lyft Diaries

Driving with Lyft has definitely been an experience in human stories. It’s interesting just how diverse people’s lives are and what’s going on. It’s kind of like photography. People pop into your life, often share quite a bit of personal information, and then disappear, never to be seen again. It’s a vivid snapshot of another viewpoint on life. Or sometimes just a silent presence in the back seat. Or sometimes a mostly silent yet seemingly sullen and bossy presence. I swear, one of my passengers was Stannis Baratheon reborn as a young black woman.

I had two interesting passengers last night on the Gastonia late shift. The first was a woman who needed a ride out as well as an instant pick-up. We’ll call her Jane. Once we’d established that the app schedules drivers based on proximity, and that I’d be immediately assigned to her, we went on our way.

Jane explained that she was on her way to pick up a new phone. I assumed she’d bought it from a friend or on Craigslist. Not at all – it turned out someone was GIVING her an iphone because they liked her pictures that much. Jane had a strong social media presence and told me how guys would comment on her images regularly. Nothing naked, even, just sexy. And as she’d update her page, sometimes she’d talk about problems she was having and how guys would be willing to gift her money at times to help out. And it slowly grew from there.

We arrived at the house – a farmhouse in rural Bessemer City. It was dark and completely still, with only my headlights illuminating the porch. Jane explained that she told him she’d be sending a friend to pick up the phone so better to turn off the headlights. With that she went forth into the dark. I was in a bit of disbelief and half expected someone to burst forth from the door and snatch her but she got her phone and walked back to the car. Sure enough, it was a new iphone 7 and when turned on it displayed the “Hello” in grey and black any Apple user would recognize. After glancing at my beat-up iphone 5, my response: “I’m in the wrong business.”

Jane works as a “dancer” at a club here in Gastonia. While she went in thinking it was genuinely dancing, she quickly realized that she’d be working a stripper and that she was good at it. “We have private executive rooms that go for $800; the club pockets $50 and I get the rest,” she explained. “But I won’t have sex with a guy. That’s a line I won’t cross – I know how dirty the girls who do are and I wouldn’t touch a guy who would have sex with strippers.”

She explained how that service runs from $2000-$4000 for 15 minutes where the guys can do whatever they want. “The money’s so good, it’s hard to turn down but that’s one thing I won’t do,” she said.

We talked for quite a while about her personal life and how to spot creeps. When we arrived back to her place she gave me a nice tip and then we went our separate ways. I got to have a quasi-adventure and it was one of the best rides I’d had in a while.

The second most interesting ride last night was some sports fans returning from a party. Three of them – the ride had originally been for two but the third didn’t want to wait for his scheduled Lyft to arrive in 30 minutes so I got paid $10 in cash to take his son home on a slight detour. It was fun listening to them simply because their accent was so Carolina. The Appalachia was strong with them, especially after the alcohol had been touched.

After dropping off the son of the first man the second man in the car started telling me about his daughter, who seemed to be one of the most gifted people ever born. No doubt every man thinks of his daughter like that. But she was a musician, spoke several languages, got her degree, and a list of other things that clearly made him proud.

Eventually it came out that she was working in China as an English teacher with Disney English. Funnily enough, I’d been in the exact same program for a year back in 2013. As soon as said as much he told me to tell him all about it – since his divorce to his wife his daughter hasn’t wanted to see him at all and they haven’t spoken in years. I explained what I could about the program in that short amount of time before we came to the end of the ride.

At the end, he asked how much he owed me and I explained that the app takes care of payment automatically. After which he fished around in his pocket and took out a $10 and handed it to me. Shaking my hand, he said “thank you, you made my night. I’m glad I got to hear a bit more about what she was doing, thank you.”

I got home at around 1:20 and hit the hay. Or rather, my yoga mat. I need to figure out whether I want to buy an air mattress or an actual bed and how much I want to invest into my current living situation.

I have plans. Always.

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  1. This is such an awesome look at several slices of life and I love it. I love that it’s both your story – these are the things that you learn doing something most people don’t do – and a look into other lives that are so different too.

    Please write more words. You put them together so fantastically. ❤

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