Let me start by writing thank you, Dear Reader. Tonight you’ve made a very important decision. Thanks to this pandemic this might be your first night out in months. Maybe you’ve hung out with friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe you’ve spent so much time with your family that you needed a night on the town. Whatever your reasons, taking a ride share home while you’re intoxicated is the smartest thing you could’ve done for all of us.
Yes, rather than risk a DUI or killing someone else or yourself, you called for a ride. You called for my ride. Dear Reader you’ve been incredibly responsible tonight up to this point. And in the process you’ve kept our flimsy, house-of-cards economy going even in these rough times.
But we’re not out of the woods yet, Dear Reader. Because until I get you home and to the door, sigh, I’m your babysitter.
However, that doesn’t make me your best friend, and that doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to destroy my vehicle. While my foremost concern is our personal safety, I’m not doing this as a favor to you. I’m paid to do this. And as such I’m going to need you to be cool.
So I came up with a handy list of guidelines to keep us safe and to keep the police from pulling us over.
I. Please know where you are going and who you are supposed to ride with
“Good evening, Dear Reader! My name is James and I’ll be your driver tonight. Now, I have your name as Dear Reader, and I have your address as…”
I do this with every single ride. I cannot vouch for other drivers, however. But your app, be it Uber or Lyft, has a picture of me on it (when I weighed about 25 pounds less than I do now to be fair) as well as a description of my vehicle and the license plate number. Please take advantage of this information.
As I alluded to earlier, I verify the names of all of my passengers and upon entry, I verify the destination address. Again, I can’t vouch for other drivers here, but I’ve done it this way for five years.
In that time, and with over 3,000 rides, only twice has this system failed. Once in Tacony, Philadelphia, during an Eagles playoff game when a kid apparently forgot his own name and I had to kick him out, and another time, in Newport Delaware.
The Newport guy waited until after he was nice and toasty to decide on to call an Uber, and he chose his destination as another bar after the statewide last call.
So I picked him up and I had to play the just where in the hell do you live, anyway? game until we ended up at a 7-Eleven and I forced him out of my car. To this day it remains the only time I’ve used the 911 button in the Uber app, and that’s because if the guy was stumbling down Maryland Avenue. I didn’t want him to get hit by a car. I figured the police could at least help him not pass out in the street.
So please, I beg you Dear Reader, know where you’re going before I show up.
II. No Open Containers!!
Before you get in the back seat Dear Reader, I’m going to need you to ditch the beer or chug the cup. Do whatever you have to do because I can’t have an open container in my van.
Pennsylvania legal code dictates that neither a driver, nor passenger, can have an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle. (75 PA. C.S.A. 3809)
In your current state of mind I highly doubt that you care about that law. But I can be fined up to 500 dollars and sentenced to up to 90 days in jail. I highly doubt you’re going to pay my fine, or bail, Dear Reader. So please ditch the drink.
III. You Are Not Smarter than the GPS!!
Now that we’re on the road, I don’t need you to give me directions from the back seat in your current state of impairment. If we go back to the first commandment, and you put your destination in correctly, I can take it from here.
A global positioning system is by no means perfect, but its margin of error is very small, unlike yours.
If we’re heading southeast I won’t get there faster by suddenly driving northwest, as you’re now suggesting. Short cuts don’t work that way, as I would have to take a road that is bearing either south or east in order for said short cut to work.
The subsequent argument that you’re going to instigate won’t help us either, Dear Reader. I’m trying to concentrate on driving. And please, if I acquiesce to your demands and we end up driving an extra 20 minutes out of the way, please don’t give me one-star on the app because I didn’t follow directions.
IV. Don’t Eat in the Car
Now just where in the hell did you get a bag of tacos?!
Never mind Dear Reader, that’s not important. What is important is that I have to pick someone up right after I drop you off. If you spill shredded cheese or fire sauce all over the seat I can’t just pull over and clean it up. I have a quota, and I’m likely on a consecutive streak.
A consecutive streak means that by taking a certain amount of rides in a row, without logging off or canceling, I get a monetary bonus on top of what I was paid for the rides. These bonuses are what make driving ride share worth it along with surge pricing.
If I find anything in the back seat that constitutes a mess, I will contact Uber or Lyft to get a cleaning reimbursement. You will be the one who pays this reimbursement, by the way. I’ve rarely dealt with a mess in my car that I’ve let go of (once, as a matter of fact. If you’re wondering, it was a woman on her bike that got a flat tire and needed a seven-mile ride back to Fishtown, Philadelphia. She tipped.) and the odds are not in your favor that I’m going to let you leave that combo number eight all over my back bench.
The fee can range from as little as $20 dollars all the way up to $250. $250 is about nine-to-ten hours worth of work for me, so if you leave a mess in my back seat and I can take a day off by simply cleaning it up for an hour, I will. Even $20 dollars means I can take an hour off.
And these messes can include food, drink, cigarette ash, and other bodily fluids, one of which that I’ll cover farther down this list.
V. Please, Don’t Touch Me
I can’t believe I actually have to write this one for you, Dear Reader, but apparently it’s warranted.
While I’m driving, please don’t grab me in any way. For a lot of reasons this is a bad idea.
Human contact makes me physically sick for the most part. Also, I have my arm on the steering wheel in order to operate the car. When you suddenly pull at my arm, it causes me to jerk the wheel towards the right and can move us into the path of a car next to me, which could kill us.
You don’t want to kill us, do you?
It doesn’t stop at grabbing my arm. I don’t want a hug. I don’t want you to try and tap my genitals. These things are sexual harassment and the latter can technically be defined as sexual assault. I appreciate that you “love me”, as you just told me, but I’ve no interest in getting married. I already live with someone.
Furthermore, this rule also has to extend to my vehicle. I appreciate my Town and Country and I want all of my passengers to have a safe and comfortable trip. When you kick my seat repeatedly though, this affects my driving in a negative way.
I will take appropriate action here as well. Should you do any of these things to me during my ride, I will contact Uber or Lyft and have them take you off of their platform. Good luck getting to the bar next week.
VI. Please Notify Me That You’re About to Throw Up
Dear Reader, we’ve nearly reached your destination. Our time together is coming to an end.
Do you feel okay?
This is very important and goes back to a point I tried to drive home earlier, pun intended. See, I need to keep my back seat clean and my car smelling fresh in order to earn money tonight.
You throwing up could ruin that.
I can’t simply tell you not to throw up. Your stomach is going to do what it wants to do. But what I can do is try and walk you through this process so it goes as smoothly for us as it possibly can.
Other drivers, if you’re reading this, take note.
Dear Reader, if you’re about to throw up, or even if you feel queasy, I need to know asap! This way I can present you with a few options.
- I can pull over and open the door, and you can honk right on the shoulder.
- I can help you out of the car so that you can have some privacy and maybe get a little fresh air. Don’t worry, my meter is still running in the app and I’m still making cash. It’s really not much effort.
- Here’s a clean garbage bag. As Garth Algar once said, “If you’re going to spew, spew in this.”
I can’t make your stomach do what you want it to do, Dear Reader. But I can make this experience better for both of us.
VII. Make sure you have all of your stuff as you exit the vehicle!!
Okay, we made it. The ride is over! It’s time for us to move on from one another.
But can you please make sure that you have all of your stuff?
I’m doing you a favor this time. I’m not likely to check the back of my car when I drive off. I want to get as far away from you as possible. I’m likely to just spray sanitizer in the back, find a dumpster for the barf bag, and take my next ride.
You, a full-grown adult with a credit card, need to understand personal responsibility for your own property. I don’t care how drunk you are.
If you left your phone or your keys or any other belongings in my back seat, and you contact me the next day through the app, I’m likely to not find your item. This is because another one of my passengers found it and failed to turn it into me. I don’t have much control over them, either. Bless their hearts.
If by some miracle I do find your item, it doesn’t get much better for you. See, I get a $25 dollar fee to bring it back to you, and I have the right to bring it back to you when I am able to on my own schedule. The two companies had to implement these policies because for a while, we weren’t paid anything to give you your stuff back, so we simply didn’t give you your stuff back.
And if it’s something small, like a key? I highly doubt that I will find it, and honestly, I’m not going to look very hard.
I know you don’t want to pay that fee just so I can throw your purse on your porch and drive off, right? So make sure you have everything when you leave my vehicle.
That’s everything, Dear Reader! Seven simple rules to make your night out a perfect one, and our ride together as pleasant as possible. I hope that in reading this now, you can instill these little tips into your mind so that the next time you do go out and party, they’ll be second nature to you. And your ratings will go up and you won’t lose any additional money in lost item or mess fees! Best yet, you’ll get to keep using the service, and you’ll keep our economy going.
Until Again, Dear Reader,