Confessions of a Lyft Driver: Part I

I took off my Lyft superhero cape when I came home at 2:30 one morning. It has been a long time since I’ve come home at 2:30 in the morning. At 52, it’s not necessary, unless it’s some type of emergency (God forbid), or I was with family during one of the get-togethers.

No. This time, it was different, and I felt like a superhero.

Last November, it was a big night around the University of Arizona and downtown Tucson. It was the homecoming for the U of A alumni (and although I am an alumnus, I did not get to participate in all the lavish festivities for the alumni…I was working), and for the students, it was a chance to celebrate Halloween too. Lyft gives hints to drivers what time to get out there to drive people around. Earlier, I drove a few people to their destinations, came home, and I went back out into the jungle around 4:00.

The U of A was a massive mess! The U of A mall (and for those of you who are not privy to the university set up, the mall is not a set of stores…it’s a sprawling lawn separating the various buildings on the campus) was as crowded as an NFL football game’s parking lot! The red and blue tents, people wearing red and blue, RVs, coolers full of beer was the decor of the day!

And then, you have University Boulevard (on the other side of the campus) are bars full of U of A students! The students don’t tailgate. “The old people tailgate,” said one student as we passed by the tailgating on Campbell Avenue. “Students don’t tailgate?” I asked. “No. That’s for the older people.”

I laughed.

However, my superhero night began later in the night.

On University Boulevard, the crowd of students was amazing! I use that word amazing because students were lined up to go to bars such as Gentle Ben’s, Illegal Pete’s, and Frog and Firkin (by the way, my good friend owns Frog and Firkin). Girls were scantily clad in the shortest shorts possible, shirts showing their midriff and hanging off of their shoulders. The guys were wearing shorts with flip-flops and regular t-shirts. Most of them had the glow of their Smartphones reflecting on their faces.

I parked my car off to the side and waited. Sooner than I thought, I began to get notifications to pick up students.

One young man told me that he had been out since two in the afternoon (it was about 6:00 at this time), and he had no intention of drinking, but he did.

“I just want to go home and sleep,” he told me.

“Well, I will take you home, safely,” I told him. He smiled.

During our drive, I learned that he is a junior and his major is Chemical Engineering.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with that,” he said. “I have no idea.”

“You’ll find out,” I said to him.

“Yeah, I know what I want to do, but I just need the backing.”

I don’t quite remember what he wanted to invent something, but I encouraged him. I dropped him home and he thanked me.

The next ride was an eye-opener. I picked up a couple who were at a house party and needed to go their campus housing. The guy was completely out of it, but the girl was friendly. They were both drunk, so I kept the small talk to a minimum.  However, their conversation was atypical of college students. She wanted him to wait for her to change, but he wanted to go hang out with his frat brothers. She was upset because she asked him for this one favor. He refused. He wanted to go snort some cocaine with his buddies, and then he said: “I’ll come back and get you and we’ll go to…”

I was stuck on the “cocaine.”

He admitted freely that he wanted to sniff some cocaine! It was like saying “First, I’m going to go drink some water, and I’ll get you later.”

Wow! Cocaine. Our future, people. I dropped them off at a campus housing called “The Hub,” which I learned from other students later on that night that it costs $11,000.00 to live in!

I picked up another couple who were friendly and reeked of weed! They were young, funny, and bantered back and forth about how he got to pee and she didn’t.  That ride was simple and I’m glad…I drove back to the U of A with my windows down!

The next ride was a couple and their friend. The couple was married – the woman proceeded to tell me that they have a young child at home and they never get to go out. The guy had his window down in the back seat, and the wife went on about she had a good time and her friend kept assuring her that she needed to get out and have fun. While they were conversing with different people, I kept my eye on the husband in the back seat. His head kept bobbing…his eyes were closed too.  As soon as we got to their destination, he puked. Not in my car, but outside with the door closed. His wife opened the door and he proceeded to roll out on the ground. She profusely apologized (and of course, it comes with the territory that if you drive at night, you’re bound to get a drunk person who might puke). Anyway, I left and went to a gas station to rinse off the “puke.”

The next pick up was not at the U of A. It was at the Bashful Bandit. The Bashful Bandit is a motorcycle bar and as I drove I began to pray that it was going to be OK. The pick up was a young lady. She opened the car door and sweetly asked, “Is this Lyft?” I said yes.  She whispered, “Oh thank God” and then began crying.

I drove away from the parking lot and I asked her was everything ok. She said it was a terrible night, with tears. She explained to me how she went out with friends and they left her to her own device.  I took her home, which was in the Catalina Foothills, miles and miles away from where I picked her up.

In between that time and now I have not driven for Lyft. I am a bit apprehensive after a young man I picked up one night offered to [blank] me. I was a little afraid, but he was drunk and I dropped him off at a student housing complex. As I drove away, I began to think about was this worth it. I am trying to be of service to people who need rides, whether they can’t drive or are too intoxicated to drive. Most people have been very nice and the rides were routine, but then I began to think about the dark side of the job. The money is made at night. I’m a teacher, therefore, Monday through Friday during the day is out for driving for Lyft. It leaves me the weekends to do most of my driving to make enough money to make it worth my while. I am also risking the life of my car, the wear, and tear, and not to mention the insurance issues if there ever was an accident.

So…right now…I still have my Lyft stickers on my windshield and back window. They send me texts to please update my registration with them so I can get back on the road. I’ve gotten great reviews from passengers, but I don’t think I can do it anymore. Unfortunately, I don’t think Ducey will follow through with giving teachers more money anytime soon.

If you’re looking for a job, and you have a good running, newer model vehicle, I’d  recommend Lyft. It is a good company and they do pay very well, plus the tips you receive from customers are great. If you’re a night owl, with great communication skills and you’re not afraid to talk to people, Lyft will give you that lift towards a purpose.

 

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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