It was New Year’s Eve. The dawn of 2017. I had been behind the wheel of my Ford Explorer since 6pm. This was the big push. The night to make the millions. I had already dashed back and forth across town — that’s a vague term — THE GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA — in an effort to capitalize on both fares and tips from passengers in the spirit of giving.
I somehow wound up way, way out of LA, after a big group drop-off in Agoura Hills. Heading back south, another request came through, from the opposite direction. As a driver, you wonder how long till you get the next request, especially if you’ve developed a competitive attitude with the job. I decided to take my chances. I took the next exit, flipped around, and headed north.
Upon arriving at a strange pickup location — a chain of large buildings for a party venue service — I waited…and waited…and called…and waited…and called again, wondering if I had made a huge mistake. In the past, I had several no-shows in the middle of the night, calling to ask when I would arrive, then not even coming to their door or answering my return calls. You never know. This time felt no different.
But the couple emerged, finally, after I was nearly ready to speed off. They saw me and approached drunkenly. Then I thought: Oh, great. Puke in the car. Puke in a lease, actually. They reached the side of my door:
“Hey man, were you lost?”
“No, no, it’s just a weird location. Couldn’t seem to figure out which building you were at, despite the GPS saying they’re all the same.”
They laughed as they piled into the backseat. They were drunk. They were happy. But they weren’t mad. At all.
We headed onto the road, after a few stoplights, but soon the wife spoke loudly and quickly:
“How would you like a burger?”
I thought it was to her husband. I didn’t answer. She laughed and repeated the question, leaning to my ear. I looked in the rearview mirror, thought for a second, then:
“That sounds great.”
“Done! Take us to Jack in the Box!”
Fifteen minutes later, we were eating in the car, both of them munching on their burgers, while I sipped a Coke and devoured a large fries. The car smelled like a Jack in the Box. I smiled and turned to them:
“Where to now?”
They laughed and told me that home would be nice. I flipped on the GPS and we headed on our way. After twenty minutes, I reached their address. The guy reached forward with his hand outstretched to shake mine:
“Thanks for chilling with us. It’s gonna be a good new year.”
They exited and continued to stumble up to their front door. I watched them leave then checked the time. 1:30am. The Lyft app dinged. I swiped it.
The tip was $100.00. So was the fare.