Edible ocean plants, how Lyft drivers and soccer goalies are similar, and passengers talk environmental psychology

On the line-up for today: an endearing quote about seaweed, comparisons between drivers and goalies, passengers’ experiences with environmental psychology, and a dystopian dream involving themed self-driving cars and Donald Trump running for re-election in 2034.

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#Lyft Overheard

 “Do you eat that plant that lives underneath the water?”

— A guy with an accent to the girl passenger sharing the Lyft Line with him (who’s been talking about her Asian culture).

He’s referring to seaweed. I thought it was very cute.


#Lyft Thoughts: When Driving Lyft is like Tending Goals

When I was a kid watching the World Cup with my family, the goalie’s behavior during penalty kicks always baffled me.

The ball would pummel towards the left side of the net; the goalie would lunge to the right. I didn’t understand this.

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I wondered why he or she would sometimes leap in the direction that was completely opposite to where the ball was headed. 

My dad clarified for me that because the ball travels so fast, the goalie has to choose one direction or the other before the kicker has even begun to shoot.

“If he waited, it would already be too late. So he picks randomly,” he explained.

This made sense. I then imagined how stressful and scary it must feel for the goalie to be in charge of stopping a ball that’s coming at them so fast, with no way to predict its trajectory. A lot of it—maybe even all of it, actually—seems based on luck.

Approaching a sudden fork in the freeway when driving Lyft in new cities or unfamiliar areas brought up similar feelings in me as I imagine that penalty kicks bring up for goalies–in that choosing one road over the other requires quick, instinctual action over more deliberate and conscious thought.

Sometimes the freeway signs don’t coincide with Siri’s directions, so with little time to think rationally, I pick one randomly—and it’s not always the right one. Half the time I’m wrong.

Both the driver’s and the goalie’s predicament might end in relief (in the the goalie’s case, ball clutched against her chest, euphoric at the knowledge that she has just thwarted the other team from winning; in the Lyft driver’s, hands resting easy against the steering wheel, comforted by the awareness that she and her passenger remain successfully en route to their (correct) destination.

Or they might end in stress (goalie: “I just doomed my team;” Lyft driver: “My passenger and I are now on our way to Hayward.”)

Nowadays the image of a goalie diving to the wrong side of the soccer net remains imprinted in my mind whenever I find myself at a fork in the freeway, forced to pick a direction. The camaraderie I feel with goalies during [these] moments is one that I never would have anticipated, considering I lasted only one day as goalie for my own soccer team when I was a kid.

Virtual fist pump to Hope Solo, Kasey Keller, and Oliver Kahn. This Lyft driver over here sees you all. She feels your struggle.


#Lyft Overheard

Girl: “Do you have beer at your house?”

Guy: “I have friendship, are you into that at all?”


Bigger Passenger Story: Passenger Talks Environmental Psychology

“I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to get into interior design and wanting to become a therapist,” passenger Abby says, a few minutes after I pick her up in front of Cafe Cherubini ( https://bit.ly/3OyOn0p ).

“I’m super attentive to details and am constantly scanning my surroundings. Identifying what I like and what works, and also what I’d like to change. But then I’m also super curious about humans’ inner worlds. The things you can’t see. I didn’t even know there was a field that blended the two until I took an environmental psychology class.”

Like Abby, I too took an environmental class in college, after which I began paying attention to how environmental factors affect our mood and productivity, and how modifying it can be beneficial to our mental and physical health.

During the week following my ride with Abby, I asked passengers about their ideal environments. See below.


Q: What environment are you most productive in?

“I don’t understand how people can focus at cafes. I get distracted by all the noise. You overhear so many conversations, [you] can’t control the temperature of the room, [you] can’t really spread your stuff out…I just work in my office. I concentrate much better there.”

-Tommy, 26-year-old engineer

“Noise isn’t really an issue for me, but personal space is. I can’t feel too crowded in. Those communal tables that some places have don’t work for me. Like sharing a table with a stranger when they’re sitting right across from me, I just find super distracting.”

-Maya (passenger riding with Tommy)

“It doesn’t really matter where I am, as long as I have my music. I just go into my zone, and whatever else is happening around me becomes irrelevant.”

-Shayna, 23-year-old student

“If everyone around me looks like they’re doing cool, important things, it makes me want to get to work on cool, important things too” (on how cafes filled with young professionals and hard-working creative types encourage her to be more productive).



# Lyft Dream: Themed Cars

The year is 2032. Self-driving cars are now ubiquitous, although they still require the presence of a “back-up driver” in case of system malfunction. It’s unclear to me why I’m still driving for Lyft in the year 2032, especially given how much lower the salaries are than they were before. 

I discover that there is a way to earn more money as a driver in this era, though—and that is by thematizing your car. Passengers can request themes ranging from “Under the Sea” to “Vampires” to “the Sex Car” to “the Jungle Mobile.” 

Lyft Marketing invites them to:

“Pay to be transported in more ways than one—via the multi-sensory experience of a Lyft themed car!”

The jungle ones may have actual spider monkeys swinging from one passenger grab bar to another.

Sensation-seeking or masochistic riders may opt for the “Dystopian Future Car,” which smells like vomit and sewage and bares a sign with “Trump for Re-election in 2034” emblazoned in the passenger seat window (the democratic four-year presidential term limit in this world, we learn, has been eradicated). 

Inside my car, cob-webs are strung from the center light switch to each of the passenger windows. A fuzzy mechanical spider drops from the ceiling down onto my first passenger’s head as I welcome her to the haunted house car. After grumbling that a mistake has been made—she had requested the carnival car—the passenger gets out into oncoming traffic and rates me two stars.


*Follow us on IG @lyft_tales

Published by esteph42190

A 30-year-old queer bilingual writer born and raised in the Bay Area, I’ve been writing since before I knew how to spell. Balancing my generative energy with a desire to inform, as a child I printed and distributed to classmates publications that included The News Newsletter and Health Digest (ironic considering I also ran an illicit candy business that landed me in the principal’s office several times). As a student at UC Davis I wrote for The California Aggie, with pieces ranging from an exploration of gender roles in the movie Tangled to my own weekly psychology column. After graduating I kept a bilingual blog of my 14 months living in Montevideo, Uruguay, and upon returning continued to blog about social issues and human psychology.

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