Pancake dates, fruity conversations, and fireworks galore: Lyft passengers on 4th of July

“Make sure you secure your pets tonight Folks, because some of them might get scared!” the woman on the radio encourages in a sweetly concerned tone of voice, as I drive the crowded July 4th streets of San Francisco.

It’s cold out. One guy has his arms folded up inside his short-sleeved American flag shirt when I pick him up.

“To be honest I don’t really like beer. I’m more of a liquor guy. Beer fills you up too much, plus it tastes like ass,” he says once he’s inside the car.

“But don’t tell my friends that– it’s un-American.”

Minutes later he falls into a state of unconsciousness. I gently tap him with my water bottle to wake him up once the ride is over.

 After him, a car full of German passengers mostly speak their language. Every now and then though I hear the word “Lyft” or “Uber”(which leads me to  picture myself at a meeting with Lyft and Uber executives; “What are they saying about us?” one of them whispers, their hand cupping their mouth).  

“Low quality pic, high quality relationship,” says a gay male passenger in the backseat (early 20s) as he puts his arm around his girl friend. The two of them have stayed friends since elementary school. Both of them wear 4th of July crowns and have been taking selfies.

Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” comes onto the radio for the seventh time that night.


The Fruit Convo

Guy: “In elementary school we had a blackberry tree. I used to climb up it and just sit up there eating blackberries.”

 Girl: “Blackberries don’t grow on trees, they grow on bushes.” 

Guy: “Well we had a tree.” 

 Guy, a few seconds later: “Wait actually… it was like a bush hanging next to the tree. But we did climb up a tree to get to it!” 

The fruit conversations pauses as we stop at the light.

“That really is something isn’t it,” the guy says, of the fireworks bursting through the sky to our left.

Then talk resumes, still on the topic of fruit. But it pivots slightly from blackberries onto the genericness of apples and oranges.

Guy: “You know how in elementary school they give you apples and oranges as your snack? They never give you mangoes. So I just never get excited about oranges, I won’t go out of my way for one–I associate them with obligation. Mangos and pineapples though…”

Girl:  “Pineapples have an evil texture. They hurt my mouth.” 

 Guy: “They hurt everyone’s mouth, but to me they’re so worth it.”


# Road Thoughts

The big yellow truck in front of me does the inconsiderate thing that I refer to in my animal car comics as “the floaty duck thing.” This is when a car casually floats from his lane into yours without using his turn signal.

What gets me about this particular truck is his bumper sticker. It says in all cap black letters, “THANK YOU FOR DRIVING SAFELY.”

My immediate reaction is Excuse me, Sir, but how dare you.

I honk at the big yellow hypocritical truck. He probably had no idea why.


Passenger Stoked for Pancake Date

“I’m going on a date tomorrow night. I told her she could pick any restaurant, and she chose iHop. I’m like,  ‘That’s cool man, I like pancakes.’ I thought she was gonna pick some fancy Italian restaurant but she chose iHop and that’s totally fine.”

The 20-something man’s excitement permeates the car for the entirety of our ride back to his house in East Oakland. He also talks about his recent promotion at the car dealership he works for; his uncertainty as to whether he wants to do this work forever; and the need for our society to become “more Earth lovin’.”

 Right before he get out, he thanks me and says bye. I wish him luck on his date. He exclaims in response: “Pancakes! Yeah!!”


#Uber Eats Tales

I love it when Uber Eats customers understand the difficulty of finding parking in downtown SF. I also appreciate their recognition of the fact that double parking is illegal. These customers come meet you outside to retrieve their food.  

I still fondly remember the man dressed in the suit and tie who was waiting on the sidewalk right when I arrived with his food. 

“You got pizza in there? Cool! Thanks!” he exclaimed, grabbing it through the window before walking away.

 The swiftness of this encounter pleased me. Also— suave attire, Sir.

Not every passenger is as considerate as this man was. Take passenger *Cindy, who asked if I could bring her McDonalds up to the 14th floor of a modern South Beach apartment complex.

I could’ve said no. Or I could’ve been like, “I’ll bring your food up to you if you pay me a dollar for every floor I climb. How about that?

But I didn’t. Instead I obliged, so I’m partially responsible for this story I’m about to tell.

After leaving my ID with the man at the front desk, I accept into my hands the shiny silver elevator key that he offers me. Then I enter the elevator and press floor two. 

I’ve learned to embrace my utter lack of visual artistic ability. Some things are so bad they should be celebrated. Think The Room.

The elevator doesn’t move.

I press it again. Still it doesn’t move. 

I press it harder, and nothing happens. 

I click the “open door” button; the doors remain closed. 

Omg what is happening, I think. I keep pressing buttons, hoping that one of them will take. The elevator’s state of immobility continues.

Forecasting ahead to ten minutes from now: Would I get a ticket? Have I gotten one already by now? Probably, since I’m parked illegally, (this being South Beach, where parking’s about as easy to find as a vitamin in the meal I’m holding right now).

Jumping ahead to an hour later: If I screamed would anyone hear me? Would the doorman? If he did, did he like me enough to take action, rather than pretend that he had heard nothing?

…And ahead to three hours from now: Have I been parked long enough for them to double ticket me? Or was my car towed? When’s the last time I drank water? Is it possible for the smell of McDonalds, in an elevator without AC, to suffocate a person after enough minutes have passed?

Finally the elevator starts to move. Someone from the ninth floor has requested it. Thank Goodness.

Twenty minutes later, I return to my car.

Moral of this story: unless you plan to leave a generous tip, please descend from your cocoon to retrieve your food, customers. Especially if you live on the 22nd floor of a high-rise with a non-working elevator.

**And again, I could have also asked her to have done this.

Thanks for reading, and Happy 4th of July! 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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