Uber Chronicles: “One Star Day”
The best part of driving Uber in SOCAL are the scenic views. I see the mountains and the ocean almost everyday and most of the time the passengers are nice and things go smoothly. The worst part of driving Uber can be summed up in four letters: p-o-o-l. Pool for some folks, is their only way to get around affordably but many Pool riders are just cheap bastards who have no sense of manners as it relates to me or their fellow riders. In 2017, jamming up to four total strangers in a small car in LA traffic, what could possibly go wrong? Saturday was a “One Star Day”. It didn't start that way, I picked up a nice couple from Greece at LAX to start the day and dropped them at the Mr. C Hotel in Beverly Hills and then picked them up again about an hour later which never happens. I rarely give out anything less than a five star rating to my passengers but yesterday I gave out three one star ratings. A banner day.
“Sophia”: I had just dropped of at Dolce Gabana on Rodeo Drive, a young woman dressed in either a neglige (sp?) or a dress or a combination of both, pretty sure she worked at the store when I get a pool request for Cresent a few blocks away. Most of the time a pool request in Beverly Hills means I am picking up someone getting off work and they are headed home outside of Beverly Hills but occasionally I get those rude, cheap bastards, I mentioned and it turns out Sophia on Cresent was a classic pool rider. I pulled up to a very nice condo or apartment building, Cresent is definitely a very high rent district. For my junket friends, it's about 5 minutes away from The Four Seasons on the edge of downtown Beverly Hills. A young woman dressed to kill at 5:40 PM hops in the car:
Me: Hi Sophia?
Me: Marlo Custom Dry Cleaning, 2336 Pico Blvd?
Sophia: Yeah, is the AC on?
Me: Yes, do you want it warmer or cooler? (I always ask it that way because everyone has different meanings for turn the AC up or down.)
Sophia: I am cold.
Now in this short conversation I find that Sophia, who's outfit probably cost more than I make in several months driving Uber, has one of the most whinny and annoying voices you will ever hear. If Sophia were to say, “I just won the Super Lotto.”, in her voice it would come off sounding like, “I just stepped in a huge pile of dog shit.” Fortunately I am getting the vibe that Sophia won't be talking to me at all, thank God for small favors. We head out to Marlo Custom Dry Cleaning a good forty five minutes away from Beverly Hills, almost Downtown. After about ten minutes I get another pickup request to join the pool ride at the Farmers Market or The Grove, that passengers name is Anna. Shortly after I head in Anna's direction Sophia takes the first of four phone calls, all from different men, on our trek to Marlo's Custom Dry Cleaning.
Sophia: Hi, oh hey... Yeah... Yeah... Is this Mike? (remember that name) Oh... Who is this? Who?Oh... Hey... What are you doing.... I am going to pick up my Laundry... I am in a Uber... yeah... yeah... What are you doing? You want to get together later... yeah... yeah... yeah.... So what are you doing now.... I am in Beverly Hills. Seven? OK... I will text you my address....
( call number two)
Oh hey... Yeah I am in a Uber I going to pick up my dry cleaning. Yeah I don't know how to do laundry you know? My stuff is so delicate it has to be dry cleaned.... Yeah... What are you doing?
No I am not bar tending anymore... No I don't need any money... No I am OK... My Mom is sending me Money I am OK. Do you ever go out? You never invite me? What are you doing? OK I will talk to you later...
After some searching to find exactly where Anna is around the Grove/Farmers Market, including a quick call from me, I spot Anna with a small child, I assume her daughter, and of course no booster seat. That drives me nuts. Do I just say, “hey forget it”, and leave her and her kid by the side of the road or do what I usually do, which is pick them up, drive extra careful and hope a cycle cop doesn't pull up next to me and give me a fat ticket. Anna will get one star. Back to Sophia, phone call number three and remember all these calls are in that “voice” I mentioned earlier. Oh I will say that I formed a first impression about who Sophia is and what she does based on just that first pick up chit chat, more on that later. Gentleman caller number three:
Sophia: Hey... yeah... yeah... What are you doing? Yeah... I don't know what his problem is... Yeah... Yeah... That's his shit you know? I mean what the fuck is his problem anyway?
Me: Excuse me? (we are at a light so I turn around and look at Sophia) We have a little girl in the car do you mind?
Sophia: (No reaction.) Oh... Yeah I am in a Uber.... I am going to pick up my dry cleaning.
OK I think Sophia is not going to pick up her dry cleaning or laundry because who the hell takes their dry cleaning or laundry about forty five minutes away from where they live? Shit, it's dawning on me that she really has no clue where she is going and when we get there she is going to realize she is not any where near where she wanted to go and it will have taken her almost an hour to figure that out and I am going to have to deal with her then. Remember I read her the name of the business and the address to confirm where she was headed and also, if you don't use Uber, the passenger enters the location not me but I always confirm it. If this wasn't a pool ride I could just head to the right location but this is the dreaded pool so it's not just about Sophia but I think in her mind it is always about Sophia.
Phone call number four:
Sophia: Oh hey... Hi Mike... (Mike surfaces) I am on my way... I don't know, I will be there soon but I don't know if I am going to the right place... You said Marlo's Dry Cleaning right? Yeah... Yeah... on Pico? Right... In Beverly Hills? (there it is...) I don't know I put in the place you told me.... Hey where are we? (addressed to me I assume.)
Me: Almost downtown...
Sophia: He says we are downtown.... yeah... yeah... Pico and what? (she mentions some cross street.) Are we close to that cross street?
Me: I don't know.
Sophia: He says he doesn't know... Yeah... Yeah... I told him that when he picked me up.
Me: No you didn't, we are going to the address I read to you, don't hang this on me. (people who enter the wrong info for their rides sometimes try to hang it on the driver. I always find that funny considering I didn't enter anything into the system. Garbage in...)
Me: OK so you have a choice. You can stay in the car until I drop of Anna, then I will drive you back to Beverly Hills, or you can hop out at your destination and call another Uber from there. (Sophia is not listening to me at all, there's a shock. Now I am getting a notice to pick up yet another rider between where we are now and Anna's near the USC campus, Anna is heading to south of USC on Fig.)
Sophia: Hey can you talk to him on the phone or something? ( this is to me and she means talk to Mike.)
Me: No. I have to pick someone else up. You can get out at your destination.
Sophia: He says no... He says he has to pick someone else up. Yeah I told him that... The cross street yeah... (by the way I googled it there is only one Marlo's Custom Dry Cleaning and we are about a minute away. Picking up her laundry? Her dry cleaning? Right... No she was supposed meet Mike for a date at his dry cleaning business in Beverly Hills about an hour ago and then back to her place by seven to meet caller number one. Guess that's not happening.)
Sophia: Can you just let me out here?
Me: Sure. (Oh sweet Jesus, thank you, get the hell out of my car now.)
Sophia is dumped in Little El Salvador a neighborhood she has probably never been to in her life. Sophia gets one star. The rest of the ride goes without any hitches.
My third one star ride of the day happens about 1 AM in Long Beach. I pull up in front of a bar on the South Side of Long Beach.
“Jamie”: I see to guys out front. Before the car even stops one guy is jerking on the front passenger door. The front seat is the last seat I let anyone sit in for two reasons, one, I can see better while I am driving and two, if they are an annoying asshole at least they aren't right next to me. I have the seat all the way up so there is tons of room even in my little car in the back for two. Once I hit park the doors unlock, the person jerking on the door handle bounds into the front seat, or tries to, but there is no room so he slams the seat back and plops his ass down on the stuff I have sitting on the seat.
Jamie: Yeah... ( the dude in the front. That could mean he's Jamie or the other guy he's with is Jamie. Front seat Dude is totally fucked up.)
Guy in the back: Hey how's it going? (seems totally sober.)
Me: (to the guy in the back) Is he going to throw up in my car? Seriously?
Guy in the back: No he's fine. Dude chill out... (not to me, to the guy in the front who I think is Jamie.)
Jamie: (trying his best to act sober) I am fine. Really. How's your night going?
Fortunately it's a short drive to Jamie's, my last ride of the night. I have hit my bonus for the weekend in one very long day so Sunday is a day off. Jamie asks me questions about driving Uber keeping up the sober act. As we approach Jamie's drop off, before the car is stopped, Jamie unbuckles his seat belt and throws open his door almost hitting a street sign.
Me: Whoa don't do that...
Guy in the back: Dude what the fuck?
Jamie is bounding from the car just as it comes to a stop and runs off into the night.
Me: You're not Jamie right?
Dude in back: No why? You want me to tell him something?
Me: No it's all good. (Yeah tell him he's a fucking asshole and I never want him in my car again. I was just making sure that I wasn't giving back seat Dude a one star. He didn't deserve it.) So I head home about a 30 minute drive and pull up in time to see a police chopper circling over I assume the 5 freeway with it's PA on:
Cops in Chopper: This is the police!!! Exit your vehicle... Lay down... face down.... on the ground...
spread your arms out to the side...
LA gotta love it... So endth a one star day....