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It’s rare that I have nights like this. It’s one of the reasons I love driving for both Uber and Lyft. Some nights used to involve much sitting in a parking lot, but I ain’t ‘bout that life, thanks.

Tonight though, I’ve been driving around for almost 3 hours, and not a single ride. After over an hour, I finally get a ping from Uber, 10 miles away as the crow flies. Usually, a ping that far away means two things: there are no cars in the area and it’s typically a short trip.

Which is ok, short trips happen; but at this point, Uber is taking more than 40% of what a customer pays on short trips. I have a floor in terms of hourly earnings, and I’m in the negative to the tune of $20 already. Earning what… $0.25 cents a loaded mile ($1.25 on average when I started, then $1, now $0.75 per our contract) is not the direction I was hoping to head in, and I have limited hours before the end of the pay period to resuscitate both my paycheck, and my evening.

I log out for 5 minutes and log back in again. Pinged to the exact.same.location. Again. Still no surge. Odd. Sorry, Uber, can’t risk it. Before I can even get my finger to the screen, I’m getting pinged there again. Oy, seriously? Time to reboot for the third time tonight my (t)rusty iPhone (Release Date is almost here! Release Date is almost here! goes the mantra in my head) and give Lyft a try. I’m done with Uber tonight.

The area I’m getting pinged to is a local concert venue with notoriously bad traffic. If I’m getting pinged down there, almost 20 minutes away, the traffic is going to be bad. Even if I’m in the area it means an hour in and out; risking a ticket, or an angry cop waving me on while I try and figure out where in this teeming sea of humanity my specific passenger is. Heart rate rising with every hand on my door handle, and sinking with every wrong name. I drive around for another hour, checking my silent screen periodically.  It’s been this way for a while with Lyft. Summer hasn’t been particularly kind to any of us. I’m told by local bartenders on their way home for the evening they’ve had the same problem. It’s feast or famine.

Hello? Are you there Lyft? It’s me…

My Screen finally goes pink. A (blissfully close) address. Yes! It’s a relatively uncomplicated pickup. We exchange the usual formalities and pleasantries. Hey, are you…? Sure am, how’s your night been? I normally offer a breezy “busy, just the way I like it!” but tonight breezy is beyond me. Lord it’s slow. “You’re my first pickup tonight. Most likely you will be my one and only passenger tonight”, I grin. He offers “Well I tip well, and in cash!”. I crack back, “not even worried about it, let’s just get you home, I know you’ve had a long day. And I’m ready to get home and write”.

“Oh really? Like self publishing a book”? “No, I’ve written various blogs over the years, but writer’s block is the bane of my existence”. “Oh, Berkley did a study, try mushrooms! Great for stimulating creativity”. What follows is a discussion of our various (very limited in my case) experiences with mind altering experiences. Mushrooms… with my Mom of all people. He, with his boyfriend. It’s a funny thing to bond over, but when in Denver…

I pull up to his apartment and I’m almost sorry to see him go. Best part of my night, maybe best ride of the week. I wish him well, and a good night’s rest. He does tip well. In cash. Almost 300%. I’m nearly in tears driving home, grinning from ear to ear, but it’s not the money. Passengers are the reason I love what I do.

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