Another life lesson learned in the world of rideshare

I was working in Los Angeles and it had already been a long night. I had a pick-up from a concert at The Wiltern on Wilshire and it was about 11 P.M. My riders turned out to be a bunch of young, college-age white girls headed to a Hollywood club for an after-party.

They piled into the car and immediately started up with the excited chatter of teeny boppers who had just had a brush with fame. They claimed to be drunk and were headed to a 21-and-over club, but these girls looked and acted like they were in their…


Uber revelations on the interconnectedness of us all

The sunset outside as I worked on this piece. Photo by the author.

The six degrees

It’s a great movie, a wonderful party game, and a fascinating concept — the idea that we are all connected in some way by just six levels, six steppingstones of people in our associations and familial relations. If you doubt the veracity of such a claim, go drive Uber for a living.

One of the more interesting aspects I find in writing about my job as a driver is that I am quite possibly writing about someone you know, someone who resembles someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know…or quite possibly even you.

It runs deeper than…


My love of baseball and my fear the game is vanishing

This is a story about history, San Francisco, and baseball. Photo by the author.

San Francisco, Any Summer of Recent Past

I was driving rideshare around The City picking up passengers and spinning the radio dial in search of something different to listen to. Driving in San Francisco is always a nostalgic experience due to the tremendous history of its many storied neighborhoods. The salty sea air is steeped in tradition, laden with stories intricate in detail like the beautiful Victorian awnings hanging off the ‘Painted Ladies’ on Postcard Row. My go-to audio dose of nostalgia in San Francisco is usually the Grateful Dead, but sometimes I like to diversify.


The reverberations of small moments…

Coming across a large tree while on the road driving rideshare. Photo by the author.

This is a quick vignette about the tremendous impact that can come from a seemingly insignificant conversation. We never know the domino effect that will be triggered by the slip of a tongue, an unintentionally consequential recommendation, or a casual conversation. Wayward words waft in the wind when spoken in the moment, taking on a life of their own in the hearts and minds of the earnest ears that hear them.

I was reviewing notes from my driving experience when I came upon a blurb about a couple. I couldn’t remember their names for the…


A cab driver is assaulted and propositioned

It was about 3 A.M. on a weeknight. I had driven a bartender home from his work in Silver Lake to West Hollywood. I had not received a trip request for a few minutes as in the middle of the week, drivers tended to outnumber riders at this late hour. Business usually did not pick-up again until about five when people started going to the airport and the early birds started heading off to work.

The night owls were still out preying upon the snakes and rats that crept about the darkness. Even…


Everything is not what we think

Prelude

I was in San Diego which is most always a pleasant place to be. It had been a good weekend thus far. I had gotten a boost when I received a fare for a long trip from Long Beach to Oceanside on Saturday afternoon. After a break on the beach in sunny San Diego, I worked all day Saturday and on through the night until near dawn on Sunday, finally running out of energy after completing an early morning run to the San Diego airport. …


A personal strike against unjust wages and unethical business

Rideshare Drivers United, an organization of drivers, stands in solidarity at a Prop 22 protest attended by thousands in front of Uber headquarters in San Francisco. Photo by the author.

It worked. Two hundred million dollars bought a law. The rideshare corporations successfully sold a lie to California voters as part of an effort to escape pending litigation over their unethical business practices and their exploitation of workers.

In their campaign, they lied about what their proposal was offering drivers, and they lied to the public in saying that drivers supported their law. A significant block of the driving community was staunchly opposed to their proposition and I guarantee you that more drivers would have opposed it too had they not…


Eternal myth in Monterey

The sun drops down over the Monterey Bay. Photo by the author.

The pick-up was at the break room. It was good timing because I needed to hit the head and grab a drink from the water cooler. I am being facetious for rideshare drivers do not have a water cooler, nor a break room, which is why it is has been difficult for us to organize as a workforce and collectively fight for our rights against the rideshare corporations that exploit us.

Anyhow...the break room for me at that time was the 7–11 on Fremont Street in Monterey, where I had befriended the guys who worked the…


The similarities and differences between back to back propositions on the CA ballot

On the backside of an all-night shift, I will often receive an early morning request from a rider who suffers from kidney failure and is headed to a dialysis clinic for treatment. The most memorable of these rides was the time I picked up an older man whose wife kindly helped him into the car — then assisted me as I fumbled in the pre-dawn darkness trying to disassemble and load his wheelchair into the trunk. …


The curious case of people sending objects through rideshare

As a driver I have been asked to carry food, alcohol, hard drives and drugs. Photo by the author.

Of the 20,000 rides I have completed, a handful of them have included no passenger at all. There was the time a liquor salesman had me pick-up a case of expensive tequila at his hotel in Monterey and run it over to Cultura Comida y Bebida in Carmel, a restaurant whose owner had coincidentally been a very pleasant passenger of mine on a couple prior occasions.

There was the time I had been summoned to a wealthy estate in Brentwood where a Spanish speaking housekeeper came out and handed me two…

D. Thayer Russell

Educator and eternal student. Prefer paper pages and overt spines over webpages and covert designs. Avid reader and writer of creative and original content.

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