Part 2: Your Ride With Raoul

The story so far: I am flying to San Francisco. My first time in California.

Even this early in the vacation, I was beginning to think we’d made a tactical error. As we were in San Francisco for such a short period of time, we thought that using Lyft would be quickest and easiest. No trying to find stations, understand maps, or work out what kind of Day Saver Special Offer ticket we would need to get around. And this was probably true. But those $20 here, $30 there trips would begin to add up.

I was beginning to feel like we were subsidizing Lyft at this point. I’d got a driver from the airport to meet up with my wife downtown and, much as I hate to admit it, this was not an interesting driver. I watched the sights as we made our way through the traffic into central San Francisco, and the most we talked about was a little about the weather.

A tall building with a statue of a sleeping person at the bottom
A tall building with a sleeping person at the bottom…starts to feel a little insensitive in a city with such a homeless problem. But still – pretty?

He told me what the temperature was at the time – and then what he expected the temperature would be later in the day. But he got me to where I needed to be. The reward at the end, though, more than made up for it. My electronic receipt (still no paper!) was headed: “Your Ride With Raoul” and suddenly I had my title.

This was to be a very 21st-century vacation. From getting around the city to the tiny apartment where we lay our heads at night, it all was possible because of the boom of eCommerce. This, needless to say, was due to the organizational brilliance of my wife. I would never have been brave enough to book an AirB&B. But she most certainly was. And so here we were: joining the small crowds of people standing on the sidewalks, all looking down at their phones and then up at the traffic, looking for the car they ordered driven by a driver whose name they now know because their app has told them. How very…modern.

Driver #2 of the day was about as chatty as my Austin driver earlier in the morning. God, was it just this morning? Anyway, he was a professional; he had an ice-breaker: do you have any good Lyft driver stories? We do.

And then, in return, he has good Lyft passenger stories.

There was an older male customer, for example, who hit on him throughout the course of the journey. He insisted that, as everyone has “a little gay in them”, that the two of them hooking up was a good idea.

“Not me,” says our guy, perhaps a little over-confidently.

Then the customer played what he must have thought was his trump card: “I killed my dad when I was 15.” I mean, that’s got to get him plenty of action among the private-driver fraternity? And, our guy admits, it did change the complexion of the ride.

After a spell in juvenile detention, the customer ploughed on, he went into the army. He had a story and a captive audience. This tale was going to be told.

Our driver looks hard at us in his rearview mirror: “So he can probably snap my neck without even having to think about it.”

“Why are you telling me this?” he asked his customer.

“I just feel really comfortable around you,” he said.

“That’s got to make you feel pretty special,” we assured him.

By this point, we acceded: you win, driver guy. You are the story-telling king for the day.

 

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