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Four stars

Originally published in Uber Chronicles: One Driver, 35 Rides, Countless Stories.

My passenger is one minute away, though it takes me a little longer to get there. I wait. I call her. Lyft doesn’t have a text service for drivers and passengers to connect (only phone calls, though I wish they did provide text.) She tells me she is on her way down!

I’m feeling annoyed. So far, every passenger I’ve picked up in D.C. this evening has been outside waiting for their ride. The night, while not balmy, is certainly warm enough, especially when one considers that the past three months have been winter, and the three prior to that, fall. I decide that she’s getting four stars. Maybe three.

She and her boyfriend get in. She apologizes for being late. I remain quiet. I don’t say it’s ok that she’s late; I have no interest in making her lateness ok. She reeks of annoyance to me. I say nothing other than hello and confirming their names. They’re in their late 20s; they’re both white, thin, dressed to go out, reasonable-looking. It’s just past midnight, and they are just now heading out. Over the river. In the opposite direction of my home. Into Virginia. Oh well. Such is the life of Uber and Lyft drivers.

She starts talking to her boyfriend and my main thought is that I hope she has been drinking because if this is Her Normal, she is one astoundingly unpleasant, whiny person to be around.

Her boyfriend is calm; he tries to balance her complaints about her roommate who can’t possibly have the flu because she isn’t nearly as sick as the time when she had the flu. She complains and whines: why can’t her roommate let her into her room so that she can do her laundry; she has to do her laundry, doesn’t her roommate understand?. Her roommate is not that sick that she needs to sleep all day. She really needs to do her laundry.

Whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.

Entitled. Righteous. No compassion. Boring.

Can only see the world through her needs. Her lens. She is annoying AF and I’m only listening to her for a few minutes during a short drive. I wonder what makes her so alluring that her seemingly reasonable boyfriend can tolerate her.

Her conversation is populated by the phrase, But you don’t understand!, which she says often before repeating the complaint she stated a minute or two prior. It’s all barely tolerable.

My Waze app is not speaking to me at the moment. The sound icon indicates that it’s on and functioning, but no sound is coming out. I’m wending through curvy dark roads along a river. I really, really wish my directions were being broadcast verbally. I’m having a hard time watching the map, watching the road and knowing what I need to do next. I tell them my passengers I’m not sure where to turn, and they tune in and help me navigate. This engagement brings me back into my humanity (a bit), and I think, ok, four stars for being helpful, not three for being late and being so annoying. I drop them off.

Key experience: Yay for boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, spouses, sweethearts and lovers who balance us out. I imagine this woman’s life is better for having someone who doesn’t spin with her drama. I’m reminded that we often attract those who balance and complement us.

I decide to head back into D.C. rather than head straight home. I discover in the Lyft app a function Uber would be so wise to “adopt,” i.e. steal, employ, incorporate: it’s the ability to tell the app I want to head in a specific direction and only to take rides heading in the same direction as my destination. I activate this option. I get no more rides for the night. I drive the hour or so home. Tired. I’ve been out all day and all evening, almost all of it in D.C.