I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’ve had it for almost three years, and I’ve quickly learned that I bought a bad one – it has recalls on recalls, extended warranties on damaged parts, and while it’s still under the manufacturer’s warranty, so many people (at least in Austin) have bad Jeeps that the wait to get into the dealership for service (in order to use the warranty) is often a 3+ month wait.
Last year, my “check engine” light was on for months before I was finally able to find a certified dealer that would help me. They fixed a $2,000+ problem for free, and gave me a free rental (all thanks to my warranty) for the couple of days I was without a vehicle.
I was relieved, and happy to be driving a car that actually worked. But it was only about four weeks before the “check engine” light came on again. Which brings me to last Thursday, when I was finally able to get an appointment at a dealership.
When I made my appointment, I made it clear I wanted a rental car, and the man said no problem. But of course, when I showed up, there were no rentals and the shuttle wouldn’t take me to my apartment. Great!
I am really working on not throwing myself a pity party and instead just simply dealing with the problem at hand. Ok, no car. I’ll use Lyft, I thought. Sure, it would be a little pricey, but it might be sort of adventurous and it’ll make for a good blog post!
Hmm… well, here’s what came of that:
Ride no. 1: From Jeep dealership in Georgetown, Texas to Austin, Texas
[9:30 am] My driver is Matt. He’s cheerful, and he tells me he works for Chevrolet, so he’s aware of my car issues. We talk about various recalls and car brands. We both agree Fords are beasts. Matt is from New York and he’s still got an accent. He’s a retired firefighter who started working after 9/11. He tells me they were still pulling bodies out of the rubble in 2006, and the smell of death is something he will never forget. He moved to Texas because his brother works for Dell. He loves it here and is considering taking a road trip from here to South Carolina, and then on to New York.
Ride no. 2: My apartment in North Austin to the Texas Capitol, Downtown
[10:30 am] I was originally assigned a driver named Arlen, but right before he gets to my street, Lyft switches my driver to Heidi. She calls me to figure out where the entrance to my complex is. She finds it quickly. It takes me three tries to get the door of her van shut, just because I can’t remember the last time I shut a van door. She has a mini essential oil diffuser between the front two bucket seats. She’s married, and has a son. She teaches children with autism. On the way, we pick up a young guy at the Greyhound station. He says he’s from Chicago, so I ask him if he took the Greyhound all that way. He says no, but that he’s here for a bachelor party and they got a party boat for Lake Travis.
Ride no. 3: My apartment to the dance studio
[4:00 pm] My driver is Jose and he does not fuck around when it comes to traffic. He drives fast and tells me he used to work for Formula One. He then started working for Jack in the Box, which has sent him all over the place. If he had to guess, he’s lived in 50 cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, and now Austin. He’s married. We see a giant wreck off Mopac and then almost get in one. He apologizes, and I’m really just glad to arrive safe.
Ride no. 4: Dance studio to apartment
[7:30 pm] Samantha picks me up in a van. I shut the door on the first try. She has a desk job where she works 9-7, and then does ride share afterward. Today is her first day using Lyft – she primarily drives for Uber. She says she doesn’t drive too late at night for safety reasons, which I agree. She still makes good money during the day. She absolutely HATES it when the time changes.
Ride no. 5: My apartment to Texas Capitol
[10:00 am] My driver is Jesspal. He can’t find the entrance to my apartment, so he calls me and I ask him if he would prefer I walk to another area. He doesn’t respond, but I can hear someone else in the car helping him figure out where to go. He finds me, and the other passenger proceeds to navigate until we get to his stop. Then Jesspal asks me which way to my stop. Uh, I dunno, dude. We correctly head south, but I get a text saying we are picking someone else up. So, we stop off at the Domain and Jesspal asks if this is where I’d like to be dropped off. “No,” I said. “We are picking up someone else.”
“What?” he asks. He looks at his phone. “It doesn’t say that on here. Null? Is her name Null?” Obviously her name isn’t Null and the app isn’t working. There is, however, a woman standing outside with a rolling suitcase. She holds her phone up to the window. “Jesspal???” she says.
“Are you Null?” he asks. “No,” she says, but I need a ride and it says you’re my driver.” She looks at me in the backseat. “I didn’t know I was sharing a ride.”
“Well did you pick the line?” he asks her. “I don’t know,” she says. “But where is she going?”
I wanted to tell her it was none of her goddamn business. But I quickly said, “The Capitol.”
“Well is that the opposite of where I’m going???” she asked. She was headed to the airport.
“NO,” I said.
“I’m not from here,” she said sharply. “So, I didn’t know.”
It is about this time that two things happened. 1. I wanted to delve into an Issa Rae-worthy rap and tell this bitch to get into 2017 and learn how the app works. It’s a fucking line for a ride share, now why the hell would it put you in a car with a person going the opposite direction as you?? GTF over yourself. And 2. I was D O N E with ride sharing. I wanted my car back; I wanted the convenience to be able to go directly where I needed to go without having to pay $17 and talking to mother fuckers.
We make it to the Capitol and I jump out at a red light with a simple: “Bye thanks.”
Ride no. 6: Texas Capitol to my apartment
[1:00 pm] Ivan, my driver, kindly swoops me up on the side of the road right outside the Capitol. I’d just gotten a call from the dealership saying that even though they’ve had my car for two days, they haven’t had a chance to look at it yet! I mean really, what’s the point of getting an appointment, but it’s fine, I’ll just sit in another fucking van. Ivan is hard-of-hearing, so he says nothing the entire ride, which is fine by me. I say nothing until my stop and give him a wave.
Ride no. 7: My apartment to The North Door, downtown
[8:00 pm] Eugino is jamming to some serious R&B, sexy-time music when he arrives. I’ve already had two glasses of wine, so it’s whatever. He says nothing and it’s clear we’re picking up another passenger. When we arrive at a nearby hotel, he asks where I want to be dropped off at.
Note to Lyft: Fix your goddamn app so the drivers know WTF is going on.
I tell him it’s not my stop. He drives across the street to an apartment complex, where the gate is open and there’s a young woman waiting. She gets in the car and Eugino looks at me like he’s so confused. He looks at the app and puts his hands in the air. He says nothing for the next 18 minutes and drops me off right in front of the bar.
Ride no. 8: The North Door to my apartment
[11:00 pm] Two vodkas later, Ryan picks me up. He’s a ginger with a big beard. He asks how my night is and I tell him I just won a dildo that’s a replica of a porn star’s penis. “Well, let me see it,” he says. I pull it out of my purse (still in the packaging) and give it to him. It’s heavy – solid silicon. “I feel like less of a man,” he says. “Did you know 60% of men are shorter than six inches?” he asks. I tell him no, and laugh. We pull off into a gravel parking lot to pick up another rider. This guy says he got a bunch of Lyft rides for $5 each, and Ryan says that we are his last two rides of the night and are both going near his apartment. We drop off the other guy and Ryan asks why my car is in the shop. I tell him it’s the thermometer. “Thermostat?” he asks. “I don’t know,” I say. He says if the dealership called it a thermometer, I should never take my car there again. I don’t have the energy to tell him that I just want my check engine light to turn off and I don’t care how it happens.
Ride no. 9: My office in north Austin to the Jeep dealership in Georgetown
[3:30 pm] Mohammad was my last Lyft driver (hopefully for awhile), and I think the stars aligned, because he was really nice. He’s lived in Austin for four months after living in Dubai for a few years. He has a degree in engineering, and was offered a green card after his service in Iraq on behalf of the United States. So, here he is. He appreciates that Austin is cooler in temperature than Dubai, however, he said Dubai was all about money and that the people in Austin are much nicer.
Mohammad is married and has two children. His wife takes care of their children, and according to Mohammad, she takes care of EVERYTHING (including him). He says sometimes she is on him to do chores, “like a teacher on my head” while he tries to joke with her. “We cannot be so serious all the time,” he says. Good life advice.
He works Tuesday-Saturday at a hotel downtown. He takes care of the pool three days a week, making sure there’s the right mixture of chlorine and salt. The other two days a week, he works security at the pool, which overlooks the skyline and has a huge bar. When I asked him if he liked his job he said, “Of course!”
When we arrive, he asks if I will give him a review. He needs one year of ride sharing experience to drive for Uber and Ride Austin. I tell him, yes, I will, and I do. I gave him five stars and a $5 tip.