Good evening fellow passengers of Spaceship Earth. Hopefully, this entry will put me back on track. It’s been a fun week and a half so let’s get started. Last Sunday night, I had a passionate conversation with my rider about Hatsune Miku for the whole trip. It always feels good when someone shows a genuine interest in what you’re into. This week sent me into new rural territory. First on Thursday, I experienced rush hour in a new place as I crossed Lake Norman on Route 150 to get to Mountain Creek. Then my first trip on Saturday night took me to Goose Creek in Union County in an area I did not realize was an independent town. While up there, I picked up a couple who were ecstatic that was up that way since there were no one else in a 20 minute radius at the time. The majority of that night was actually spent outside of the confines of 485, either south in Fort Mill or Union County or north of it in Huntersville. It was in the latter part that I am convinced I saw an aberration as I nearly hit a guy sitting on the outer curve of an unlit road with a suitcase next to him for no discernible reason. One of those things you swear up and down is true but have no evidence or witnesses to back you up. Stay gold, people.
What’s that? I haven’t posted since May? And it’s halfway through June? Well, slap me sideways, so it is on both accounts. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to try to recap the highlights of the past 2 1/2 weeks with a list rather than through massive paragraphs so let’s get started.
- May 29: Picked up a group of people from the racetrack just as it started to pour and took them to the other side of the county. $50 in my pocket in one trip. Another couple was kind enough to treat me to a couple of items when they asked me to swing by Taco Bell on the way to their place
- May 30 and June 1: Both of these days I took people from Union County to the airport making $25 apiece in the process
- June 4: I picked up two of the drunkest people I have ever seen in my life. They could barely walk and one of them left a flip-flop.
- June 8: I learned that if a trip is too short, the Uber system will not see it as legit and call it a cancel. I found this out when I basically drove a woman across the street and the system wouldn’t let me input it normally
I’m sure there are bits that would normally be included if my past Sundays hadn’t been so busy but I suppose they will just be lost to time. C’est la vie.
On the personal side of things, this was a very stressful week for me which had an effect on my capacity to drive. Both weekdays where I wasn’t in a group home had me in day treatment which meant limited afternoon driving. On Tuesday I picked up a high school student who had the deepest voice I have ever met in person. It sounded like he was using a modifier to disguise his voice on the phone; truly remarkable. Thursday was business as usual. Friday night I barely managed to complete one trip. I say barely because as I drive away from the drop-off, I hear the tell-tale flapping sound of a flat tire. So needless to say, I cashed in that AAA membership I keep in my pocket, got a tow, and got both front tires replaced the following morning since a second one was ready to go soon as well. Saturday night proved profitable as always given that I only drove during the late-night surge period when everyone is heading home at the same time including the poor-planning putzes looking to go to Gastonia at 2:30 am. Until next time, stay gold everyone.
It was not a particularly noteworthy week, to be honest. I put a ton of miles on the road; that’s for sure. My first ride on Tuesday was also my first last Tuesday, taking a high school student home, so that was neat. On Thursday, I had one trip take me from Huntersville to Independence Blvd. and another one that was the reverse of that. Friday night had me driving to Fort Mill, SC twice, Waxhaw, and the clincher, a 3 am journey from Plaza Midwood to Gastonia. These people who make these requests at the latest possible hour continue to baffle me. I do, however, appreciate getting $20 tips from two riders this weekend. Last night was more or less a break. I did a couple of rides in the early evening, hung out with friends for a few hours, and then a few more in the South Charlotte area. Apparently I’m doing something wrong though since my rating is slipping somehow and someone complained that I am lacking in professionalism. I’m still in good standing with a 4.64 out of 5 so I guess all I can do is just be aware of myself.
Fare-wise, this week was just OK. Twice, I had riders leave personal items that I followed up on and returned so that’s reasonably significant. Tuesday continues to be a parade of mundane. Doing a couple of trips on Thursday morning, coming back from work in Monroe, not only did I get a returning champion rider from last week; but also a long trip all the way to Uptown with an older woman who said I reminded her of her grandson. I had a hell of a time trying to find one of those farm-turned-wedding-venues in the middle-of-nowhere part of Monroe on Saturday night but at least the riders themselves were very understanding. People continue to love my pop-punk Pandora station, including my last ride on Saturday as we all belted out Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” like a bunch of brain-dead fools at 3 am. It really comes down to enjoying those little moments.
Weeks like this past one are the reason I write this blog. Tuesday was simultaneously lousy without having actual dry periods. Normally what happens when I go online after working day treatment is I drive north from Monroe, pick up someone heading in the same direction, and my day proceeds like any other. This time, I spent almost the entire afternoon in Union County, and because I was one of the few drivers in the area, I would get called to riders 15 minutes away from my current location. On Thursday, I got slowed up significantly by a massive funeral procession going through Uptown. This might have been the highlight of my day if the very next ride didn’t have me driving 35 miles north to Salisbury through rush hour on I-85. It should come as no surprise that we got to be well-acquainted with one another on the hour-long ride as I learned that he had been through the type of facilities that I work at among other things.
Friday night will go down as a red-letter day as I gave a ride to people of legitimate fame. Specifically, I drove the band All That Remains who were in town for Carolina Rebellion from their hotel to dinner so that’s definitely a story I’ll be telling until my dying days. The road into the NC Music Factory area was absolute garbage that night so of course I had to go there twice, once for a pick-up and drop-off respectively. There was a very drunk girl that I drove on Saturday night who was very hands-y and not big on listening. I was not sad to see her go. But she was immediately followed by an agreeable fella who I turned on to Lindsey Stirling so it all balances out. I have a heavy work week coming up so expect a shorter entry next week.
My Uber game was on point this week. Exceptional numbers all three days I was on the road. Tuesday was once again a hum-drum sort of day. Thursday proved to be much more interesting though. Coming home in the morning from the regular job, I picked up a gentleman who lived in a development in Waxhaw that was previously one large farm where the owner had his own private runway which was still in use by the wealthy homeowners in the area. In the early afternoon, I drove an older guy who had a lot of genuinely interesting stories to tell about his life as a tech consultant as well as funny quotes from baseball players. He also said he was the cousin of comedian Alli Breen so that was neat. Finally we come to the adventures of the weekend. In a stark contrast to the normal Saturday night drunkards, my second ride of the night was taking a family of four home including the two sleeping sons who had to be carried to the back seat. Beyond that, it was a pretty consistent night with hardly any downtime and plenty of surges.
This was a good week. I don’t think I had any especially long dry spells on any day I drove. Tuesday was a day treatment half-day without anything all that exceptional. My second trip on Thursday afternoon took me from Indian Trail to Fort Mill and from there, I went deeper into Rock Hill than I think I’ve ever been before. Thanks to the surges during rush hour, I managed to earn over $100 on a weekday afternoon. My first ride on Friday night was from Matthews to the southern side of Huntersville. I subsequently discovered that the construction work in that area of I-77 is so bad, it causes traffic jams at 11:30 pm. The strangest thing though is that the closest I got to Uptown the whole night was Plaza Midwood, never in the city proper. Saturday night was gangbusters with the southern half of the county surging for half of the night. It even opened well with a couple who had only moved to Charlotte recently and I got to share some of my recommendations with. The guy also asked me for feedback about his patterned shirt (I told him it looked like a Magic Eye puzzle). I also took a gentleman from one seedy strip club to an even seedier one. To close, I want to raise a metaphorical glass to all the awesome riders who offer to get something for their drivers when they ask to pull over to a convenience store. You make the journeys much more enjoyable.
It was an interesting week. My hours at the main job increased so I didn’t do a whole lot of driving this week but I did manage to put some time in on the road. Rides were kind of sporadic on Wednesday but got a little interesting at the end when my last two trips were a German executive and the other took me to a house on the edges of the city with overgrowth and an unpaved driveway. The most interesting rider from Thursday was a talkative but friendly guy who was getting his weekend started a day early. One would think Easter Sunday would have been slow but I experienced just the opposite. I think it was the first time I dropped someone off at the airport only to immediately pick someone else up. I guess Easter weekend combined with the end of spring break will do that.
I tried something a little different on the weekdays this time. On both Monday and Tuesday, I wasn’t on the road until about 3 and it resulted in less downtime between rides. But you didn’t come to hear about that stuff. You came for stories about the crazies and other wacky observations so let’s begin. A rider on Monday told me about a past driver who gave him grief for the kind of music he listened to. My personal policy is that they can listen to the stuff off of their device in my car all they like at a reasonable volume since they’re paying for the ride and I can just switch to my stuff after they leave. Half of Monday had me bopping around Concord which is always interesting since it’s relatively unfamiliar territory for me. Tuesday had less trips but they were longer. I split Friday into morning and afternoon sessions since I had plans that night and that had plenty of long trips.
Saturday night, however, deserves its own paragraph. I’m 90% certain that my second ride in the evening was a past rider because the man’s house had a very unique driveway that basically formed a very tight U in front. A pair of guys from Noda were so psyched that I let them smoke in the car that they tipped me a twenty. Coming down from Huntersville to Uptown, I saw the aftermath of a rear-ending in the middle of what was already a narrow, splitting on-ramp on 77 so my heart goes out to those folks. I had a driver-rider who did me a solid by walking a block away from the hot mess that is the Epicenter before requesting his ride. But the highlight of my night was far and above my 8:50 rider. We will call her Bea. From the moment I picked her up, I was Bea’s favorite person. She spent the majority of the ride telling me how much she adored me for picking her up and stopping at two convenience stores so she could buy cigarettes. On the second stop, she offered to get me a new tin of Altoids since I was running low. When the cashier told her they didn’t carry any , she came back and asked me to come in with her. So I decided to humor her, came inside, walked to the candy aisle, and found them in 5 seconds. As we waited in line to ring out, Bea locked arms with me and proceeded to continued doing so until we made it back to the car. Needless to say, I think I have a definitive champion for weirdest Uber passenger thus far.
Finally, to close out this post, it’s food blog time. At the end of the night, I decided I was going to try the Munchie Meal at Jack-in-the Box. The deal consists of one of four heartburn-inducing sandwiches, two tacos, a mix of regular and curly fries, and a small drink for $6 provided you get it in the middle of the night ($8 otherwise). To be fair, the volume of food is a good value for the price but none of the items impressed me. I was especially disappointed because the podcast Doughboys led me to believe that their tacos were supposed to be some sort of divine treat of the fast food world but I found mine to be too dry on the edges and too soggy in the middle. I guess I’ll stick to Steak and Shake for now.