I had my angriest rider ever the other day. This is what happened.
Sometimes, it can be hard to find someone. Sometimes, a person’s location pin drops in a strange place, or they request a ride from the back of their house so it marks them on a neighboring street, or they request a ride and then walk to the corner. Sometimes, the choose a huge location, like a shopping mall, or a Walmart, or the moon, and I have no clue exactly where they are.
I got a request from a woman named Destiny. She was in a Walmart, so I pulled up and coasted the length of the store, looking for someone who looked like they were waiting for a ride. I didn’t see anyone except a very angry woman pacing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, inside the glass, waiting in the lobby.
Please let that NOT be my passenger.
I waited, but no one came out, so I called the phone number associated with the account. No answer. I waited five minutes – with Lyft, if you wait five minutes and the customer doesn’t call or otherwise let you know what’s up, you’re supposed to cancel the call and get on with your life. So I canceled the call and marked it, “Customer was a no-show.” At that point I drove to the back of the Walmart parking lot and sent some emails, then drove towards the exit.
A ride request.
I drove back around towards the front of the Walmart, again cruising slowly so I could find her. The angry woman I saw in the lobby came storming out, pushing a cart, shouting before I even got out of the car. She wasn’t just angry, she was unhinged. But I stayed calm and got out to help her load her things.
“I don’t know what the f*** is going on around here but your car was not the car described to me on the phone so that’s why I didn’t come out. I saw you sitting there but I didn’t think you were my ride.”
“Sorry, ma’am. I tried to call you.”
“My phone is dead,” she shouted, as if that, also, was my fault. But I could sense her anger dissipating when I refused to argue with her. “I just moved and my electric isn’t turned on. And now my phone is dead.”
I helped her load the air mattresses into the back of the car. She crawled into the front seat. You all know how I feel about front-seaters. She was the kind of person whose mouth doesn’t know how to stop. She was the kind of person who was angry at the world because everything, everyone, was out to get her. She had big hair, wild eyes, and teeth competing with each other to be the first to get out.
“You mind if I eat in here?” she asked, holding up her hot dog dripping with ketchup and mustard and relish.
For a split second I thought of my options, but I shook my head no because there are bigger battles in this world. I didn’t mind. Not on that cold day.
“It’s freezing in my house,” she said. “And the school called to tell me my daughter’s sick? Are you kidding me? I just told them there ain’t no f***ing way I’m walking all the way back over there to pick her up and bring her back to a cold house. No way. She’s better off at school.”
She waved her hand in frustration and set the hot dog down in the handle of the armrest. Food in the car! Dripping relish and mustard, two of my least favorite foods in the entire world!
“I can’t deal with all this,” she shouted. She stared over at me. “I was all ready to scream at you when you came back to pick me up.”
I didn’t say anything, so she kept on.
“I was gonna get in the car and shout at you to turn on the f***ing heat and scream at you for canceling my ride request!”
“But look at you, sitting there all calm, all chill,” she said, and suddenly she laughed out loud. “I can’t even get mad at you! Just sitting there, taking it. What’s wrong with you?” She laughed again, as if it was the funniest thing she had ever encountered, this inability to stay angry at the world. She shook her head again and looked exhausted. “God, I need a blunt.”
She devoured her hot dog. I dropped her off at her new apartment.
“I hope your heat gets turned on soon,” I said.
“I hope I don’t get charged for that first ride,” she said threateningly.
I shrugged. “You can contest it in the app.”
She walked inside. I sighed a huge sigh of relief and drove away.