As I pulled up to the pin for Grace, I could sense something was up. There was a crowd of people standing around the street corner, facing away from the street. It was around midnight in Hollywood on a Friday near the Pantages theater. This was a Line ride (a potential carpool) with a wait time of only one minute. I started the timer signaling I had arrived, and a man approached my car wearing a bright yellow vest and carrying an air of authority.
“You’re going to be taking her <gestures towards the crowd> to the hospital.” He gives me a knowing look. “She’s being a bit of a diva right now…” I sat there confused as the timer hit zero. Technically, I could leave and cancel the ride as a no-show since she hadn’t arrived yet, but that felt wrong in light of the situation. Thankfully, there were no other riders in the queue, so I waited…
After a couple minutes went by and still no sign of the passenger, I’d grown antsy. As I was about to leave the car in search of Grace, she neared the car. She’s clutching her right hand and walking very gingerly. Grace was a middle-aged woman in a fancy cocktail dress and shawl, but the elegance of her appearance was betrayed by her face, which was contorted in pain as she held her hand. “Please take me to Cedar Sinai.”
“Uhh, ok.” I started the ride and noted the destination was five miles away. I gave her the standard disclaimer I give all carpool passengers. “Grace, this is a Line ride you selected… so we may pick up other passengers on the way.”
She looked at me surprised. “Are you kidding?!”
“No, I’m dead serious. This is the ride you chose.”
“New Lyft Line pickup added!” chirped my car’s speakers cheerfully.
Grace looked at me horrified. I’m not a mind reader, but I could tell she was thinking “FML” right now. As I turned the car around and headed toward Andrew, I asked why she chose the carpool option?
“I don’t really use the app. This is only my second time using it, so I just hit… whatever. Actually, I tried calling my friends first, but it looks like everybody is asleep right now. You know when you really need help… that’s when you find out who your friends really are…”
I nodded knowingly. “So what exactly happened back there?”
“I was attending this award show… and among this crowd of all my peers, my heel broke. I fell and landed awkwardly on my wrist, which is probably broken.” She lifted up her leg, showing me the heel that was the culprit.
“Ouch. I’m sorry to hear that.”
From the look on her face, I could tell she was pained more by the embarrassment of that happening among her peers than the physical pain of the injury. “The worst part is I’m a dancer, and I’ve never fallen or had a major accident until now.” She shared that she was a background dancer in a major movie which you’ve probably seen. “The other thing is I rarely dress like this. I’m much more comfortable in jeans and flats, but I had to get dolled up for this event.”
“Well, Grace… for what it’s worth… you look good.” She smiled.
Fortunately, Andrew was already waiting outside at the pin. He was your average millennial sporting a denim jacket and backpack, on his way home. The car was quiet as a library as we dropped Andrew off first. Lyft Line stops are programmed by the computer, so the driver is forced to stick with the plan. I couldn’t drop Grace off first, because the Lyft system expected me to follow the programmed route, in case additional passengers needed to be added. Thankfully, Andrew wasn’t going far, and his stop was only a minor detour from the hospital.
As he exited the vehicle, Grace commented, “Please hurry…” Her face showed the pain was starting to get to her, as she was grimacing and holding her hand tightly. The hospital wasn’t far. I engaged her in light conversation in an attempt to keep her mind off the pain, eliciting a chuckle out of her as she told stories of her career in the Industry. Within minutes, we had arrived. She thanked me and walked gingerly to the Emergency Room entrance of Cedar Sinai.
Among the Facebook drivers groups that I participate in, this topic comes up regularly. Should Uber/Lyft drivers transport people to the Emergency Room? Some drivers feel that’s the job of an ambulance, and they don’t want the potential liability of further injuring a passenger. “Call 911” they advise. I’m of the opposite opinion on this. Ambulance bills cost thousands of dollars. I know a coworker whose ambulance bill was $8,000, and he’s still making payments on it years later. If it’s a life-threatening emergency like a heart attack or stroke where minutes are crucial, by all means call 911. But if it’s not life-threatening, I’m going with the rideshare ride every time. The pain of waiting a couple more minutes to get to the hospital is a lot less than opening a bill with 4+ digits at the bottom. That kind of pain can last for years.