Around midnight this past Saturday, I picked up a passenger named Miner. Note: normally, I change the passenger’s name for anonymity, but for the purpose of this story, you need to know her name was really Miner in the app. She was a pretty lady with mid-length brown hair in her early 20’s, dressed in an evening gown like she was going to the Academy Awards. I inquired about her fancy attire, and she said she was going to a party.
We took off for a location I didn’t recognize in the hills above the Sepulveda pass, north of UCLA, south of the 101. As I drove up the steep and winding roads in the dark, she called her friends who confirmed they just got the address but hadn’t left yet. She’s worried they won’t make it in time because they need to be there with her to get in. As we near the destination, I had to brake suddenly because there was a long line of cars going both ways down the street all trying to turn into a single driveway up ahead.
Lights were flashing and I saw police standing around in the street, so I suspected there was a car accident in the middle of nowhere, but then I realized the flashing lights were from the crowd of paparazzi snapping pictures of attendees trying to get in.
“What kind of party is this?” I asked.
“It’s Belly’s birthday, and a bunch of people are going to be there… like Drake and them.” For those who don’t know, Belly is a Canadian rapper/songwriter/producer who’s worked with The Weekend, Snoop Dogg, and Beyonce to name a few. The procession of cars was not moving very quickly, and we ended up waiting idle for about 10 mins before finally reaching the front gate of the driveway to this mansion.
There were about six event coordinators/security guards with walkie talkies at a checkpoint. They were asking for an invitation placard before letting people in. I turned to Miner and asked, “Do you have this placard they’re asking for?”
“No…” she admitted, looking slightly worried. When we got to the checkpoint, the guard asked for the card and she said, “I’m with B-boy, a friend of his.”
The guard relayed this information into his walkie talkie. “People are showing up without the placard, saying they got an invitation via text message.” At this point, the rain has picked up from a light drizzle to a steady shower, so the security guards/event staffers were getting drenched, and I was sitting there, window rolled down getting wet listening to their walkie talkie chatter. I don’t know whether he got a proper response or not but eventually, he waved us onward.
I turned to Miner and asked, “So what’s with the Miner? Is that really your name?”
“No” she laughed. My real name is Mandy but for some reason it just became Miner in the app, and I was too lazy to figure out how to change it. As a driver, I’ve heard this story a couple times. A guy named Chris was renamed to “null” and a girl named Victoria had her username changed to “Acer”… probably a database error on Lyft’s side creating a zombie army of nulls, Acers, and Miners.
I queried, “Wait, are you famous, Miner?”
“No… not yet…”
“Well, when you do become famous, you need to be embrace the Miner and keep that name.” She laughed and nodded in agreement.
We climbed up the steep driveway and around some circular turns before arriving at the second checkpoint. This time a female event staffer stopped us. “Where is your placard?”
“I don’t have one. I’m a friend of B-boy…”
The staffer reported this information to the person on the other end of the walkie talkie and asked, “Is B-boy there? If you’re next to him, ask him if he knows a Mandy…” The staffer never received an appropriate answer, so we were stuck waiting there for a few minutes while the line built up behind us like a tea kettle of angry celebrities waiting to explode. Eventually, someone yelled at the guard, and she was forced to allow us to proceed.
As we climbed further up the driveway, we reached a dead halt again, as the line of cars abruptly stopped in front of us. At this point, I got a ping because Lyft had added a new passenger to my queue. It had been 20 mins that we had been waiting, and we were nowhere near the top yet, so I gave this new passenger a call to relay the bad news.
“Hi, where are you? Are you almost here?” the new passenger Carrie asked.
“Umm… I’ve got some bad news for you. I’m stuck in this traffic jam at some party in who knows where, and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to start heading towards you.”
“Oh, cool! We’re at the party… but we’re waiting outside in the rain by the area with the umbrellas. I hope you get here soon,” said Carrie.
“It looks like there’s at least 10 cars ahead of us if those lights up there are even the top. I can’t tell…”
“Ugh!” she sighed, but hung up politely, asking us to hurry. By the time we reached the top, the rain had escalated to a full on downpour. We’re not even first in line when two Asian ladies ran up to the car, getting soaked. “Are you Carrie?” One nodded and scooted into the passenger seat next to me. Her friend opened the rear door, to find Miner hesitating, unsure what to do because she didn’t have a placard, her friends weren’t here, and it was pouring outside.
“Get OUT!” says the other Asian lady, and Miner flees in a panic. Carrie and her friend looked like Playboy Playmates… if a Playmate can be short and Asian.
As we headed down the steep driveway from this mansion party, the exit route was almost as slow as the way in. We’re regularly bottlenecked with the steady procession of cars heading up the hill, so we have to wait for them to pass before we can proceed. Once we reach the first checkpoint on the way down, a portly security guard blocks our way and slowly starts waddling downhill ahead of us.
“You have got to be kidding me!” screamed Carrie and her friend. Our car was cleared to go downhill, but we were moving at a snail’s pace because the guard in front of us was literally walking downhill in the middle of the road blocking our way. While I was contemplating how many years I’d get for vehicular manslaughter, Carrie rolled down the window and was getting wet as she yelled at him “We’ll give you a ride! Get in!” but her words fall on deaf ears. He continued his slow descent down the hill, as Carrie’s mind slowly descended into madness alongside him.
Eventually, the guard stepped aside when he reached the second checkpoint, and our car really started moving. I asked, “Wait, if everybody is trying to get into this party, why are you leaving?”
“Oh, I’m so over this. I see these guys everyday. My friend I went to school with in Canada is friends with Drake and them so they’re always around. Hey, there’s Tyga!” as she pointed to a limo with tinted windows rolling the opposite direction. Finally, we reached the bottom of the hill and exited to the road with paparazzi. I pointed out a trio of girls standing outside the gate, trying to talk the security guards into letting them in.
“Those girls are never getting in. Don’t they know you have to know somebody to get into this party? You can’t just walk up to the front door like that… I got my two friends in, so my work here is done!” remarked Carrie triumphantly.
As I navigated the maze of winding mountain roads to their destination in downtown LA, I struck up a conversation with Carrie, who was surprisingly chatty and friendly after her ordeal in the torrential downpour and screaming episode at the waddling security guard. She confessed she’s actually a homebody who doesn’t like to go out, which surprised me, though it probably shouldn’t. I asked what the party was like in there, and they shared a story of someone rolling the biggest joint they’d ever seen. That person was posed for pictures with it to post on social media. Rumor is the party cost over $15,000 to throw, and the host didn’t live here, but was renting the mansion instead.
I learned they were on their way to a second party. At this point, it’s past midnight. “Wait, you’re leaving THAT party to go to another party now?”
“Heh, yeah. We’re going to something a little more… low-key.” We finally reached their destination without further incident. Let me know if you see a picture of me and Miner in a tabloid this week!