Let’s talk underwear…

One of my more memorable Lyft Line stories occurred a few months ago. First passenger was a Latina woman with a 2 year old. Thankfully, she had a car seat with her and strapped her child in safely. The next passenger was an Asian man who sat up front. The third passenger was the stereotypical young Asian female who was petite, quiet, and demure. All passengers were in their 20’s, and the ride was in rush hour afternoon traffic, so we weren’t going very fast. The majority of the ride was filled with silence as everyone stayed in their world.  

I dropped off the mother first.  As we drove to the Asian guy’s stop, he fielded a personal call on his cell phone. I lowered the music volume so he could speak… and he did… for a long time, out loud… very loudly. 

“Yeah, so I’m adamantly against Mike and his idea of doing women’s lingerie. I mean, he’s a guy. Why does he think women would want to buy lingerie made by a man? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll sell it. I can sell anything, but I just think it’s going to be a very tough sell. I think our best bet is going to be a company like meundies. Even then, I think the volume we would need to make this new company profitable would be too much. I don’t think it makes business sense, you know what I mean?”

That was the gist of the conversation, and it went on for like 10 mins. He was also one of those people who was yelling into his phone even though he didn’t need to. So there he is, screaming into his phone about non-profitable women’s underwear being designed by his male friend while I sat there thinking, “Man, I really dislike this carpool feature…”

We arrived at his destination and he exited. I can’t see my final passenger (the quiet Asian woman) because she’s directly behind me, so I asked her, “You doing alright back there?” She acknowledged she was still alive. “That whole conversation about his friend’s underwear brand using his outside voice was weird right?”

“Yup…” she said. “I Snapchatted the whole thing. It was glorious!”  It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. 😉

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The Big Day

There are two major milestones in the career of a Lyft driver. After 250 rides, Lyft sends you a free Amp, an illuminated sign that sits in the middle of your dashboard and glows custom colors so passengers can easily find your car in a sea of drivers at a crowded venue. 

After 1000 rides, you receive a special Lyft jacket as proof you’ve joined the 1000 ride club. As I neared this milestone, I knew I wanted to do something special for passenger 1000. A couple weeks earlier, I went to an ice cream social for LA drivers and spoke to Carlos, who handles social media for Lyft in the area. He gave me some ideas and items to use to celebrate the milestone. 

After ride 999, I went to LAX, hoping to get a long-distance non-carpool ride so I would not be rushed or interrupted by other passengers. After waiting 30 mins for the ride, the ping arrives… a Lyft Line (carpool) passenger with a 4.6 rating. That’s a low rating for a passenger, who typically are 4.8 or higher, so I said, “Not today, Satan…” and let another driver field that request. 

Sadly, this puts me at the back of the line for the airport queue, so I wait another 30 minutes for the next ping. This time it’s a Lyft Line again, but a 5.0 rating, so I accept it. I pick up Emily at the terminal and no other passengers are in the carpool, so I drive away from the airport content with my moderate length ride. Of course as soon as I leave airport property, my phone chirps,

“New Lyft Line added.”

“New Lyft Line added.”

Feeling like I’m running out of time, I quickly tell her about the 1000 rides and give her some gifts: a $3 scratcher lottery ticket, a Lyft bag, and a Lyft inflatable beach ball. She’s blown away and ecstatic, happily scratching away at her lottery ticket as I pick up our two other passengers back at the airport. 

John is a non-descript brainiac who sits in the back next to Emily. David is a down-to-earth former Lyft driver who sits in the front seat. David is looking around confused… “What is that sounds?!”  It’s Emily blowing up her Lyft beach ball. 

“Umm… sorry, guys. I should’ve asked. I’m just excited, so I’m gonna go for it…” as she dutifully returns to inflating her beach ball. I explain to the other passengers why Emily is sitting back there with a Lyft beach ball, and we find out she won $5 with the scratcher. Woo hoo! 

Unlike most Lyft Lines which are either awkward silence or a cacophony of people on the phone while multiple conversations go on, this ride was like a family having dinner and catching up with each other. It was awesome and the mood was celebratory. Emily signed my guestbook, posed for a selfie, and said she was going to write an email to Lyft recommending me for Driver of the Year. Here’s the selfie:

My life is a TV show

Lyft Line is Lyft’s version of a carpool. It’s also like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates… you never know what you’re going to get when you pack a group of strangers into a car during a long ride in rush hour traffic.

Yesterday, I received a Line request in Santa Monica from Kathy. As soon as she opened the door, I had a huge grin on my face and involuntarily blurted out, “OMG!  Kathy, you sound like an anime character!”  She was a grown ass woman, mind you, but her voice sounded like Minnie Mouse. 

“I know!” She exclaimed. “I’m a voice actress!”

“Well, get in. I can tell this is going to be a great ride.” And so we began our cross-town journey engaged in pleasant conversation about voice acting and video games. Working in video games, I’d met a few voice actresses/directors and sat in on a couple recording sessions.  We were deep in conversation about her work when a chime sounded that a new rider had been added to the queue. 

I turned down a street to pick up Joe, a suited up businessman standing outside a dry cleaner holding a week’s worth of pressed suits. He was cordial enough, but he seemed serious compared to our previously light-hearted conversation about voice actors slipping in and out of character while you’re trying to talk to them. 

After a couple moments of indecision, I said screw it and resumed the conversation with Kathy, and we subjected Joe to our discourse about how nutty voice actors are. Then we heard another chime, signaling another rider. 

We picked up Thomas in front of the CAA building on Avenue of the Stars. As soon as he got in the car, it was all about Thomas. He was a real estate agent who just came from a pitch meeting with executives at a major TV network. Thomas was a wheel and deal, “I’m always right,” Hollywood guy who immediately started engaging with Kathy. He wanted to know about her upbringing and then tried to convince her to woo him so he could be her agent in charge of her career. Needless to say, she wasn’t taking the bait. Even though she sounded like an adolescent Japanese girl, Kathy was a smart cookie who’d worked in the corporate world and answered all of his questions effortlessly.  While driving, all I could do was share knowing looks with Kathy from the rear view mirror as she continued to deflect Thomas’ advances. 

As we drove to the first drop off, I marveled at the cast of characters in the car. A bubbly smart protagonist who sounded like she escaped from a Disney movie, a sleazy Hollywood agent antagonist, the serious “I just want to get home to my boring life” businessman, and a token minority comic relief character. I guarantee this motley crew is more entertaining than any script on AMC’s desk that doesn’t involve zombies right now. 

We dropped off Joe, then Thomas, and Kathy looked at me in disbelief. “That guy was such a douche!”  That’s when I learned she also cussed like a sailor as she went off on him. This was a million times more entertaining with her voice. I could listen to that all day. And so the ride ended with as much laughter and pleasantry  as it started with. This is why I love what I do.