The Longest Ride

As you can probably tell from my posts, I love driving for Uber. The great majority of my passengers are interesting, decent uman beings. To date, I have completed around 1,300 rides that ranged from uneventful to heartrending to hilarious. But I have always known that a horrendous ride was inevitable.

Most Uber drivers have at least one horror story. Mine came last night. If a ride like that were even close to a typical experience, I don’t think I’d still be driving.

It was raining. In fact, it had been raining for almost twenty-four hours in thick, steady streams. A relentless, drenching downpour.

The ping sent me to the Norva on Monticello, where a concert was just letting out. I pulled into a nearby driveway and called the passenger–Tiffany. A cheerful voice answered and told me they were across the street at the mall and would be over shortly. I offered to swing around, considering the weather, but she said not to bother.

The voice I heard turned out not to be Tiffany, but a mall employee who kindly showed her how to download the app and send for a ride. She then escorted Tiffany and her friend Doug across the street. And believe me, they needed some escorting.

Tiffany, a heavy, bespectacled black woman tumbled, sopping, into the back seat. Doug, a tall, thin, mop-headed white man followed her. He moved deliberately, like he was fully aware of his drunkenness. Tiffany, on the other hand, was an oblivious mess.

“This Uber is awesome!” she said when she saw my water and candy display. “Doug, you need to give this guy a big tip!”

“I will,” said Doug. “Thanks for the ride, dude.”

“No problem. You guys enjoy the concert?”

“Yeah. It was rad,” Tiffany said.

She was wobbly and having trouble focusing. And her innards were making unnatural rumbling noises. She belched.

I should have asked before pulling out into traffic, but I said, “Tiffany, are you feeling all right? You’re not going to be sick are you?”

“No, I’m okay,” she said. “I’m not going to puke in your car, dude.”

“Good. But let me know if you start feeling sick and I’ll pull right over.”

They talked semi-coherently about plans to get back for Tiffany’s car in the morning. Apparently, she had intended to drive home until the good Samaritan at the mall insisted on her getting an Uber.

The rain fell in curtains and I drove well below the speed limit. It was hard to converse with them because of the noise. Before he nodded off, I learned that Doug makes good money between his HVAC job and his side business making music videos. He told me Tiffany gets jealous of all the hot babes he works with when filming.

They appreciated my efforts at conversation and assured me again that they’d be tipping me.

“Give him like twenty dollars at least…no, twenty-five dollars, okay sweets?” Tiffany muttered.

“Absolutely. No problem. Man’s getting us home.”

Suddenly, Tiffany put down her window. Rain poured through.

“You okay?” I shouted.

“She’s gonna be sick,” Doug said.

I could hear her coughing and groaning and pulled to the shoulder. She leaned out, palms spread on the pavement, and heaved into a rain puddle. I popped the trunk and retrieved a bag-lined waste-basket I keep there.

When she finished and pushed herself back into the seat, I gave her some water and told her to keep her face in the trash can.

“If you throw up in my car, they’re gonna charge you.”

She just nodded. Doug was leaned back into the opposite corner, eyes closed, mouth open.

“I gotta pee,” Tiffany said.

“Okay. We’ll be home in eleven minutes. Can you hold it that long?”

“Uh huh–I mean, no. I gotta pee real bad.”

“Okay, don’t pee in my car. I’ll stop at the first place.”

“I gotta pee!”

“I know. Hold it.”

It took about five minutes to get to a Waffle House.

“It’s coming out,” she said.

“Do NOT pee in my car!” I shouted at her. “I’m pulling in here.”

I stopped a yard from the Waffle House door. She didn’t get out.

“Where are we?”

“We’re at Waffle House so you can pee,” I said.

“Where are my glasses?”

“I don’t know. Hurry up and go pee.”

“I can’t see anything without my glasses. Sweets, give me my glasses.”

Silence from Doug. She shoved him. “I need my glasses!”

Eyes still closed, Doug said, “I don’t have your f-ing glasses.”

“I can’t pee without my glasses!”

I turned around. Her glasses were on the seat beside her with her phone and a pile of loose, wet, broken cigarettes that had fallen from a soggy pack. I grabbed the glasses and shoved them at her.

“Here. Now get out and go pee.”

She mushed them onto her face and pushed open the car door. She stumbled onto the curb and tried to open the door from the wrong side–the side without a handle. Since that didn’t work, she walked out into the rain looking for another door.

I got out and opened the door for her. She disappeared for a good ten minutes. I was about to go looking for her when she wobbled back into view and climbed into the back seat again. Doug hadn’t budged.

I drove as fast as I could in the storm to get them home. Less than a mile away, we were waiting in a left-turn lane when I heard her trying to find the door handle. I slammed the car into park, reached back and opened the door for her. Her spew hit the inside of the door as it opened and she resumed her position–butt inside the car, head and torso propped by two arms on the black top. I watched the signal turn green twice before she’d finished.

I almost skidded to a stop in their cul-de-sac. I shouted to wake up Doug.

I got out in the rain to open Tiffany’s door. She was leaning on it, and I had to push her head with one hand so she didn’t topple into the street.

“Give him some money,” she muttered at Doug and zig-zagged toward one of the houses.

Doug was groggy, slow, regaining awareness. He got out his wallet and stared in it for a few seconds before declaring. I don’t have any money. Tiff, you got any money?”

But Tiffany was up the driveway.

“Forget it, Doug. Just get out, okay?”

As he was getting out, I viewed the mess still in the backseat.

“Wait,” I leaned in. “Here’s her phone and her license.”

I pushed the soggy cigarettes and packet into the unused wastebasket, then spotted something on the floor where Tiffany had been sitting. I picked it up between two fingers and immediately flung it into the trashcan.

It was a pair of sopping wet, thong panties.

I washed my hands using a water bottle and a roll of paper towels I keep in the trunk. Then I inspected the back seat.

There were smears of vomit on the door, headrest and seat back. I didn’t clean anything. First, I had to record the mess. Home wasn’t far away, so I cracked the windows and drove. After washing up inside, I took a bunch of pictures and submitted a damage report to Uber.

They charged Tiffany $150 for the cleanup.

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