I haven’t written at all about my rideshare driving experience even though I have loads of great stories. 95% of the time I meet people who are interesting and/or kind. 4% of the time it’s just pleasant, but nothing to write home about or store in my brain. .7% is time that I won’t get back, and the other .3% are miserable human beings who are so miserable with their own lives they behave like an asshole. This morning I was inspired after my encounter with Kurt.

I arrived at the given address and my blue dot was right smack on top of the location pick up pin. It was a very busy morning at the Little America Hotel, chaotic even. Lots of people, mostly women, waiting. People loading luggage into suburbans and piling into them. The one man waiting didn’t budge when he saw me pull up.

So I text this person I’m trying to find.

“Hey Kurt, are you at the Little America?”

This is a nice way of saying, “Hey, I’m here. Where are you?”

He responds almost immediately.

“I’m at 500 Main Street. Where are you?”

I respond.

“I’m at the Little America, right where the pin is.”

He responds.

“When I put in 500 Main Street, I expect to be picked up at 500 Main Street.”

I think to myself, wow, what a douchebag. I get out of my car and ask the valet person, “what’s the address here?” It isn’t posted, and I know 555 Main Street is The Grand America across the street.

“500 Main Street. What are you looking for?”

“500 Main Street”

“Did you call the person?”

“I texted him. He told me that when he puts in 500 Main Street, he expects to be picked up at 500 Main Street.”

Valet person smiles, his blue eyes twinkle just a bit.

“Well, you’re at 500 Main Street.”

“Yep.” I get back in my car.

There’s a message from Kurt.

“I’ve had this problem with Uber before.”

I respond.

“500 Main Street is the Little America.”

I close out the conversation, because I have nothing more to say. I don’t know who Kurt thinks he is, but now he needs to find another ride. Immediately after I hit cancel, another person a few minutes away pops up.

She gets in my car. I ask her how her morning is going. She says it’s fine. She asks me how my morning is going. I tell her about Kurt. We laugh and she agrees that he can go fuck himself. We have a nice conversation about people who think they are important and entitled and behave like assholes. Turns out she’s my neighbor down the street.

Later, as I’m giving the play by play to my mother on the phone, I realize that I have new material for my yoga class. Who knows how the rest of Kurt’s morning went, or how the rest of his time in Salt Lake will be. Who knows why Kurt is apparently miserable. Wouldn’t surprise me if he has a difficult time wherever he goes. It is important to remember how and what we contribute to our shared experiences. We get much further in life, in this case literally (even though he was just going somewhere on State Street one Brigham Young block east), when we treat people with kindness.

FWIW, Uber does have Community Guidelines. It plainly states that riders and drivers are expected to treat each other with respect. Kurt failed this morning.

Snowstorm Stripes

I drove this dude from Ft. Worth, Michael, out to Park City this morning from the airport up through Parley's Canyon in a snowstorm. Before we reached Sugar House there were warnings for semis to put chains on their tires. (I grew up in Dallas and lived in NYC as a pedestrian for 7 years before I moved to Utah a year and a half ago.) Parley's Canyon on a good day is treacherous because it's steep, curvy, and people drive like maniacs. Before we reached Lamb's Canyon, traffic reached a standstill. I offered Michael to take him back to Salt Lake, but he flew in to go skiing. 

On the way to pick him up I was thinking about my very first friend Michael, who died 20 years ago with his girlfriend after colliding with a semi driving from Keuka College to his girlfriend's parents' house upstate in a blizzard. He was killed instantly, she died later at the hospital. It must have been gruesome and horrific. The accident happened shortly after his 21st birthday, he was buried days later on my birthday. 20 years ago last Sunday. 

I learned how to drive in the snow last year after I moved to Utah. Everyone's advice is to go slow, avoid hills and other drivers. It works pretty well, except when you're on a highway during morning rush hour traffic. 

I was telling Michael from Ft. Worth about my mom and brother getting stuck in the snow in Bears Ears a couple weeks ago on their way to Salt Lake from Dallas. Spending the night in the car, how they could have died, and that they were rescued by a satellite phone feature in the rental car and an $1100 tow. We approached what appeared to be the snarl, a car on the shoulder turned over on the driver's side. 

"They survived!" I told him, finishing the story, hoping the same was true for the occupants of the turned on its side car. He laughed. 

We finally got past Jeremy's Ranch, snow and slush became wet road and sprinkling rain. The clouds began to break. I could go the speed limit again. Captain Badass played as we exited Kimball Junction. I'm pretty sure Michael from Ft. Worth took notice and acknowledged quietly to himself what a badass job I did getting us through that snowstorm through Parley's Canyon without incident. When I dropped him off I gave him a fist bump and said thanks for being on that adventure with me. He gave me a nice tip. 

As it turns out, as it is in favorable weather conditions, the drive back to Salt Lake through Parley's Canyon is more treacherous. The snow had stopped and roads were plowed. People drive like maniacs, and it's mostly downhill. The left lane was closed because a subaru ran into a guard rail just before the runaway semi exit. The whole right fender was gone and it was turned around 360 degrees. After the curve a compact chevy almost drove into my line and would have hit me if I hadn't slowed down (and honked). Shortly after that, a semi changed his mind about exiting 215 and just started moving into the right lane almost taking out the compact chevy. I had time and space to move to the left lane, but the semi was making no excuses about coming over. That could have been real nasty.

I earned some driving courageously in the snowstorm through Parley's Canyon stripes today. I've often thought of driving as a metaphor for life. Sometimes you have no choice but to face what's thrown at you with courage and humor. 

I've driven hundreds of thousands of miles since the mid-90s, about 20 of those miles have been in the snow, none on the highway until today. Michael from Ft. Worth was pretty chill about it. He even told me he wasn't nervous when I asked if he was. Thank goodness, I needed him to be not nervous. He laughed quite a bit, and he seemed to have a good time. So did I. It was for sure a rite of passage.