Thursday, October 8, 2015

Death cab for cuties

Bowie still looks this good. Drinking the blood of young virgins has its benefits.

There were little cupcakes with pink mustaches, trays of them, actual employees of Lyft handing them out to sugar-starved drivers. By the time I arrived, about a half hour late, most of the buffet had been picked clean but I managed to scrape together three beef tacos and a Coke. Some attendees were carrying around plushy Lyft mustaches, like kids with stuffed animals.

I wondered if the Nazis served cupcakes with little red and black swastikas on them. Probably no one was passing out little Hitler doll pillows but they would have had beer.

Rush hour was over by the time I left, the sun almost set. From the parking lot across the street, I watched the room drain while I smoked a cigarette, AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock” pounding on my pod. Then, I got in my car and drove, apps on and sipping an energy drink.

I probably should have skipped the party and taken advantage of fewer drivers working the streets. God knows, the rest of the night sucked. For instance:

“Where are you at?”

“Where you asked to be picked up at, on the west side of O.H.S.O.”

“No, I’m at 39th and Camelback, I don’t know why you’re there.”

“I’m there because that’s what you punched into the app.”

I cancelled the call and then let his new request time out when it came. I’d taken a new call in the interim, a rider much closer than he. He’d messed up and he looked like one of those “Can I play my music?” whiners with shitty taste.

Many times (Tempe, mostly), I don’t indulge that, you’re not going far enough for me to care. It’s the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band or stick your head out the window.

Once, I picked up a car load of servers who had been on a field trip to their west side store. It seemed like they initially thought they were going to Water World or someplace else fun because none of them seemed happy with having been taken across town to their own damned job in a bus that broke down and made them even more late for whatever teen gathering they had on their agenda.

We were on I-10 and Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was on, not the most upbeat tune in the world but enough to drown out the puerile prattle bubbling in the backseat.

“Do we have to listen to this elevator music?” some girl said in a voice as pleasant as a cat being strangled.

“What do you want to hear?” some obsequious seat sitter asked. I hadn’t said anything, wondering how anyone could consider Bauhaus elevator music. My mind was on the road, traffic still heavy on the 10, me flying down the HOV lane like a seasoned smuggler pilot looking to drop his load as quickly as possible.

“Ummm, I dunno,” the voice crinkled like a sheet of tin, “Maybe some Country?”

I wanted to cross five lanes of traffic, stop the ride and scream, “Get out! Now! No one asks for Country in this car!”

The last guy I let put on his own music provided some pretty good stuff from a DJ I’d heard of but not heard. I’m pretty good about picking the right people to allow monkeying around with my music. Mostly though, passengers are really good with what’s playing or it’s good enough for them to get through the ride. And, if I’m driving Miss Daisy, I’m going to skip through the Geto Boys. More often than not though, my passengers say they like what’s playing.

Back in the day before You Tube, a common blog meme was “random shuffle” post of 10 songs they’d heard. It was pretty self-indulgent and a lot of people cheated so that no one would know that they had “We’re an American Band” on their pod. With that aside, I’m going to revive that meme corpse in order to illustrate what riders of mine might experience:

Yes - I've Seen All Good People
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Hairspray Heart
Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
Burning Spear - Walk
Machine Head - Aesthetics of Hate
Half Japanese - Gift
Share - Empathy For the Devil
Elton John - Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Tom Waits - Clap Hands

The other night, an older couple was stoked when an aria from “Aida” came up. Last night, some doctor I picked up at the VA downtown remarked, “Good song,” when Miles Davis appeared with “So What?” At times, my pod seems to get stuck in a Stax/Volt groove and it’s occurred to me that I loaded way more Zydeco into iTunes than I’d thought.

Obviously, I’m passionate about music and making me drive people around without my tunes would be a good way to get me to set my car on fire.

Setting your car on fire close to gas pumps ensures that you get the job done right.

Good music takes the edge off of driving around the city, dodging amateurs and dealing with drunks. Asking me to play some crotch-punchingly bad song on your iPhone is a safety issue, so don’t do it. It’s better for everyone in the car if I remain sane and my ears aren’t bleeding as we careen our way to your destination.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Augustus Sol Invictus

Play this really, really loud for riders and then tell them you'll turn it down a notch for every
dollar they tip you.

I’ve been thinking about making this space to pimp for Florida’s Libertarian Party candidate for the US Senate. Augustus Sol Invictus, my new hero. I’m not throwing around my altar boy Latin, that’s the guy’s name, the one running for the Senate (his name should run for most sounding like the title of a Death Metal song). It means the Sun God will eat you in August or something. He walked from Florida to Arizona, apparently to find out why our news has become weirder than what’s happening in his festering bucket of batshit insanity.

Oh, he also sacrificed a goat and drank its blood. I assume he had God jerk the goat meat for him then kicked back with some Red Stripe and reggae. The goat must have been good with it and they called it assisted suicide (that being legal for goats in Florida) because he was never charged with anything. So, who wouldn’t vote for a guy with balls enough to kill a goddamned goat in his yard? It’s been too long since the US Capitol has seen a Senator strip naked and pour hot wax on himself.

Due to a couple of nights off during “Hot” times (high demand Friday/Saturday, not the weather, which has been civilized and nice enough to have riders request I keep the windows down), I ended up with my apps open for more than 14 hours on Sunday night. Drove my ass off I did, a couple of times needing to pull into a QT to gather back what ass I have to give. My behind carries enough cushioning to fill a ping pong ball so a few hours of back-to-back rides can get to be excruciating.
Quik Trip is popular with drivers and cabbies. As any driver will tell you, QT has it dialed in with a uniform store set up and serviceable, accessible bathrooms. Knowing a place to pee is important, day or night. Carrying around a piss jug is bound to deflate a driver’s ratings.

At about two hours before bar closing time, several of us were interspersed among the panhandlers in front of the QT, shaking out our sore asses, grabbing coffee and snacks, taking a piss stop. I had just lit up the cigarette I’d twisted when Tammy approached me, a driver from way back. After the usual “Slow tonight?” and other driver small talk, she had me befriending her on Facebook in order to get invites for a couple of ride-share driver groups.

Yet another grabass Internet jabberthon, I thought, as entertaining as the drag queen and her weird friend at four in the morning, dragging mud into the car and asking to stop at Jack’s 24-hour box, prattling on about rolling in the rain, the E she did still kicking in, while the weird friend remains stony, silent, sitting in the dark.

Like most groups it had the standard personality-type dynamic but there were some posts that were helpful, somewhat informative. No hacks for doubling fare amounts, no lurid Penthouse Forum exploits, no high-speed chases and flipping cars, unfortunately. I clicked a few likes and left after about five minutes, not terribly interested in app idiosyncrasies or the finer points of barf bags.
Some of the drivers posting there struck me as gung-ho to the degree of Kool-Aid drinkers. They say they’re making good money, good for them. I’m not hosting freaking High Tea in my car, they’re not getting free snacks and a baw-baw of water. There are only so many fucks I have to give during the day and a hungry, thirsty passenger isn't in the list I make for where those fucks are given.

One of the groups informed me that Lyft is hosting a pep rally tonight, the Kool-Aid served up in pink moustache cups.  Cash bar though, so it’s not like I’ll be showing up to slam a few shots and then hit the road to tell all my passengers how awesome it is to drive drunk for Lyft.

For Halloween, I might fill an empty Jack Daniels handle with tea and then swig on it while telling passengers, “You might have paid for the ride but the fun’s on me!” Have a toy pistol on the dash along with some ripped wanted posters with my picture on them.

Maybe have a goat in the car.

Tell them how about my new hero, how he, “renounced his citizenship in one paper, and in another he prophesied a great war, saying he would wander into the wilderness and return bearing revolution.” Then, offer them some Lyft Kool-Aid.