Drunk and Disorderly
By P.S. Gifford
So, on Saturday I picked up one of the drunkest people I have ever encountered.
I was driving for Lyft and they had a promotion they call the streak. If you accept and complete five rows in a row (without turning the app off or cancelling a ride) you get twenty-five dollars. Now i have done five short rides in ninety minutes or less before. But, of course, they were all longer rides. But they paid a decent amount and the tippers were out on Saturday so i was in a cheery mood.
I needed just one more ride. It was approaching midnight and I got a hit. I blinked several times as i looked at my phone- it was a forty-five minute plus ride. Now I do not know the destination until after i pick up the fare. But I do, of course, know the destination. I considered cancelling and forfeiting the twenty-five dollars. Long rides without a surge are seldom worth it. You can end up in the middle of nowhere, far from home, and you still have to spend time and gas getting home- typically without a paying passenger. I did know where i was picking up however- in the gated upscale community of Coto De Caza- best known for the housewives. It was a ten mile pick up- again further than i normally go.
As I followed the route I cringed as the quickest route was on a toll road- I do not get reimbursed for those unless I have a passenger, but I did know it was only 71 cents. So, as i turned up Nick Cave, onward i went.
Now as i was approaching the destination, about three minutes out, my phone rings. It is my passenger. Now i have a weird thing about phones. I do not like them. In fact, I get panicky and sweaty when I need to answer one. perhaps as I have received so much bad news over the years from a phone call.
But, I answered.
"Hello, this is Paul, your Ub...erm...Lyft driver."
"Hell-burp-o this iz Dick (Not his real name.) Wherest are yous."
"Almost there, Dick."
"Okays wese be wait-belch-ing"
So now i knew what challenge i would have in front of me. From experience drunks are either rude and aggressive or overly nice and far too friendly- treating you like you are their long lost school buddy from Hogwarts.
I get to the security gate and the elderly guard approached my car, I rolled my window down. After the usual quick conversation, the first drawbridge- I mean gate- raised and I go through the Romanesque pillars to the second gate that also raised.
I was in.
As Nick cave was crooning Higson Blues, I approached my destination. It is at the racquet club. I pull up under the arches behind a black Escalade. I see the suited driver fussing over something near his vehicle. It was then a young uniformed valet bounded over to my car.
"Hello, I am here to pick up Dick."
"Okay, but can you back out please the bride and groom are on their way out."
"Dick, DICK, your ride is here."
It is then i catch first sight of him. He looked as if he could be playing for the All Blacks (That is the most famous rugby club in the world by the way.)
He lumbered over. He was wearing a suit with his tie hanging down. He was having difficulty walking as he made his way toward me. I wanted to back out, and then hit the throttle and exit in a Paul Newman kind of way.
I did not.
He opened the door and fell in.
His face was completely flushed.
"letz goo," he managed to say.
I backed out and set off. I see we are going near Huntington Beach pier as a first stop. I was going to question it but Dick had fallen asleep. I was happy about the destination as late on a Saturday night that was prime real estate for a driver.
Nick Cave was belting out "Do you love me," now.
Attempting to channel Nick's abundance of cool I go back through the gates. I am almost on the freeway when Dick awakens.
"I needs a drinky."
"No, you've had too many."
As we were passing a Del Taco I decided against my better judgement to go through the drive through.
"Have you any money?"
After much fumbling in his pocket, Dick pulled out a wallet, waved it at me like a victory flag, and then presented me with a debit card. It was from School's First Credit Union- I wondered if Dick was a teacher.
I lower Nick and roll my window down.
"Get me taco's," Dick said, “and whatever you want."
Now again against my better judgement- drunk and taco consumption is a messy combination- I obliged and got him three soft tacos. I got myself a loaded beef burrito and added two small cokes. I don’t know why as I loathe soda.
We got the food and set off.
Now have you ever seen a feeding time at the zoo?
He attacked the tacos with such vigor and enthusiasm the thought still nauseates me. As if that wasn't enough he was omitting noises that were indecent to say the least.
I turned Nick back up to loud.
As the feeding frenzy continued we settled on the freeway.
Soon Dick was snoring again- rather like a hippopotamus who had been hit with a tranquilizer dart.
I went from freeway to freeway and finally to side streets.
We arrived on PCH which always puts me in jolly spirits. Even after midnight it is glorious.
We go passed the pier and I see my destination is on the ocean side. I pulled up alongside the highway at the precise ping. There is nothing remotely resembling a residence or a lodging. I needed Dick. Let me rephrase that. I needed to awaken my passenger.
"Dick, DICK, we are here."
I noted the next destination was fifteen miles inland.
"Dick we have arrived."
He stirred from his hibernation.
He looked around.
"Am I picking something up?"
"I don't know. I assumed I was taking you home."
"Where are we?"
"As you put that in as the address."
"I live in Mission Viejo." He said. (Handily near my house.)
"What is this next stop in Santa Ana?"
"I don't know....Take mes home pleaze...I will pay you."
"Where do you live in Mission Viejo?"
"Do you have a driving license?
His eyes opened wide and again he fumbled.
He pulled out his license and I put the address into my sat-nav. It was another forty minutes.
We set out yet again. I just wanted this ride to end.
Nick ended. I put Joy Division on. I was feeling dark.
Dick fell asleep once more.
After what seemed like days and days we finally pulled up on the street on his license. I was afraid that he may have moved and there was another forty-five minutes with him ahead of me.
I pulled up.
It took me a couple of minutes to arouse Dick. For a moment i thought he might be dead- and was thinking what an inconvenience that would be.
His eyes opened. he blinked several times.
"That's my truck!"
He climbed out my car. At this point he was a bit soberer. He noticed the taco remains on my seat and actually cleaned them up with all the precision of a boxer in his gloves sewing the hem on a floral summer dress.
"I will tip you my friend, he slurred as he rambled up his driveway.
I ended the ride I made eighty-three dollars in the two hours we shared together minus gas. Plus, I hit my twenty-five-dollar bonus.
It was one in the morning. I switch Lyft off and click Uber on.
Two minutes later I am off to get my next passenger.
As 'Love will tear us apart again,' filled my Cadillac I wondered what the next passenger or passengers will be like.
I don’t suppose he will even remember the trip until he sees his bank account.
Oh. I never did get that tip he promised.