I get asked a lot what my most interesting ride has been. A lot of them have been interesting. You never know who gets in and out of your car from ride to ride. One night, I drove a woman who used to work in concert promotion. Yes, she had some stories. Sometimes, you get a couple – or two couples, who are just lubricated enough to talk, and the conversation goes sideways. In a good way, but I usually find myself laughing at the end of those rides.
But my most interesting ride came at the end of my first bar close shift. A word about working bar close. After midnight, especially on Friday and Saturday night, it’s a crap shoot who’s going to get in your car or even if they show up. The combination of alcohol and fatigue does not bring out the best in people. In fact, it tends to bring out the worst after 2 AM. And from 2-3 AM the Sunday morning following Cincinnati’s Bunbury Festival was no exception.
But after 3? I found myself on the city’s West Side for my last rides. I live on the east side near Kenwood, the shopping district near wealthy Indian Hill and some more modest towns. Uber has a feature that lets you enter a destination to move toward by a certain time, so when I first headed over to the West Side after bar close, I put my house into the app. And then I decided to pick up one last ride. It was the night of a major festival. There might be some stragglers downtown or in Over-the-Rhine. Right?
My instincts were correct. As I reached downtown, the app flagged a ride along Seventh Street. I rolled up on a pizza place that, to my surprise, was still open after 3 AM. Go figure. A rather attractive young girl and a well-dressed man got in the car. She was giggling.
“Do you know this apartment complex in Hyde Park?” she asked.
I did. And it was on my way home. To say that I was happy about this was an understatement, especially after one of the most stressful hours of my Uber career.
I start the ride, and we’re soon headed up I-71 toward the city’s northeast side. The next thing I hear is the girl whispering, “This is how I used to do it.”
Her head disappears. Wait. Is she doing what I think she doing?
I hear a smacking sound, and my male passenger looks like he’s in a trance when I glance in the rearview. Now, I know Uber has community guidelines about this. Unfortunately, I never memorized them, so I had no clue how to respond to this. OK, maybe she’s being naughty by giving her boyfriend an Uber to remember. I know I’d remember it, and I was up front driving. Then, as I’m getting off the exit to head to their apartment, the man grunts.
Immediately, I start thinking about Uber’s infamous vomit bounty, wherein you pay Uber $200 for spilling bodily fluids in a driver’s car. Usually, it’s vomit. I’ve heard stories of other secretions best not mentioned here, but they’re often the result of excessive drinking. Up to this point, the only person to toss their cookies in my car expected it to happen and brought her own barf bag.
But this sort of… residue?
I sigh and get it overwith, taking them to the apartment. A funny thing happened when the ride ended. She went into one building. He went into the other. I’ve gone from envying the guy (and no, I’ve never asked my wife to try anything similar) to worrying about my backseat with its cloth covers to… WTF? Normally, that sort of thing is foreplay. I had assumed my passengers would be almost to hot and heavy to make it into their apartment before the clothes came off. But nope. They went their separate ways.
The kicker? They left me a clean backseat, absolutely no noticeable trace that they had even been in the car. Still the strangest ride I’ve ever taken.
And yes, the next day, I looked up what you were supposed to do as a driver in that situation. Uber does, in fact, frown on that sort of thing.