Buddy, Need A Lyft?

So I guess with this new company you can now get your car from a vending machine. Anyone else see problems coming? Guy standing at the bottom looking up, patiently waiting for his Prius and it hangs over the edge, stuck just like a real vending machine. He has to call 2 buddies over to rock the building back and forth to get the car down. Another guy is pissed because he pushed the button for a Range Rover and got a Kia. “Motherfucker! This always happens! Hey Trent, run me to the bank. I’m gonna get $20,000 in quarters and try it again.”

The food delivery had started a downward trend. Where once I could make $120 if I hustled my ass off, it had dwindled to about $80. I couldn’t bother thinking about the horrible hourly rate it came to; I only knew the numbers screamed it wouldn’t be long until I was unsheltered, and then “Katy bar the door”. On top of the declining income, the Camry was unreliable in the scariest of ways. I’d just received news about a pretty good buddy from back in college who died suddenly. He’d had some tough years, but was clawing his way out of a deep hole, and was ready to rejoin society. Then two days after proclaiming 2019 would be “his year”, he had a fatal heart attack. And…he drove an old Camry. I have to admit the parallels scared me.

One day the Camry had a blown tire and I needed an Uber to the tire store. I struck up a chat with the driver and I asked him generally what kind of money he made. “I start real early, like around 5:30, and then take a few hours off in the afternoon before working a few hours in the early evening. I make around $150, maybe $200.” The words rung in my head like the 3:00 PM bell telling students school is over for the day. I wanted to investigate further.

I discovered that both Uber and Lyft had a car rental program. For a $250 deposit, and $250 per week, minus some very tough ride incentives, I could rent a new-ish Elantra and begin driving for Lyft. Uber’s program was similar but the deposit was $500, and non-refundable. It took less than 2 days to register for Lyft and pass the background check. Now the issue was how to come up with $250, a near-impossibility in my situation. I HAD to get into Lyft; it might be the difference between a roof over my head or sleeping with Cracker in the back of the Camry. And the weather was turning colder in LA. Why the weather turns colder as your situation becomes dire is anyone’s guess. But I never hear the weatherman say, “Hey if you’re homeless and unsheltered, you’re in luck! There’s a nice warming trend coming our way. You might even want to keep the windows of your car cracked as you sleep in a Costco lot.”

Fate stepped in, if only to say, “We’re out of the good stuff, but here’s a bone dog. Bon appetit.” A friend of mine had seen this site and sent $100 to the PayPal account. He had no idea what was going on, he just wanted to help. I hadn’t heard from him in a couple of months so this was really unexpected. When I received the notification of a deposit to my account I swear I got a hardon that would have made my 20 year-old self proud. I was only $150 away at this point. Holy shit, maybe there WAS a future. The next days I put in extra time with DoorDash and Uber Eats, although during their lean hours. Instead of the usual $13-$14 per hour I only averaged about $10. It took about 4 days to get the $150 but finally I had it and immediately signed up for the Lyft Express plan. They sent me an email stating I could pick up my car and go through orientation the following day. It was scheduled right smack in the middle of my lunchtime deliveries but I didn’t give a fuck. I’d figure out how to make up that missing $25 bucks later. As much as I didn’t appreciate the excellent money I made just a few years ago, I sure as hell appreciated this chance. It might not be the ultimate goal I’d been seeking, but it was going to be an improvement…maybe. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details”.

Welcome to Lyft.

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