This month, we begin an occasional series chronicling life in various workplaces. This month, we hear from Lutzka Zivny, who drives for Lyft, an app-based ride-sharing service, in San Francisco. She’s been collecting the inspiring, funny, touching, and sometimes bizarre conversations that occur in her minivan since she started driving for Lyft last year.
Amongst Lyft drivers, Sunday mornings are affectionately known as the “Lyft of Shame” shift -- and this particular Sunday, a young woman in last night's clothes and traces of makeup gets in my van. This is clearly a Lyft of Shame. However, this partygoer doesn’t have the wobbly gait that screams “hangover.” She has impressive balance on her heels and clearly knows her liquor limits.
She’s very friendly, so I inquire after her night. "Not a bad first date, but I don't think I will see him again," she volunteers. "He just spent what would have been two days of my teacher's salary on dinner and cocktails in a ridiculously pricey restaurant. I told him I was not that kind of a girl, but he insisted on burning through his money. So who am I to argue? He's rich."
I am trying to determine if being rich is actually a grievance.
"So you spent the night regardless of his conspicuous wealth?" I ask.
She is not confused about her motivations. "He was cute enough for one night -- his personal trainer does a great job -- but his values are all wrong," she says. "He doesn't even volunteer anywhere."
Now there’s a complaint one doesn't hear every day.
Shaken, Not Stirred
10 p.m. in front of Martuni's, a bar with a reputation for ridiculously large martinis. (I know from experience that this is true.) A guy making out in front of the bar turns out to be my passenger. He pulls away from his partner with some difficulty and hops in my car.
"Happening night at Martuni's?" I want to know.
"It all started as a work meeting," he shares, "but now I am very drunk, I’m afraid."
I reach for a puke bag, just in case, and encourage him to elaborate.
"I was interviewing him to be a guitarist in my band. I couldn't have known he was going to be this cute! This will lead to complications."
"Is this guy single, and are you single?"
"Both single," he confirms.
"Well, no reason why you couldn't work together. But if you think the band is not going to like it, probably better if you stop at that?"
"Not a chance!” He exclaims, “this is definitely on."
"Okay, just don't fall in love. The band is not gonna like it," I tell him.
"Totally! He is my Yoko!"
I had to pull over so I could finish laughing without wrecking my car.
Walk on By
My passengers this time were three college-aged girls on the way back from dinner to their bed and breakfast rental -- about a five block ride.
Girl one: "I cannot believe we walked all the way there! Look how far it is."
Girl two: "How would you even buy groceries without a car? I just don't get it!"
Girl one: "It's like…you would have to go to Ralph's every other day! I would hate that!"
Girl three: "What do they do in New York?"
Me: "You guys are not from around here, are you…"
Two young women dressed in (self-described) football chic: football jerseys, tights, heels, hair carefully styled for that I-didn't-even-try look. They are on the way to a Superbowl party, which is supposed to be at a place that is "like a commune, but they bathe.”
One friend is worried about not knowing anything about football, including the rules of the game.
"Don't worry,” her friend tells her, “do what I do: Every time they stop the game, I yell 'face mask!' Guys are totally impressed. Been doing it for years. I think it has to do with the head gear.”
I quietly store this information for future use.
A very soft-spoken, young man in hipster gear on a way to his job gets in my car early in the morning. He mentions that he starts early since he is "in finance."
I point out he doesn't seem like a finance guy. I had him down for an artist or a barista at a pop-up café selling fair-trade coffee.
"I’m just a sensitive guy that happens to be in finance,” he tells me.
"And what is it that you like about being in finance?" I ask.
"I like the paperwork," he says, without a trace of irony.
"Paperwork. What is it that you like about paperwork?"
"It's great; I like organizing it."
I quietly give thanks that people like him exist.
Lutzka Zivny is an artist and graphic designer who lives in San Francisco..
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