Update: People Still Dumb

My recent temp assignment ended last Friday. I wasn’t sad about it. Originally, my wrangler told me it was a four week, 9:30-5, Monday-Friday thing.

He knows how I feel about this.

But, having not been on assignment for 16 months, I took it, despite not wanting to commit full-time to anything. My rationale was twofold: first, it’ll change up my pandemic imposed only-driving schtick; and, as an added bonus might serve to get me a future assignment.

Work is about relationships.

Anyway, it turned out that this business was BiPOC and woman-owned, so I felt even better for taking the plunge. Despite the fact that the owner referred to it on day one as a six week assignment.

Once again, sticking it out played into my favor, because after the scope was explained to me – entering eight months of payroll data into QuickBooks – and I was up and running, it seemed like a fine way to go blind pass some time. Once I knew what I was doing, I even asked the owner how many pay periods she reasonably thought I should be able to get through in a day. She replied that two seemed about right…and I figured that I could do two pay periods in about six hours, so suddenly things were looking rather part-time for your favorite grumpopatomus.

Even better was the math suggesting that I’d be done in two week’s time at that pace!

Fear not…it was an interesting two weeks.

I’d drive a little on my way to the office, arriving at 10, well ahead of the owner each of the three times I saw her. Then I’d give a few rides on the way home so I arrived after paid street parking hours – I’m crafty like that. Really, I felt like I was having the best of both worlds, so I was content.

Until…because there’s always another shoe, right?

Oregon lifted nearly all restrictions just before the Fourth of July. The result was that if you weren’t certain where you were, you might think you were in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras.

Seriously, people were out in such numbers that they were packed to overflowing on the sidewalks. There were some corners where cars had to drive single file through a four lane intersection simply to avoid striking someone.

Because, somehow that would be the driver’s fault.

Anyway, I got a call on one such weekend night here in the Alphabet District to pick someone up a few blocks from my home. The pickup was on 14th at Hoyt, about two blocks from where a freeway exit dumps off about a quarter of the traffic of people coming downtown to party on weekends.

Of course these idiots take their full five minute wait time (and then some) to get down onto the street and into my car. Because when you’re getting picked up on a two lane road that close to a freeway off ramp, why would you concern yourself with minor details like how your lack of readiness impacts dozens of other people while your driver is double-parked in that five minute window?

Speaking of details, the app warns people of the company policy to protect its passengers and drivers – specifically, no one sits in the front seat and everyone wears masks. It pops up every damn time you book a ride.

Twice

Naturally, these considerate people are on a double date and ask if one of them can sit in the front. Since I was already done for the night and so close to home, I figured “Why not?”

I could be the cool mom.

Plus, I’d seen that they were only going to 9th and Couch, so it was going to be a quick ride…four blocks over and five blocks down. They quite probably could have walked there in the amount of time it took me to drive to them. Probably they could have even walked there in the six minutes I ended up waiting for them.

Naturally, once these inconsiderate idiots had piled in and we were underway, I saw that none of them had put on masks. After mentioning it, their leader said he didn’t know that was still a thing – and that they were all vaccinated.

I mentioned the above opportunities for him to have realized that it was, in fact, still a thing. Adding in that vaccinated or not, the safeguards were put in place to protect everyone, not just their privileged asses. But not wanting to harsh their mellow, I mentioned sometimes people miss things, like I had when it took two minutes for me to realize they weren’t wearing masks – while I was also driving.

This snot-nosed little shithead suggested that maybe my app needed updating.

Yeah, because this is my main source of income.

Sure

I was telling him that I was just being polite earlier and what a dumbass he must be for missing two reminders of the policies when we pulled up to the club and the line was around two corners of the block.

Two!

“Have fun!” I yelled as they slammed their car doors. I fully suspect they walked right up to the club entrance, pretending they didn’t notice the line.

Idiots.

Sharing this story with the only person I regularly saw at my temp assignment, I got a lil TMI that turned my amused rage into stunned discomfort. This person was the company admin, a real Jane of all trades.

She mentioned never knowing who was vaccinated and who wasn’t – which gave me an opportunity to praise the diligence with which she managed the temperature log for visitors and also tell her I’d overheard her coworker mention to her that her mother had been on her to get her vaccination done.

Thin walls, small office.

This is where the overshare came in.

I learned that the office manager – who I’d never met – was out for two weeks, isolating after her daughter was contacted about a COVID close call. And that she was also not vaccinated.

Then, this woman whose company I had enjoyed in the office during my assignment volunteers that she also is not vaccinated. That’s three of the six other people in the office. The remainders, I didn’t know whether they were or weren’t, but was surprised to realized that I’d just assumed they were.

Like a fool.

I check in to see if she knew that the black community was disproportionately affected by COVID – and she admits that yes, she knows.

I ask if there’s more truth to the distrust that blacks are reported to have of medical science than I’d given it. While she affirmed that those reports of distrust were true, that wasn’t why she hadn’t gotten her vaccination.

She somehow felt it was important to share that in addition to being late 50s and overweight, she also has diabetes and asthma.

I ran out of fingers to tally her co-morbidities on.

“I prayed about it real hard”, she said earnestly. “I figure if Jesus wants me to get the shot, he’ll put it on my heart and I just haven’t felt that.”

Ok, what the fuck.

You don’t trust doctors because they are exceedingly not black…but the old whitey who lives in the clouds is your trusted authority?

I can see the death certificate now. Cause of Death: FAITH.

It was all I could do to not say what I was thinking…I hope Jesus puts that vaccine on your heart before Mother Nature puts COVID on your lungs.

The next week, the owner calls out sick two days in a row and takes a COVID test the third day. It’s embarrassing how permissive people are when it comes to letting themselves look like fools.

Update: People Still Dumb

Bright Side

I’m on my way to work. Taking the bus for free, no less, since TriMet has been running fareless July 3-5 in recognition of the Fourth of July holiday.

Wait…on your way to work, you say? I thought you were driving for Lyft.

Hold up…on the bus, you might wonder? You have Angela!

Yes, yes…these are all good observations and reasonable questions.

Short answers: Angela is currently parked at Les Schwab awaiting either a patch (🤞🏽🤞🏽🤞🏽) after picking up a screw – complete with washer – in her front driver’s side tire. I’d planned on a new set of wheels later this month, so hopefully I can get the patch versus dropping $1000-1300 a few weeks earlier than planned.

As for the “work” thing…yes, I’m still driving for Lyft and still largely loving it – despite the recent challenges of providing rides for Portlanders and her visitors in a newly fully opened city. However, when I left professional work three years ago and discovered the freedom of a mixed earning lifestyle, I had several income levers in my wheelhouse – one of which was being a Payroll and HR temp. Well, I finally booked a post-pandemic gig and that’s the job I’m heading into now.

Grateful for the free ride Trimet is providing today – especially since Les Schwab is closed today in observance of the holiday so there was no way to fix Angela up this morning. Hopefully, the patch plan prevails and I can drive myself to work tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I’ll be back on this urban limo for a paid ride.

Can you believe that was the short answer?

Here’s a little more context.

This temp job was billed to me by my agency as a four week gig, 9:30-5, Monday through Friday. More full-time than I wanted, but for only four weeks, I figured it would get me in good graces with the folks at Robert Half.

Of course, I show up and the owner is talking six weeks of work that needs to be complete by mid-July. That math worked out to a three and a half week gig. I didn’t panic, though, and after learning the scope of work and getting comfortable with the process, I should be finished by next Tuesday…I’m awesome like that. Naturally, the owner is already talking about stuff I can help her with that is also shit their actual Payroll Manager should be doing. Friday, she dropped a telephone sized stack of garnishments on my desk and asked me to get them entered into our system. I figure that if they are that far behind, they can wait another week until I finish my current task.

Then, maybe I’ll stick around to do them.

That maybe is due to another “of course” or “naturally” reality that I figure only exists because this is me we’re talking about. The Monday after I started this gig, Lyft dropped a bonus week…one of the good ones that I usually make close to $3k during.

I really wanted to participate! Especially since that’s about twice what I make driving less than part time in a week…which is still nearly double what I’ll make in a week of full-time temping.

“Quit” – the Silver Fox

I was definitely tempted. But my word is my bond, right? Plus, I wanted to remain in good standing with my agency, so…

The reality of my first film week on this assignment is that I can accomplish the pace of work that is expected of me in about six hours a day. That leaves plenty of time in the day for some driving.

Except, the amount of rides to earn the weekly bonus that was being offered is 114 or 135 to reach the max earnings. That max threshold equates to about 45-50 hours of driving.

Was I up for an 80 hour work week?!?

I goaled it all out and set a plan. Sadly, the plan was just to hit the minimum bonus, but I was still eager to see if I could accomplish it. The plan also included a night off from driving, but by Wednesday I was already a few rides behind, so I drove. That resulted in me being back on track, with a glimmer of hope for maxing out the bonus.

But the Silver Fox came back to town. Not that he isn’t 1000% supportive of my earning time and goals, but I wanted to spend time with my friend, so I was willing to trade that for only earning the minimum bonus.

Totally a fair trade!

So I paced myself accordingly, and enjoyed The Fox’s company while I could.

Sunday, I had only eight rides to complete to make my goal and grab that bonus cash! That was after driving a little longer than anticipated Saturday night because individual and very lucrative ride bonuses kept dropping as other drivers retired for the night.

Nothing wrong with that $45 ride at 2:50 AM!

I got home at 4 AM.

I was back on the road at 2 PM with a goal of being wrapped up and bellied up by 5:30 with The Fox.

Then I picked up that screw in east Portland on my third ride. I limped home and soothed myself with the notion of A) good effort, and B) I still got beer with the Silver Fox.

No bonus, though. I admit, I was pretty pissed.

Really pissed.

I wasn’t keen on dropping money I’d earmarked for my savings plan on tires. I set a goal to save $30k toward a down payment on a new condo by the time my lease comes up for renewal next March. Saving early to max out interest and investment gains is key to succeeding. That’s what stung the most in missing my goal and facing an expense sooner than I’d like. I’d been couching potential failure with the notion that our soft condo market could rebound by the time next March rolls around.

This curveball surprised me.

But you know the saying: if you want to make god laugh, make a plan.

That’s why I’m clinging to a free bus ride as a bright side. It’s all I got this weekend!

Bright Side

Sing What, Now?

I’ve always been amused at the way my mind will fill in the blanks with song lyrics. Understandably so, since musicians are not always the easiest folks to <ahem> understand.

Bob Dylan, anyone?

The Boss is no slouch, either, when it comes to swallowing a lyric.

Contemporary music doesn’t get a pass, either. Pick a rapper…any rapper. The fuck they sayin’?!?

So my mind gets caught up in the music, catches a few words here or there and fills in what I miss just to keep the vibe going and amuse myself in the process. And I’m not alone.

While Sacha and I were together, we took a weekend trip to Friday Harbor up in the San Juans for a colleague’s wedding. While we were there, we visited the local shops to enjoy the town between wedding events.

One of these shops was a ma & pa bookshop in what I think was a converted house. I could be remembering that wrong, but I do remember an upstairs and lots of books and crannies crammed with bookshelves.

It was in one of those upstairs nooks, with a window overlooking the harbor, that I found a book of musical malaprop. Hilarity ensued. It’s an enduring memory of my time with Sacha.

My favorite entry from that book?

Big Old Chet Had A Rhino

No, it’s not a folk song about an American expat in Africa, saving endangered species. It’s actually a song by The Steve Miller Band:

And it’s actually a song called Jet Airliner. The misunderstood lyric?

🎼🎼Oh…big, old jet airliner, don’t carry my too far away. Oooh-oh-oh…big, old jet airliner, cuz it’s here that I’ve got to stay.🎼🎼

Somehow this prompted Sacha to share a lyric that – if I recall correctly – he’d figured out, despite all of his friends misunderstanding it. Ironically, it happened to be a song by one of my personal favorites:

Voices Carry

It’s an album that got me through high school after my family moved halfway across the country. Suffice to say, I knew the lyrics front and back.

They were not the lyrics he knew, though. He’d have bet his eye teeth that the lyric was 🎼🎼Hush, hush even downtown voices carry🎼🎼.

Like that makes any sense. I mean, I guess it does – just not in the context of the song. I, on the other hand, knew that this was a song about a controlling and possibly abusive significant others.

🎼Hush, hush…keep it down, now…voices carry🎼🎼

Her boyfriend would abuse her and when she’d cry out, he’d add insult to injury by shushing her. He stripped her of not only her power as a woman, but also of her voice by insisting she keep quiet about what she endured.

Kind of an irony, given Sacha’s tendencies to keep me from mentioning him in my blog – masked identity or not. Two decades later, he’s still telling me to keep it down.

Putz.

On the other hand, I have my own moments of musical malaprop. And they amuse the heck out of me. Even when I think I’ve got it, I find out…I don’t got it.

Sometimes that’s a slow process. Last Friday, I was out doing my Friday night drive shift. I love driving Friday nights, I’ve no desire to pack my old ass into a crowded bar, so it’s a good alternative. I get people with lives plans to and from, experiencing a vicarious thrill in the process.

I also get to listen to my favorite radio show on my favorite station here in Portland, KINK. The program is four hours of 80s and 90s music from 8:00 to midnight, called Party Out Of Bounds – riffing on a line from a B-52s song. It’s honestly – no disrespect to my regular thing with Bubble Boy 2.0 – my favorite night of the week…because I have an emotional connection to the music, not so much with Bubble Boy. Well, ok, I have a connection…I’m not a sociopath. He, on the other hand, merely has an erection – and a figurative itch he can’t scratch on his own.

Even though it occasionally serves up a little personal schadenfreude…as it did the other night, it’s a rather pleasant way to spend an evening. Again, no disrespect to Bubble Boy.

Lump

Ever heard of a band called Presidents of the United States of America? They might be the best underrated band ever, or they might be a one album wonder. Who knows?

What I did know, though, was that it started out – as did I, at the top of my lungs – 🎼🎼Love sat alone in a boggy marsh🎼🎼

So imagine my chagrin to be driving along, alone between rides the other night and chancing to glance at my dash display to see this song wasn’t called “Love” as I had thought for too many decades…but “Lump”.

Ok, that’s just fucking nonsense. Made me want to switch to a rap station, where I wouldn’t understand a damn word and wouldn’t have cared. I was rocked to my 80s and 90s music fanatical core.

Alas…the prophet Google reinforced my musical ignorance.

Ok, my moment of idiocy was cushioned by the reality that the lyrics were utter drivel.

Seriously, though…sub “love” in for “lump” and there’s one line that’s weird. But as is, it’s all weird and I may never enjoy this song again without being seriously stoned.

I’ll stick with belting out 🎼🎼Is this love out of my head? I think so!🎼🎼 whenever I encounter this song – and let’s face it, every Friday night is a safe bet – versus replacing my superior, albeit incorrect, lyrics with that rock ‘n roll nonsense! If that makes me the musical equivalent of a Trumptard, so be it…

Time for you to play along at home…what are your musical malaprop secrets? Leave me some amusement in the comments!

Sing What, Now?

Pride Kickoff

Not that I – through my extensive observational research into the matter – find any significant reason to celebrate Pride, but I will chalk yesterday’s accomplishments up to just that.

For the chuckles.

And the rare opportunity to claim a butch bone in my body. Don’t get it twisted, Diezel…keep your thoughts G-rated adjacent.

You see, Angela has been giving me a “driver’s headlight malfunction” warning for months now. Actually, since my front tires crossed from my mechanic’s driveway into the street from having my passenger side headlight replaced. Having looked at it upon arriving home, I saw that both bulbs worked just fine, so…I proChristinated it.

Until, that is, a passenger got in my car and said, “You know your headlight is out, right?” But, since it was daytime, I assumed that indicated it was my running light, not my headlight and shrugged it off. Later that night, I checked my actual headlight again and all was well.

But it was a little hard to see, so I had a niggling concern. Then again, there’s an abundance of trees to obscure streetlights here in town and on top of that, plenty of cloud cover to block out any moonlight…so maybe it was less my headlight and more situational shituations.

I’m no fool, though. Well, no run of the mill fool, like certain <cough, cough> Trumptard-like <cough> people.

After gathering a quarter’s worth of strictly non-scientific data on the topic, I decided to replace my driver’s side headlight. Also, I kept seeing this reflected back in the bumper of cars ahead of me…

Eventually, I decided it was unlikely that this phenomenon was strictly coincidence based on car positions, rough road, etc. So yesterday, I wandered into my local auto parts <shudder> store. I’d looked up the part I needed online and they allegedly had it in stock. Further, I had watched a couple How To videos on the YouTube – the first was an overly complex passenger side replacement video that involved removing a windshield wiper fluid reservoir, and having never popped my hood myself, I wasn’t doing that! But the second video made the driver’s side replacement look ridiculously easy. So I stopped in and picked up the replacement bulb. There were three options because, I’m assuming, fuck everything and everyone. But after talking to the local associate, I felt like I understood why there were three options. Still, me being a decidedly milquetoast ninny when it comes to mechanical shiz, I bought the most expensive option…just to be safe.

Then I changed it in the parking lot, just in case my own mechanical ineptitude required me to either go into full Karen mode to offset my incompetence or just return the bulb when it proved the slightest bit different than the videos on the YouTubes.

I’d like to say everything proceeded apace. Alas…

I’ll be convalescing in the desert. Or the Gay Kulture Desert commonly referred to as “Portland”, at any rate. I’m saving the actual desert for my imminent betting-pool-defying Betty Ford stint.

So for $28, a little gumption and a scratch, I fixed a problem that previously cost me $70 to fix. That’s a good way to start Pride month: defying stereotypes and all.

Mind you, while driving last night, I realized the importance of proper headlight alignment. Every time I caught a reflection or my headlights tracked across an inanimate object, I go strong vibes, reminiscent of this meme…

Plus, my dashboard idiot light didn’t clear automatically, so I feel like there’s a “Hey, can you check…?” moment coming with my mechanic on my next visit to the garage that will somehow add $500 to the oil change I’m having done when he realizes I attempted to operate equipment I was not checked out on. <sigh>

But I tried! And as my fake southern grandmother always said, “Nothing beats a fail but a try”!

Pride Kickoff

Pro*Chris*tination

You know the old saying, right?

Hard work pays off in the future…procrastination pays off today!

Well, in my universe, occasionally there’s a psychotic eclipse type thing. Then both parts are true!

Case in point: I’ve needed new wiper blades since our February snow storm. Not much to bitch about, considering Texas. Heck, even my 99 year old grandfather was alone and without electricity just across town for three days! (Yes, dad insisted he go to a hotel, but since my grandfather isn’t about to take orders from some punk 75 year old…🤷🏽‍♂️)

So, yeah. My wiper blades getting gouged by ice and leaving streaks smack dab in my field of vision didn’t really merit a mention. I checked our local big box grocery for replacements, but it was $30 for the pair! After converting that from dollars to beers, I walked away.

Then I found myself at an oil change and figured I might as well get it done. They were out.

Fine!

But every time it sprinkled, there was a visual reminder of my overdue task. Usually accompanied by an audible screech from the blades skipping across the windshield.

Luckily – for me not future generations – this past April brought not showers as we learnt in nursery rhymes as children. As a matter of fact, Portland’s April was the driest on record…by one-third. We had only a half inch of rain versus the prior low record of three quarters of an inch.

No, that isn’t an invitation to book travel to PDX. You keep your germs local.

May was pretty much the same story. Low, but not a record low like April.

Until this week.

Frankly, I was happy to see rain in the forecast. At the same time, I figured I oughta get my act together, butch it up and get the deed done.

For safety.

I made the Silver Fox – yes, he finally put in a leisurely visit! – take me when we went to coffee the other day. Lo’ and behold…

On sale, you say?

40% off, no less?!?

Don’t get too excited, though. They are proving tougher than my fingertips and are still awaiting installation from the front passenger footwell.

Tomorrow’s another day, Slugger.

Next up, returning Angela to her chancellor-esque stature from the Lisa Left Eye Lopez situation some ne’er do well left her in a few weeks back.

It’s tough to see, but scroll down. After the curious incident of the fog light poking out of the bumper, The Fox ceded his parking spot to me until his return to city slickering. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather it was sooner than later, but poor Angela! Just look what those philistines did to her!

Buncha bastards. Luckily, I’ve got friends like the Silver Fox to provide refuge and Diezel, who looks at it and says, “I can fix that” like the “in my sleep” doesn’t even need to be mentioned. Nor does the “you limp wristed ninny”.

Those are good friends to have in your corner.

Pro*Chris*tination

Down Day

Despite what my brain says, my body is in complete disagreement over whether or not 4 is enough hours of sleep for a night.

Therefore, methinks today will be a down day.

Since I’ve been awake since around 4 AM, I’ve already done my news and social media scrolls. I’ve also dropped Angela off at the garage to get her malfunctioning e-brake fixed. <fingers crossed> I also have had quite an amusing comment thread conversation with another blogger about the state of disrepair that is currently passing for Gay Kulture and had a farewell coffee with the Silver Fox.

That might be the sum total of my accomplishments for the day. Plenty, it would be, too.

You’d actually think I could have gotten Angela into the garage right when they opened at 7, having had three hours by that time to muster myself. But they said “Drop ‘er off anytime between 7 and 9” and I set my target at 8 AM and saw no reason to deviate from that plan, despite my treasonous body’s somnambulistic misbehavior.

Wow. I can’t believe I nailed the spelling of somnambulistic on the first try.

Anyway, this being my life, when I got in the car to drive down to the garage, I hit a fresh surprise. Instead of my “Emergency Brake Malfunction” alert going off, my “Low Tire Pressure” light went off.

It’s good to switch these minor crises up. But the tire pressure issue is a problem for Les Schwab. Potentially…it might just be a factor of temperature, cold night following a hot day. Plus, I can inflate a tire myself.

As a matter of fact, when my consultant asked if there was anything else they should look at, I wanted to tell him I’m due for an oil change, since they can reset the on board computer and Oil Can Henry’s cannot, but the latter is about 40% cheaper, so I can put up with just letting the real mechanics reset the OBC every other oil change.

I also wanted to tell him that I’m getting an intermittent “Low Beam Malfunction” warning for my driver’s side head light. That’s really just punishment for me cheaping out when I had my passenger side headlight replaced a few months back and not doing both at the same time.

That’s Car-ma for ya.

Instead, I just told him

Let’s start with the e-brake and see what you leave in my bank account first.

Surprisingly, that garnered a chuckle.

I really should take these guys some doughnuts one of these days. They’re good folks.

Anyway, I mentally budgeted $500 for this repair – as if that will have any effect on whatever reality is to be. But if they can come in at or under that, then I’ll pull the trigger on the headlight and probably the oil change, too.

We’ll see.

I actually think I really need this down day…for a variety of reasons. I can feel my surliness levels rising – probably because of normal daily frustrations building up and my Low Liquor Level Light mentally going off because I have been drinking less…despite what you might think in a few paragraphs.

Knowing that today would probably be a day off from driving – even though I typically like to do a Wednesday shift, I went out yesterday for a few rides.

It turned into a literal few, too. Even though I went to the can before I got in the car, by the end of the second ride, I was doing a mental pee-pee dance. By the end of the third ride, I was ready to frantically point my car toward home.

Despite that close call, I felt guilty for not finishing my usual 10 rides, so after booting around the house for an hour or so, I went back out to wrap the day up. Aspirationally, I was thinking I’d stretch to 15.

The reality was two. I managed just two more rides before hitting my mental “fuck it” button.

I was still a little crunchy about my earlier rides, after a promising start with a long ride that I picked up about five blocks from home, my next two rides had been 15-20 minute pick ups. Neither of those rides was longer than six minutes, cumulatively they totaled 10 minutes. And no one was tipping.

The second shot at driving was similarly frustrating. Although, for a less surprising reason: traffic. I’m not sure who the Stupid American was that ruined it for everyone else yesterday, but I know where they lived.

Vantucky.

Sometime around 3:00, someone completely fucked up all of the Oregon-tax-dodging, Portland-job-stealing Vancouver folks’ commute home by getting into a wreck on the 205 bridge.

I noticed it during what turned out to be my fifth and final ride of the day when I didn’t get on 205 to get to a hotel by the airport. I knew something was wrong when the navigation app kept me on surface streets all the way there, and I could see that immediately when the app steered me away from the usual airport route.

To be clear, it’s not unusual for GPS to keep me off 84 at that time of day because it’s always a shitshow for the afternoon commute. It’s the crosstown freeway between the 5 and the 205, so everyone that lives on the east side of Portland or Vancouver uses it.

Poorly.

But when I stayed on surface streets – and we’re talking some real backwater roads, not the normal surface street airport routes, I knew I was a focacta situation.

Still, being that close to the airport, I hoped to snag an airport passenger for a ride back into town.

And I got one! A Lux ride, too!

…that was a 52 minute pick up.

Digging a little deeper, it wasn’t the airport passenger I’d been hoping for. It was a Vantuckian who was directly across the river from me – about a 10 minute ride, under normal circumstances.

I’m loathe to reject a ride. It’s not what I’m out there for. But 50+ minutes of sitting in traffic with these folks for what would very likely turn out to be a ride to a convenience store for some smokes for some lazy bastard – seriously, that was my last Vancouver Lux ride…during the snow storm a couple months ago – just wasn’t worth it.

Especially not when it was the last day of the 20% off wine case sale at Gross Out and the two Rosés I’d bought had both passed muster with The Fox. And I was just a few blocks away from a Grocery Outlet!

So I declined the ride and went and bought a case of each. I got both cases for a total of $75, and that should set us up for our Rosé On The Roof into, if not through, June.

Don’t think of it as “spending $75”, spin it as “saving $220″!

And if Angela’s repair comes in at $220, I promise you I will not be the least bit surprised…because that’s just about how weird my life is.

Down Day

I Can’t…Please Don’t Ask.

So, this landed in my Lyft app yesterday.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from the drill down

Basically, you give 114 rides, you get a $182 bonus. Not super great, it’s about $1.50/ride on top of whatever the driver’s fare share, tips and any surge bonuses are for each ride. But, once you hit that 114th ride, you are eligible for a second tier bonus of $70 on your next 21 rides. That’s more like an extra $3.25/ride…that is kinda something.

Let me just start out at the top here by saying that there will be earnings numbers in this post. That does not mean that they are typical. Far from, to be honest. But as the Silver Fox likes to encourage me, these are examples of “making hay while the sun shines”.

So don’t hit me up for any loans.

I usually give somewhere in the 40-50 ride range per week. It takes me about 20-25 hours.

But, since the new year, I’ve raised my weekly financial goal by 50%. I figure, if I’m not going back – read: being asked back, also known as “hired” – to professional work, I may as well support myself with my driving income versus bankrupting my future.

For instance, here’s my breakout from the last week, which ended Sunday.

You might notice I hit – exceeded, actually – my financial goal in the 65 rides I gave. And that was in only 22.5 hours.

Crazy.

What was also crazy is that I felt guilty about taking time off – more on that in a sec – last week, so started off Friday with a bang

It was also the first time I’ve ever seen this

…so, oops, I guess? Even though that 12 hour day was split up over two drive shifts – morning and evening – hitting that 12th hour and rounding my way to 13 became a no drive zone.

Anyway, most of those earnings were a combination of surge bonuses and Lux rides. Usually, I feel lucky to get one Lux ride per driving shift, Portland just isn’t a Lux market. Seattle, now that I could see being a Lux market. Much more image conscious – with the excessive compensation to bankroll their brand building tendencies, too, that lot.

But that first part, the surge bonuses, that’s pushing people to Lux…for the value.

It’s crazy. Have I mentioned how nuts this feels?

With the enhanced unemployment that gig workers were allowed to dip into last Spring, many drivers have opted not to drive in lieu of free money and reduced COVID risk. Originally, they were given around $1200/week. Now it’s more like $900/week, a big drop from almost $5k a month, for sure.

But it’s still $3600/month to do nothing! Last year, I’d say my “take home” averaged about two-thirds that number. Not free money, mind you, but I felt very little time or effort was required.

This unemployment potential means that there aren’t a lot of drivers on the road. That creates surge pricing and long wait times for standard Lyft cars. Since I have a BMW, I can get either standard or Lux rides or opt for only Lux rides. Doing both, I can usually expect 2-4 rides per hour, depending on the length of each ride, versus about one ride per hour if I toggle over to Lux only.

That means in many cases currently when demand is high, it’s cheaper – and oftentimes faster – to call for a Lux.

And it’s not just Lyft that is struggling to get drivers on the road. Uber is having a rough <ahem> road of it, too. On Friday night I picked up a couple women around closing time (ok, that sounds seedy) at a bar in close-in SE. They were doing a split Lux ride, dropping one off about 18 blocks away from the bar and the other pretty deep in North Portland’s St John’s neighborhood. That’s where this iconic Portland bridge lives

…and it’s pretty hard to get to. It’s a freeway ride to almost the state line and then a long potholed surface street journey into the bowels of NoPo.

The St John’s passenger told me that just her ride home with Uber was $120, so they checked Lyft and with the slightly out of the way drop off of her friend, it was still less than 2/3 the Uber rate.

So, why am I mad? Well, I’m not. Not precisely.

I love driving and chatting with people and being “in service” to them. I call it my social paycheck, but really, it’s filling in a void I wasn’t prepared for after inadvertently leaving my retail career.

It’s funny, the things you miss. Funnier that these realizations caught me so off guard.

However, not being mad aside, I only drove Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. I intentionally took off Monday through Thursday because I was tired.

Also, the Silver Fox was in town getting his second COVID vaccination…but that’s not the point!

I had just come off another challenge week the day before The Fox came up to town. That challenge was three tiered versus this week’s two tiers: 95 rides/$118 + 10 rides/$50 + another 30 rides/$84, for a total of $252 in ride bonuses for 135 rides.

Same number of rides and bonus potential as last week, they are just making us work for that first carrot.

Of course, this being my life, my 135th ride on the last challenge week ended in BFE. Me being loathe to drive home for free when I could get paid to drive home, switched my app to Destination Mode and caught another ride to my neck of civilization.

After 136 rides in almost 50 hours, I needed the rest. But I’d low key wanted to nail one of these challenges for over a year. With the Silver Fox out of town, I really had no excuse. Actually, I was a little mad that it took this long, but it was more bad timing than prochristination.

I swear!

But here’s the humble brag receipt:

And there were cash tips that aren’t showing in those numbers.

Yeah, if anyone with no skills beyond being able to operate a motor vehicle is looking for a job that pays $125,000 a year…I’ve got a hot tip for ya.

I do not want to earn that much. Well, honestly, I don’t want to work 50-plus hour weeks anymore. Thirty years of that bullshit was plenty.

Ergo, I’ve happily arrived at a point where my three ~10 ride days a week plus my long Friday, which I call either a double or a triple since it usually lands between 20 and 30 rides, sustain me. Added bonus: my favorite local station has a Friday night program called Party Out Of Bounds that is all 80s & 90s music from 8-midnight.

Yes. Please.

Wait…have I gotten around to why I’m mad/not mad yet?

It’s just too soon, this week’s challenge! I don’t know if it’s based on a preplanned calendar or in response to driver census in a certain area or something else altogether, but it seems this type of thing only happened a few times last year. Every other month, at most.

Every other week? Twice a month?

So much! Stop throwing money at me…I’ll respond!

But the retail manager in me – that apparently won’t die – wants to meet or exceed goals set by my employer. Even though Lyft’s technically not my employer in this relationship…when they call, I tend to answer.

If I get home after my 10 rides and my app tells me ride demand is high, I might sign back in for another five rides or so. Especially if they’re throwing surge bonuses onto rides – one of my rides this past Saturday included a $31 surge bonus. For one lousy ride! But generally, the surge bonuses are more in the $1.50-$4 range.

Nevertheless, my concern here is that even with the Silver Fox in town again yesterday and today, Angela going into the shop on Wednesday and a get together with Bubble Boy Thursday…I don’t really have the time to answer this call.

But I bet I end up trying.

Just watch.

Apparently, you can take the boy out of retail, but you can’t take the retail out of the boy.

I Can’t…Please Don’t Ask.

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

As in, very.

Case in point, I just finished watching all six seasons of Grimm. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 forty-five minute episodes.

For.

The.

First.

Time.

I feel like I really fell down as a Portlander. I definitely fell down as an extra on the show.

When I started watching, I recollected that I’d been on the show 2-3 times. As my viewing progressed, I changed that tally to four.

Only one made the final cut.

Although, honorable mention for this close call…

Dishonorable mention for me gushing later about the cute guy in the scene with me – that I thought was also a background actor. It was David Guintoli – I’m sure I spelled that wrong – aka: the Grimm hizzownself. Side note, I also infamously gushed to the Silver Fox about this cute guy at the gym, a couple of times I think, before he told me in an incredulous tone that that was Sasha Roiz.

<blank stare>

From Grimm!

He completely missed my point, of course. I don’t usually like tall guys. This moment of attraction was growth for me!

Everthemess…

The other two “castings” I booked, I never made it out of the holding area. Whatevs, still got paid, suckas!

I didn’t spend a lot of time giving the show 100% of my attention. Like I said, very busy. I had social media to scroll, Words With Friends that needed dominating and, I dunno…I had to multitask to make sure I had time to drink and occasionally get stoned.

Shut up, it’s a pandemic.

But most of the time I was either falling in love with the scenery of my hometown or picking apart why they would use street names as a point of reference for the wrong part of town. Or why they wouldn’t consistently use real street names or manufactured names…that was a conundrum.

Plus, for the first several years, an abandoned US Customs Building in my neighborhood was used as the Police HQ.

The photo where I’m just out of the frame, behind a column? Yeah, that was the interior of the precinct.

Except…by that season, the Customs House had been bought by this lil outfit called WeWork and the set had to be rebuilt over in the NW Industrial District. Pretty impressive that they could replicate the set do exactly that viewers were none the wiser. I actually drove by that old filming location out at Guilds Lake – there’s no lake, FYI – today while picking up a ride. I guess you can thank Lyft for finally getting this post onto the blogosphere.

I also drive by Nick and Juliette’s house several times a week. It’s weird to think that I never knew that was their “home” until just last month.

It’s funny how many scenes took place in my little part of Portland, the North Park Blocks. In addition to the Customs House, I noticed several other random scenes.

Sometimes the scene of a murdered person being discovered. Take, for instance, this “Who Wore It Best” moment.

Seriously, it was me.

…as evidenced by my unbathed/pre-spin class looks and the ability to stand alone in front of such an iconic piece of neon.

You shoulda seen me after that spin class, though. The Filipina Fox really kicked me keister for those 45 minutes.

Incidentally, that sign is gone now. The company – a shared office space, ironically, since it sits across the park from the Customs House/WeWork building – has closed up and took their sign with them.

Ergo, now I default to “playing” just to be safe.

Other times, it was just an apartment building lobby being repurposed as a storefront.

The shop behind Rosalee – Glyph, as it was known back then – is the infamous F&B cafe, where I like to go and write in the mornings during non-end of the world times. Right around the corner is the world famous (to me) Big Legrowlski.

Of course, this was also an opportunity to nostalgically appreciate old haunts that have been gentrified the fuck out of existence, as Portland grows. Places like the Overlook Restaurant.

Which is now – wait for it – an apartment building. But back in the days I called North Portland home, it was a place Sacha and I spent many a dinner with his parents.

Good memories.

The show turned out to be pretty good brain candy. I’m glad I finally made the time in my very busy schedule to watch it.

And it only took a global pandemic.

Look, I’m *Very* Busy…

One Headlight

Did I ever tell you the story about the guy that I gave a ride to that was picking up his Maserati?

To be fair, this isn’t quite as good a deal as his. This is a $75000 car, low miles, $39k. His was a $100k car, low miles, $42k.

But still, you appreciate a good value, either way, no?

Anyway…he’d “bumped” – and yes, he used finger quotes – another car and cracked a headlight. Off to the shop he went and was happy that he literally only needed to replace the headlight, no bodywork.

See also: the title of my workout video.

The part itself was $3k.

Suddenly the $60k in depreciation looks…less impressive?

Conversely…one of my headlights went out while I was driving the other night. Today I took it to my shop, which I love, and asked them to replace it.

Full disclosure: I know I am perfectly capable of changing a headlight on a vehicle – maybe not a three friggin’ thousand dollar headlight, because I’m a goddamn clutz – but it’s cold and I decided to take out my White Guy card deck and play the There’s People For That card.

I’m a blow job creator.

Offhandedly, I mention that my pal, Diezel, had replaced my rear brake pads a month or so back, but couldn’t reset the onboard computer and maybe they could. Then I left, with the assurance they would call me in a few hours and Bob’s your uncle.

Sure enough, 10:30 I get the call and I’m all, “These guys fuckin’ rock”.

Kyle: Do you have a minute for me to run you through everything?

Me: Well, I’m alarmed by the word “everything” but buoyed but your timeframe, so please.

Kyle: Ok, so the headlight was just in need of a change, it’s a $20 –

Me: Sure.

Kyle: – part…so that’ll be $70 with labor.

Me: Oof. But, sure.

Job creator, remember?

Kyle: Now, the brake pads…

Me: Oh, yeah…

Kyle: Are fine. Looks like the back pads are at 11 mm and look practically new.

Me: Sure.

Kyle: The front pads –

Me: Say what, now?

I hadn’t asked about actually checking the pads, just reset the damn idiot light, FFS.

Kyle: – are also fine, they’re at about 8 mm and have plenty of life in them.

Phew.

Me: Ok, super! So, the dash light…

Kyle: The sensors, though.

Me: …

Kyle: Those are shot. The front shows 5% wear left on the pads and the back sensor is at 0%.

Me: So…the sensor needs to be replaced each time the pads are replaced?

Kyle: Yes, sir.

Me: Well, that’s not very kansei of the Bavarians, is it?

Shockingly, young Kyle got the reference – an old advertising gimmick from Nissan. BMWs, incidentally are technically not strictly German cars – the name being an acronym for Bavarian Motor Works.

Kyle: What a difference a continent or two makes.

Tou-friggin’– chè.

But, I knew from my time in Diezel’s Garage that this is a $12 part, just special order, so he couldn’t replace it while he’d been working on the pads. His concern was the overall frayed condition of the existing sensor, not that it was a one and done usage.

Me: Okay. So…?

Kyle: We can get both of those changed for $115.

Me: Ouch.

Kyle: …each.

Me: Whoa, whoa…whoa.

Kyle: Sorry, go ahead.

Me: Replace the rear.

Kyle: We can do that –

And then he breaks into his Columbo schtick.

Kyle: – it’s just that, y’know, with only 5% life on that front sensor, it’s gonna trip soon and then you won’t know when your front pads need a change. That could be bad, and, well…if it were me, I’d want to know.

Me: Yes, well, it’s me, now, right? I think you underestimate the blessing a looming tree and no brakes would be.

Kyle: Yeah, it was a tough year. I get that. I’m just telling you cuz, y’know…I’d want to know.

Me: Fiiiiinnne. Replace it.

Geez. I have a mother, Kyle.

Kyle: Great. We’ll get that done for you.

Me: So, is this a today thing or do you need it overnight?

Kyle: Oh, we can get this done today. No problem –

And fuck if this kid doesn’t Columbo me again.

Kyle: We also noticed…

Me eyes rolling back in overrode the rest of what he said. I contextually figured out the subject was the Drive Belt and the issue was that it was frayed.

Another $160 and blip, blah, bloop. Good as new.

Me: Alright, fuck the front pad sensor, fix the belt.

Drive sounds integral. If Angela ain’t driving who cares if she has front pads? In the back of my mind, I recalled Diezel spouting off the percentage of stopping power provided by the front wheels and began imagining that tree.

Kyle: Of course –

When did service consultants become so genteel?

Kyle: – it’s just that, y’know if it were my car, I’d want to know.

Me: Yeah, yeah.

<Visualizing mom in my mind>

Me: What’s the all in?

Kyle: Very good, that would be…$460.

I’d left the garage after I dropped off my car and then walked around downtown, hitting first my ATM and then the ATMs of my two credit cards. I’ve gotten to the point where I like to keep the balances below two-thirds, and with Presidents’ Day, things had crept upward.

Ok, Presidents’ Day, a snowpocalypse and restaurants reopening for 25% capacity dining.

Having just paid those balances back down with my snowpocalypse driving fundage – which was embarrassingly lucrative – and the old man sleep deprivation that had me up and out of bed at 630 this morning after less than three hours of sleep – I was a little crunchy.

And. It. Showed.

Kyle: Let me see if I can’t work in some sort of discount for you.

Me: Fine –

<You’re cute, Kyle, but I’m not blowing you for a discount>

Me: – do you need it until tomorrow?

Kyle: Doubtful, we’ll probably have it done today.

I took a much needed nap.

After I scheduled – different post topic – a haircut for 4:00.

Of course, I wake up at 1-ish, boot around a bit and decide to make some food.

Kyle calls at 2:30, just as I’m finishing up and plating.

She’s ready.

Everything’s happening at once now, innit? I figure I’ve got just enough time to eat, finish Bliss on Amazon – skip it – and pick up Angela before my haircut.

I roll in there and Old Man Everett pulls my invoice as some grease twink disappears to bring my car around.

<I see you, Grease Twink, and I’ll be back to pick you up later!>

Old Man Everett is trying to review my bill and close me out – minus a healthy 5% discount…on labor – but Kyle must’ve seen me eyeballing Grease Twink and is doing his best impression of a fly to my windshield.

I can do both, so much to Old Man Everett’s flusternation, I do. But Kyle has needs – namely, my attention. I’ll give up my discount for that.

But, all’s well that ends up with me in bed alone.

Again.

Naturally.

And I still managed to hear Angela purr for a few blocks before my haircut.

Sure enough,

One Headlight

Valentimes Part One

Yeah, I posted Valentimes Part Duex before I posted Part One. Also, I’m posting Part One after the big day. I’m not offering a defense of my timing, either way. It’s my blog and…

So, there.

Anywho…I’ve given between 3500 and 4000 rides since I started driving for Lyft about 18 months ago.

There’s been fewer than expected drunks.

More than anticipated Tinder “dates” – and you’d be surprised how many people pay extra to spring for a Lux ride to take them away from said “dates”…

Rides to funerals and memorials.

Countless healthcare and essential workers during the – sadly – ongoing pandemic.

A couple of unapologetic bastards conservatives.

Trips to or from the E.R. Too many, in fact.

Side note: how sad is it that our effed up healthcare system makes it necessary to take a goddamned Lyft to an E.R. instead of calling an ambulance?!?

And exactly two women who made me cry either during or after their rides.

Goddamned widows. Rubbing my perpetual singledom in my face.

I was actually okay at one widow.

Specifically, the one whose husband died a few years back. He sounds like he was a great husband, I heard their love story – which lasted 41 years.

But he sounded like a fucking badass, too.

Not because he drove a vintage black Mustang convertible.

Nor because they were high school sweethearts.

Or clearly wealthy. Particularly because his widow seemed like she was continuing to live a modest life after his death in honor of his memory, suggesting that the pleasures of their lives together were similarly modest.

The more exciting adventures I learned about during our ride were short bursts compared to the simple daily joys she described.

Their first date. Birthdays. Humble chivalry.

These were the things neither of these people took for granted in their relationship. They didn’t use one another in pursuit of the next big thing – either as an excuse or a means.

Her story was one of a satisfying life together. Inspiring to me in its endurance, something that I fear too few even aspired to in today’s value system.

The second widow was actually the first. Hearing her story made me think I should write a Valentine’s Day post. But it was the second widow who made me realize that the universe wasn’t going to let me off the hook.

Writing a book about my dating misadventures or fictionalizing my own ideals of relationships in my No One Of Consequence book series wasn’t going to cut it.

The least I could do is write an account of true love, even if it was only second hand.

Widow Number One earned her title when her husband had a major heart attack on Valentine’s Day last year.

Strictly going off visual cues, I’d say she was late 70s. I was taking her to work. She was looking like she’d be her own badass, and ended up being a heroic example of living a life for me.

Fret not, I picked her up in the South Waterfront neighborhood, which is pretty high rent. Ok, it’s fucking high rent, so she wasn’t working at nearly 80 because she had to.

Turns out, she doesn’t drive at all. Her husband used to take her to work before he died. Luckily (?) the pandemic closed the office down before her bereavement leave put her back to work. Now, she only had to go to the office once a week to ensure things were running smoothly. Normally, she figured she’d take the bus, but…pandemic + late 70s = bad combo.

She was enjoying Lyft, though, and the way she said that made me suspect she was enjoying it as a throwback to her husband taking her to work. I’m pretty sure her return to the office after this all ends will include at least an occasional escort to work.

She told me that when she was going through her husband’s things, she found several Valentine’s Day cards he’d made for her. I thought it was weird that he’d kept them, not her. But as she continued on, I realized these were unused cards.

That got me.

On top of being the kind of guy who encouraged his wife to work a part time office job after their kids left the nest, then celebrated her success when her search for post-child rearing purpose earned her a promotion to office manager after several years – she told me proudly that her employee number was 13, so she’d been there a while.

This is the guy who found his own post-retirement fulfillment in driving his wife to and from work to support and nurture her happiness.

This guy spent his in between hours working on his art. He was a post-career artist. Why would I be surprised that this guy made or was in the process of completing future Valentine’s Day cards for his wife?

Putting myself in that mindset, I got it. It wasn’t about making a card instead of buying one. It was about making one that appropriately captured the depth of feeling he had for his wife. Something that expressed the gratitude one must feel toward the person who accompanies you on the journey of a literal lifetime.

You might not always get that on the first pass. She said these cards were, of course, beautiful and I could tell that finding them had touched her very deeply. But I could easily stay a while in that position her husband must have found himself in – even now: not fully being able to express how this woman made him feel. Abandoning a card because it wasn’t good enough for his wife. <sigh>

But it shows how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the decades. I don’t think I’d have to defend the additional statement that a lot of those changes might have been for the short term good, but long term bad of the individuals.

And I can’t even get a return text.

While you’re here: If you haven’t yet and are curious about the writing works I mentioned earlier – Dating Into Oblivion and No One Of Consequence – check out my author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christopher-Galbreath/e/B07PLNKTHB/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 for a view of my work. All books are available in paperback or e-book formats – and the e-books are cheap and the pages don’t fall out as I’ve heard from one of my supportive blogging buddies! It’s also a good way to keep up with the blog, since they post to my author page as well as here. I can’t say the same about the consistency of my Facebook author page…

Regardless, thanks for stopping by!

Valentimes Part One