she made me do three things i hate

she made me wait

she added a stop in the middle of the ride

and we had to wait on a crowded street for her child to get out of school

but she was poor, Black and carrying a newborn so what was i gonna do, add to her struggle?

i dont even know how i got over there but i was way over there around 2pm

i know because when i arrived i texted her in the app saying “im on 68th street, not Fig. at the corner.”

and she texted back, “ok, but my son doesnt get out of school until 2:11.”

most days i would have canceled right then because


when you order rideshare, it tells you how far away the nearest car is and so if your child’s school is 5 minutes away and the app says a driver is 10 minutes away, well, don’t order the car too early.

it was not the best part of town. hookers. motels. even the palm trees looked like they had seen too much and needed a vacation.

so i didnt cancel. i waited and waved people around me.

with one minute to go on the 5 minute timer, she came out with a 6 month old in a car seat wrapped in a few baby blankets. it was unseasonably cold. my car was warm.

she was beautiful. but in an ll cool j ’round the way girl type. like the palm trees, she’d seen too much.

huge smile despite being overwhelmed.

she explained we were going to the school

“snatch up my son”

and come straight back to the apartment complex next to the mexican mini mart.

any time a request comes in that mentions an additional stop, i decline the trip. in a way its double the work for not double the pay, and it involves waiting.

i have been waiting my whole life for things, namely the cubs to win the world series, but now that’s been achieved, the end of my life approaches, so i wanna get everything in as fast as i can

i do not want to be looking at women in lingerie and bikinis parading up and down this south central street while i wait for this that and the other.

this woman was on 68th Place on the east side of south central and i realized decades ago i lived on 68th on the other side, in inglewood.

she said, “oh the wild side!”

“thats the wild side?” i asked in a shocked tone, “you got big booty bitches out here twerking in broad daylight trying to make it happen, and the Wood is the wild side?”

she laughed and laughed. then said, “i could be pushing a stroller down that street on a sunday morning and a truck will honk and ask how much. i gotta move.”

we got to the school and the pickup side street was packed full of cars and minivans. it was a narrow street to begin with, but now there were cars on both sides trying to creep close to the chain link fence where their clueless kids loligagged on the playground side ignoring the calls and honks from their parents



my passenger chimed in TOMMY! oh thats not Tommy. Where’s my child?

i saw a little opening closer to the gate and creeped the Benz between on car or pickup truck, inches from disaster.

a kid in his parents car – which was creeping towards us – hung out the back seat window and then knocked on the drivers window at his mom. he was bored. she was in a frenzy like the rest of us.

Tommy, who is in 1st grade, and adorable, finally appeared and sauntered over to the car. not a care in the world.

now i had to get through.

it was not easy. and it took a while.

a man in an old oldsmobile saw i only had an inch of clearance on either side of my doors, and waved me to him. i trusted him. he knew neither of us should have been in this mess. i followed his hand motions and when i made it through and cruised by him

we high fived.

in the back seat, Tommy said, “mommy i love you.”

i said, “what about me, Tommy, did you see i just got us through all that?”

“how does he know my name, mommy?” he asked quietly, but not quietly enough.

“oh i know everything about you. I know you have two girlfriends, a Mexican and a Sister…”

his mom said, “oh he doesn’t like Black girls.”

why not? i asked.

“they’re mean to him,” she said.

“and I know you love Roblox.” i said and he gasped.

lucky guess.

when we were nearly home the baby gurgled and then coughed loudly.

“damn. that was a grown person cough,” the mom said to the little girl. “we getting you home baby. i’ll heat up some nyquil.”

$2 tip.


the miracle at weed

She had blue hair and reeked of weed when I picked her up at the Silver Lake gas station.

not old lady blue hair, punk rock blue, but she wasn’t punk. More like homeless-y but something different. Some people you can’t put in boxes.

I had fucked up and this ride was going to West LA, way further than I had thought when I accepted the trip for $17. But I’ve learned sometimes the best rides are the ones I wanted to cancel before I got there or the ones I accidentally clicked.

She was going to be one of those, I realized almost right away.

First she told me that her former fiance had died in a head-on collision a few years ago. Then she told me *she* got hit by a car and won a half million dollar settlement.

Then she told me she was newly engaged to a saudi businessman whose assets had been frozen.

As you may know, I’m pretty good with tall tales, and I suspected perhaps the skunky aroma in my vehicle was not satan’s sassafras, but the shit from a bull. Since it would be 27 minutes until her destination, I decided to challenge all of her statements.

Weirdly, she had pretty good answers for all of them.

Q: why did you get $500k for getting hit by the car?
A: he had good insurance and my back was fucked for a year.
Q: why didn’t you buy a car with the money?
A: i hate driving.
Q: do people who win huge sums tip outrageous amounts?
A: i can’t tip at all, my lawyer controls my Uber account.

that fact, tragically, checked out. Sometimes with very old people or car dealerships or pimps, drivers will get an automatic message when we approach the pickup that says “please call the passenger when you arrive at the location.”

that message popped up as i got near the gas station.

just my lucky, crazy stoned nouveau rich punk homeless person can’t tip me a dime. fine.

we had to go east on the 101 to get to the 110 south in order to take the 10 west, an excruciatingly long roundabout in the afternoon but at least she was entertaining. so i asked her more questions.

q: how did you meet your new man?
a: a friend introduced us through Whatsapp. he likes white girls but wasn’t having any luck.
q: white girls don’t like rich guys?
a: who said he was rich?
q: you’re engaged to the only poor saudi businessman?
a: he’s rich. his money is just tied up. thats why i have to go to the credit union, then western union and wire him some money.
q: wire him money? is he in jail?
a: no, hawaii.

at this point i said to myself, “i hate my life.”

“why?” she asked.

whoops turned out i said it out loud.

“you don’t think you’re being scammed?” i asked. “the only way this rich dude in Hawaii can make due is from your nest egg?”

she was a fast talker. nearly as fast as me. we were like two expert typists just rattling off sentences but verbally. it was ping pong. and we were both olympians.

“my credit union has to obey the court, and the court says i can only have a grand a week for now. i give him half and he’ll pay me back when he can get at his money,” she explained casually. zero concern.

“wanna know why i like you?” i asked, doing my best to make things weirder. hell if i was gonna let her outweird me.

“i like you because, like me, you’re a true romantic,” i stated as we finally got on the 10 west.

“im not a romantic,” she said. “i just like fucking and he has a huge hog.”

i looked in my mirror and noticed her eyebrows were tattoos of eyebrows. was she punk rock? who. was. this. woman?

i looked down at the app to read her name: mallory.

“is your name really mallory or is that the court or the bank or the credit union?” i asked.

“thats my lawyer. my name is Rainbow.”

the 10 was moving along way better than the 101 and 110 were. i barely noticed her weed stench any more. but i was concerned the next passenger might think it was me who was responsible for it, so i cracked the sunroof to let some of our unseasonably crisp air in.

“i was a romantic until darryl was killed in that crash, but then my heart broke. i cried all the time. we had just moved in together and he had decorated the place with all his black light posters and tapestries and then all of a sudden i was staring at them every day thinking about him. then it got creepy. like i was in his tomb. i had to get out, so i packed up my car and drove down from Oregon. have you ever heard of Weed, California?”

as a matter of fact, yes, yes I had heard of it, I said.

“in Weed i was at a starbucks and i just started crying uncontrollably. sobbing. and this woman made friends with me. i told her about darryl and she said she knew a guy nearby who, he isn’t Jesus, but he looks like Jesus and can heal people,” Rainbow said.

“so i went to him and he took all of that pain and grief right out of my heart.”

i felt like a sucker for believing her, but i *did* believe her. her stories were just too wild. if anyone was gonna meet quasi Jesus in Weed it would be Rainbow.

“were you two sitting across from each other? did he put you in a trance? did he touch you?” i asked. i couldn’t stop asking now. and she was way into it.

“he didn’t touch me,” she said, “he just…” and then she touched my back “put his hand near my heart and yanked the air away and i could feel it all leave my body.”

“what left you?”

“the pain. the sadness. all the dark crap left behind from darryl,” she said.

“did you cry out of happiness?” i asked.

“no, i laughed SO LOUD. I WAS HAPPY AGAIN!”

as we got near the credit union she did a little back seat driving, overruling the Waze and when we got there she said, “you are a great listener.”

$0 tip, as promised.

i feel great today

today is a day off, but i will go on a walk, eat a taco or two and listen to next weeks episode to make sure there are no mistakes

then i will come home and try to do as much on the blog for it as i can bc i really need to clean tomorrow and work and write

bc on wednesday, after 22 years, im getting a new kitchen floor, a floor that is probably 40 years old.

today is kurt cobain’s birthday and also leah in texas

this is a picture of OJ in 1984, the summer i moved to LA

he is carrying the torch up The California Incline

i was there

it was a cool moment

and then incredibly cool and touching when he passed the torch to a kid with cancer


everyone cried because first we see big strong OJ

then we see this little kid who needed help to walk

but he did it.

this is one of my earliest memories of LA

and one of many many reasons i love it so.

call me abi

Any time you pick up someone from LAX with no luggage, you’re in for a treat.

This week I actually took a family of 5 from a grocery store in Inglewood to LAX, Turks claiming to be headed to Hawaii, and they had no luggage.

Dad sat in front, mom and the three 6 to 9 year old kids in the back. I was all, “I hear Turkey is mostly Muslim.”

“That’s right,” the dad said.

“Are you Muslim?” I asked, remembering that in polite company you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics, but I think there’s a polite way you can do it.

“Yes we are,” he said. They seemed poor. But outside of my Mercedes I probably seem poor. But thanks to you and all of my other friends, I have had the richest life.

“Tell me something about the Quran I probably don’t know,” I asked.

The kids were enthralled by me for some reason. Huge smiles. It could have been because when I asked them where they were flying to, and they told me Hawaii, I asked them to tell me the Turkish word for brother bc I want to be their brother.

Turns out there’s several words for brother, one being specifically older brother: abi.

I’m your abi now, kids, I told them and they laughed and hugged each other as they giggled.

“The virgin Mary has over 100 pages dedicated to her in the Quran,” the dad said.

WTF?! Why? I asked.

He said, “Muslims recognize Jesus as a very important figure because he was born as a miracle – no sex, no father, just a mother. But Mary gave birth while being a Virgin. That’s a bigger miracle.”

And now I’ve gotta read the Quran to see what those 100 pages are all about.

Which brings us to today’s luggage-less traveler. A gentleman named Petey from Miami, Oklahoma. “Not that Miami,” he stressed, very quietly. He was a very timid fellow.

We were headed to Hollywood Presbyterian hospital where Petey was going to do something that, quite frankly, I’m not sure he will succeed at.

9 months ago he knocked up a stripper who he had met two years previously. Prettiest girl in Miami, he beamed. They met on Facebook because she was looking for someone who could drive her home after work.
Petey was about 30 years old and when I asked him what he did in Miami he told me he was a Box Boy at the supermarket. Normally he would get around 6am to go to work but once he met his lady, he would wake up at 3am to fetch her and drive her home.

Once there, she would do meth and he would try to score with her. Apparently he had a few lucky nights. But as soon as her parole (!) officer found out she was pregnant, he informed her that no court would grant her custody because she has a police record, strips, and has a raging meth addiction.

So she skipped town and landed in Hollywood. Blocks away from my apartment, it so happens.

“I love her but she’s crazy.” he whispered.

“No offence, Petey, but you’re a little crazy too,” I told him with the tone of an older brother, an abi, if you will.

“You flew out here with no change of clothes, you don’t even have a duffle bag or backpack. And your plan is to somehow take a newborn child and, what, fly home with it by yourself? You’re gonna need a carseat just to get in the Uber.”

“You’re right,” he agreed. “I did not plan this very well.” And then he told me that this would be his first child and he couldn’t sleep knowing that she surrounds herself with drug addicts, dealers, hookers, and pimps.

Just then his phone rang. It was the soon to be baby mama.

“I’m on the way,” he said. “This is so weird being here. I see the Hollywood sign. The driver showed me where Biggie was killed.”

They exchanged I love yous numerous times which confused me and he later explained it was the only way he figured she would sign the Declaration of Paternity and allow him to sign the Birth Certificate when the boy is born in a few days.

We drove by a giant billboard advertising condoms. I pointed. He laughed.

He told me his daddy was a pool shark and his momma was a thief. He didn’t want his son around either of them or anyone except for his actual girlfriend back home who was “a cougar” with three grown kids who cant wait to have an infant in her arms again.

“Fine fine fine, but how are you going to feed that baby on the airplane on your way home? Isn’t the baby momma going to get suspicious when you ask her to pump a dozen bottles of mothers milk into bottles? Also, how will you keep them warm? Also WTF Petey?!”

He told me he only has money for bus fare home, not airfare. And he was planning on getting formula at Walmart.

AINT NO WALMARTS ANYWHERE NEAR HOLLYWOOD PETEY! I said thinking, do I need to let him crash in my living room? Do I need to raise this baby?

Then I asked, “are you a Christian man?” He said he was.

So I said, lets pray. And I took off my Cubs cap at the stop light.

“Lord please help Petey figure out how to get his child to safety. He’s going to need your help. His heart is in the right place. And this looks like a job that he can’t do alone. So please guide him.”

“Amen,” Petey said and when we pulled up to the hospital, he got out, empty handed except for his Samsung phone, and said thank you.

$3.88 tip.

you do you, king

t was 445pm. I got a ping to drive someone from the middle of South Central to Anaheim for $50.

The Uber app swore it was only an hour trip. But it always lies. I, however, am a college man, and I can figure out how to get there in around that time. So I clicked accept.

As I drove the 10 minutes north to where he was in the 60s, I thought to myself “whats the catch? why are they offering me $50 for a 60 minute trip? They usually give you fifty cents a minute not nearly a buck.”

Stopped at a light where an abandoned Pastrami shop swayed in the wind and a stray dog limped up the sidewalk, I thought, oh, because you’re the only person in the hood at this hour and not one damn body wants to be in Anaheim at 615pm on a Friday night. Uber is finally paying what they should.

Plus the passenger could be anyone. It’s a crap shoot. Ironically, a group of my passengers’ neighbors were shooting craps next to a stairwell as I approached.

First an old woman came out of the modest apartment complex. What could I possibly talk about for an hour with her, I worried? Then an extremely large man with an LA Kings jersey and an LA Kings cap emerged and got in.

Hit it, he said and pointed west.

Anaheim was south east, but whatever. I peeled out. Starled pigeons scattered.

His name was Darnell. Before we even got to the 110 I knew where he worked, that he was a Christian, didn’t smoke weed because of his asthma, the old woman was his mom, and he had a short fuse if you praised either the Angels, the Clippers or the Ducks.

“Oh so you’re a homer,” I chided.

“One star,” he said, straight faced and mimed like he was pressing a button on his phone.

As is common knowledge, I get along pretty much with everyone. If I am on bad terms with someone, they fucked up royally and never earnestly apologize.

But the people I get along best with are light skinned brothers like myself, particularly sports fans. He was headed to the Ducks / Kings game and he really wanted to be there in an hour.

We talked about everything. Sex drugs rock n roll, the gangs, the projects, the venues, the hookers, we said a prayer to Jesus, and we spent a good chunk of time debating grits and whether it was sacrilege to put sugar on them.

For a Black man who spent his entire life in South Central he knew an obscene amount of information about hockey. I asked him how is that possible.

“Oh because I’m Black I can’t like hockey?” he said looking over his sunglasses.

“You can only like hockey if I give you permission,” I replied.

Faberglasted. He said, “I don’t need anyone’s permission.”

“You say you like the Kings, name all their players.” I said and turned down the Slayer.

Darnell cleared his throat and said, “Moore and Arvidsson on the wings. Danault at center. There go your first line. Second line is Kempe, Kopitar and Byfield. Third is Fiala, Lizotte and Iaffalo. On D you got Doughty and Anderson; Roy and Durzi, Walker and Elder. In the net is the legendary Jonathan Quick. His wife is Jacqueline.”

I let that last fact of his hang in the air a little and said, “Everyone knows that. Who plays the organ at Staples for the Kings?”

“Dieter Ruehle,” Darnell yawned.

“The best in the game,” I said.

“No competition,” he agreed.

We were flying down the 105 to this freeway and then that one. Did I mention how big this man was. The orange and brown colors from a Dunkin Donuts sign blurred by. His head whipped around.

“WTF?” I asked.

“I thought that was a Whataburger,” he explained.

“Negro, you know there aint any Whataburgers in LA.”

“I know. That’s why I had to make sure,” he chuckled.

“You are soooo big. Are you always hungry?” I asked.

“Zero stars,” he said.
Turns out Darnell does security all over LA: the forum, sofi, staples. Almost every night he gets a call for the next day or two. He takes them all.

“Is this one of those jobs where you have to stand all night?” I asked.

“I get a few breaks. But honestly, I could use the exercise.”

We were becoming friends.

“What was the best concert you did security for? Prince? Beyonce? The Weeknd?” I asked.

“I don’t work at the Grammys any more after what they did to the Weeknd,” he declared, super seriously and then went down the list of all the acts that have beaten his guy at the Grammys.

Then he said, “but the best show I saw was Linkin Park.”
Got there in an hour and seventeen minutes.

$0 tip.


she was probably too young not to have a kiddie seat. nobody has explained the rules.

babies, sure. they need a car seat. but she was not a baby, she was just small. 6 maybe? but she was with her mom and her older sister who appeared to be 11 or 12.

they were going to childrens hospital in hollywood.

thems the dice you roll when you accept short trips. some short trips are incredible: the person is waiting for you and they’re cold or they have high heels and they just dont wanna walk those three blocks. they’re apologetic, embarrassed, blushing.

but what a better way to make $3.82 than to swing up a block, pick up someone and drop them off in minutes? if i could do that 5 times in an hour ive burned very little gas, never had to fight traffic, and made $19 in an hour no big deal.

sunday, for example, i really wanted to get out of anaheim so I accepted a ride from disneyland to LAX for $22.

sure i made $3 more but i bet i burned $8 worth of gas because that trip was 33 miles and my car only gets about 22 mph on the highway. so yes short trips for the win.

both little girls had some sort of caps on their heads. cloth. were they religious caps? did they have cancer? you never know in LA and their english was not good.

“ok we’re going to childrens hospital?” i confirmed.

“yes, childrens,” the mom said while the older daughter sneezed into her mask.

“best hospital in LA. we are so lucky to have it.” i said. the trip would be 4 minutes long.

“hospital.” the mom said.

the youngest girl convulsed unhappily. she didn’t really want to be in the car. i was hoping if she had to barf most of the mask would catch it. but i knew it would be terrible.

instead i focused on the bright convention of fluffy clouds who had floated in for a little vacation.

we turned the corner and the little girl started to cry/whine simultaneously. the sister sighed audibly and the mom hugged the little girl who was also sneezing.

i scrolled down my iphone to apple music and typed in Disney and clicked Let It Go.

the crying subsided into lil hiccups.

the song has a long intro but every kid from the wealthiest mansion to, well, my neighborhood, knows that fucking song and thank Peter, Sneezy with the cap on knew it too and as we were a few blocks away there she was singing loud and with her whatever it was accent


and we got into that childrens hospital driveway just as the song was fading out. they sneezed one last time while fumbling at the door handles and finally popped out.

bye i told the group, waving

and i got one bye bye back.

from the littlest angel who couldnta said it cuter.

home depot charlie

Sometimes you get people at grocery stores, drug stores, Targets. He was a middle aged Black dude at the Home Depot.

Who knows why these folks don’t have cars. Maybe theirs is in the shop. Maybe they lost their license. Maybe they did the math and car ownership is more $$ than taking Lyfts.

Didn’t ask. Didn’t care. He was nice.

“Get everything you needed at the Home Depot?” I asked. It was a gentle Sunday afternoon. Nice sun shine. Little traffic. Simple drive down the road a few miles to this man’s home.

“We’ll see. This is just my third time here today.” he grumbled.

“Man, I wish I was handy.” I admitted.

“Me too. I’m like that dog at the computer. I don’t know what I’m doing,” he chuckled.

“So how do you do it? Do you have a pal? A book? YouTube?” I asked.

“Almost all YouTube,” he said. “The instructions are worthless.”

“Because they’re written poorly?”

“Because they’re so damn SMALL! Who can see those words? I’m gonna burn down my house and it’ll be because the ‘warning don’t touch the red wire with the black wire’ is written in the tiniest font size.” he complained.

“Tell me about it. I like baseball cards and, granted, I’m getting older, but I feel the text is laughably small on the back of the cards. Yes, they’re for kids. Some of these cards, but at the price of some of these packs, I don’t know how many kids can afford them.” I said.

Did I ask him what he was working on? No. Why get that in the way?

“You ever hire any of those Mexicans standing outside in the parking lot?” He asked me.

“Sure!” I said, “they know way more than I do.”

“Accurate. But they have a little cartel going. Everything is $75. Big job, little job, easy job, hard job: $75. What in the name of new math is that?” he asked, seriously perplexed.

“I don’t like to take advantage of our migrant friends, but I usually show them my $40 and ask, ok who wants this money for the job I have back at the crib?” I said. “Someone will go for it. And if it turns out big, I’ll give them some weed or something. A six pack.”

His name was Charlie. I know some Black guys have that name. Charlie Parker, for example. But he didn’t look like a Charlie. If it was a longer ride I would have told him that.

“God bless these motherfuckers who make these 2 minute YouTube videos, though, man,” Charlie said, rolling down the back window and spitting out some worn down gum.

“True,” I said. “What is their motivation?”

“I don’t know. Maybe to feel important? Maybe because they banged their head against the wall and when they figured it out they set their camera on a tripod and said, ‘imma tell y’all negros what i learned and here it be.'” Charlie deduced.

“Is that what you’re gonna do if the third time’s a charm today?” I asked.

“Hell naw. You think I know how to make a YouTube?” he chuckled.

Got him home. He got out. A few minutes later:

$3 tip.

i got covid, finally, shockingly

i could feel a scratchy throat on thursday and it only increased on friday

i had driven a week without a day off so i just thought i was exhausted

turned out i had gotten the thing i had avoided for years

was it the sweaty lady who was running late for work and wouldnt turn her head to the right when i called her and said “if you could just walk to the end of the block i would have to go alllll the way around the block and then turn around”?

was it the lady who coughed several times

what about the man who wanted the windows up the whole ride?

how about the new yorkers, one of whom sat next to me?

i did 300 trips in January. who knows it could have been all of them.

went to the doc today because it was close and cheap.

otherwise i was just gonna sweat it out with nyquil and benadril

they saw me almost right away, swabbed my nose and told me to check the website in two hours

when i did it told me i was positive

so weird. for some reason i thought it would be worse.

sunday i had to do 18 trips for the bonus. i could have spread it out until tuesday but that tickle made me worried. i coughed so hard and long that i had to pull over on sunday in dtla. i was dizzy.

my doc today told me sometimes people pass out or faint during coughing episodes.

if not for that moment i wouldnt have gone to urgent care at all but that was unusual.

right now im pissed about a few things. covid has made me cranky.

im pissed that i had a pysch appointment today at 5 but the lady canceled on me but i didnt know about it til 530 so i was sitting on the kaiser website for a half hour like an idiot. the appt was so i can get adhd pills, which i am hearing, are in short supply.

im pissed because my cats want to play a lot. do they think im dying? am i dying?

if im dying please gather together and complete hear in LA

today kpcc announced it is now going to be called LAist

which cracks me up