Picked him up at the airport. He had his iphone ear buds in but he kept talking to me as we got out of LAX to his apartment in WeHo.

He was a screenwriter and novelist who asked me if I ever considered writing about driving rideshare.

As a matter of fact, I said…

He was very encouraging and I admitted I was stuck in the middle of the worst Catch-22.

“Any story I really want to tell is so juicy or has so much detail that I am afraid I will expose the passenger even if I change the name and the places and everything,” I said.

“The heart of the story will be about THAT person, that real human being who might be horrified if they saw what they told me in confidence end up on the page, or worse in a kickass Netflix series where each of these stories gets put to life with a different celebrity driver each week talking to a new celebrity passenger, acting out the tales I have written down.”

He took out the ear buds and said, “wait, I thought you had lived in LA for a while. I thought you had been in the business.”

I have, I said, questioning my answer.

“No no, this isn’t journalism,” he continued, “where if you see a building on fire and you write about it, it gets published in the paper the next day. The odds of you writing a story that gets bought AND produced is minimal.”

He went on.

“Most stories don’t get deals. And most deals don’t get made. It doesn’t matter who you are or what the topic is. Right now in the shelves all around Hollywood is another Hollywood’s worth of unproduced screenplays.”

My stories will never make it to Netflix?

Your stories will never make it to Netflix.

Then I am free.

You are. Write it down. All of it.

I floored it.

$6.43 tip.

for the win

his name was Win and he was crying.

i wasn’t doing so well myself because earlier in the day i had picked up some ADHD meds they finally decided to give me and it was not making me feel 100%, let’s say.
i was nauseous, out of sorts, and oddly horny.
i like to be at peak performance when i drive, and absolutely alert when im driving other people. even if they are crying in my backseat, which i rarely allow.

Win was a student at an art school studying Toy Making which i never knew was a thing, but i guess if George Lucas made more money off the Star Wars toys than he did the movie, someone figured ah, let’s join the cash grab.
he was crying because his teachers hated all of his concepts. he had to look up the phrase Basic Bitch after one of them put that in the notes of his most recent idea.
“i’m going to get kicked out of school. my mother is going to be so disappointed. the shame our family will endure will be too much,” he said between sniffles.
no one gets kicked out of art school i assured him, they want your money.
Win told me several of his classmates had been kicked out.
were they really booted or did they quit? i asked. people love to quit shit, i said.
he just cried and told me how his mother carried the whole family on her back after his father went to jail.
ok look, before i start crying, what do these teachers want, i asked.
they keep saying they want us to think Outside Box. they say they want Edge. they say they want New.
fuck. i sighed.
what happened, Win asked startled, probably concerned about the traffic or the Benz.
im Mr. Outside Box, i said quietly. but he heard.
YOU ARE? Please help me Anthony. Please.
here’s the problem bro I am the wrong person to help you. I am incredibly dark. I’m Black but im lightskinned because all the darkness is inside me. cut me, my blood looks like ink. any idea i give you will be great, but very few teachers ever gave me good grades. IT TOOK ME SIX YEARS TO GRADUATE COLLEGE!
please Mr. Anthony. Please!
Uber refuses to change my name to Tony, so trust me, it’s just as weird for me to hear that name as i’m sure it is for you.
Win, my heart is so dark im probably gonna go to Hell bc God judges us by our hearts and theres no faking that. also ive done bad things that im trying to make up for, but inside it’s borderline evil.
if I get kicked out, I have to return to China.
fine, Win, you wore me down. if you use this idea please do not mention me. if you end up making it and becoming rich, say it just dawned on you while you were in the back of an Uber driving around LA. do with it what you want.
he was all ears.
first when you pitch this, tell your teachers that once this becomes successful all of the profits needs to go to a homeless nonprofit like Invisible People.
ok ok but what is it.
In a way it’s a parody of Barbie, but it’s hyper realistic versions of homeless people. tents, shopping carts, half broken bicycles, weirdly healthy dogs, rickety structures covered with blue tarps, street lights that have been tapped into so the people can “steal” the electricity to run generators and little tvs.
and of course you have the figurines of the people. that should be the easy part. young people with face tattoos. dudes with giant coats on in the summer. a guy who’s mostly naked sleeping on a bus bench that has an armrest in the middle of the seat so people cant sleep on it, a guy with an almost new Kobe jersey, and a guy dressed up in his army fatigues.
Win gasped. so dark, he whispered.
and edgy, and Outside that fucking Box. i said as we drove through an overpass lined with tents, old RVs and port-a-potties.
but here’s what i want you to do, i want you to either pee on it or figure out a way you can make them smell bad.
then Win said something that worried me. he said, we have chemicals that can make things smell like fruit or happiness.
do you have anything that smells like sadness?
sell the extra jars of bad smells separately.
Win was so quiet looking out the window. as if he had just been offered the opportunity to sell his soul to the devil for a really great slice of pizza.
each homeless person and two accessories like a tent or a skateboard is bundled in a pair of clean new athletic socks rolled in a ball the size of your fist. when someone buys the toys they should give the socks to the first homeless person they see.
you will not go to hell, Anthony, Win finally told me. you are very nice.
Nice? I said surprised. Now let me tell you about the second series of homeless toys. There will be a garbage truck, 5 cops, and 3 guys in yellow vests who roll by and put all the tents and things into the back of the garbage truck and make the homeless people leave.

then Win went back to crying.

picked up a black lady who was 66

she told me that she went to high school near the beach instead of in her local high school out there in the hood

i was driving her from the airport to her home on 60th street in south LA

i love driving these people so much it’s insane.

she told me about going to school by the airport in the 1970s

sock hops, football games, always eating lunch outside.

i was so excited when i became a senior because i could sit on the Senior Lawn and eat. she was beaming like she had just been blessed with this honor yesterday.

dont let them catch you sitting there if you werent a senior she said cackling

i asked everyone knew what year everyone was

oh yes. don’t let em catch you on that lawn, ya hear?

driving from near where her high school was to the house she grew up in near the 110 freeway would take us exactly 39 minutes so i asked her how long it took to take the bus to school every day

bus-ES she clarified, i took three busses. one to inglewood at market street, one to westchester and one to the school. it took about two hours each way, she said but she loved that school.

what was your mascot i asked and she searched her memory banks.

the comets.

on good conversations like the one we had i just turn the stereo down to one. kc and the sunshine band was playing when i caught her looking out the window as we zipped past dulans soul food on crenshaw

we would play crenshaw all the time. back then they were good. they hated us.


because we were a white school. i was one of the few colored girls. they would wait for all us Black kids to get off the bus at Market to walk across the street to catch the next bus. they wanted to fight. i looked away. but i heard. i heard them call us all the most disgusting names just because we wanted to go to that school.

once we were beating them badly in basketball. my friend saw people were whispering. the whispering got to us.

get on the bus.

before the fourth quarter we were on a school bus

out of there.

$10 tip.

circus of

manish was an indian gentleman from amarillo texas who is married to a guatemalan lady.

picked him up in the rain and dark of LAX where it was also cold.

i did not want to get him and take him to the north hollywood hampton inn for this reason: it was the first offer i received shortly after i had dropped off a dancer at jetblue. and typically i liked to decline a few rides to get a sense of how much uber is offering at that time.

also sometimes you get lucky and do a short trip around LAX for $14 from like a hotel to a rental car agency. these are $6 rides that get overpriced for some reason. what can i do?

but it was rainy and i would $29 and miraculously at that hour of the early evening the estimated time to get out there was a little over an hour so i said fine. who wants manish to wait in the rain for someone willing to go over the hill into the val?

as soon as he got in (no luggage, just a duffel bag and apologies), i could hear a young girls voice on his face time. maybe 5 years old?

sweetheart i will call you right back, please let me talk with the taxi man.

he clicked the button, paused, said hi and asked if i wouldnt mind stopping at a liquor store before we got to the hotel.

i was in a fantastic mood bc of the dancer, and the rides before those, and how well my new podcast episode was being received (i had been extremely nervous – it was about local politics, of which my guest is an expert and i am not one bit) that i said, for you, manish, anything.

he got back onto facetime.

and what did you have for dinner? he asked after showing her the dark streets of westchester that we glid down, shiny from the rain and the streetlights

quesadillas and carne asada she sang and then ok daddy i love you and quickly hung up.

after manish and i talked for a while i realized when he said ‘my hampton inn’ he didn’t mean the one i was driving him to, but the one he co-owned in armadilla

as softspoken and overly polite and gentle that manish was, he loved rum. (same.) but back in the day he would often find himself drunk.

a few years ago he was simply the manager of the hampton inn nestled right off the highway not far from a busy oil field that kept the rooms booked. one night, he was mighty buzzed but wanted one more bottle to say goodnight to.

so he stumbled into a nearby liquor store and struck up a conversation with a man from china.

aren’t you the manager of the hotel?

yes. yes. manish said sheepishly, slightly embarrassed he might smell of dark bacardi.

my brother has been buying little hotels in the states: best westerns, motel 6s, driftwoods, and fixing them up and raising the price and turning a healthy profit.

as it happened, the hotel was about to go up for sale. when it did the chinese man bought it and told manish he would make him a co-owner and partner if he ran the place. which he did. and as the profits began to flow, manish bought 5 acres that had two nice houses on it. he planned on renting the other one.

but then he saw carla.

who had come in to apply for the housekeeping manager job.

carla was recently divorced and had a daughter.

manish, a hindu from calcutta, hired her and a month later proposed.

wait a second my man. i interrupted, raising my hand and stopping the story.


yes sir anthony, he said.

was it awkward asking this newly hired woman on a date?

im sorry anthony, but in my culture we do not date.

i thought a minute and said ok, but did you two smooch or something before you proposed?

i do not know what smooch means but i am certain i did not do it to her. we never touched. i proposed and she said yes.

manish you devil, i said and applauded him from the front seat.

the 405 was super clear. possibly the rain and accurate forecast all week of its arrival convinced angelenos to stay home. but it was done for the night and the carpool lane was magic.

after the wedding manish’s inlaws moved into the second house. a few years later he made his own child with carla, a daughter.

and as the profits from the hotel continued to fill his coffers, he bought chickens and goats for the girls, and most recently two ponies.

i went back to clapping.

no no anthony, all of these things are quite affordable in amarillo.

but what do you know about horses? im sure you gotta pay a guy for those?

carlas father is a ranch hand. hes an expert with horses. and very grateful for the free house.

together we went into great detail about the operating expenses of his hotel. as we sped past the getty center and he asked me what time LA liquor stores close.

i said either midnight or two am, depending. and asked him what time they close there and he said 8pm. the clock said 8:15pm.

i said have no fear manish, i will get you the booze you want if i have to raid my own liquor cabinet. of which i have none, im a stoner, but its nice to imagine an old school globe on wheels which opens up to a fully stocked booty of booze.

he told me he doesnt like to drink around his daughter and when i asked him if he knocked back a few on the plane he said he didn’t want the older woman next to him to think he was going to lose his mind and attack her, so he had no drinks.

i will have two drinks as i wait for my food to be delivered, then i will have a third as i eat it, he said, staring out of the window, visualizing the rum being poured into those feeble plastic hotel cups.

i quietly prayed that he brought his own tumbler in that mysteriously small duffel bag.

it killed me that i didnt know the valley very well because i wanted to give him a postmates recommendations for his dinner.

instead i told him about pijja palace in silver lake, the brainchild of a young indian guy who was combining italian foods with his moms favorites. so like indian pizza or curry pasta. the tiktok kids were loving it.

we got in a rabbit hole about food as i transitioned to the 101 and he said, now you wont forget about my liquor store will you anthony?

i said manish, you need to trust me the same way you trust those ponies with your sweet angels. in a perfect world i would be a hotel front desk manager because customer service is my middle name

tony joaquin customer service bukowski

and we laughed but i said seriously i know the coolest liquor store of all and its right near your hotel

im so sorry antony but i do not require the coolest, best, or fanciest los angeles liquor store, i would be very happy with the closest one en route.

and i said no problemo. then realized he probably knew a little spanish and worried he may have taken it the wrong way.

then i asked why he was out here and he said the chinese partner wanted him to meet his brother because they want to buy more hotels and really, truly partner with him and grow the little empire
but tony i do not want any more.

i love my life. we work. we come home. theres our family.

satisfaction is not impossible to attain if you only concern yourself with having a good meal on your table every night and stop obsessing about more more more.

i completely agree with you manish, i said and noticed how he watched a small liquor store come and go and i did not turn in.

he became quiet.

and a minute later, a long minute, i watched in the rear view as we approached Circus Liquors, and he heard my blinker click click click click click click

$11.78 tip

drove 12 hours

sorta cuz i needed to. sorta cuz i could.

maybe this is how it is with you too, but even when i dont have any responsibilities, there’s still a major tug of war between the things i wanna do and the things i gotta do.

i want to drive uber every day. i was obsessed when i began 9 years ago. im obsessed now.

i wear copper lined fingerless gloves to help heal my occasionally pained hands and like a baseball pitcher i take days off to rest my bones.

drove 12 hours today because it was 12 hours of painfree joy.

all long trips. one longer than the next. from way far on this side of LA to way far past LA.

took an 82 year old man from a hospital near long beach to an inglewood funeral home and i got his phone number because i need him on my dumb podcast, the true love of my life.

my actual wife. who asks me to be home tuesday and wednesday to deliver our weekly baby.

this old man had so much life in him. mostly Black, the rest Cherokee. from miami but moved to LA in the ’50s.

said Blacks in the ’50s werent allowed to have any good jobs so he was a janitor for a while and when the owners of Nate and Als found out he knew how to cook kosher they hired him.

how did you learn that?

boy even back then florida was full of jews. i came here knowin how to cook that food.

took a truck driver from LAX to his recently repaired 18 wheeler way out in commerce

every question i asked him resulted in a better, wilder answer

what made you become a truck driver?

got thrown in jail and no one else would hire a felon

learn anything in jail?

learned how to grow the best damn weed in uruguay


in 2013 they were the first country in the world to legalize it so i moved down there to do what i was doing in the mafia run warehouses in jersey. but bigger.

dont ask how i got there, but i was taking a leak at the target in duarte when i got a ping from the city of hope hospital to take someone to a hotel in el segundo

was hoping it was a lonely nurse.

ended up being an actual angel

a lively german woman who leaned forward in the back seat to get closer to me to talk and talk and talk.

she flies from bavaria to europe, australia, and the states delivering life saving stem cells in a small blue square insulated container that could easily be confused as her lunch.

her job is twofold: make sure the thing gets to the hospital in 72 hours (usually takes just 48), and make sure it stays cold. easy peasy.

i said shes got good mojo and asked if there was a german word for mojo. she said nine.

what about juju? also, nine.

sometimes she gets to spend a day or two in the city to chill, but usually she flies back the next day to pick up her next stem cells to take to the next country. and save the next persons life. 80% of the time the life is saved.

after she explained all of it i said i’ve never had a saint in my car before. please put in a good word to the man upstairs bc i could use it.

she asked what do you think the odds are we can get to el segundo in time for the sunset?

i looked at the eta, asked siri when sunset was, and then stepped on it.

and thanks to waze, the car pool lane, and bypassing the 101/110 interchange by zig zagging through dtla, we made it to the 105/405 with 20 minutes to spare so i said

i never do this. ever. but el segundo is no place for a saint to take in her first LA sunset of the year

how about we drop your bags off at your hotel front desk and i take you to manhattan beach pier 12 minutes away?

$15.60 tip

her name was Vina


i was in the valley. there is a famous porn star named Vina who lives in the Valley.

i accepted the trip.

$20 to take her from the hills of Encino to very close to Hollywood Forever cemetery. half hour, uber predicted. but i would need to get on the freeway, something i didnt wanna do because it was 4pm and that 101 can get gnarley over by the 134.

i thought about cancelling. i think about cancelling a lot. is this why ive never been married? commitment issues? i can’t even commit to a half hour ride with someone who might be using her xxx name for a lift to hollywood?

what would i even say to adult star vina?

“ever consider the radness of dating an uber driver?”

got there, a woman who was not the famous star was sitting on a short flight of stairs outside a small house like the one in Boogie Nights where Dirk Diggler and his pals wanted to rob the drug dealer.

her english wasn’t good so i turned up the classic rock station that was playing elton john.

but unlike most people with thick accents, she wanted to talk.

fine. even if i can barely understand you imma get your life story.

vina is from el salvador. housecleaner. fifties. two adult kids. she works for an agency that sends her around. during the pandemic her boss loved her work so much he kept paying her even though there was no work.

i pointed behind us as we weaved our way towards studio city, was that guy a doctor?

she said she didn’t know. rich, she admitted. he has another place over the hill. she cleans that one too.

$120 for 5 hours. but most of it is dusting. wiping down surfaces. folding laundry. he’s clean.

“why aren’t you married?” she asked, pointing at my ringless hand.

beginners luck

the hills going through the pass from universal and the bowl into hollywood were so green

how do you say green in spanish? is it verde?

si, she said, excited. so we kept playing that game.

earlier she had told me her rent was $1,700 a month.

how do you say 1,700 in spanish?

mil setecientos she said.

mill see un cent toss i struggled

mil setecientos she said again, but slower.

mill see un cent dose i blurted, then gave up. this is why i’ve never dated a mexican girl! i said.

how old are you? she asked straight up

56. Gen X.

Jan 8th? she asked, mishearing me. i’m jan 20, she said.

is that capricorn or aquarius? i asked as i noticed we were in traffic.


ahhhh, that means you’re down-to-earth. Logical.

Law ju-co? she repeated poorly.

hey siri, how do you say Logical in Spanish?

ló-he-co, siri said in the perfect accent.

ahhhh ló-he-co, vina said. si. im law ju co.

i knew where the damn cemetery was so i ignored waze and drove at it the way i knew i should. i tried to tell her who Lana Del Rey was because I had seen her at that graveyard, but she didn’t understand me one bit.

so I played Young and Beautiful for her. didn’t work.

ever go into Hollywood Forever and check out the peacocks?


Siri, say peacocks in Spanish.

pavos reales

oooooo pavos reales. pee cocks. jajajaja

yeah it’s a funny word.

then she said, cacatúa. what’s that in english?


yes. si. cockatiel.

she asked me if i liked the Bee Gees, so i asked if she likes Bad Bunny?

Si! she said excited. You know Bad Bunny?

I just know he stole my girlfriend Kendall Jenner.

vina laughed and said Bunny is conejito. Bad is malo. Conejito malo.

WAIT THAT TACO JOINT WAS CALLED BAD? I asked, referring to a now shut down mexican place on sunset many of my friends would meet at because their margaritas were so good, but youd never walk out of that place without spending $100 each somehow.

It was called Malo? she asked, extremely confused at the ironic way americans name some things.

I slithered through the streets of Hollywood beautifully.

Do you know Ozuna? she said.

Siri play Ozuna! I demanded and up popped a song I didn’t know but beneath it were other songs he was part of, including the party hit Taki Taki – which I quickly clicked and cheered I GUESS I KNOW OZUNA!

Taki taki.Taki taki. Rumba! she sang in the back seat.

when i dropped her off she said, i will always remember you when I hear Taki Taki.

Moi aussi Vina!

my st paddys night highlight

i dont drive at night. im nervous about drunks. but it was St. Paddys and i missed a day of work while doing the podcast, so i needed to make up for it by driving as long as I could.

even in the dark.

i had been doing long drives during the day. ones id normally ignore but they were giving me offers i couldnt refuse.

for example, i got not one, but two trips for over $60 that took an hour and 15 minutes each that went 54 miles. was this Christmas? sort of!

but after the second long ride i was experiencing the thing i feared.

it was 8pm. dark. and i was in an unknown part of the world: behind the orange curtain. i got a decent offer for a short trip so i accepted it.

naturally it was two drunk people. but they were adults. parents, probably. they complained about how they had committed a faux paux at the restaurant with one of the gay waiters and it escalated into dirty looks and shortness. and the couple decided not to leave a tip on $100 check.

“you know what you can do,” i said to the slurring pair, “you can give me his tip and all will be right in the universe.”


9 minute trip, $20 tip. $26.85 for the service of being their therapist, as she told me I had been.

great, but i was in yorba linda, in the dark. and thats when i got a ping to go from nearby Placentia to Reseda for $40.

when i accepted, i saw the guy’s name was Miguel. which made me nervous because i like to talk and hear tales and sometimes these nice people don’t speak english.

i thought i should cancel because that’s a long time of not talking to each other. but i resisted.

then i turned into a motor home park. i nearly canceled then too. who is this guy?

but i didn’t chicken out when i saw these were really beautiful motorhomes. double wides. whatever you call them. this was like the best motor park id ever seen. there were flowers in front people’s places. a covered parking lot. it was cool. better than my crib!

out comes a latino guy, middle age, cowboy hat, dress shirt, jeans, goatee. and a minute later, an even bigger guy with all that stuff too. they got in the back and we were off.

So we’re going to the Coco Bongo in Reseda? Is that a restaurant? I asked.

“Reseda?! we’re going to Downey,” Miguel said, looking panicked in the dark back seat.

I pulled over as he struggled to change the destination in the app. As he did he explained it was a “country and western” dancing place.

then he specified it is Ranchera. “Mexican country western music.”

he figured out how to change the address. my screen was updated and we headed to Downey. miguel breathed a sigh.

he asked me how much i knew about Ranchera music, Mexico, Mexicans? I told him I had been to baja countless times, even san felipe and cancun, but none of those probably count.

they count, he said. his buddy kept quiet. didn’t even fiddle with his phone.

why did you go to san felipe, miguel asked

oh, it was a long time ago, maybe 25 years ago. two of my stoner friends and i were at a lame party in san diego on a really warm night and decided to just drive all night into mexico and see how far we could go. this was before gps or smart phones. we ended up in san felipe.

i really want to go to mexico city tho. i said.

miguel told me he had been living in mexico city for a month for work and loved it. i’d move there if i could, he said.

whats stopping you? i asked, wondering if i had ever heard of a mexican dude fail at trying to move to mexico.

my family, my friends, he said

and my husband

he squeezed the knee of the big strong silent guy next to him.

MIGUEL! how long have you two been married?

truthfully, we’re gonna get married in june.

and like you, i suddenly had lots of questions.

when did he come out, has he kissed girls, how did they meet, were his parents cool with him being gay, was his husbands family cool with it?

25, several when he was younger to fool everyone, at a gay country dance club, yes, no but they’re warming up to it.

did you say a gay ranchera dance club miguel?


was it in DTLA?

no, Anaheim.

they got that in OC?

amigo, we’re everywhere.

looks like you are my man. i love this! i said. so let me ask you this, i am Black, and some Black men feel they can’t be open about being gay. they have to be on the ‘down low.’ is that how it is in Mexico too?

it depends on how catholic the family is and how much machismo the dad has. many mexican dads don’t want to tell their friends: my son is gay.

i shook my head and frowned behind my n95 mask

then he asked, but do you know how important Black people are to gay rights?

that page must of have been torn out of my critical race theory book, i said, educate me!

Stonewall. those were Black drag queens who had had enough, he said.

get out!

really! he said and then translated it for his fiance.

all i could make out was negro.

$7.85 tip


after many bouts of very good luck waiting for rides at LAX, i came up with a saying
good things happen at the airport.
i had just dropped off a very curt man with something mysterious in a half opened box in culver city and decided to head over to nearby LAX to see what was what.
if you drop off someone at LAX, they’ll put you in the Priority line to pick up people there. the wait is usually less than 10 minutes.
but if you just cruise over, like i did, you be placed in the back of the line, which at that time was 265 cars.
fret not, a few things can happen.
any time someone at the front of the line refuses a ping (you get to refuse 3 before getting booted to the back of the line), their rejected offer could get flashed to you and several others.
first person who says yes gets it. but warning, there’s usually a reason the person originally said no.
im easy. as long as the trip doesnt send me south to the beach communities or OC, i’ll take it. fuck it. no ones getting rich at the airport any more.
after a few minutes of getting zero offers, i headed east to inglewood. but before i could even make it to the 405 i got an offer from one of the hotels to get someone there and take them to pasadena for $40.
lets just say i have been known to take $20 trips to dtla from lax – which is subpar – and i should be ashamed of myself for whoring myself out for that low, but they dont call it a grind for nothing.
so this offer is double that to just get to dtla and scoot up the curvy 110 to pass? done.
she seemed armenian. was! she was flying out tomorrow to crash with her parents in oregon who had retired up there.
but when she got to the lax hotel she had forgotten something and needed to get back to pass to get it. then since she was out there, planned on having dinner with a friend.
what do you do up there? i asked.
im a student. was a student. just graduated. unemployed now.
what’d you major in?
oh you’ll be fine.
i dont know.
oh please, i said, what do you wanna do with your degree?
i really don’t know. anything, she said. i’ll work for whoever will hire me.
ok but when you were studying all those years you didnt have a dream, a goal, a vision in your head of cooking the books for a small amalgam of liquor stores? or working in a skyscraper? or pretending to use an abacus when people passed by your cubby?
she laughed and admitted she had never planned ahead to what to do once she got her diploma.
ive been playing a lot of classic rock lately. the sirius station Lithium never seems to be the right vibe in the car. and they play too much dave matthews and Live. so ive been toggling between the three classic rock stations. i figure if the kids dont know these essentials, imma teach em.
the doors’ Peace Frog was the groove at the moment. i tapped my gloved hand on the steering wheel as we crept along the 110 near staples
ever do shrooms
she laughed, no!
where you from?
so youre a native angelena and youve never shroomed?
ive led a sheltered life she sang and i coulda sworn twirled her hair
youre in luck. youre going to one of the only states that have legalized magic mushrooms, and you have the perfect question to ask them, wtf should i do next?
my parents would kill me. they’re very strict.
ray manzareks organ swirled in the background and my mind tried to weigh her options: prob shouldnt shroom around parents, or alone, or in the beautiful woods of oregon next to that cold umpqua river
exactly how strict are they? i asked.
im 23 and they just started being ok with me drinking wine at the table.
have you never smoked weed?
oh god no.
then thats what you do. go buy a joint, when your parents go to sleep, walk around the neighborhood, puff puff puff. come home, wash your clothes if you want, wash your hair. actually showers are really nice sometimes. do they have a hot tub?
omg jump in that bad boy, soak, get out, dry off. put on pajamas and open your computer and go into gmail
yes, it autosaves really well. and type: what do i want to do. and then under that just type as fast as you can. i wanna dance i wanna sing i wanna twirl a baton i wanna fly to the moon. just all the things. for a few minutes type the most ridiculous things. youre just releasing the energy.
and then type but what i really, truly, omg secretly want to do is
$15.20 tip


she was waiting for me inside the small parking lot of a koreatown Everything store.

you want something for your garden, your closet, or your kitchen, they had it.

Maria had a fluffy rug in a giant plastic bag and a long object in a square box. the korean uniformed parking lot guy with a whistle and two sticks to help direct traffic told me to park, but i waved him off and pointed to her waving behind him.

finally i was allowed to pass. someone helped her with her too-big for my Benz items, and magically they all fit snugly and we were on our way.

i was mad at Maria. you should get an XL if you have big things, I thought to myself. but not everyone knows the nuances of rideshare, i also thought to myself. theres a damn radio show going on in there.

i get angry over the littlest things sometimes. it’s unreasonable and illogical. in my heart i want the person standing in front of the address in the middle of the block, with an opening for me to turn into, and then deliver me an incredible tale along the way.

but reality isn’t like that, and i know it. odds are a few rides will be like that, but most will be slightly annoying for various reasons but ultimately beautiful.

and in this case, romantic.

Maria was bringing home baby gifts for her first and only grandson. she has three daughters who all live in the valley. the oldest one is her favorite because she brought this baby into everyones life, she said.

i was no longer mad at her.

i asked her all the normal things: has he pissed on anyone, does his poop smell nice, does he sleep well?

her spanish accent was thick but she didnt care. she spoke fast and full of love.

yes, yes, and only around me.

it was rush hour in ktown and waze was telling me to zig zag to the opposite side of the neighborhood. it wouldn’t take long.

i asked her if she enjoyed being an abuela.

she said it is the best.

of all the stories i like to hear, love stories are my favorite.

{earlier today i had a big time motivational speaker and his wife. they were going to a fancy hotel. when he told me what he does i asked her, “does he motivate you?” “nope.” everyone laughed.}

when i asked Maria how she met her husband — she, too, laughed.

“i worked across the street from a korean coffee shop and every day i would go in and get a cup,” she said. “his parents owned it.”

i turned down the classic rock and said, “wait, your husband is korean?” Maria is Guatemalan.


“How long have you been married?”

“25 years.”

“then I must know everything,” I demanded.

she told me that koreans are not like Americans. Central, South and North Americans are all loud, she said, koreans are reserved.

“i would come in every day and every day he would forget to put sugar in my coffee and say nothing other than ‘three dollars.'”

she said he felt bad for him because here he has one job and he’s terrible at it.

“one day he said, ‘three dollars and would you like to go to dinner on friday?'”

unfortunately for the cars behind us, Maria lives on a narrow, busy street. so when we got to in front of her place, cars honked but she hustled the kiddie things out.

Hasta, Maria! i said

Caio, Tony! she said

$2 tip

got more suits than jacoby got myers

she had stunning pink hair, a wildly colorful dress, and a blue eggshell suitcase

i was picking her up from one of the newer hotels in Hollywood to Rancho Cucamonga at noon on saturday. I would get paid $55 for a drive that would take about an hour and fifteen minutes according to Waze. Def a long ride but if I can gross $45 an hour during a slightly dead period on a weekend (mornings and evenings are way busier than lunch), then I would risk it.

my goal for a shift is $250. so if i can knock out nearly a quarter of that in one trip, lets do it. it’s also nice to get out of LA traffic for a while.
the luggage, though, was a bit of a surprise. Typically you only get people with luggage on airport, train station or bus depot trips, but this is why you should always have an empty trunk, you never know.
her name was Ruth. she was in her late 20s. she was a Beauty influencer who owned her own salon in Indiana. her parents were Seventh Day Advenists and all her siblings were named after biblical characters. they were very strict so any time I asked her about most things on the radio, TV or movies, she asked me what I was talking about.
if she wasn’t so open to learning about all the things she had been shielded from, it would have been a long drive. but we yapped and yapped and yapped.

somehow she taught ME about the Veggie Tales.

“it was bible stories told by vegetables,” she giggled.

“WTF I LOVE BIBLE STORIES!” I yelled through my N95 mask. yes i still wear one.

“No way!” I said. “ask me anything.”

“What’s your favorite story?” she asked suspiciously, as i had just told her about weed stores, a shroom expert I had just had on my podcast, and how there was ether at the first party I went to in Isla Vista.

“strangely, it was the very first story Adam and Eve that got me into the bible because it was so short and so believable, while having elements of being super weird: A Talking Snake with four legs?!?!” i said.

she laughed.

“it was believable because it was so human nature for the humans to pass the blame on someone else instead of taking responsibility. Eve blamed the snake, Adam blamed Eve. And then the vengeful God got pissed,” I said. “A pattern that would repeat all through the Old Testament and through some of the New.”

because she got that i really had read my Good Book she said her favorite Veggie Tale episode was one about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

even though I have been trying my best not to cut people off, I interjected.


“You know that story?” Ruth asked, now very impressed.

“Do you know the Beastie Boys’ song, ‘Shadrach?'” I asked and she said, “pop culture, Tony. I’m still catching up.”

“Siri play Shadrack by the Beastie Boys from Pauls Boutique.” I demanded and turned up the stereo.

From the opening disco beat Ruth was into it.

“Riddle me this, my brother, can you handle it” I sang along with the opening salvo and Ruth got it Instantly. The Beastie Boys were rapping to her soul.

“Well who shall inherit the earth? THE MEEK SHALL! And yo, I think i’m starting to peak now, Al,” the Beasties rapped and Ruth was dying the back seat as we sped down the freeway in the car pool lane.

“Just three MCs and we’re on the go. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!” They rapped and I turned it down to super cute clapping in the back.
$15.23 tip.