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Introduce Yourself

Trip length (pool): 17 minutes / 12 minutes. Trip distance (pool): 3.1 miles / 2.4 miles.
Fare (pool): $17.01 / $13.88
Song of the trip: "Careless Whisper" by George Michael

 I both hate and love driving in San Francisco proper. Just on general principle, I try to avoid driving here, preferring to stick to the comfort of my beloved South Bay, but every once in a while, I get dragged up to the city by a fare, and like the mafia, just when you think you're out, they pull you back in. That said, sometimes you get the kind of rides that make you pull over and turn off for a few minutes because you're laughing too hard to drive anywhere.

My last fare had been some people at a Sharks game in San Jose who had bailed with about ten minutes left on the clock. (That turned out to be a hilarious mistake, as a bunch of action happened in those last ten minutes and the Sharks pulled out a victory in overtime. Go Sharks.) Anyway, I found myself in the Sunset district (it's one of the most western parts of the city) and before I could set the app to only take fares heading back towards the South Bay, I already had a fare request.

The request was Pool, sure, but it was also at 1.6x times fare, which meant SF was in a surge at the moment. Alright then, maybe I can give the city a bit of my time, I figure, and I head over the four or so blocks to pick up the fare, someone named Forrest.

I pull the Altima up in front of one of the row homes. The app tells me I'm looking for two people, and sure enough, a bro-y of brotown walks over to the car and opens the back door. He's in his mid twenties and dressed in clothes that make him look both preppy and tasteless. "You're Billy, right bro?" Oh lord, he truly is one of the Church of Bro.

For years now, I've told all my friends that a person who says 'bro' within the first ten minutes of any given conversation is someone I immediately tune out. So I'm just going to try and fight that urge for this fare, it seems, in case he has something important to say. "That's me. You're Forrest?"

"Right on, bro. Right on." He holds the door open for a young lady who's clearly dressed for a night out on the town, in her best LBD (little black dress), short enough to hold interest and not so short as to be obscene. "You got the address, right bro?"

Of course, you can't even book a Pool call these days without setting a destination, so yes, I have the destination. I'd tell him that, but I get the impression he's been told that before and it didn't take. "Got it." I tap off the hazards and ease my foot off the brake, and the phone beeps again. Another pickup, about half a mile away. Someone named Blake.

"Someone else to pickup?" the girl in the back asks.

"Yep. Not too far. Shouldn't delay you folks too much."

She nods and turns back to her companion. "So tell me about your relationship with your last girlfriend. I want to make sure you aren't a player who's just looking to get laid. Are you still friends with her, or did it end badly?" Ah, so this a first or second date situation.

"It ended badly, Rachel, I gotta tell ya, but it wasn't my fault." It never is, Captain Bro, it never is. "Courtney and I dated for about a year or so, but she changed, and we broke up about four months ago because of it. Damn, she changed totally, like 180, like even her own friends didn't recognize her anymore kinda changed. You know, you try to be a good guy, but sometimes people just change. That just happens."

As I start to pull up in front of a tall apartment building, I see that Blake's got himself a date as well, so I tilt my head towards the back seat a little bit. "You folks are gonna need to scoot in. Two more coming in, so one in the back and one up front with me."

Forrest doesn't have to be told twice, and he unbuckles his seatbelt and slides right over into the middle, eager to get closer to his date, who seems a little less thrilled by it. The couple outside notices there are two people in the back, and they stop for a second, and then the guy opens the front door for the lady, who slides in. She's also dressed in an LBD, but hers is a bit longer, a touch more classy. She turns her head from me, as she's getting herself buckled in, while her date moves to open the back door and slides in. "I'm Blake. You're Billy, right?"

"That's me."

"Thanks, sir. Appreciate the lift." I start the trip and it looks like Blake and his date get dropped off just a few blocks before Forrest and his date. I immediately like them more than the other two.

"Not a problem, man. Try to enjoy the ride."

Next to him, Forrest is still holding court on the subject of his ex-girlfriend. "Courtney was super chill when we started dating. Loved to party, loved to get trashed and have fun, but like six months in, she stopped wanting to go out on the weekends. I tried talking to her, but she never wanted to, like, talk about it with me."

"That sounds difficult," Forrest's date says, in the most noncommittal tone I've ever heard. "What did you do?"

"Tried for a while, but eventually it just seemed like she was, like, looking for an excuse to feel sorry for herself, and we broke it off. I told Courtney if she wasn't going to let me in, I didn't know what we were even doing together, and she said she thought I was too stupid to get it, so we were splitsville."

In the front seat, the girl sitting next to me is curling her hands, and pumping tight fists before relaxing them. She does this over and over again, and I'm starting to wonder if Blake and his date are in the middle of a squabble themselves. Then I see Blake lean forward and put a hand on her shoulder, and she takes his hand and squeezes it, holding onto it. She even leans her head a little bit against his wrist. They certainly don't seem like they're on their first or second date, more like they've been dating a few months now, but hey, I'm just trying to guess on these things.

"She got so irrational, Rach. I'm tellin' you, babe, it was like Jekyll and Hooch!" I'd like to think he meant Jekyll and Hyde, but it's entirely possible that somewhere out there exists the Jekyll & Hyde vs Turner & Hooch crossover I never knew I wanted before this very minute. Or, more likely, the dude is a moron.

We pull up in front of a nice looking restaurant just north of Market St. that looks fairly popular. "Okay, Blake, this is your stop," I say, tapping on my hazards as I try and pull over as much as I can. The street isn't too busy, so a couple of cars just go around me, and nobody's honking. It's a nice change of pace.

Here's where the penny drops.

As Blake's getting out to open the door for his date, she turns to look into the backseat. "I didn't want to go out and get trashed every weekend, Forrest, because you always wanted to go to Eddie Rickenbacker's and hang out with your fucking friends, never with mine, or anywhere else. Every time I told you that, you blew me off."

"Courtney?!"

"Good luck with him, Rachel, but as someone who just met you, I'm sure you can do better." Courtney smiles at me, kisses my cheek and says "We'll give you a good tip. Promise." And then she pulls herself out of the car and closes the door behind her gently. (Later I find out that she and her date did, in fact, leave me a ten dollar tip.)

I tap off the hazards and the sound of the hazards button clicking rings like thunder through the dead silent car. It seems Forrest is too dumbstruck to say anything, and he suddenly pulls out his phone and taps at it in a frenzy for a minute before giving up.

Several blocks later, I see why, as we pull up in front of a dive bar called, you guessed it, Eddie Rickenbacker's. Forrest, not saying a word, just gets out of the car, and his date gets out with him. (They don't tip at all. Surprise.)

I turn the app into offline mode, drive about seven or eight blocks until I find a place I can safely pull over, and then I laugh so hard I'm crying. San Francisco, I both love and hate you.

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