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Some Ground Rules

Here's what you need to know up front.

1) The author's name is Cliff Hicks.

That's me. I'm the one writing all of this. I can be reached at authorcliffhicks at gmail dot com. (It's been written that way to avoid spam scoop ups.) I've written a book called "Escaping Heaven" that I've self-published on Amazon. You can pick that up, either in physical form or for your Kindle, and I'd appreciate it. You can find me on Twitter, if that's a thing you're into.

2) What you are about to read is very close to, but not 100% true.

The protagonist of all the stories you're going to read is a ridesharing driver named Billy, who also drives in the San Francisco South Bay area. He's fictional. From time to time, I may mention other drivers. They are also fictional. In fact, it's safe to assume that all characters on this blog, while often based on real people, are not, in fact, real people. Ridesharing drivers have a rather intense level of turnover, and with good reason, which would make it very hard to show recurring characters of drivers having conversations.

That said, every single story on this blog is either a minor variation of something that happened to me, something that happened to another driver (who told me about it and said I could use it) or something that a passenger told me they did/saw/witnessed in a different ride.

Let me stress that again, because I think it's very important: nothing on this blog is pure fiction; everything (and I do mean everything) is drawn from real events.

You are likely to read things that strain credibility, things that shock and surprise you. You will see tales of audacity and brazenness the likes of which you will assure yourself have to have been created out of the ether. I can assure you, that ain't so. So while the edges of the picture may not be real, the subject that's in focus most definitely is.

3) Why not just write things exactly as they happened to you then, and use yourself as the protagonist?

Lots of reasons. I've been driving for ridesharing for 3+ years now, so some of the stories I'll post here happened to me quite a long time ago. Some of them may have happened as recently as a day or two before I write them up on the blog. Either way, my memory isn't perfect, and were I to try and write it from my perspective, I would have a million minor inaccuracies.

Also, I like having creative license to tweak stories, to make them just that little bit better, in terms of tempo or comedic timing. And, above all else, I don't want any passenger past or future to feel like I'm calling them out personally on this blog. I have no doubt that some of these stories, if they get circulated widely enough, will be close enough to the actual events that should the person who did the thing I'm writing about read the story, they could privately think to themselves "Holy shit, that's me." But, the event will also have been changed enough that any friends of theirs who weren't in the car for that exact trip wouldn't recognize the subject of it. That said, if you see yourself in a story and you want to tell all your friends about it, by all means. You can simply claim it's you in a story, even if it isn't, if you like. Who's to correct you?

So for those reasons, minor details like names, descriptions, dates and exact locations can often be changed, but the heart of what you're going to read is, for better or worse, almost entirely true.

4) Some of these stories are crazy! Did this really happen?

See point 2, but yes, what you're going to read is the kind of thing a ridesharing driver for Uber or Lyft can expect to encounter, at least when working the weekend shift in or near a major metropolitan area. Sometimes it's hilarious, other times heartbreaking. I've had people puke in (and on) the car (and me). I've had to take people to the police because they were blacked out in the back seat and would not wake up. I've had people fleeing a crime scene (although I didn't know that when the fare started...) I've had a knife pulled on me... the list goes on and on and on. Hell, I had the classic woman in labor within my first month of driving. Thus, here we are.

5) You should write a book about all of this!

Funny you should mention that! In some ways, this blog is an advertisement for me to try and draw in an agent or a publisher for the book I've already written that includes dozens of these kinds of stories, put together in a novel form. If you're a literary agent and that intrigues you, the email address is in point 1.  I'd love to hear from you.

I may, at some point, pull a few of the stories from that book to put up on here one at a time, but the goal right now is that stories on here will not be reflected in the novel, and vice versa, because I already have a first draft of that novel, before I've written any of the stories that are going up here.

When I finished the first draft of the novel in July of last year, I thought to myself two things. One) How hard can finding an agent be? (A: Very.) Two) How many more things are really going to happen to me while I'm out driving that I would want to write in a story form now that I'm done with the book? (A: Turns out, shitloads.)

That said, the stories here do mirror the format of the novel, in that each story is preceded with a trip length, a trip distance, a fare and a song of the trip. Keep in mind, the fares/distances are approximations, so please don't attempt to use them to figure out how much your next trip will cost you. The amount any given fare costs fluctuates so much as to be rather trivial, but it does set the stakes, which I think is an important thing. The song of the trip is either music that was playing during the trip, or a song that is apropos for what's about to transpire. You will never have warning for which of the two it is.

6) How often will this blog update?

I've learned I generally get one good story every weekend I drive, so I expect I'll be doing one post a week, probably on Wednesdays. Sometimes stories may be quite short. Other times, they may be rather sizable. There is no set length, nor should you have any expectation of one.

7) I know you said you changed a lot of the details, but there are street names, cities and businesses in these stories! Are those real?

One of the things that's most important to me is that you feel as steeped in the location of the Bay Area as possible. Yes, all the businesses you'll read about are real places, all the street names and cities are some place where I've driven. If the locations are important to the context of the story, then expect that the street/city names used in the story are exactly what they were in the events I'm relating. If the location isn't all that important, I may have moved things around a little bit.

8) Is the novel called "Always Tip Your Driver" as well?

Nope, but it's a good rule of thumb for anyone taking a rideshare, and since I'm certain to be telling most of my passengers about this blog, it's a nice reminder to them as well.

Anyway, that's the ground rules, which are subject to change, and may be updated over time. Still, it's enough so that you know what the playing field looks like. Now, let me go get Billy. I think he's got a few stories to tell you....


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