Hotels, Hangouts, and Hoes

Late night, Lyft and Uber driver here with a crazy Lyft story that single-handedly made me consider never driving again. And all this happened within my first week.

Warning: This is a very long, unedited post, but it’s also one-hundred percent true. And since I met the same guy, three nights in a row, his story deserves some serious real estate on this blog. Especially since each night I met him, and got to know him, my experience became increasingly more cringe-worthy.

Hotels, Hangouts, and Hoes

I drive in a double-college town, so it’s common practice for me to pick up and drop off passengers at bars, hotels, house parties, and other temporary hangouts. This is how I met Braxton.

The first night I met Braxton, which I quickly nicknamed, “Sexy-ass-black- man” was at a hotel, where he took FOREVER to get to my car. Then, once he finally did, he quickly added an extra stop to our ride plan.

Like I said before, It was my first week on the job, and I really didn’t know what to expect. Plus, he was sexy, so I just went with the flow.

At the first stop, we picked up a female, whom I still hope was an adult, but looked to be in her teens. She was dressed to the nine’s, with her hair and make up done, but she didn’t speak to either of us along the way. I picked her up from a nearby hotel, then dropped her off at an extended stay hotel, several miles away. Weird, I thought, but okay.

Then, as I drove to the final stop, I decided to make conversation. Because Braxton and I had already spent nearly ten minutes in the car with each other, and neither of us had spoken a word. It was awkward, to say the least, so I guess I decided it was time to make things a bit more awkward between us. Dumb. Because now, he thinks we’re friends – and later, he would need an accomplice.

Braxton told me he was in town “for business”, and while I still have no idea what exactly he meant, I have my suspicions. Because once I dropped him off, it was at a hotel known for its drug activity, and for renting rooms by the hour.

Bros, Blow, and Baseball Bats

The second night I picked up Braxton, it was from the same first hotel, and he was much more punctual. Only this time, he was with a friend, whom he referred to as, “Tiny”, but also happened to be a very large black man who carried a baseball bat. “Tiny” was very polite, talkative, and well-spoken. But he was also so big that he had to duck down to ride in my van, which made the baseball bat he was carrying seem like a serious overkill.

First, I drove Braxton, and not-so-Tiny, to a liquor store to pick up some drinks. Then Braxton told me that he needed to pick up another person, but this time, he didn’t bother adding the extra stop to the official ride plan. Because, you know – we’re all friends now.

And yes, I know I could’ve and should’ve declined, but since he was already in my car, I felt obligated.

It’s Hard to Find a Cheap and Reliable Getaway Driver

I should preface this part by saying that I drive a black on black van with silver rims and tinted windows. So, when I roll up to a shady part of town, some people get a little paranoid. Fortunately, no guns were drawn, not yet anyway, but I’d bet there’s always someone close by with an itchy trigger finger.

Anyway, once we arrived at the (skinny) friend’s house, Braxton called him from outside and told him to “bring a knife”. Then I heard the skinny friend ask, “What kind of knife?” to which Braxton replied, “Doesn’t matter. I just need something to cut this shit.” I later realized that he wasn’t talking about cutting a price tag off his shoes, or whatever, when a glass pipe fell onto my floorboard.

Braxton said, “Whoops! Can’t forget that.” Then he casually picked up the pipe as if he’d just dropped something innocent like his car keys or his cell phone.

Again, I know I should’ve kicked all of them out of my van right then, but I didn’t. Though, later I wish I had. Because after picking up the skinny friend, we drove down the block, and I heard Braxton ask, “Ya’ll ready to throw down?” And all I could think was, oh shit!

Once all three guys got out of my van, I thought I could finally leave. But no, I was now an accomplice and getaway driver. Braxton asked me to “drive around the block a few times, then meet me on the corner”, which I later realized was for my safety. Because, as it turns out, they were there to collect a debt.

Fat Guy in a Little Window

I’ll admit, in all my years on this planet, I’ve never seen anyone climb through a hotel window, much less a fat dude named, “Tiny”. But on the second night, I dropped Tiny, and Braxton’s nameless, skinny friend, off at another sketchy hotel for the night. Then I watched both men climb through a broken, downstairs window with such ease that even with a ripped screen, their absolute stealth made the window looked like a main entrance.

Braxton and I laughed, and carried on about Tiny’s not-so-tiny ass fitting through the window. And I joked about how his skinny friend needed to freshen up on his knife wielding skills.

Later, I dropped sexy Braxton off at his hotel with a smile on his face. And no, not that kind of smile. A smile that indicated a mission accomplished, and a job well done. Then he thanked me for my help – not the ride, and he walked into his hotel room through an outside door.

Is this What Every Ride Will be Like?

Night three was by far the calmest of all three nights, but also the most depressing. Because once I arrived at Braxton’s hotel to pick him up, he had the same young girl with him, and she did not happy or healthy. She wore a royal blue, spaghetti strap dress, which was no thicker than a nightgown, and an over-sized pair of silver high heels. She had on bright red lipstick, her hair was in a messy bun, and she was fixing her smeared mascara while she walked toward my van. She smiled as she got in, probably after recognizing me from night one, but then once she spoke, Braxton interrupted her.

During the course of our five minute drive to her next hotel, I heard Braxton say, “Make sure you call me” at least three or four times, and each time the young girl agreed. First jokingly, but then with more seriousness, once she and I both realized that Braxton seemed to be getting a little agitated. I’m guessing this is because the ride plan had two stops, which required me to drop him off first. But he still insisted on keeping tabs on the young girl, regardless.

Once Braxton got out of my van, I felt relieved. Because I could’ve cut the tension with a knife. No pun. And I could tell that the girl felt relieved, too because she finally tried to make conversation. I told her my name, and she told me hers: Rosie. A beautiful, dainty, and carefree name, which didn’t seem to match her disheveled appearance, at all. But I’m guessing that at one time, it did.

“Every rose has its thorn…” and sometimes, he has a name.

Some people say that every person we meet in life has a purpose and reason. And well, my encounter with Braxton is probably no different. Yes, I felt worried every time I saw his name pop up on my screen. But I never declined his ride request, and now I know why. I was meant to meet Rosie. I needed to talk to her, and she needed to talk to me. Woman to woman. Heart to heart. And without Braxton hovering over our conversation.

On the way to Rosie’s hotel, she asked me what I do for a living, so I told her that I’m a writer during the day and a driver at night. Then I told her that I’d met up with Braxton three nights in a row, and how weird I thought that was.

Rosie smiled, called Braxton a friend, but then didn’t elaborate on their relationship.

Turns out, Braxton was not Rosie’s boyfriend. Or, if he was, he shouldn’t be. Because just before I dropped her off at her hotel, she asked me about all the ways to “get out of town”, and my heart sank.

Find Yourself. Inspiring Others.

Women – even women in Rosie’s seemingly fucked up situation, don’t leave good men. Not without some kind of extenuating circumstance that feels too hard for them to handle. Because where there’s money and/or drugs, there’s power. And hopeless people, like Rosie, will cling to power, without or without love.

After I explained all the public means of transportation in town, Rosie asked, “But would Lyft (you) take me somewhere?” And once again, my heart sank. Because yes, I wanted to – right then – I wanted to take her as far away from Braxton as I could. Only, I didn’t because I couldn’t.

Sometimes, my decision still pulls at my heart strings. But I know that I made the right choice for Rosie’s safety, and for mine. Because if I would’ve agreed to drive her “back to the city” on Braxton’s Lyft account, he would’ve known exactly where I had dropped her off. She needed to get her own Lyft account.

Also, since Braxton already had my name, image, and information as his Lyft driver, I had absolutely no ambiguity in the situation. I had already seen and experienced, exactly what he was capable of doing, and I didn’t want to put myself on the receiving end of his wrath.

I’m pretty sure I earned an accomplice badge with Braxton on the second night, but by the third night, a badge of friendship with Rosie. And somehow, knowing that, makes it all worth it.

Not-so-sexy Life Lesson

Guess what? I’m attracted to bad boys. Always have been. Always will be. And for two days, Braxton was on my list. But then I saw his not-so-sexy side, which I now realize, I would’ve never noticed without Rosie, and without listening to her story.

Last week, I celebrated my third anniversary driving rideshare for Lyft, and more recently, Uber. I have thousands of rides (and stories) under my belt, but I’m still surprised that I even made it past the first week. Because after meeting Braxton, I still question both my safety and sanity on every trip.

Today, I’ve adopted a don’t ask-don’t tell policy as a driver. Because I’ve learned that my only job is to drive, and not ask questions. That is, until it isn’t.

Hotels, Hangouts, and Hoes

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