So far I’ve given two rides to strippers.
The first was uneventful, just a short ride for a girl working at Sonny’s Gentleman’s Club, a longtime stripper bar in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, one known for its amusing phrases posted on the marquee out front.
The second was a bit more interesting.
The ride request came at the end of one of those days where you get stuck on the opposite end of town and are desperately trying to work your way back home. I was partway there when I got pinged for a ride while cruising toward home on the freeway. I exited and pulled up to the pin location on the map, which appeared to be a yet-to-open-for-the-night strip club with no cars in the parking lot. Two doors down there was a U-haul rental facility. With the empty parking lot at the club, I assumed I had overshot the destination and flipped around to find my male passenger at the U-Haul.
Then the phone rang and it was the passenger who, it turns out, was at a small taxi company yard wedged in between those two businesses. I had assumed the pickup wasn’t AT the taxi spot because … well … why would someone at a taxi place call for a Lyft?
As a I pulled in a tall woman in heels and tight cut-off jean shorts, sporting blue-dyed hair, came running up toward the car and hopped in. As we pulled away, she started spilling about the string of events that ended up uniting us for her 15-minute ride home.
Ava (her stage name) had been at the strip club for an audition. She had just been fired … from Sonny’s! Now she was in Tempe at this rival club doing a private dance for the manager, trying to get herself back in business.
She had been dropped off for her audition by a Lyft driver she knew personally because, she said, he was also a customer of hers.
“Well, a little more than a customer,” she volunteered.
Her driver/customer/more-than-a-friend didn’t answer when she called him for an off-the-books ride to get picked up after her audition. That’s when she noticed the taxi place next door and walked over, hoping to get a ride home. Alas, the taxi place just stored taxis, the guys working there told her. She couldn’t actually hire a taxi from them.
(Maybe this is one reason Lyft and Uber are killing that legacy business. But I digress.).
However, one of the taxi guys offered to call her a Lyft using his app if she could pony up $20. She did. And he did. And that’s how I came into the story.
Ava dove right into her tale about why she was auditioning. She had been fired, she said, because she had a transportation issue and couldn’t seem to make it to work on time. (And, honestly, how effective is a stripper with poor timing?)
She was still using an old flip phone, but now it wasn’t working well, thanks to recently dropping it in a toilet. So she needed to buy a new one, but now she wasn’t working and barely had enough cash to pay her rent.
As we headed toward her apartment, I couldn’t resist asking how she had gotten into this line of work. She had started at 18, during a time when she didn’t know what direction her life would take. Then she met and started dating a guy who was a bouncer at a strip club. Now, a dozen years later, that guy was long gone and it was just a job like any other. She had worked the local circuit, spending time dancing in a half-dozen clubs in the Phoenix metro area.
Ava was a sweet person, but one who seemed like she was always just one bad turn of luck away from things crashing down around her. And this had been one of those weeks.
As I dropped her off, she paused and said, “Can I ask you something?”
“Would you be open to giving me your number, so if I need a ride again i could just call you? You know, on the side. If you’re in the area.”
I thought about it. Ava needed something to go right. So I said sure. What the heck.
As I pulled away, tacking this story onto the end of another day on the road, I suddenly wondered … Is this is how at other Lyft driver got involved?
PS – If after reading, you’re inspired to give Lyft driving a try, make sure to use a driver referral bonus when you first fill out the application. Use code MIKE17396 and we will both enjoy a bonus for rides you give during your first month. (You don’t need to drive in Phoenix for the code to work.)