Time to swipe right and meet Tinder Ted and Metal Matt

Meeting interesting characters and getting a peek into their lives is what keeps the rideshare gig interesting. Case in point: Two dudes I picked up separately on the same day, each with their own interesting story.

The first passenger — I’m calling him Tinder Ted — was an airport drop-off. Ted was traveling light, just a backpack. He had a goatee and black rimmed glasses which, when paired with his tan backpack, gave him a vaguely hipster vibe.

As we cruised down the freeway in late morning traffic, he told me he was flying to Hawaii for the first time and asked if I’d ever been there.

After I shared a few stories and tips about the Big Island, where he was headed, he revealed that he was traveling there with a girl he met on the dating app Tinder. She was meeting him at the airport as soon as I dropped him off.

People heading to the airport on vacation are among the best types of passengers. They’re always in a great mood and usually provide great conversation. That Ted was traveling to Hawaii with a girl he met on Tinder probably wasn’t that surprising in today’s app-driven relationship world. But here’s the twist:

When Ted matched with this girl on Tinder, he thought he recognized her. It turns out he did. She was the newly single ex-girlfriend of one of his own good friends and co-workers.

Small world.

The friend wasn’t happy, but Ted admitted he had originally advised his friend she probably wasn’t the right girl for him, and in fact likely might be more like … the kind of girl Ted would date.

Tinder, leveraging its own algorithms, apparently agreed. And now they were heading out on their first real date — which just happened to be a bit more adventuresome than meeting for drinks.

Later that evening I picked up a slightly balding, long-haired 50-something guy sporting flared black pants and a black T-shirt emblazoned with a pair of skulls. Metal Matt, it turned out, was the lead singer of a heavy metal band, and he was on his way across town to a benefit gig his group was playing.

When he got in, Matt said, “Can I ask you a favor? Can you turn off the music for the ride?”

He was clutching a handful of papers.

“I just got the lyrics for this new song, I haven’t learned them yet and we’re playing it tonight.”

OK … silence it is.

“Oh, and if you hear me muttering under my breath back here, I’m not crazy,” he added. “That’s how I memorize.”

It was a long, 45-minute freeway ride to the other end of town. About 30 minutes in, Matt must have had enough of cramming for his musical test. When he started talking, the first thing he said was, “So, your wife writes romance novels?” (A common ice-breaker in the car, given my passenger candy tray features her business cards).

Given the creative connection, he quickly added, “I hope she makes more royalties than we do. We had the No. 6 song in Australia, and you know how much my last royalty check was? Twelve cents. That was my share. There’s four of us so actually it was 48 cents.”

Streaming services, he said, pay next to nothing, but have cannibalized record sales. So making money now is more about touring and playing live. He went on to tell me about a previous band he had been in when he was younger that had a record contract, and had received nice royalty advances and toured Europe.

“We thought we had made it and were rich,” he said. “But after you pay the manager, the tour bus, the food, the hotels … you pretty much ended up with nothing.”

img_7215.jpgHe asked a few more questions about my wife’s books, and after reminding him he probably wasn’t the target audience, he said he was going to take a few of her cards anyway “to help support another creative artist.”

As I dropped him off, he added, “I know a few ladies who might like these. Hey, I’m 54 years old. I’ll pop a couple of Viagras, give them these cards and see what happens!”

You can’t make this stuff up …


The doctor is in … and he’s behind the wheel!

One afternoon I picked up a young woman at a local hospital. She was getting off work, traffic was heavy and it was going to be a 25-minute ride to her house. As I pointed the Altima west and our journey together began, she got a phone call.

Now, the thing to remember about taking or making phone calls in a rideshare is you’re not in your own private vehicle. Someone’s in that front left seat behind the wheel, and unless they’re driving with earbuds in (I don’t), we’re sorta in on the conversation, whether we like it or not.

So my passenger … we’ll call her Sherry … takes a call that quickly devolves into an argument. Boyfriend trouble, it sounds like. I try to to tune it out, since who really wants to listen in on someone else’s love quarrel? That is, until she drops the phrase “No-No-No .. You’re GONNA get that DNA test!”

Sherry, I soon learn, is one-third of what seems to be tricky three-way romance. She and the boyfriend had been together for about a year, except during one brief time when they broke up for a month. That’s the month the other woman enters into the picture, gets pregnant and now stakes a claim on Sherry’s man. Sherry doesn’t believe the baby is his and is demanding a paternity test after the baby is born. But mom-to-be says not so fast, since he’s already promised to take care of the kid. Sherry’s not buying it and has hatched a scheme to get the test done on the sly during a visitation.

Did I mention he’s trying to have it both ways, living with Sherry weekdays and with the other woman on the weekends?

The call ends, and — recognizing she’s just dumped all this sordid detail on a stranger’s ears — says, “So, what did you think of THAT?”

“It sounds like a tough situation,” I reply, turning on my best sympathetic/diplomatic tone.

“Yeah,” she sighs, her voice slumping. “It is. What should I do? I mean, really, what do you think I should do?”

Me? Hey, I’m just driving you home lady. But OK, if you insist (and she did), I’ll give it a go.

So, for the final 10 minutes of the ride, I slip on my amateur counseling hat and try to offer her my best relationship advice which, I have to say, she really seemed to appreciate.

Yes … they needed to get the DNA test to know for sure. No … she shouldn’t put up with him splitting his time between both women’s houses. Yes … I think he’s probably a good guy and is trying to do what’s right by the baby while still being with her. But … he’s definitely going to have to make a choice about which woman to stay with. And he needs to do that sooner rather than later.

We get to her house, I drop her off and she waves a cheerful goodbye, actually seeming like she’s feeling a bit better after our first session. I pull away, emotionally drained.

Is roadside psychiatry in my future? Maybe on the receiving end. Probably not the other way around.

In hindsight, I don’t think my advice was that great. She didn’t leave a tip.

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