The Christmas Sleigh (via Rideshare)

The Christmas Sleigh (via Rideshare)

A Story by Haley

A rideshare with a chatty passenger and a holiday goal.


With a 3-day countdown until Christmas, I had hustled to get gifts at the last minute. Prone to procrastination, I was balancing working the holiday rush in the heart of San Francisco shopping, "working" at an internship, and attempting to stay awake in classes, so the idea of buying gifts in advance had never once occurred to me. This left me the night before my train home left with an armful of presents and for some unknown reason, a cake.

It was late and the sun had long past set when I was able to clock out for the last time before a two-week vacation home. San Francisco in holiday evenings becomes desolate, only those few locals straying from bar to bar or the tech savant still plugging away in a late-night cafe will occupy the streets. Coworkers chatted with me about the upcoming holidays as I gathered the gifts - 1 huge bag, 2 slim and hard to carry boxes, 1 glitter wine bag (with wine), and a cake box, complete with cake. Trying to balance these items on one arm, I was able to call a ride share home.

When I moved to the bay, I moved in with my grandparents, my dad's adopted dad and his wife, who I have always known as two of thirteen grandparents I technically had floating in and out of my life. Before moving to the city, I had really only seen these grandparents, maybe once every other year or so - regardless, we were still close and always had a great time together which made living together actually fun. With that being said we didn't really know each other too well and I happened to be in a party stage while still being underage, so there were rules in place. The rules were easy but somewhat aged and often broken - "don't stay out past midnight, text us pictures of your Lyft rides, don't do ride shares at night, etc." That night I believe most of the rules had been broken.

A rideshare is when your Lyft (or car) will stop outside of your route and pick up or drop off someone going in the same general direction. It also, loosely speaking, is like the Russian roulette of people. Who do I want to spend time in a car with in addition to a mystery driver? It's fun and weird and creepy and bleh all at once. Have I been offered a job interview in a Lyft, yes. Have I also been threatened to be kicked out on the Bay Bridge at 2 am because of driver error, yes. It's always a mystery and the best rule of thumb is to sit in the backseat with some headphones on after making polite small talk with the driver, usually reserved to a "How are you?" maybe more if you're feeling the vibe.

In this case, my driver had arrived unexpectedly early due to an app glitch and I was still upstairs, in an employee level of the mall, gathering my many things. From where I was to the pick-up spot was only about a minute away, the only thing that slowed me was an old, usually broken, elevator; however, the driver, was not having it. As he called my phone repeatedly to figure out where I was, I ran through the doors that led to the street, bags flailing behind, to meet him. He was angry because he had to wait and he parked in a bus zone though there was an open, available space mere feet ahead. I settled my things, balancing the heavy cake box on top of the two more difficult boxes, and apologized for things that were beyond my control.

He was silent but turned up the radio louder. I didn't bother to put my headphones in figuring I wouldn't be able to either hear my music properly or hold my phone as I was trying to keep the cake from sliding around as the driver violently cut turns. Within minutes of him being able to get us on to the freeway and the clear, uninterrupted way home, his driving app buzzed, prompting a quick turn around for another pick-up out of the city. The radio which seemed to be getting louder was still blasting that past summer's Drake hit, I remember being excited to eat the cake but also trying to plan on how to bring it on the train.

The driver slowed to the side of one of my favorite bars in the Mission district, and began to huff as he saw that the passenger was not waiting outside. I could only see the passenger's profile picture from the driver's dash mounted phone and that was something of a blond maybe mid-30 year old guy. I figured he'd keep to himself, but as he opened the front passenger door, he soon proved me wrong.

He started exchanging pleasantries with the driver, and as I zoned out, thought this could be a guy I had high hopes for - at least in terms of a passenger in a car ride. He was being friendly with the driver who still seemed huffy, smelled of booze and cigarettes, and did not seem like a person who would be coming out of that bar.

Each San Francisco district had distinct personalities that would be in them, while many travel from neighborhood to neighborhood, most mainly hit the same four or five bars on the same two or three streets in the same areas and all held a tell in how they had dressed. This man, with his puffy Patagonia jacket and boat shoes, was a Marina man lost in a sea of mainly hipsters, creatives, and the lover of true dive bars. This was a clean-shaven guy in boat shoes who was exiting the smoky, hot, dingy bar that was Beauty Bar. Your shoes would stick to the floor, you had to push through a large group of people to get through the door, hands stuck to the bar as you wait for drinks, someone would grab and move you aside, there was a manicurist on the dance floor, and a hair salon chair next to the phone booth, people would get on top of each other to be on a platform, and a man at the bathroom door always had the answers. This man was a tourist here.

His attention turned to me when he realized the driver was stale and not willing to give the secrets of his day up. Bored, I obliged. We talked about our days - work, me shopping, him drinks. He was going into details about a certain area of his job and the pressures which I understood but also wasn't going to sympathize because I wasn't going to compare it to retail life. As he continued, I began to hum to the second Drake hit to play in the car.

He stopped talking, turning around in his seat quickly, "What music do you listen to?" he asked. I jumbled off a list of bands to which he got even more excited. He told me that he had been exploring and had recently launched into the Indie R&B genre on Spotify which fit the mold of many the bands I had listed. We continued to talk music for a few minutes before he turned around again, glanced down at the tower of gifts and cake on my lap, and spewed some basic holiday banter.

"Speaking of the holidays, what about some holiday cheer?" he smiled. I paused. "I mean a drink, there's a bar next to where I live. It would be great to talk to you about music and stuff more."

"I have all these gifts! I can't bring this into a bar!" I laughed and shook my head. I continued, "Plus, I have a train to catch early tomorrow morning I really shouldn't be up too late."

Undeterred and without a beat, "Where's home for you?" The driver at this point, had turned the volume of the music down.

"I'm from up North, like a little before Tahoe."

"That is honestly so crazy," he paused to laugh warmly, "I was going to go skiing tomorrow, I can take you, no problem." He seemed genuine and having had put up with a lot of creepy men in the past I generally had a good radar; however, I was still uninterested and stood by my excuse of all the gifts, and at that point had included the cake in the list of excuses, as well as the three-hour drive and the glitter wine bag leaving glitter in his car to which the rideshare driver huffed.

After what seemed like longer than it should have, the driver finally slowed next to a towering apartment complex built on a popular shopping strip. "It's now or never," he joked, unmoving in his seat as the car stopped.

"You know what, I didn't bring my fake with me tonight." I smiled at him, watching as he processed.

"Fake- I, uh, I'm sorry, how old are you?" he had then started to unbuckle and began to move quicker to get out of the car.

"Nineteen." As soon as the words had left my lips he was out of the door and into the night (or a parking garage, it was dark). The driver, who up to this point had been an entertained bystander and previously grumpy, turned back to me and we looked at each other for a moment before letting out a laugh. He nodded and turned back to the wheel, proceeding to the route. The driver didn't turn the music back up so the remaining ten-minute ride was mainly in silence aside from low hum of the radio, not playing Drake, but granted playing a song with a Drake feature.

Within fifteen minutes, I was in my bedroom, gifts now haphazardly piled on a desk chair, and a slice of cake on my nightstand. The next morning I got on the train, with a forgotten cake in my grandparent's fridge, and arrived three and a half hours later to my family.

I think about that man sometimes, not in a "what if I went" way because I'd probably either be dead based on his insistency or maybe it could've been a tryst with an older man; sadly that would have to wait another two months or so and would then end uneventfully but stalker-y. But I think about how he just ran, he had his limits and said too young. Thank you, that man, for even when drunk recognizing a creep factor in hitting on still a teenager. Also, genuinely, thank you for offering to drive some random strange lady three hours home just because you wanted to "get drinks". I am really glad I didn't have to experience that next morning and reminding some poor man to drive me home, a few days before Christmas.


*Happy Holidays! Thank you for reading! Be safe, be kind, and give love!

© 2020 Haley

Author's Note

Happy Holidays, thanks for reading!

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This is cool insight on how men come off to women. It's crazy how so many just don't 'get it'. I feel sorry for women who have to be put in such awkward situations.

Posted 2 Months Ago

This had been in stitches and glad you had good judgement. I want to be a passenger with you. Please write more!

Posted 2 Months Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on December 15, 2020
Last Updated on December 16, 2020
Tags: nonfiction, short story, quick read, dating, lifestyle, romance, humor, satire, holidays, rideshare, lyft, uber, christmas, cake, Tahoe, snow, winter, San Francisco, city life, adventure




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