When the entitled unjustly shame others

Elderly Man Wearing EyeglassesOur latest ride share story comes from passenger, Hank. I picked Hank up from brunch in San Francisco and drove him back to his apartment in East Bay. Hank manages a bank in Berkeley, near where he lives.

Small acts can help

A few weeks in a row he noticed an elderly man who seemed to be having a hard time while waiting on line. Carl noticed his struggles as he hobbled along, in between the ropes and behind other customers. Now and again, people behind him would let out an audible huff to express their discontent and impatience. Carl approached the man, Mr. Sumner, and asked him if he needed help. Mr. Sumner politely thanked Carl but declined his offer. It turns out that Mr. Sumner was a former athlete and veteran. As part of his feeling independent, he runs his own errands. Mr. Sumner said, “It may take me longer than it used to, but it is still me doing it without relying on someone else. That means a lot to me!”

Angry customer expresses discontent

Flash forward a few weeks: Carl had the displeasure of meeting a particularly vocal customer. While in line behind Mr. Sumner, this customer demanded that she speak with the bank manager immediately! Carl came out to the line and asked her how he could help her. She demanded to know why he did not provide assistance for this man. With her voice raised, she continued in saying that she was astounded by his lack of sense of urgency and responsibility while “this man suffers.” She ended, “How dare you sir! You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself.”

Carl proceeded in saying, “thank you for your concern, which I share by the way, but this is Mr. Sumner. Mr. Sumner, who has been offered help in the past, takes great pride in his ability to remain independent.” She conceded.

You don’t know what you don’t know

This woman, who originally had good intent, seemingly addressed what she saw as a troubling situation in the most entitled manner. Her approach ended up alienating others, and among them, the person she originally wanted to help. In these sorts of situations, and beyond, we’re in some ways conditioned to make snap decisions or judgments, with little-to-no information. We asses events based on what we think we know but we don’t often enough ask questions about what we do not know. It’s easier to make assumptions. The fact is that every circumstance does not exist in a way that is departed from history, race, economics and so much more. Human experience is so vast that it’s daunting. So, next time that cashier is rude, ask yourself why before you react. With that said, the villain in this story is an entitled woman in Berkeley who has a distorted sense of what is right and wrong, right? What was going on in her world that affected her behavior? Does she have a sick parent at home? Is she a caregiver?

Have you ever had any situations where you were happy to be proved wrong?

Ride sharing, ancient remains and underwater caves

underwater skull
Paul Nicklen /National Geographic

Our latest ride share tale comes from passenger, Edmund. Edmund, in his late twenties, like many in San Francisco, is a software developer for a start up. He grew up in the area and has some intriguing hobbies. In our 20-minute drive from the financial district to the Outer Richmond, Edmund told me about the Bay Area Underwater Explorers, a group he is part of that goes on cave diving expeditions.

The group, who mostly explores Northern California, is involved with several conservation, citizen science, and documentation projects. One of their member’s most notable accomplishments was the discovery of a 13,000-year-old skeleton thought to be the missing link between early North American inhabitants and modern Native Americans.

The skeleton, named Naia after the Greek water spirits known as naiads, was one of a petite 16-year-old girl who likely drowned to death in the vast depths of the underwater caverns of Mexico. The pit which Nia was found in is known as Hoyo Negro. Only a handful of people on Earth have explored this cavern. It is part of the Sac Actun cave system beneath the jungles of Mexico’s Eastern Yucatán Peninsula. It is reachable only by experienced, technical divers.

Photo by Roberto Chavez Arce

As CBS reports, archeologist James Catters said, “Hoyo Negro is a more than 100-foot-deep (30 meters), bell-shaped, water-filled void about the size of a professional basketball arena deep inside a drowned cave system. Only technical cave divers can reach the bottom. First they must climb down a 30-foot (9 m) ladder in a nearby sinkhole. Then they swim along 200 feet (60 m) of tunnel to the pit rim before making a final 100-foot (30 m) drop.”

Hoyo Negro means “black hole” in Spanish. Alberto Nava of the BAUE explains how the cavern got its name, “ all we could see was darkness. We felt as if our powerful underwater lights were being destroyed by this void, so we called it ‘Black Hole.’

The discovery of Naia’s body is one of significance for scientists. Through DNA extraction and a possible mapping of her genome, scientists are making important discoveries, illuminating the origins of early Americans. Also, this helps scientists make the case for conserving Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Beyond this discovery, BAUEs recently worked with authorities in retrieving the remains of a young woman who drowned in a sink hole. This brought solace and closure to her mourning family.

Edmund and I got on this conversation when we talked about careers. In a past life, I was a park ranger at Jewel Cave National Monument. With a team of geologists and rangers, I participated in an exploration of undocumented caverns at nearby Wind Cave National Park. This great, out-of-the-ordinary experience is something that I’ll remember for the rest of my days.

As one of my passengers had said, the outdoors (in her case, water) truly opens your mind, heart, and soul. Luckily, the people of the Bay Area have constant access to the outdoors which is why, I think, people are generally very happy here. Anyone can get caught up in our pursuit of the material but, if we’re reminded of the things that really matter, the former become less important.

What was your greatest adventure? What is your next great adventure? Share in the comment section below.

If you are inspired, click here to make a donation to the Bay Area Underwater Explorers.

Heather, The last thing that moved me? #WhatMovesMe

wmm ggb

I asked my ride share passenger, Heather, “what was the last thing that moved you, as part of the#WhatMovesMe series on this blog.

The weekend just before the Blue Angel visited us in San Francisco, was one of the warmest and prettiest few days of the year. My friends and I made plans to go out, on a boat, in the San Francisco Bay. Once there, surrounded by some very dramatic landscape, we decided to jump in the water. It was cold! Just as it was cold it was also very freeing! How often does one get to go in the water in a big city?

As humans, we are made up of mostly water, yet we are so distant and separated from it. Ever since I was a child, I loved going in the water, I feel as if it opens up your heart and your mind.

As ride share drivers, we have been asking our passengers, “What was the last thing that moved you?” #WhatMovesMe is a window into human experience and personal storytelling through the brief moment that driver and passenger share, together.

Share the last thing that moved you and use the #WhatMovesMe hashtag.

Why the closing of SF’s only latin gay bar means so much

Esta_Noche picOur latest story was told to us by a ride share passenger, Persia. Persia is a latino drag performer that lives in the Marina and works at a high-end arts-goods retail boutique.

Persia is full of energy and good vibes and told me a sad story about the closing of Esta Noche, the only Latina/Latino gay bar in San Francisco.

The closing of Esta Noche hit the community hard. Although it was primarily a latin gay bar, anyone could go. Everyone was welcome. They had a true policy of diversity and inclusion. Unlike that of a big company who boasts about diversity on their career sites amidst flashing banners of professional brown people, Esta Noche was an alternative and was truly diverse. When I asked Persia what the experience of going to this club, he answered, “it was a real dive bar, but it was truly special. It was a Latin bar but anyone could go!” Persia brought his bosses, two upper middle class, heterosexual white women. The rave reviews echoed in the office for weegoogle-google-apps-appsks.

How did Esta Noche come to close?

Persia told me about a man named Edgar who was a prominent promoter at Esta Noche. He was visiting Guatemala when he heard rumors of the bar closing. He knew the bar was loved and approached the owners with an offer to buy it. Why not? He was already running the venue. Edgar arrived back in San Francisco on a Thursday. Soon after, he got the news that the owners sold the bar and that they needed to be out by Sunday. Just like that.

As part of an Esta Noche reunion, Persia has been asked to perform at several venues. Her recent night at the DeYoung was very successful and, as a result, she can be seen performing at many venues throughout San Francisco.

The evolution of a city. What is left behind?

Neighborhoods and cities are always evolving. However, to what detriment? What is left behind? Persia said, “I am concerned that all of the queers and artists are being kicked out of San Francisco. My landlord harasses me on a weekly basis because my apartment is worth twice as much as what he is getting.”

How much is it worth to sell off a piece of culture so that, within the blink of an eye, it vanishes? What are we losing? Are we, as citizens, required to be the guardians of the aspects of the culture that we adore? What if we stand to profit from selling that piece of culture as the owners of Esta Noche did?

A lot of this phenomenon has to do with our perspectives and expectations. As Persia said, she is concerned that she is going to get kicked out of her apartment because it is worth twice as much. The question is, how are we defining worth? Is it only by the market standard? Does worth exist outside of the market?

Here is a viral video of Persia’s “Google Google Apps Apps.”

Stephanie, The last thing that moved me? #WhatMovesMe

Stephanie is movedI asked my ride share passenger, Stephanie, “what was the last thing that moved you, as part of the #WhatMovesMe series on this blog.

Here is how Stephanie answered:

Currently, I am working for Lyft, HQ. At HQ, we hear a lot of stories that reflect our strong community sentiment. This one, however, is one that truly moved me. Daniel is a Lyft driver in Silicon Valley.

“His wife was recently diagnosed with MS. While he was visiting her in the hospital, his wallet, car and keys got stolen. In distress, as he arrived back home, he realized that the same thieves went to his house where they stole his second car.”

Daniel supports four young daughters, one of which has Autism.

To raise money, a Give Forward campaign was started. The goal was to raise $2500. Over $4000 was collected to help Danny in this time of need.

To me, this is moving because it is expressive of the kindness of our communities and neighbors. This man had a remarkable streak of bad luck. The monetary help is an expression of how we can come together to help each other in times of need.

As ride share drivers, we have been asking our passengers, “What was the last thing that moved you?” #WhatMovesMe is a window into human experience and personal storytelling through the brief moment that driver and passenger share, together.

Share the last thing that moved you and use the #WhatMovesMe hashtag.

When someone accuses a random woman of being a terrorist

Egypt woman on planeOur latest story comes from my passenger, Julie. I picked Julie up from the Haight, and as she entered the car, I complimented her on her tattoos. This initiated conversation about a recent plane ride she had from New Orleans, back to San Francisco. A flight that just may make your blood boil.

Julie was sitting behind the emergency exit row, where the situation occurred. In front of Julie was an Egyptian woman and, as he was described to me, “an obnoxious drunk guy.” As is standard, the flight attendant asked the two neighboring passengers if they were willing and able to perform the required duties in the unlikely occurrence of an accident.

With slurred speech, he replied and pointed to his neighbor, “yes, but I’m worried about her because she looks like a damn terrorist.”

From how Julie described it, the entire plane went silent except for a few gasps coming from other passengers in the vicinity.

The Egyptian woman handled this well. She calmly explained that this was inappropriate and that she has to deal with this sort of thing more often than one would think. She said that she was just going home like everyone else. Julie pointed out that the man, in a decidedly playful tone, belabored the point.

The flight attendant, who did not try to hide her disgust, said with a snide tone, “I don’t care what you have to say about this woman, I simply need a verbal confirmation that you can perform the described duties.”

After insulting this woman, he said that he was just kidding and that he is traveling to Egypt soon and wanted to know if she thought that he would make friends. At this point, other passengers began to express their dissatisfaction with his behavior. People, almost in perfect unison, started chanting, “shut the hell up dude!” “You’re an idiot!” “Leave her alone!”

Luckily, the man was so drunk that he ended up passing out. However, upon his waking up, he started right where he left off.

“Hey honey, how’s my little terrorist?” He asked her, “By the way, do you think I’m attractive?” She replied, “absolutely not.”

What is truly odd is his surprise at her answer. Was he that so self-unaware?

The harassment that many woman experience while in public is coming to light. The viral video, Woman Catcalled 108 Times While Walking in NYC, is one such example. The dangerous situations women experience taking public transportation are also becoming increasingly publicized.

Many passengers spoke with the woman when exiting the plane and jeered the man while doing so. Julie told me about how just about the entire plane went in one direction while the drunk man went in the other.

The easy thing to do here is to dismiss this guy as a total jerk and awful person. The truth is, however, or at least how I like to think of it, is that people are at different points in their spectrum of tolerance and cultural sensitivity. Obviously, this man was very much on the undesirable side of this scale. After experiencing the disgust of an entire plane’s worth of people, one could hope that he went home that evening and processed what had just happened. Hopefully, this scenario will get him to second guess his behavior and understand that it is harmful to others.

Do you think that it is likely that this man sees the error in his ways? Can people change, and learn to be more tolerant?

Erik, the last thing that moved me? #WhatMovesMe

whatmovesmeErikIt was late afternoon rush hour in downtown San Francisco. As a ride share driver, it was a fairly typical scenario, I was stuck in traffic, with a passenger, just outside the Tenderloin district. As I approached a traffic light, a homeless woman caught my attention. She sat, in her wheelchair, alone, sobbing to herself, and hugging her little black dog as if he was the last thing that could save her from what is presumably an awful scenario. To be honest, she reminded me of my mother. Her age and expressions were similar. Plus, my mom always has a small dog close-by.

As I was waiting for the light, I quickly hopped out of my car and sprinted a few feet and gave her what I thought was a dollar. While I was handing her the bill, the light was changing. As I glanced down, I noticed that I was handing her $20 (not so great since I just took a big trip and, for the first time in years, overdrew my checking account.) I looked her in the eyes and said, “this is yours.”

I felt that she probably could not only use the money, but some kindness. I got back in my car and drove off.

The next day, I was driving a couple, long-time San Francisco residents, to dinner. I retold them this story. As they were exiting the car, he reached over to the driver’s seat and left a $20 bill. Chills of gratitude spilled up my spine.

I found myself telling multiple people this story. This type of kindness is what drew me to the Bay Area and I feel as if this is the true fabric of the culture. It inspires me to share and treat others in this manner.

On a related note, on more than one occasion, I have asked myself, what if the rest of the world was as tolerant as we are in the Bay Area? I know it sounds cliché, and is a little reaching, but if you truly consider, just not sweating the small stuff, where would that leave you?

Room service confessions: hotel disasters pt1

hotel water disasterOur latest story comes from a ride share passenger, Edgar. I picked Edgar up in the Mission District of San Francisco. He was a jovial 20-something year old who was on his way to work in Fisherman’s Wharf. Edgar formerly worked in a high-end San Francisco hotel for several years. The type of hotel that is a magnet for business people, celebrities, and the rich and entitled. He had so many stories in our twenty minute ride that I had to filter and pick out the best ones!

Water coming out of strange places

One evening, Edgar went outside with his coworkers for a smoke. They were shooting the shit – romance, work, family, etc. During their discussion, Edgar felt a few drops of warm water on the back of his neck. He mentioned to his coworkers that they better pack up and get inside. No one likes to work while wet. In the midst of doing so, he realized that something wasn’t right. Firstly, there was no rain forecasted for the night. In fact, it hadn’t rained for weeks. California has been in an infamous draught. Plus, the water was oddly warm.

Edgar and his colleagues looked up and noticed that the water was dripping out of one of the windows. But, why? Edgar called security and tagged along to see what was happening.

Visionary’s daughter up to no good?

The room was occupied by, who my passenger described as, the daughter of a San Francisco visionary. I don’t know who this visionary is, but, needless to say, the occupant was quite wealthy. Edgar saw her leave the hotel at around midnight, and she returned after 1AM.

Security knocked on the woman’s door. She cracked the door ajar and, in the most composed of ways, squeezed her head out from between the door and door frame and answered, “good evening gentleman. How is your evening? How may I help you? There is nothing to be concerned about here, sirs.” In doing so, the group noticed water pouring out of the door as if someone maliciously poked a whole in the side of a bratty neighbor’s kiddie pool.

The Noah’s Ark of hotel accoutrements

After a bit of a skirmish, the security team got the door fully open, at which point, as if out of a Monty Python skit or scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a pool of water flooded into the hotel hall. It was a quite a scene; Hotel decorations were afloat, couches were soggy, appliances were adrift.

As it turns out, our matron decided, in some intriguing experiment, to put a bunch of gaudy hotel decor in the bathtub, run the water full blast, then step out for a fine cocktail at Bourbon and Branch. What a treat! To her surprise, the room flooded, as did the neighbors’ rooms and a few of the rooms downstairs. Somebody forgot that California is in dire straits because of the draught. Being that CA supplies the US with 50-percent of our produce, this is extra problematic. Somebody will be going without avocados for a season!

It’s all good, Daddy will pay for it

When confronted, our beloved hotel maven professed that, although this is truly not that big of a deal and security is way over reacting, her father will kindly pay for the minor damage done.

Needless to say, this could have been a dangerous situation. Water and electrical appliances do not mix. We can have our laughs about this. Laughing is healing. But, all classes are subject to mental illness.

Hotels are a breeding ground for totally crazy behavior. After working in corporate America for a few years, one tends to hear some insane stories. Truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction.

What is your craziest hotel experience? (What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas and get’s published in the comments section of this blog.)

Share your stories in the comments section!!

4 shocking stories of drugs and ride sharing

You may have read our recent post recapping what happened when two young ladies asked to do cocaine in the back of a ride share car. Well, the fun does not stop there. I went ahead and posted the article on a few very supportive Facebook communities that focus on ride sharing. The responses I received, which recapped other drivers’ experiences, were fairly shocking.
Here are a few highlights

Teenage girls, high on Molly

From Jim:
“I’ve had a dude snort coke before but it was a short ride. So I felt relieved as soon as he exited. But, one night last fall I had a group of teenaged girls get in the car. I knew I had a problem as they were so disoriented when I asked them if their pickup pin was off. And it was. As I was about to cancel this ride. Four high school teens get in my car. I knew they were high but on what I didn’t know until I got on the freeway, and two of the girls began arguing playfully about how to get to their destination. The other two started the ever-so -tell-tale-molly-induced-conversation about how they love each other. Blah blah blah. As a new step dad to a 14-year-old, I was pissed. I wanted to call their parents. Unfortunately, these parents decided to give their teenage daughters their own Uber accounts with their own credit cards. So no parent contact phone. I had to bare with this annoying and even dangerous ride as quickly as I can. When we got there, I wanted to call Uber but alas no immediate way to contact them. I wanted to call the police but what would they do? Frustrated I went on with my next fare. Since then, whenever parents ask me if they should get a Uber account for their kids, I tell them this story. A parent is better off ordering the Uber off their own account. Then parents can track where kids have been. Otherwise, this could happen to your child. 

Crack head concierge service for the POPO. You’re welcome

From Michael:
“I had a guy light up a crack pipe in my backseat. We were on 280 northbound. His two friends and I made it clear that this was not ok, and he needed to stop immediately. He stopped, but jokingly said he needed more and offered me and his friends a hit. What he hadn’t noticed is that I had exited at 6th St, went up to Bryant, turned right, and had driven another block. There we sat in front of the police station. I told him this was his stop. He freaked out, shoved everything down his pants, and begged me to keep going. So I did to their destination that was just around the corner anyhow. Too funny though.”

Horrifying backseat remnants anyone?

From Jim:
“With Yellow Cab in the 80’s and 90’s, I picked up a young guy, kind of scruffy. He asked me to stop, he called to a scruffy young woman on the sidewalk, and she got in the car. I wondered what the game plan was, when I saw that he brought out a narcotics “kit” and fixed her in my back seat. I recoiled and thought of this filthy needle out in the open in the car and remained silent rather than get poked with a possibly diseased needle. They got out of the car in a few minutes and paid. I needed to go get a cup of coffee and check the back seat for any horrifying remnants of that ride.”

Not okay to booze up in the yellow cab

From Jim:
“Jim Lewis As a Yellow Driver about 1990, I picked up two couples in The Triangle (Greenwich & Fillmore.) Several had drinks they’d taken from nearby bars, and they ordered me to go straight, they refused to tell me their destination. This aggressiveness and unlawfulness of bringing drinks into my car, told me this carload was trouble. I turned the wrong way onto a one-way alley blocked by two SFPD patrol cars. I got out, walked around to the passenger side and opened the front and back doors, and told the passengers to exit the vehicle and find another ride. The officers watched me, then asked if everything was all right. I told them I want these people out of my cab. The car emptied; one muttered threats at me as he walked past me. Before leaving, I found one drink resting on the floor of the back seat. I retrieved it, circled the car and found another of the drinks under my rear tire where it might have flattened it if I’d backed over it. I disposed of the drinks nearby and thanked the officers for watching over me.
Have you had any crazy experiences as a ride share or cab driver? What about as a passenger? Please share your stories in the comment section below!

Why the Bay Area Flash Mob will inspire you

Mj_MedleyThe next in our series of tales from one ride share car deals with the inspiring story of the Bay Area Flash Mob. This past Saturday I picked up a group from the Embarcadero. With a cheerful demeanor, four folks of varying ages and backgrounds piled in my car. They were carrying a large case that went in the trunk. They were occupied with afternoon planning, but around what? I had questions. I was intrigued.

I had happened to have picked up a few of the founders of the Bay Area Flash Mob. Dictionary.com defines a flash mob as, a group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration.

Bay Area Flash Mob, from five to 2500 people in no time!

The BAFM started in 2009, with five people, who danced Michael Jackson’s Thriller as a tribute to the King of Pop. 2009 was the same year MJ passed away and that his movie was released. Since then, the BAFM has grown from the five founding members to over 2500 people. Their events usually attract 100 performers, or more.

What good is a flash mob anyhow?BAFM

You may ask yourself, what do people get out of joining a flash mob? Work, family and other social engagements keep most of us more than busy, especially in urban areas where one has to prioritize how she or he spends time (because there is so much to do.) So, why do up to 2500 people, despite grueling hours of practicing choreography, prioritize being part of a flash mob?

bafm2 n me

 

 

A 2012 documentary done in partnership with San Francisco State University explores this question. For many of the members, this is their creative outlet. Some BAFMers feel their day-to-day lives at work are mundane. The Flash Mob gives them an opportunity to do something creative and to bond with others over a similar objective. Founder and passenger, Jacqui Magee said, “to click with a group so quickly and have the same goal was a phenomenal feeling for me.” I asked founder and passenger Julien Rey, why flash mobs? He replied simply, “we bring joy to people’s lives.” The BAFM puts smiles on the faces of sometimes hundreds of people at a time.

How are you impacting the lives of others?

It’s almost impossible to measure the ways in which we impact others in the short time we have on this Earth. We often get caught up in focusing on the things that we don’t have, competition with the Joneses and the relentless pursuit of material goods. All of this obscures what is really important. I’ve never witnessed a flash mob myself, but if it can turn around someone’s day, let alone the day of hundreds of people, then the hours of practice and dedication seems that much more worth it. These sorts of efforts have invisible reverberations we can’t really measure. Something to ponder.

Have you ever witnessed a flash mob? How did it affect you? Leave your stories in the comment section below. 

 

BAFM Girl Group Ferry Plaza Oct 11 2014 from BayArea Flashmob on Vimeo.