"Hell is (sharing a ride with) other people (because it's impossibly cheap)." -- Jean-Paul Sartre
  1. "The Groaner"
    Dude had rank halitosis, and another condition I can only describe as "restless body syndrome." He couldn't stop moving around in subtle ways: rubbing his muscles, shifting his weight, tugging at his shorts. And with each small move, he'd let out a micro-groan. Sounded like a noise that should be reserved for the bedroom, or if you're passing a kidney stone, but like under his breath. Thoroughly unsettling. This went on from the Miracle Mile to Westwood.
  2. "Bottle Service"
    It's taking the driver a long time to find Tiffany, and I'm running late for dinner. Throngs of douchery outside some spot du jour here on Robertson. Tiffany finally appears, stuffing her two daydrunk friends into the backseat with me. They spend the ride back to Silverlake taking selfies, posting to Snapchat, talking shit about people who were at the club. Tiffany demands the driver stop if she sees a liquor store; they need a bottle of wine. Mercifully, I am dropped off before that can happen.
  3. "Garbage"
    Leaving dinner at my folks' house, and ready to hit the hay, we pick up a young woman all set for a night on the town. She asks if she can charge her phone. The driver hands her a usb cable. She starts to charge. A song by the band Garbage begins to play. "Oh, Garbage! This is a great band. Could you turn it up?" Driver obliges. Then a Michael Bublé song plays. She loves this one too. Then another Garbage song. She's amazed! "I love this song!" Finally she gets it: "Wait, this my playlist!"
  4. "Zagat Guide"
    Iranian driver tells me he lives in Westwood. I ask if he's ever been to my favorite Iranian eatery, Attari. He flips out! "I go there every Friday for the lamb stew!" "Abgoosht!" I exclaim! He decides that since I know my stuff, I can give him good recommendations on where to go eat with his family. He hands me a pen and an envelope to write on, and we discuss each neighborhood in town. I give him quite a list of recs. In exchange he gives me his business card. "If you want to buy a condo."
  5. "The Aussie"
    I pooled with this Australian woman. I rode up front, and she was directly behind me. When we arrived at the Conrad's house, I tell the driver, "It's just that one over there with the red tree in front." From the backseat, my pool-mate exclaims, "I thought that was you. We've pooled before! The house with the red tree!" I was already halfway out of the car, so I was just like, "Cool. Bye!" Maybe I'll see her again.
  6. "Cul-de-Sac"
    Driver couldn't find the address. GPS told him to take the street next to the 101, but that was actually an on-ramp. So we get off the freeway, circle back, GPS says to get on the 101 again. I urge the driver to call my pool-mate and figure it out, because NOW I'm running late. We finally find the street, and drive to the end of the cul-de-sac. Don't see her. He calls again. "Oh I'm still inside." What the fuck lady! She finally gets in, and is twitchy and has strange-smelling bags of take-out.
  7. "Reggaeton"
    Turned out that the driver AND my pool-mate were both originally from Belize. They had plenty to discuss. I did not. But conversation eventually turned to sub-genres of Reggae, and I suddenly was part of the convo again. Reggaeton is apparently big in Belize. Unfortunately the driver wasn't really feeling the Dub I played off Apple Music. "Too slow."
  8. "Someone You Know."
    One night I remarked to a driver, "I'm sure one of these days I'll get into the car and be pooling with someone I know." The next morning I found myself pooling with my Pilates instructor and her little dog, from our respective homes (on the same street) to the Pilates studio. Driver was confused that we were immediately so chatty with each other, AND that we both got out at the same place.
  9. "Ride Of Shame"
    Heading to work. I get in the backseat and the first words out of her mouth are "Sorry I didn't sleep at home last night, and need to shower." I crack the window, but still that classic, vaguely-homeless b.o./sweet booze sweat combo permeates the air. No escaping it. She talks about "Rides of shame," and the driver says he's given plenty. We then talk about Two-Lane Blacktop. She may smell insane, but she's got good taste. A few days later I see her pop up on OkCupid. Then I quit OkCupid.