Adventures with Craig’s List – Rideshare edition

I had hoped to have a funny story about this week’s trip to the Bay Area, but no go. Going to the Red Sox-A’s game was pretty exciting, (Sox won!), but the student I rideshared with op the 101 was a pleasant and polite kid. I suppose last week’s was excitement for a while. The trip from St. Babs to, well, anywhere, is kind of long. You would think with such a central location, it would be a great place to start a trip from. Unfortunately, California is giant and San Francisco is five and a half hours, minimum, away from where I want to be for most of the month. Anyway, I put an ad on CL rideshare to see if anyone needed a ride up. This was largely due to the fact that this is a long, boring drive. There are some parts which are slightly more interesting in a curvy foothills kind of way, but mostly, pretty boring.

I still think this looks like fun.

Ok, back to the ad. It was simple – stating that I was planning on driving up to SF on Thursday morning, does anyone need a ride. I got several responses and said yes to the first three – all young women, two students and one recent grad. This seemed like a good set up – my car is small, so I felt this would be the most comfortable. Unfortunately, one of the girls couldn’t make it last minute. I was fine with two passengers, but then I received an email from someone in dire need of getting to SF. I said sure, meet at Starbucks at 10 tomorrow.

By 10 AM, we had assembled, my car had been gassed, my cup holder coffeed, and luggage stowed in the trunk. The two girls seemed pleasant, but New Guy struck me as a little off. I brushed off the feeling thinking that I’m in SoCal, some people are just like that. (New York has its own special brand of weird which we won’t get into here). New Guy (names will be changed to protect the truly bizarre) claimed the front seat – fine, he had long legs. As soon as we started I gathered that he was a talker. I think he talked the entire trip. He didn’t have a conversation, he just went. I’m the first to admit, I’m also a talker, but this guy took it to a whole new level. He interrupted, he flailed, and he kept touching me. The driver. I thought it was an unwritten rule that you DON’T TOUCH THE DRIVER. And I don’t like being touched by strangers. And he was strange. I can’t even begin to list the topics he covered. He talked about his place in Costa Rica, his time in Berlin, his “side business” for when he was back in the States, his place in San Francisco, the bands he plays in, playing in said bands for the troops in Iraq and Afganistan, flying in a Black Hawk, riding a motorcycle… I could go on and on for hours. Oh wait, he did. He was interesting though (aside from the personal space issues), and it was fun to listen to all of the stories. Until I asked the question I should not have asked.

He mentioned his side job repeatedly and I finally asked him what it was. His business is to drive dead bodies around California. If someone dies in LA and their family wants to bury them in San Francisco, he drives a white minivan with tinted windows (and no refrigeration system beyond the AC) up 101 from the morgue in LA to the funeral home in SF. He’s done the drive with 6 bodies. Kind of strange. This in itself was not terrible. I like meeting interesting people (c.f. Darren on Amtrak – if I haven’t already told you, I will when you’re older). If everyone were the same, the world would be a boring place. Likewise, people like New Guy aren’t people I meet in my daily existence of computers and scientists, so it was kind of fun. But he didn’t stop there.

New Guy spent the next hour describing in gruesome detail some of the bodies he had handled. If someone is declared dead at the scene of an accident, he is called in to get the body and bring it to the morgue. There are a fair number of fatal accidents in the Santa Barbara area that he could get called to. There is a fair amount of gore at some of these accidents. I have a pretty hardy constitution when it comes to stuff like that, but after about one story, I was getting queasy. After two I thought I was going to trow up. It didn’t help that this whole time I was hungry because I hadn’t eaten in 6 hours. It was not fun. Luckily we had to stop for gas and that changed the subject.

We got back into the car and somehow the economy came up. The economy is not really a controversial topic. It’s bad. I guess how bad it is could be a topic of controversy, but the fact that there are so many unemployed people and various other factors (I took econ pass fail, give me a break here), makes the statement “the economy is bad” a fairly universal truth at the moment. This started New Guy on a rant. Rants I can handle. I can ignore them. Then he started whacking me on the shoulder with his vast gesticulations. I started looking for an in to the conversation where I could direct it to less emotional waters. Finally, as he started in on the topic of “all of those Harvard and Columbia people are out to screw the little guy” I cut in. Screw being polite. “I went to Columbia, those guys are my friends, why don’t we put some music on”.

One of the back seat girls thankfully offered her ipod. But the conversation wasn’t over. He went back to the dead bodies. How do I meet these people? Oh yeah, Craig’s List.


~ by Genevieve on September 13, 2010.

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