1. The stay-at-home mom who needs a little extra money for the holidays.
Her name is either Cheryl or Kathy. “You can sit in the front. I like the company,” she’ll invariably tell you, but it’s less of an option than it is a demand, like when your own mom asks, “Are you ready?” but really means, “You have one minute to get in the car.” Cheryl wants to know if you’re in college. It’s 2:15 AM and you left your pride at the bar, so you lie and say you’re in medical school because you want her to be happy for you. You tell yourself it’s just a white lie because you got through four seasons of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and own cotton balls. She tells you her own son is planning to be a doctor, too, and you smile and tell her that if he ever needs advice on applying to a good medical program to have him call you. You give her the phone number to Pizza Hut because it’s the only other number you know by heart.
2. The college student who’s not here for your shit.
Their name is something sharp, like Tiffany or Jared. You are pretty sure they have second jobs running jewelry store empires. The air conditioner is at a moderate 76, the windows are three-fourths rolled up, and there’s one of those perfectly cup-sized shaped cartons of gum in the drink holder, still sealed in it’s original factory packaging. There is no music, only the sound of your searing failure as Zale drives you to the Brooke Candy concert while your pathetic, perfectly nothing-shaped stick of Juicy Fruit fuses to the bottom of your jean pockets, forever branding you as a human garbage can.
3. The college student who’s too here for your shit.
You’re a little tipsy after Brooke Candy, but you still think you could drive better than Josh, who’s a green 21 and makes “Tokyo Drift” jokes at every sharp turn. The seatbelt isn’t clicking into place, but don’t worry, he tells you, he read a thing about how more people die from seatbelts than from car accidents anyway. He doesn’t have a sanitized carton of gum in his drink holder, but he does have a bag of Doritos between his legs and tells you to help yourself. You miss Zale.
4. The sad dad.
Sad dad thinks you’re about his daughter’s age and wants to know what he should get her for Christmas. You tell him you don’t know her, but he looks so sad you feel bad letting sad dad down, so you tell him to get her a gift card. Sad dad tells you he wishes he could Uber in the sky, because there’s no speed limit in the clouds. You chuckle politely, but you feel sad for sad dad, especially when you imagine sad dad giving his daughter the quintessential sad dad Christmas gift you recommended. Rihanna comes on the radio and you wonder what she’s doing right now. Definitely on a yacht somewhere, you think. Probably texting Leo or Drake. RiRi has really good cellphone reception. “You know what?” you ask sad dad. “Get her Rihanna’s new perfume. Rihanna is universal.” Sad dad smiles and delivers you at your destination. You don’t go to the mall for the next two months because the thought of running into sad dad buying RiRi by Rihanna sends shivers down your spine.
5. The Uber recluse.
He looks like he’s somewhere between his early 40s and time immemorial. Even though the air conditioner is on full blast, there is a thin layer of sweat on his upper lip. It vibrates whenever you go over a speed bump. Ten minutes into the ride and he hasn’t said a word. You thought about saying hello when you first got in the car, but in the rigmarole of buckling up and setting your stuff down you figured you would get to it eventually and, Oh God, it’s been 15 minutes now of dead silence. Every other light is red. You can’t remember if you told him where you need to go. There is a faint odor you can’t quite place. You wonder if it’s you. “Am I dead?” you ask yourself. “Is this what limbo is like?” A week later, you get a phone call from an unknown number. You pick up and hear nothing for five seconds. You’re about to hang up, but suddenly you hear static on the line. You wait a second longer. A voice chimes in, cold and metallic. It’s a bot from a car insurance company. It wants you to know you’re eligible for a re-quote on your premium. You download Lyft.