Driving Lyft and Uber isn’t the most glorifying of side-gigs. I’ve seen a woman punch a man in the face on New Year’s Day, felt the mist of someone vomiting from the back seat, even watched as a rude passenger vomited on the floor of my car all over his phone. I’ve pretty much seen it all. Or, at least I thought.
Driving for a ridesharing service does have its perks. I’ve discovered new eateries in my own backyard, and even picked up a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’ve also managed to meet some really cool people that I share these here city streets with. Sometimes, these interactions also include me entertaining a few kids while their parent(s) tries to destress for a few minutes or miles.
The other day I had picked up a mother and her three kids. She was already mildly frustrated that another driver was on their way but was driving the complete opposite direction. Both the Lyft and Uber apps will sometimes redirect passengers to a closer driver. In this instance, it was a me, Gregorio.
After a few “hi’s” and “hello’s” we were on our way. A few moments into the ride, the mom spoke sternly to one of her kids, “I don’t want you opening those Pokemon cards in the car.” I mean, I wouldn’t either. You could lose a really good one by accident. That’s when I chimed in and asked if they were excited about the new games. Unknowingly, I had opened Pandora’s box.
For the next few miles, we talked about some of the kids’ favorite games and what their favorite Pokemon’s were. This also led to one of the kids talking about his favorite character, Super Mario.
I was freshly back from the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) where I had just met the voice of Super Mario, Charles Martinet. Even as a 32-year-old manchild, I was excited beyond belief to meet such an icon. One of the kids specifically had asked about Mr. Martinet while practicing a few taglines he was working on in Mario’s voice. I couldn’t wait until the end of the ride so that I could show them a picture I was able to grab with Charles Martinet at the show.
When I showed the carload of kids and their mom the picture of Charles Martinet, the kids erupted with “Wows!” and “That’s so cool!” comments. I mean, if someone I had known as a kid would have met the voice of a video game character, let alone one of the most notable, I probably would have peed with excitement.
At the end of the ride, the mom and her kids went on her way. At the time, I had a cool story to tell, especially one where video games bridge the gap between generations of people and make a connection that would otherwise not exist.
Each week the Lyft and Uber apps update so that you can see your driving score and comments. I usually check these fairly often, even after thousands of rides given on both platforms. I was surprised to see the following comment filter through in the Uber app.
Meeting Charles Martinet was something that I’ve always wanted to do during my gaming travels. I didn’t know that our interaction would inadvertently draw in the excitement of a carload of kids, nor provide a moment for their mom to relax, even if it was for a few brief moments of sanity.
A console gamer gone rogue. Collector of retro games, pun and dad joke enthusiast. My spotify playlists are out of control. Rocket League anyone?