Most of you by now are familiar with the new “civilian” ride sharing services across the country, where average guys or gals come pick you up and drive you to your destination in their own personal car. The cost is less than a traditional taxi and is negotiated up front. Friends tell me they have been chauffeured in some very classy cars like BMW and Mercedes. This concept, however, goes against everything our mothers ever told us, “Never get in a car with a stranger.”
Nevertheless, the last time I had to schlep down to LAX, I called a new cut-rate ride service. In anticipation, I waited at the curb in front of my abode. Right on time, an unmarked white van pulled up. The muscular driver rolled down the passenger window and called out, “Get in the back.”
I hesitated when the side door slid open and a second man said, “if you come voluntarily, I won’t have to put on the blindfold.”
I replied, “I think I’ve changed my mind.”
The second man, the one wearing a ski mask, said, “I’ve got candy,”
I couldn’t help but notice as I climbed in and the door slammed shut that there was no window or door handle next to my seat. I tried to ignore my predicament while I unwrapped my chocolates as we sped away.
The driver barked out, “You are a rich American, yes?”
“No,” I replied, licking the candy wrappers. “In fact, I’m barely existing on social security.”
The van stopped so suddenly I almost got brained with an Uzi flying past me from the very back. The two men started arguing in a foreign language and slapping each other around. The argument stopped almost as suddenly as it started, and the driver once again headed the van down the road.
“Would you like some music,” the driver asked, turning on some high-pitched warbling. “Now, where did you wish to go?” He smiled at me in a creepy more than friendly way.
I replied, “How about the nearest police station.”
Minutes later I found myself on a street corner watching the van speed away after tossing out my luggage. My first ride-share experience now nothing but a bad memory.
Next time, I vowed, I would take the bus unless Sandra Bullock is driving.
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Richard Allan Jones is the author of the comedy/adventure novel, “DRAFTED,” and the soon to be published suspense thriller, “IDENTITY CHECK.”