A common request from my riders is for a favorite story or two. I think they want to hear about someone ralphing in the back seat. Thankfully, that’s not one I can tell, not yet. Although I wish I had a dash cam last weekend. I listened to the funniest drunk conversation between three 100 proof 20-somthings that I ever witnessed. I’m glad it was dark . . . the night hid my smile and snickers.

Anyways, in my first month driving I picked up my favorite ride near Grand Valley State University (GVSU).  The young man was visiting his brother, and on a Sunday night around 8:20 he was ready to leave.

“Hi, Where are you headed tonight?”

“Home,” came his one word answer.

“Ok, great.” I hit the ride start button and glanced at the GPS. I thought the name “Charles Street” flickered across the destination field. Since there is a Charles Street on the west side, I thought I had a general idea of his destination.

GVSU is on the west side of Grand Rapids, out of town by about 15 miles. I expected that at each major intersection, I would turn left, toward town. Conversely, at every opportunity the GPS pointed right, away from town, into rural farmland. After about 5 minutes, I found myself driving down a dirt road, somewhere between GVSU and nowhere.

Now, I don’t always trust my GPS. Computers are wonderful when they work, but given the choice, I would rather pull out a map. Yes . . . I’m showing my age, but it wouldn’t be the first time my passenger put in a wrong destination. So when the pavement ended, I glanced into the back seat.

“Hey, I’m not sure the GPS is giving me the right directions.”  The pavement just ended and I want to make sure were headed the right direction.” Where did you say we were going?”

“Home, you’re taking me home,” came the answer.

“OK, Where’s home?”

“Chicago.”

“You want me to take you to Chicago?” I asked incredulously.

“Sure, don’t worry, I have the money in my account.”

With that missing piece of information, my GPS made sense, and was sending me to the nearest west-bound, interstate on-ramp.  I stopped at a gas station. I filled the tank and grabbed an energy drink, and off to Chicago we went.

Two and a half hours later, I dropped my rider off on the south side of Chicago. He could have made the same trip the next morning via Amtrak for only $36.00. Instead, he paid me over $200.00 for the same trip. I had to deadhead back home, but I can’t complain. It’s not often I make $40 per hour. The trip was on a 40% Prime Time.