While I was still an active Lyft driver in San Francisco, I was continually on a quest to answer the question “what is the most interesting ride you have ever given?”. After driving the 10:30am on a Thursday party guy, I stumbled upon another real gem of a story. I pulled up to a quaint, traditional SF Victorian in the heart of a neighborhood I would love to call home someday (the Lower Haight) and waited. I sat soaking in the sun for a few moments until a girl, in the perfect flirty sundress and wedge heels descended the stairs. She was headed to a hotel in SoMa she informed me. As I began driving, she received a call. Being only 18” away from me, it was hard not to listen in on the conversation as much as I tried not to. The person on the other end was a man. My passenger said things like “Hi, love” and “I miss you”, so I assumed it was her boyfriend. But then she said things like “What time works for you?” and “30 minutes or an hour?”. She said all of these things with a hint of flirtation, but it was also very formal. Maybe they had just begun dating I thought. Or maybe he wasn’t really her boyfriend and she was just very friendly? But then what was all this appointment business? A thought flitted into the front of my brain-- is she a…but then she was off the phone and my brain refocused on making small talk. We talked about our weekend plans, our friends, our significant others (she had two), and where we were from originally. All thoughts of the phone conversation completely gone from my head, I asked one of my usual questions, “What do you do for work in the city?” to which she replied, “I’m a prostitute”.
Then there was silence as thousands of questions came flooding into my brain. All of which I was too afraid to ask for fear of offending her. Instead I began talking about the book I was currently reading, The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld, and the many famous prostitutes I was reading about. Not my smoothest move, but she went with it and began talking about her own experience, answering many of the questions I had swirling in my head. She worked out of various hotels. She was by appointment only. She travels to LA every few months and works there for 2-3 weeks which is when she makes most of her money. Those trips are usually booked solid weeks before she arrives. She has regulars and all her clients find out about her through word of mouth. Questions like, how did you get into this profession, how do you have sex that many times in one day, and how does it affect your relationships were unfortunately not answered.
We arrived at her destination and I watched her walk into work in utter amazement. She didn’t look like a prostitute. She looked like she could have been one of my friends, dressed up to go to brunch. And the way she spoke about her job so matter of factly and with no apologies was admirable. She is doing a job she loves and she is proud of it no matter what society thinks.
I had hoped that I would pick her up again and I swore that I would be brave enough to ask those burning questions the next time, but I never saw her again. She is and always will be, my favorite Lyft experience.