“Another day, another dollar,” Jenn sang to herself as she slid into the driver’s seat of her Toyota Sienna, closing the door behind her with a soft thud. She mounted her phone on the dashboard and then began the waiting game. The clock showed 11:17 PM, but that could hardly be right. If it was, that meant that Jenn had spent - nay, wasted another day doing the same old combination of processed children’s meals, playgrounds, and nap time. Being a stay-at-home mom with three kids under the age of seven and a deadbeat husband was sucking Jenn dry. But while her Friday was another dud, the day was just beginning for Philadelphia, so Jenn chose to get her fix of the “good old days” by living vicariously through the people she picked up as a Lyft driver.
Jenn didn’t need the money, but she did need the stories. She lived for the cute couples headed out to high-priced restaurants to celebrate their anniversaries and for the excited basketball fans going home after watching the big game in South Philly. Her favorite type of pick-up was the flock of 20-something girls who, on their way to some trendy bar from the pre-game, would shriek in unison when Whitney Houston came on the radio. Bursting with joy and overflowing with cheap vodka, they would always insist Jenn turn the volume all the way up so they could karaoke to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Ding, Jenn’s phone rang out softly. Up popped a notification for a Shared Lyft ride with two pick-ups only a few minutes away - did she want to accept? After a quick little fist pump, Jenn clicked yes, typed the first address into her GPS, and backed down her driveway.
A few minutes after 11:30, Jenn pulled up to a quaint rowhouse in Fairmount and watched as a petite blonde in pink scrubs locked the front door. She offered a polite smile as she bounced toward the open window of the passenger seat. After establishing she was the Savannah that Jenn was looking for, the young woman slipped into the passenger’s seat. Jenn drove back toward Broad Street and asked if picking up the next couple before Savannah’s drop-off would make her late.
“No worries! My shift at the hospital doesn’t start until midnight so as long as I’m there by then y’all are good,” Savannah offered. Jenn noted a slight accent and asked her bubbly passenger where she was from. Over the next several minutes, Jenn learned that Savannah was raised in Asheville, North Carolina but had followed her boyfriend Chad to Philadelphia after graduating from the University of North Carolina together. Curious, Jenn asked how she drew the short straw with working the overnight shift on a Friday.
“Well, I make extra doing nights. Plus, Fridays are Chad’s poker night with his work friends, so I figured why should he get to have all the fun?” Jenn was beginning to love this girl. And to think I could be sitting next to my ungrateful husband as he powers through another Rambo marathon with our kids fast asleep upstairs, Jenn thought to herself. They pulled up to the curb outside a local dive bar with out-of-season Christmas lights hanging in the window and pulsing club music leaking out of the front door as partygoers stumbled in and out.
“Looks like you and Chad aren’t the only two lovebirds in the city,” Jenn remarked with amusement as a young couple teetered toward her car. The two could not keep their hands off each other, looking as if they were unable to walk without the support of their tangle of arms. They opened the side door giggling, collapsed onto the back row, and, as soon as their seatbelts were buckled, proceeded to make out heavily. Jenn didn’t even bother trying to confirm they were her riders - the man’s whispers of “Oh, baby, Britt” between kisses told her she had the right party of two. As she flicked on her turn signal and waited for the opportunity to pull back onto the road, Jenn glanced at the southern nurse seated next to her. She hoped to share a look of “Oh god, how gross,” but instead noted the irritation on Savannah’s face as she stared stoically forward. In fact, she looked downright angry. Slightly disappointed at Savannah’s change in demeanor, Jenn headed toward the hospital to make sure Savannah was not late for work. The sooner I get her there, the less uncomfortable she will be. And let’s hope this hook-up in the back doesn’t get past second base or else Britt is getting a low rating, Jenn thought to herself.
Jenn kept taking side glances at Savannah to see if her mood had changed enough so that they could get back to their conversation. However, Savannah never seemed to get any happier. She stared intently at the rearview mirror, watching the couple exchange fluids for several blocks until she turned her head toward the open window with a look of disgust written all over her face. At 11:55, Jenn pulled up to the curb of Hahnemann Hospital and tapped on her blinkers. Savannah quickly rushed out the door but stopped abruptly several feet away with her back to the car. She spun around, marched up to the passenger seat window, and looked straight at Jenn. Maybe she wants to tip in cash? Jenn pondered. But before Jenn could say anything, Savannah sharply turned her head toward the backseat.
Coolly, without missing a beat, Savannah spoke: “When I get home from work, I want you and your stuff gone, Chad.” Jenn’s jaw hit the floor in shock, unable to process what was playing out in front of her. When Savannah turned her head back toward the driver’s seat, her lips were pursed with anger and her eyes brimmed with tears, but Jenn thought she also saw a hint of pride from putting her cheating boyfriend in his place. She patted the side of the car twice before marching toward the open door of the emergency room. Jenn peeked in the rearview mirror to get a better look at the backseat of her minivan. The man sat dumbstruck, seemingly unable to process what had just happened. His leggy date swiveled her confused face between her two-timing companion and the doorway in which Savannah had just disappeared.
“Can we make an extra stop please?” Chad asked, his voice riddled with defeat.
“My pleasure,” Jenn smugly replied as she typed Savannah’s address back into her GPS. She drove for the rest of the night with only one thought in her head: I fucking love my life.