1:30 AM. The bars are letting out. Prime-Time surge pricing is fluctuating between seventy-five and one hundred percent. I head to the Mission, hoping to get some fast rides. Hit it and quit it. That’s the name of the game with the late night drunkies. Cabs, Ubers, Lyfts, towncars… practically every car on the road is looking for passengers.
A request comes in. 12th and Folsom. The app says one hundred percent prime time. I’m four minutes away. I race down Van Ness.
At the pinned location, a horde of drunks are milling in front of the Holy Cow. I pull up behind a row of double-parkers. Call the passenger to get his exact location.
The cars move forward. Pick up their passengers and speed off into the night. I get to the front of the line. A couple climbs into my backseat.
His face doesn’t match the picture on the app. Not that it matters. So many people have weird Facebook profile pics.
“He’s taking me back to his place,” she tells me after I ask them how their night’s going. “And he didn’t even have to give me a roofie.”
My phone rings. It’s the generic Lyft number. That’s weird, I think. Only the passenger I’m picking up can contact me when I’m in driver mode. I ignore it. It rings again.
I tell the Miguel on the phone that I’ve obviously picked up the wrong Miguel. “Don’t worry. I’ll call Lyft to sort everything out.”
At this point, we all realize what has happened. I feel like an idiot. Miguel offers multiple apologies.
I tell them not to worry about it. “What are the odds that two Miguels would be on the same corner at the exact same time?” I wonder aloud.
“It’s a very common name,” the girl says. “Can you believe he’s Argentinian? He doesn’t look Spanish at all.”
I think about another Argentinian I had in my car the previous week. I thought he was French. “Yeah, I can believe it.”
“I have to pay you for the ride.” Miguel pulls out a small wad of cash. “How much would this ride have cost?”
I driver off, find a sort-of parking space and call Lyft. There isn’t a prompt for picking up the wrong passenger. I press two. Tell the support guy the whole story in a frantic burst. He must have pulled up a screen with all the details because I didn’t have to explain it twice. He can see that the first Miguel caught another Lyft. They refund his money.