Challenge Accepted

There was only one thing in the mail today.

It’s a quiet Saturday.  Frankly, we all are a little tired.  It’s the kind of day when you just want to eat and watch Netflix.  So after Ari’s Cello class that’s exactly what we did.

A quick stop inside Trader Joe’s at the Arboretum on the way home.

  • Pita Wrap
  • Turkey Wrap
  • Brownie Bites
  • Chips
  • Raspberries
  • European Soda
  • Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

So much for the diet today.

Yesterday I had one of the greatest adventures of my Uber experience to date.

I had a drop off at the Airport, and I usually don’t go to ABIA unless I have someone in the car.  It’s just not worth my time to sit in a hot car waiting for my turn to pick someone up.   If there are more than 30 or so drivers ahead of me, I just head back downtown, where I know I can get some work.

After the drop off at the departures gate, I saw that the digital cue was only 26 cars and going down pretty fast so I decided to hang around and wait behind the Shell station on HWY 71 with the rest of the ride share drivers. (Is rideshare one word or two?)

After a quick call to my wife, the app showed 7 more cars until it was my turn.  But then something strange happened.  It told me to leave now and head over to the arrivals gate.  So I did.

There were a lot of cars waiting to pick up a lot of people.  Everyone was coming to Austin this afternoon it seemed.

I looked at my phone to see which pillar I should stop at to pick up my passenger, but it didn’t show it.  In my experience, that means that the person requested the ride from inside the terminal and  I would have to wait a few minutes for them to come out, which is something I hate doing.  I automatically take off a star from their rating, and sometimes get yelled at by one of the airport cops for taking too long.

So to see where this guy was, I called him.  I told him I was in a black Accord, and passing pillar D right now.  He said he would meet me at “E”.  I had to quickly cut across 2 lanes of parked cars.  While I was maneuvering my car at 2 miles an hour, the back door popped open, in jumped my passenger with a backpack, and that’s when the fun began.

It was 5:41, and my passenger told me that he forgot a bag at his house in south Austin.  His wife and 1 year old were waiting at the gate, and that bag had all the essential items needed for the baby.

His flight was taking off in 1 hour.

I had less than an hour to get this guy to his house, bring him back, and make sure there was enough time to get him through security and on the plane with his family.

Challenge accepted.

My phone showed that it would take 22 minutes to get to his house.  We headed out the airport, me driving a little faster than usual, and doing a bit more lane changing to get ahead of the slower cars.  Our first green light came at the intersection between HWY 71 and the airport, right near where I wait for my next rides.  I could do this!

Traffic wasn’t too bad as I headed towards 290.  I noticed that there were a lot of cars heading in the other direction towards the airport and got a little concerned for our return trip, but I would deal with that later.

The Uber app, directed me up I-35 towards the Oltorf exit.  My rider seemed surprised by this but I told him that it usually was faster than Google Maps and even Waze.  He thought about it for a minute then stated that it was probably in their best interest to find the fastest route.  I agreed – faster trips means happier customers, and more pick-ups per hour.

After weaving down some side streets in South Austin, we arrived at his house.  He jumped out, and while he was inside, I pulled out of his driveway, and backed in so I could make a quick get away.

A few short seconds later he jumped back in the back seat and we were off.

Now it showed 23 minutes for the return trip back to the airport, and I the app directed me on a different route.  I headed due south to pick up 290 and head East to ABIA.  The traffic that we saw on the way out had dissipated, and I drove quickly into the first entrance to the Airport.

The line for departures was exceptionally long,, and I didn’t want to deal with that.  There just wasn’t enough time.  So, I entered the rental car return cue, which was completely clear, and at the last minute counted on the kindness of strangers to let me back across 3 lanes of stopped traffic to get to his gate.  I felt a bit bad cutting across all those people, but I had a job to do, and time was ticking.

Passenger jumped out, and ran towards the entrance.

Total trip time 36 minutes 15 seconds.  22 miles covered door to door.

Tip $80.

I got this text shortly later


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