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Plenty of people feel just fine booking a ride right now through the Uber or Lyft apps on their phones. More fine, in fact, than they did just a few months ago. According to Lyft, almost four million more riders e-hailed a car in the third quarter of 2020 than in the second. But not me. Relying on my old friend Lyft, my rideshare company of choice, feels like Before Times (BT) behavior, when I could count on a gig worker to pull up to my house or pick me up at a bar or restaurant, where I’d been drinking, within minutes of pulling open my Pop-Socket. I miss it all so.
I’m not alone in my COVID-related fear of getting into a stranger’s car, where they have definitely been breathing, and possibly even speaking, singing, or laughing, for hours. Yes, the windows may have been open and, sure, the driver is mandated to wear a mask, but who’s to say what their PPP (personal protection protocols) are when the car is customer-free? Not to mention the butterflies of worry that flutter in my stomach when I think about more strangers—aka riders—getting into that same vehicle before me, with all their breathing and talking and, well, aerating all over the place. As one friend puts it: The very idea is icky.
In BT, drinking and driving was much simpler: You shouldn’t do it, and you didn’t have to because a ride-hailing service was surely within a few thousand feet, just waiting for you to electronically beg for a sober ride home. I’ve had deep, humane conversations during those rides; learned about restaurants that were new to me; and, just as often, enjoyed nodding off a bit during peaceful trips with quiet drivers, lulled by the sweet freedom from fear of being pulled over for a DUI.
Speaking of, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reports that DUI-related fatalities on Colorado roads rose two percent between January and July of this year. Yet, interestingly (and also according to CDOT), there have been fewer cars on the road since the pandemic began. You know what that says to me? That there are more people eschewing rideshares than at this time last year but they’re still going out for drinks, which means they’re driving home under the influence. I get it. It’s not easy these days to say no to another pint or cocktail when those luxuries are so seldom enjoyed in the real-life company of others. Even so, until this pandemic has passed, if I can’t hug my mom, I’m certainly not taking rides from strangers. Even if I miss them.