In Tales from Behind the Wheel: Year One, rideshare driver Jonathan Wong shares some of his most memorable stories driving passengers around the greater Honolulu area. In these pages, he reveals that while sensational stories about rideshare drivers and passengers seem to be in the media all the time these days, those stories are exceptions. The truth is that most rideshare drivers perform a wonderful service to assist people in their needs to get from Point A to Point B, and most rideshare passengers are everyday people going about their everyday business.
But just like in any other situation that involves humans, rideshare opens up opportunities for bizarre, hilarious, and poignant moments.
Wong has divided up this book into several chapters about the different kinds of passengers or experiences he’s had while driving for both Uber and Lyft. Each chapter is itself divided up into several very short stories. Jonathan begins with an introduction about what it’s like to be a rideshare driver. By sharing his stories, he wants us to see a slice of life and the variety and similarities of the human experience. He states:
“I hope you’ll nod in agreement during the moments when you learn or see life’s truths in the tales I share, for ultimately, we are all everyday people, whether we’re simply on our way to work, to school, or are taking a trip for business or pleasure in a far-off land. The human experience is the same no matter where we are or what we do. And part of the marvel and pleasure in creating tales is the privilege to touch others’ lives… ”
I think my favorite stories were in the first chapter of the book, “Freaks Come Out at Night.” Here Jonathan tells his stories of driving religious people who do not seem to practice what they preach, strippers needing a ride home, and people taking what Jonathan calls “the ride of shame”-a ride home from an overnight stay at a lover’s house. Many of these stories made me chuckle or shake my head, but they also revealed a very human side to Jonathan’s passengers.
Successive chapters include Jonathan’s experiences driving people on business-many are everyday people who prefer to take Uber or Lyft to work rather than have the expense of owning a car; others are in Hawaii on business. A chapter on celebrity sightings will leave you amazed by the people who will choose rideshare over a private limo or even a cab.
And then there is the chapter about cab drivers. The new rideshare economy has really hurt business for cab drivers, and consequently, Jonathan has had a few less than pleasant run-ins with unhappy cabdrivers who feel he’s stealing their fares. It’s not uncommon for him to get a request to pick up someone at a hotel and pull right up to the door for his passenger only to see a string of cabs waiting in line for someone to give them a fare. He’s also learned to avoid taking breaks in parking lots frequented by cab drivers.