She was a Latino woman in her 20’s and she had two kids with her. The eldest boy was 2 and full of energy, the other was another boy, only a month old. As she tried to strap the older one into his seatbelt, he kicked and whined. She sighed, tired, and asked me to make sure the childproof door lock was on. While she put her baby in the middle, I found a packet of fruit gummies in my glove compartment and handed them to the boy in an effort to keep him occupied while his mom was busy. I drove them down the street to the bargain grocery store, Food For Less. The boy kept kicking the seat, bouncing up and down, making periodic shrieking sounds. The mom sighed, tired.
“Handful, huh?” I offered.
“Yeah. You don’t even know.”
When we got the store, she asked, “Do you mind waiting while I get a few things?”
“No problem. I’ll park over there.” I pointed to an empty space.
She got out and unbuckled her son, then dashed into the store. Oh wait — you want me to… Oh I guess I’m watching the baby.
At first, he didn’t make a peep. But the lack of his mother and motion and any sound woke him up. He began to make those plaintive newborn mewling cries. I reached back and began moving his car seat from side to side, hoping to stop the volume from rising. It seemed to calm him a bit. He didn’t get louder but he didn’t stop. So I sat there, rocking him, singing him Beatles songs until Mom came back 15 minutes later. The kid had two handfuls of candy that he tore right into. “I had to get them for him. He wouldn’t shut up,” she offered, knowing how it looked.
I helped her get groceries into the car, I helped her get the groceries out. I helped her get her kids up the stairs. She said thank you. Then I went back to my car to check if she got everything. Now I saw there were gummies everywhere, on the seat and floor. Plus the body heat coming off the kid had smushed them deep into the seats (Cloth! Yeah!). And on top of that, the candy trash lay scattered everywhere. It was a $13 ride in total. Minus the 20% Lyft commission. That means I made about $10. She didn’t tip. All in a day’s work.