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An unprecedented experience. Never had a Lyft ride like this…

1. Right from the start, it was pretty clear there was something “off” with this driver. He had a bad attitude — which, sure, people are all permitted to have I guess on a bad day — but when I was discussing the difficulty in finding him during the pickup, he snapped, “I don’t use the phone. I only text. That way I have a written record of everything with all my passengers. No he said/she said.” So, clearly, this person has had a long history of difficult interactions with his passengers. Michael stated that he was clearly watching Karl and I wander around the hotel valet lanes and front parking area as we repeatedly tried to reach him, even while rejecting our calls.

2. As we approached the convention center, Michael complained that traffic was very heavy. I inquired as to whether or not it would be feasible for him to stop somewhere before the planned destination so we could get out sooner and he wouldn’t have to sit in the non moving traffic. That really set him off. That is when the cursing started and that is when I started recording him, for our safety.

3. In between calling us assholes, using the F word at us repeatedly, and threatening to “have [my] Lyft account terminated” Michael also turned his radio up to full volume when I asked him what he was thinking.

4. Cherry on top: after it was clear that something was disturbed about this individual, I requested that he pull over to the nearest safe driveway entrance (approximately 10 yards in front of us) so that we could immediately leave his vehicle. He explicitly refused and said that he was in no way going to allow us to exit his vehicle until he decided he wanted us to.

Now, let’s be clear… Karl and I both know how to handle ourselves. And it wouldn’t take much to get the bulge on a tub like this guy, as the expression goes. But supposing I wasn’t a 40-something white guy. What if I was a small woman? What if I was a woman traveling alone?

This gentleman stated at the start of the ride that he drives for both Lyft and Uber, so even if Lyft drops his account this instant [EDIT: Lyft confirmed for me personally that this driver has been terminated and banned from their service and the driver himself has confirmed this via various social media / forum posts] apparently he could still be picking up more rides all day long. Gives you a nice good feeling, doesn’t it?

I want to be clear… I don’t bear any ill will toward Mr. Gragg and it’s a shame that he cost himself his job with these antics. People have asked if I feel responsible for what happened. Quite frankly, my view on the matter is the same in any Lyft or Uber ride: The passenger is responsible for the passenger’s behavior. The driver is responsible for the driver’s behavior.

Some people think there were things I could or should have done differently, and I’ve been reading those comments. Most make me merely raise an eyebrow (my feet weren’t “on his seats” I simply had my leg crossed and one foot near my knee… and there is no expectation of privacy in a public space or when there’s a sign saying “you may be recorded”) but I have re-played this video a couple times — disturbing though it is — and asked myself what things I could have done different. I do not have any indication that Mr. Gragg has taken the time to self-reflect while doing the same.

In any event, whenever any one of us has a bad day, I hope we can always walk it off, self-reflect on how we could do better, and discuss that with friends. Stay safe out there! 👍

 

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