Seyram A. Butame

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys/ They ain't gonna fight no wars.

Adventures with Lyft - Vomiting passengers

23 July 2022

So, it finally happened. Ever since I began driving for Lyft, I have feared someone would throw up (or produce some other kind of bodily effluent in my car), and I would then have to spend time cleaning it. Well, it happened. I have had a few close calls, but last night it finally happened, and let me tell you, it is as disgusting as you would imagine.

I drive in a college town/city, and because I often drive at night, many passengers are usually drunk, anywhere from buzzed and loquacious to incoherent, with their heads lolling. I remember my first drunk passenger; it was a woman who requested a Lyft ride from a local restaurant/bar on a Sunday night. I had always thought my first drunk passenger would be a fraternity “bro,” given that Tallahassee has a rather vibrant greek life, and those people drink like fish. But no, it was a young woman who had one too many. Fortunately, she’d used an accurate picture for her profile and responded to the given name when I called out to her and mentioned her destination. Lyft riders often use no photo, or they use a picture with a weird filter and a fake name, like “Bzzzzz” (Seriously, that was someone’s name on the app when I picked them up). Anyway, when pulled up to the requested spot, she was crouching against the bar’s outer wall, trying to hold herself up, I imagine. When I called out to her, identifying myself as the Lyft driver, she straitened up and promptly fell over. And that was my first drunk person ride. When we arrived at her location, she’d fallen asleep in the back seat, head lolling and spittle dribbling out of her mouth. I was so worried; I thought I’d have to call the police or something. Fortunately, her flatmates came out to collect her at the destination (folks, be careful when you go out drinking).

Another time it was a group of four young men. Two of them who sat in the back took turns throwing up out my window. What was amusing to me was that these fellows were heading out to a party and were drunk to the point of vomiting. It was a short drive, and between slowing down and allowing one of them to puke out the window violently, these guys were discussing how they would crush vagina that night. I was just hoping they would not tumble out of my vehicle and crush their respective faces. I was glad they could lean out the window to do their bodily business because they had been drinking a rather fragrant liquor, and the smell was all over the vehicle.

Another memorable incident was a couple of young ladies heading to a local night spot. One was a birthday girl, and her friend had agreed to babysit. The birthday girl had pre-gamed heavily and barely knew where she was. It was left up to the friend to tend to her. At some point during the ride, the sober (less drunk) friend told me she suspected that the birthday girl was about vomit. I barely had enough time to pull into a parking lot before she flung the door open and was violently sick.

There have been countless other drunk people incidents, many innocuous, but last night was the first time someone threw up all over the upholstery. It is sois gross, both when it happens and later when you have to clean up a stranger’s effluent.

I picked up a group of three women from a night spot favored by college students. They had been drinking, of course, but when they approached my vehicle, I did not peg them as being overly drunk. They got into the back seat and were chatting away. I typically tune out the conversation of my passengers unless they specifically rope me into their conversation. At some point, I noticed the one sitting in the middle seat had become very quiet while her friends on either side of her continued to babble. I assumed she was exhausted and had nodded off or something innocuous like that; partying is difficult. We continued the journey, and when we were about half a mile from their destination, I heard the one sitting immediately behind me beginning to squirm noisily. I was gearing up to ask if everything was alright when I heard a sound similar to pouring out a large cup of ice and water. And initially, that is what I thought it was, that they had spilled an open container (though I had not clocked any open container when they got in the car. At that point, I asked if they’d poured or spilled something. The one behind me hesitantly responded in the affirmative. Mind you, I am driving along one of Tallahassee’s numerous strodes, where the limit is 35 mph. Moreover, there are a few cars behind me with their high beams turned on like the lunatics they are.

In the light of day, it is clear to me that these young women were hoping they would be able to bundle their friend out of my vehicle without causing much damage; perhaps, I would not even notice. Alas, for them and my vehicle, their friend’s stomach was not having it. What followed were three more incidents of loud retching, the third and final punctuated by a loud fart. By this point, I had arrived at the destination. The two friends flung their doors open, leaped out, and began dry-heaving (some people respond sympathetically to the noise of someone being sick or the smell). Fortunately, I am not one because it would have been an utter disaster). The one who was throwing up began apologizing profusely while trying to get up and out of her mess and the vehicle. I started handing her tissue packets while trying to reassure her that it was alright and that she should not worry. Eventually, one of the friends had herself recovered a bit and returned to help her friend. Honestly, felt terrible. Our bodies will sometimes betray us, especially when we put it under stress. And in this case, she’d clearly drank more alcohol than she could handle, and her body was complaining loudly. I just wish she’d informed me that she was experiencing nausea earlier, and I would have pulled over to give her time to do her business.

And that was the end of my night. I had to drive back home with my car smelling like partially digested food and what smelled like some kind of hard seltzer water. I have no idea what the woman and her friends had been drinking. I am still amazed by the amount of vomit. Nearly the whole back seat was covered in the vomitus. The liquid had soaked into the cushions. The floor mats, carpets, and the backs of the front seats were all within the hurling zone. Fortunately, she’d not eaten much as there weren’t many food bits. I parked quietly, went to my place, documented the incident for Lyft, took a shower, and went to bed.

Earlier today, I began the task of cleaning. Things weren’t better in the light of day, as the vomit had dried up. But after a few hours of scrubbing with baking soda, using an industrial-strength upholstery cleaner, and using a toothbrush to get into all those nooks and crannies, I think I did a passable job. I now have to wait for things to dry, the smell of cleaner to dissipate, and things will be good as new.