On the Road: Giving a Lift

I’ve been meaning to write this post since 2012, but as I think it would fit the Blogparade „Travelling Glitches around the World“ (Reisepannen rund um den Globus) by Gecko Footsteps I decided to finally finish it – even though it happened in good ol‘ Germany. 😉
For quite some time now I’ve been taking passengers along for the longer distances between the parts of my Journeys and one encounter does definitely count as a Travelling Glitch in my book.
But before I get to that, let’s have a look at

How I get my passengers:

There are different platforms (everyone who ever looked for stuff like that knows which ones I mean, so I’m not going to advertise them) out there that give drivers the possibility to put up their route ad and offer a ride/lift for everyone that wants to travel the same direction in exchange for a little money.
Those interested can then contact the driver and arrange everything, like where to pick them up/drop them off; how to find each other, etc..
Usually this is easily done and most of the time the people I end up with are nice and interesting, but there are a few exceptions to that and one of which is what I want to talk about today.

A ridiculous idea

For some reason did I decide it would be a good idea to travel from Berlin to Hamburg and back to Greifswald/Neubrandenburg on the same day. Little did I know that this would turn out to be one of my worst decisions.
But why did I do that?
Well, as far as I remember was the whole ordeal on a Sunday.
The Saturday before that I was at a Powerwolf concert in Berlin and on Sunday we had a meeting from the Eventteam – the student group I was the head of at the time – in Hamburg that could not be postponed due to scheduling issues.
So basically: I didn’t have much choice, as I already had the tickets and the other thing couldn’t be changed either.
To at least get something out of this I then decided to pick up passengers from Berlin to Hamburg and from Hamburg to Greifswald on my way back.
So far so good, but then stuff happened.

Where are you now?

When I arrived in Hamburg I soon noticed that the original meeting point (Dammtor) was under construction, so I had no chance to park, let alone pick someone up there and decided to look for a different place.
After quite some time I found a parking deck a bit further away and told my would-be passengers that I parked in THAT parking deck (giving them the exact name that I can’t recall any more) and that they should try to get there instead (as new meeting point). I got a message from one of them saying that they found the train station nearby and I believe I forwarded that as well.
With the thought that everything was settled I then went to the meeting.
Unfortunately it dragged on a bit longer than I expected so even though I hurried I got to the meeting point later than I had said, but when I arrived no one was there. So I went to pick up the first person at the train station she had mentioned earlier.
At the same time I got a call from one of the others that wanted to know where I was and I told her that I was picking up the other passenger and that they should wait at the park-house.
As it turned out they thought I was in the parking deck near Dammtor (a parking deck near the original meeting point by a totally different name).
I told her that I didn’t park there and that I was on my way to pick them up, anyway.
If I remember correctly I got at least five more calls until I finally made it there and somehow found my way to them through the construction stuff.
This whole driving around (me missing a few turns along the way due to rising anxiety of what might happen when I arrive included) made us actually start an hour after the original plan.
The mood in the car was accordingly sour and down.

Are we there yet?

Time and again I tried to initiate a conversation, but I felt too… bad (for a lack of a better word) for making them wait so long(, even though it was only partly my fault) that I stopped trying at some point and just silently drove.
As it had been a long day and I usually made a stop there I took a break at a Fast Food restaurant along the way. Too anxious to say more I simply stopped and asked if anyone wanted to get something, because I was hungry and needed something to eat.
No one wanted anything, everyone stayed in the car and I had to fast eat my burger sitting behind the wheel and continue driving as soon as I was finished, abiding to the dark mood in the car.
A little while earlier – before the stop – one of the waiters asked me when we would arrive and I told her a certain time, which I later realized was a complete miscalculation on my part as the sat nav was set on my home and I didn’t include the dinner-stop.
Needless to say we arrived way later than I told them.
When we finally made it to Greifswald they all got out and I told them that they still owed me the 10(?) Euro for the ride, to which one of the waiters subsequently replied that due to the delayed start and the misinformation I gave them, she’d only give me five Euro and the others followed suit, intimidated by her.
At that point I was far too tired and exhausted to complain or tell them that most of it was their own fault, so I simply accepted it and just drove home – I didn’t feel like driving to Neubrandenburg, so I made a stop there and ranted at my Mum in the middle of the night about it.
With some distance to the whole thing I later pondered if it would be a good idea to create a dictionary Me-German/German-Me as I really did not understand how they could have misread my initial notification SMS…

The Morale of the Story

It’s been nearly four years and I still remember the dread and anxiety I felt during that ride and afterwards. It simply was the worst ride I had so far.
There was another one that turned ugly afterwards, when I got a bad rating by the girlfriend of a passenger for changing the destination after a discussion with BOTH passengers about what would suit them best and driving carefully (~100km/h on the motorway at times) after a Festival-weekend, but it wasn’t as bad as this one. At least the ride itself was great thanks to the other passenger that I’m still in contact with.
Long story short: You can have a lot of luck with the passengers you’re taking with you and it also can turn out badly (last minute drop out, language barriers, tense atmosphere,… ).
I certainly will keep posting my route ads if I drive alone, but after this and some other incidences I decided for myself that each of my route ads will include the following information:

  • The time is only an approximate value and can change due to different circumstances. In case of serious changes you’ll be notified.
  • If your English is better than your German: Please use it!

Better save than sorry, I guess?


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