“Um, can you move your stuff? It’s blocking the path to the bathroom.”
I was huddled on the floor of a random Mexican restaurant in a slightly scary part of Los Angeles. My iPhone—which had 1 percent battery left—was hooked into the only outlet I could find, smack-dab next to the restrooms. My two duffle-bags were stacked precariously next to me. And as the disgruntled employee was pointing out, I was seriously harming anyone’s chances of peeing.
This was not what I’d envisioned for my first night of Thanksgiving break last year.
Two weeks earlier:
I didn’t bring a car to college, so I assumed every time I needed to get to or from San Luis Obispo my parents would give me a ride. My mom quickly set the record straight.
“Honey, I love you, but I’m not driving eight hours in one day every time you go on vacation. Don’t you have any friends who live near us?”
Unfortunately, I had picked my college group based on personality, not hometown proximity. They all lived in Northern California, which would be awesome when I wanted to visit San Francisco—but not so awesome right now, when I couldn’t hitch a ride.
Then, one of my friends suggested I check out Cal Poly’s rideshare page on Facebook.
“It’s really easy,” she explained. “People post where they’re headed and how many seats they have. Then you message someone who’s driving past or near your town.”
I immediately pulled up the page. No one was going through Riverside County, but one guy was driving to Orange County and said he could drop me off somewhere in L.A. My dad confirmed he’d pick me up. We decided we’d meet at a Cheesecake Factory right off the freeway.
When the driver, Evan, pulled up in front of my apartment, there were already people in every single passenger seat.
“Uh…” I said, unsure if Evan thought seatbelts weren’t necessities but luxuries, like 800-thread-count sheets or cashmere socks.
“Oh, it’s totally fine, we’ll just squeeze!” he said cheerily.