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Is Taxi-Dating the New Trend?

15 January 2016

Flirt? Have a fun taxi ride? Fall in love?? The most economical dating you could do. Join the movement ‪#‎speeddate‬ ‪#‎hopsee‬

“If you could seduce anyone from your lifetime that you hadn’t already, who would it be?” I asked.

My Lyft driver Tony paused a beat and said, “You.” My nervous laughter bubbled out and I smoothed the creases of my pink sundress.

I’m not in the habit of questioning my Lyft drivers about their seduction pasts. But I was on a mission — to go on as many speed dates through UberPool and Lyft Line as I could manage in an evening.

I’ve been single since I became a reporter seven years ago, mostly the result of putting in too many hours of work to properly date. So whenever I can combine the two, both writing and romance, I give it a go.

For those unfamiliar, UberPools and Lyft Lines match passengers with other people going their same direction. The group shares a ride to save costs and as a result are stuck in a tiny space with strangers for a chunk of time. Perfect predicament for a date, according to some, who told me have tried flirting with fellow passengers — and drivers — in the hope of landing a number.

After hearing that people were looking for love on the carpooling versions of the ride-sharing apps, I decided I needed to try it myself. To give the effort a boost, I found a bunch of get-to-know-you questions online, such as “What was the most terrifying moment of your life?”

So, when I jumped in the car, I’d ask my fellow passenger to go on a speed date with me, with each of us picking questions out of a bag and answering them until the date/ride ended.

By ride number two I was wondering what I had gotten myself into.

I first asked Tony, my 27-year-old bearded driver, to play the game with me because I wasn’t matched with any other passengers on the ride. His belly pressed against the wheel of his Ford Fusion, which he gripped with thick fingers, one adorned with a gold ring. He sized me up after telling me he’d like to seduce me. “You’re very pretty,” he said.

The air in the car turned heavy in the silence after his proclamation and you could hear both of us breathing. I gripped my bag a little closer and glanced down at my Lyft app, tracking how close I was to my destination. “Thank you,” I said.

Sensing now was his moment, he quickly rattled off his pitch. “I’m 6′2’″, I have a car and a job, no kids. I have nice dimples, nice lips. I’m very chill, I’m open-minded and I’m confident,” he said.

You couldn’t blame the man for his boldness — I had asked him on a speed date, after all. But the problem with chatting up someone during ride-sharing is you can’t escape if you’re not feeling the same chemistry. I go for the slightly shy, nerdy intellectual type and Tony didn’t fit the bill. Fortunately, my trip ended soon and I departed the car with relief.

My next Lyft ride was a little more fun. When the car pulled up, two men were already lounging in the back seat, looking like models in a Polo ad, with their Friday-casual khakis and gelled hair. They were a bit too chic for my taste — I don’t want the men I’m seeing to have better fashion sense than me — but I proposed the date idea anyway. One guffawed. “Are you willing to play with two gay guys?” he asked.

Of course.

Recode.net

Vittorio, 38, and Adrien, 34, were visiting from Italy and France respectively. Former-lovers-turned-friends, they bantered easily on our three-way speed date. When asked his most embarrassing moment, Vittorio did not disappoint. “I shit the bed drunk when I was 18 one night,” he said. “I woke up to my friend’s mom, who I was staying with, sponging my butt.”

Adrien doubled over laughing at his friend then, but received his own ribbing next after drawing a question about his romantic history. “Would I win a gold medal in the Olympics of dating?” he read aloud, and paused. Vittorio snorted.

“Let’s be honest, probably not,” Adrien said with half a grin. “I’d be very far from the podium. I probably wouldn’t see the podium at all. I’m probably not in the stadium.”

Vittorio added: “You missed the plane to Rio, because you had overweight baggage and you were hungover from the night before.”

The two were still teasing each other as we pulled up to my destination in the residential Hayes Valley neighborhood and I stepped out. As fun as they’d been, I was definitely the third wheel on that date.

The next ride was a little more promising. Two Aussie boys, Chris and Cory, laden with heavy bags, joined my UberPool ride. Who doesn’t like an Aussie guy? Sun-kissed and sassy, they reminded me of the lifeguards I had crushes on during surfing summer camp as a kid.

Cory, 33, sat in the back beside me, toting a big white fur coat. “Burning Man,” he said, patting the fur when he caught me looking at it. They’d headed all the way across the world to attend the annual desert festival for their second year in a row. Reclining lazily, Cory’s eyes closed halfway. It had grown dark at this point and 27-year-old Chris, sitting in the front seat, exclaimed over the heavy giant moon hanging in the sky.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

The duo wound up being both sillier and sleepier than those who came before them. When asked what he would change about his childhood, Chris piped up that he’d wish he had taken ninja lessons and been a ninja-kid. (Previous passengers’ answers were less amusing: “I wish I had a better relationship with my dad, who’s dead now” and “I wish I’d had more friends”).

Although maybe I would’ve asked out one or the other at a bar, I couldn’t quite bring myself to close the deal in the car. I needed a little alcoholic Felix Felicis liquid luck warming up my veins. But it was a Sunday night and I was stone cold sober — as were the Aussies, it seemed. I stepped out reluctantly and said goodbye.

In retrospect, perhaps the most successful speed date I went on was the first of the day. Through Lyft, I was paired with a 26-year-old driver named Abraham and a 32-year-old passenger named Aryan, who complained “But I have a family!” when I proposed the speed date. They were both sitting in the front and shot each other sideways looks as I implored them to take part.

It was my initial speed dating stunt ride and my nervousness had infected my fellow passengers. It’s not such an easy thing asking strangers to speed date you. Aryan passed on answering his first question — who in the world he wishes he could call for life advice.

Abraham was up next, and when asked to name his most embarrassing moment he said, “One time a girl came in and asked me on a speed date along with this other guy.” I flushed.

The duo started to relax after Abraham explained he lived in Miami and was on a road trip across the U.S. He was Lyfting his way through it to make money.

“So I’m on a speed date and a road trip!” Aryan said.

Abraham’s story seemed like a fun one for a short post, so I asked for his number — the only time all night I had the guts to get someone’s contact information. It’s always easier when it’s for a professional reason. I assured him my intentions were entirely above board.

“You just stole my date,” Aryan said to Abraham in mock accusation.

So there you have it: My very fruitless but somewhat fun attempt to find love through Lyft Line and UberPool.

Lesson learned: It’s a numbers game. To find someone you’re attracted to who feels the same, you have to take a lot of rides.

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