The Rideshare From Hell (1 Viewer)


Subverting from within
Oct 15, 2013
Bellingham, WA
After two months in Asia, I was ready to go home to Seattle. I booked a flight from Tokyo to San Francisco because it was a bit cheaper and I needed to pick up some stuff I had left at my sister’s apartment in Oakland. I thought about hitching from SF to Seattle but decided I wanted something with a little more certainty so I looked for a rideshare on Craigslist. I found a guy who was driving from LA to Seattle over two days (LA to SF one day, SF to Seattle the next day) and could take me to Seattle for $55. It wasn’t the best deal but I decided to go for it. I wrote him and he agreed to pick me up in the morning.

In the morning, the car drove up and I got in. In the car were three other people. In the driver’s seat was Viet, who was moving from Seattle to LA and was driving back to Seattle after taking a load of stuff to LA. In the passenger seat was Scott, a loud and goofy musician who lived in Seattle but had been in LA to record something. In the back seat was Ellen, a woman who had been visiting some friends in LA. Next to Ellen was her dog Empire, the sweetest pitbull I have ever met. I sat down in the back and we got going.

During the ride, we talked and Scott played music from his phone on the car stereo. It seemed to be going very well. Viet was kind of quiet but Scott made up for it by asking us all questions and cracking jokes. It was fun.

After about an hour, we stopped for gas and got fast food for lunch. When Viet was away, Scott and Ellen started complaining about how much he was charging us. They had both been driving with Viet since LA and said that he wanted $45 for LA to SF in addition to the $55 he was asking for SF to Seattle. Ellen mentioned that she had taken a rideshare from Seattle to LA for $60. It was clear that Viet was going to make a ton of money off this rideshare.

We got back in and kept driving. After a little while, Viet asked Scott to drive. We stopped at a rest stop and they switched seats. Scott drove for several hours until around 11 PM when we were an hour away from Portland. Then the car started making weird noises.

We drove into a gas station. Scott seemed to know a bit about cars and he said he thought the brake pad was worn out. We consulted with a gas station and a random passerby attendant who agreed. The consensus was that the brake pad was grinding into the rotor but that if we took it easy on the car, we could make it to Seattle.

It was at this point that Ellen voiced concerns. She wasn’t too worried about the brake pads. She was worried because it was Viet’s turn to drive. Viet had started acting strangely. He was mumbling to himself and seemed very tired. Ellen confided to Scott and me that she wasn’t comfortable with Viet driving. We decided to get dinner at Taco Bell and try to convince Viet to let Scott drive the rest of the way to Seattle.

We went to the Taco Bell but it was within minutes of closing. The manager said we could eat there anyway so we ordered and ate while they were mopping the floors. We casually asked Viet if it was OK if Scott drove the rest of the way. He said no, he was OK to drive. We delicately tried to explain that he had been driving for a long time and looked tired. He still didn’t seem convinced.

So we told him the truth: Ellen was having a panic attack (she had already popped a doctor-prescribed Xanax) and would feel more comfortable with Scott driving. Viet wouldn’t respond. He seemed totally out of it. He was blinking rapidly and whenever we asked him if it was alright if Scott drove, he would say “give me a second” then take another bite of his burrito.

The situation was getting more and more tense. it seemed to me to be the easiest thing just to let Scott drive the rest of the way but something seemed to be going on with Viet. He couldn’t explain himself. Finally, he gave an extremely analytical but still nonsensical explanation of how he should be the driver because he understood the car better. This made no sense because he had already let Scott drive once and it went alright.

Finally, Ellen gave him an ultimatum: If Scott didn’t drive, she was going to find a Greyhound station and take a bus to Seattle and she wouldn’t give Viet the $55 they had agreed on.

Viet was considering this idea. Scott and I were trying to convince him just to let Scott drive. It was past closing time but we were still having a tense argument in the Taco Bell.

Finally, Viet proposed taking the car on the highway for a minute just to see what the brakes sounded like. Ellen didn’t want to be in the car with Viet driving so she said she would wait at the Taco Bell. I decided to wait with her. Scott and Viet got in the car and drove off.

Ten or fifteen cold and stressful minutes later, they drove back. They got out and outlined the deal: Scott was going to drive to Olympia then Viet would drive from Olympia to Seattle. It didn’t make sense but it was past midnight already and we all just wanted to get back home so we got back in the car and started driving.

The ride after that was alright. Everyone was frustrated but we all pretended we weren’t and continued to talk and joke. Then Viet asked Scott about the money. Ellen had already paid Viet the $45 for LA to SF but Scott hadn’t so he owed Viet the full $100. Viet had cornered me in the Taco Bell and demanded payment and I couldn’t think of a good excuse so I had already paid him in full. Scott said the check for the money he had made in LA hadn’t dropped yet but that his cousin lived in Tacoma and he could borrow $100 from him. The story was sketchy and only got sketchier as we asked clarifying questions but I just wanted to get home at that point so I didn’t say anything. Ellen asked if she was the only person who had $100 in her bank account but Scott and Viet weren’t listening.

We got to Tacoma and parked in a gas station near where Scott said his cousin lived. He grabbed his bag and left. This struck Ellen and I as extremely sketchy but Viet pointed out that he had left his jacket so he thought Scott would come back.

Viet went to pee in the bushes and the gas station owner came and started yelling at us and telling us we were loitering. Ellen and I kept trying to tell him that we couldn’t move because we didn’t have the keys but the guy didn’t seem to speak very good English. Viet got back and we got in the car. We pulled out of the gas station and Viet parked in front of a stop sign in a driveway for a gated community. Ellen kept telling him to put his emergency blinkers on but he refused. Twenty minutes had passed by then and Ellen and I knew Scott has scammed Viet but Viet still didn’t think so.

That’s when the security guard for the gated community rolled up behind us. He put on his lights and walked up and asked for our ID. We didn’t realize he was just a security guard so we gave him our IDs. He went back to his car. A Tacoma PD car drove by and pulled into the driveway. The officer came up and asked what was happening. Viet started explaining but he wasn’t doing a good job so Ellen intervened. “Officer, he’s incompetent,” she said, pointing to Viet. She explained that we were all strangers and had been driving for hours and had just been scammed by someone who owed Viet money. The officer was very friendly and said that there had been issues in the past of gated community guards overstepping their authority so he had stopped when he saw the guard talking to us. He gave us our IDs back, told us our road trip “sounded like fun” and wished us good luck. Ellen asked the officer if there was anyone who could take her to Seattle but the officer said no. We were stuck with Viet.

By then, Viet had realized Scott had scammed him but he didn’t seem to understand how stressed Ellen and I were. He kept laughing and saying "at least I can keep his jacket.” This guy was clearly unhinged.

He was also pissed. He didn’t like that Ellen had called him “incompetent.” I asked him if we could just move past it and drive to Seattle in silence but he shushed me and kept yelling at Ellen. He demanded an apology. Ellen apologized and we got back onto the highway. Then he started yelling at Ellen again and Ellen called him incompetent again. He pulled over to the side of the highway and demanded that she get out of his car. He kept trying to tell us how nice he had been to her the entire time. I pointed out that kicking someone out of your car on the side of the highway at 1 AM was not very nice but he shushed me again and told me to stay out of it. Finally, he calmed down. He demanded Ellen give him $20 of the $55 she owed him and we agreed to drive the rest of the way in silence.

We agreed to drop Ellen off first but I didn’t want to be alone in the car with Viet either. Ellen whispered to me that if I got out at her apartment, she would drive me home. She directed Viet to the alley behind her apartment and we got our stuff. She gave Viet another $20 and told him that the other $15 was in her apartment. We walked through the back door and she immediately bolted through the hall and told me she was going to short Viet the final $15. We ran out the front door and into her car. She drove me to my place (which was about two minutes away) and I finally got to sleep at 4 AM. I slept for almost twelve hours.

And that’s the story of how I caught a ride with a psychopath, a conman, a nervous wreck, and a friendly pitbull. In my two months in Asia, I had a number of frustrating experiences but this was by far the worst thing that happened to me on my trip. All I wanted was a chill ride from San Francisco to Seattle and I ended up in The Rideshare From Hell.
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We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!


Apr 6, 2013
Wow... sounds like you are learning a lot in your travels.
At least no one stepped over to violence.
Ellen's dog may have had a part int that.
That driver sounded like he was on something? Meth? ::walkingdead::

Glad you made it home safe.

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
haha... damn dude. that sucks. at least you had one semi-cool person (ellen) with you.

for future reference, you can get a bus from portland to seattle for as little as 8-15 bucks on boltbus; if you needed to escape the crazy person earlier...

Kim Chee

I deleted myself
All that SEA travel and no troubles?

Welcome back mofo, welcome back.

Desperado Deluxe

Apr 20, 2010
At least you guys didn't get into an accident I kinda thought that might happen before I started to read. I'm afraid of cars to the point of becoming paranoid delusional. I've been in too many accidents even while hitching. Glad it didn't happen to you.

Kim Chee

I deleted myself
I've had weird propositions, an unexplained 360 and a blow out (which I helped fix).
Gotta anticipate the drama when you get multiple strangers on board.

You seem to have made it out alright though:)


Sometimes traveler is traveling.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2011
Rochester, NY
Yay!!! Welcome back - and in one piece too! That was definitely a ride from hell!


Aug 20, 2014
One thing about ride share and hitching you never know what kind of people your going to run into, but that's just a part of the adventure of traveling.


Rebirthing phoenix
Feb 16, 2015
On the flip side, that's an epic story to tell. I *am* sorry you had such a lousy welcome back, but welcome home! At least you're in one piece, right? Here's to people. ::drinkingbuddy::


May 26, 2013
Melbourne, FL
Well written story man. You find the oddest fucking people on rideshares, even more so then just using your thumb.

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