Mike Rowe’s “A Pretty Good Lyft”

A Pretty Good Lyft

Last week in Baltimore, Uber charged me $85 for a trip that usually costs $20. I looked into the way their “surge pricing” model actually works, and didn’t like what I learned. So today, after checking out of my hotel in Oklahoma, I called Lyft instead, and was picked up by a guy named Mike. He was driving a red F-150. It was clearly a work truck, full of tools and lumber. I sat up front.

“How far to the airport,” I asked.

“Fifteen minutes,” he said. “You in a hurry?”

“Not really,” I said. “Are you?”

“Never.”

As we merged onto the highway and settled into the slow lane, I asked Mike if he was a carpenter in real life.

“Among other things,” he said.

“Jack of all trades?”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” he said. Back in the seventies I was a plumber’s helper. Then I worked for a spell in the heating and air condition game.”

“How was that?,” I asked.

“Hot and cold,” he said.

I honestly couldn’t tell if he was making a joke or not. His voice had a classic midwestern drawl, and there was no expression on his face as he stared out the windshield.

“After that I started carpentry. Trim, then framing. Then I moved on to building custom cabinets in rich people’s houses. Figured out how to build spiral staircases and furniture. Did pretty good.”

“You retired now?

“No. I build campers these days.”

“What kind of campers?” I asked.

“I build them small ones you can tow pretty much anywhere. They call ‘em teardrop trailers. Got real popular during the lockdowns. I build ‘em by hand, one at a time.”

“Yeah? How’s the quality,” I asked.

“Pretty good,” he said.

“Got a website,” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “Gotta have a website these days.”

“What’s your website called,” I asked.

“Mike’s Pretty Good Campers.”

I still couldn’t tell if he was messing with me.

“Your company is called ‘Mike’s Pretty Good Campers?’”

“I like to manage expectations,” said Mike.

“Under promise and over deliver?”

“That’s the idea,” said Mike.

“Is that what you were doing before you picked me up just now? Building a pretty good camper?”

“Yup. But I was starting to get frustrated. And I don’t like to work when I’m frustrated. So, every now and then I gotta step away.”

“And drive a stranger to the airport?” I said.

“Never too frustrated to drive,” said Mike. “Driving relaxes me. Besides, we ain’t strangers no more, are we?”

“No,” I said. “I suppose we’re not.”

As we turned on Airport Road, I said, “So what’s the plan? Drop me off and wait for another call? Or head back to the shop and finish building that pretty good camper?”

“Ain’t decided yet. Guess I’ll see how I feel in a few minutes.”

“Good plan,” I said. “By the way, if I like your website, do you care if I share it on Facebook?”

“Why would you want to do that?” he asked.

“I’ve got a few people who follow me on social media,” I said. “I’m not sure why they do, but they do. Maybe some of them are in the market for a pretty good camper, custom made by a quasi-retired carpenter who drives for Lyft when he’s feeling frustrated?”

“Can’t hurt,” said Mike. “Once people see these things, they fall in love with ‘em. They got whole conventions all over the country for teardrop trailer owners. Thousands show up. You wouldn’t believe how people decorate ‘em and such.”

“I don’t know about that, Mike. I’ll believe pretty much anything these days.”

As we pulled up to the airport, Mike asked me what carrier I was on.

“American,” I said. “Right here is fine.”

“Pre-check?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Well then, you don’t want to get out at American. Let me take you all the way to the end, otherwise you got a walk across the whole dang the terminal.”

We pulled up to the curb at the very end of Will Rogers Airport. I hopped out, as Mike dragged my bags out of the bed of his work truck.

“You look familiar,” he said. “Have I driven you before?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I would have remembered. Thanks for the lift.”

“No problem,” he said. “Was the ride okay?”

“It was a pretty good lift,” I said.

Somewhere behind his mustache, Mike might have smiled, as I walked into the only airport in America named for a cowboy who never met a man he didn’t like. There, I boarded my plane and checked to see if there really was website called “Mike’s Pretty Good Campers.”

Son of a gun…

7 comments

  1. Love Mike Rowe, What a Great story and Mike’s Pretty Good Campers.

  2. Wish I could camp in one of those, but these days, I need that toilet in my camper. I love Mike Rowe.

  3. Ain’t life just wonderful at times! Happy holidays to all! Bogie

  4. After that story, I’m afraid “Mikes Pretty Good Campers” will get more attention than he ever imagined. Thanks for sharing!

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