Notes From Behind the Wheel: Lynchburg’s NightLife Through the Eyes of a Rideshare Driver
It’s Friday night and I’m ready to head out for the evening. I’m off to meet new people, visit the local hot spots, and likely not leave the driver’s seat of my car for six hours. I’m not partying—I’m working.
I drive for a ridesharing service, taking people where they want to be. I experience Lynchburg’s nightlife, but one step removed, through the windows of my car. Most riders are friendly and want to talk, and I feel like I’m included in their conversations, at least for a few minutes.
The thing about ridesharing is; at the beginning I don’t know where the end will be. I know where the rider is when they request a pickup, but I only find out the destination when they climb aboard. The mystery keeps things interesting.
Any ride could be a three-minute hop over to Wal-Mart or a half hour trek to a residential neighborhood out in Appomattox. For some reason, those long drives always seem to come after I’ve decided “one more fare, then I’m going home.”
Tonight you will be included in my night’s roving to find out how much is happening in Lynchburg. I know I won’t see everything that’s going on, but it should be an exciting ride. Tipping is not required, but always appreciated.
At 8:25 p.m. I cruise past Cook Out on Wards Road. The parking lot is full, and the drive-through line stretches back to Wards. I want to stop for a burger and shake, but the wait is too long.
It’s nearly 9 p.m. and I’m on my way out to Wyndhurst to take a couple to Neighbors Place. This restaurant/bar is popular with college students, couples and families. On my way through, I see there are some more eateries open along Enterprise Drive. I’m sure I’ll be back around to them before long.
Just before 9:30 p.m. I’m cruising along Route 29 heading towards the Kemper Street station. I glance over as I pass Big Lick Tropical Grill and Phase 2. Fantastic—both parking lots are full. Must be an event or concert going on tonight. I’ll be sure to swing back around closer to midnight. New Year’s Eve and Halloween were big nights for me.
Heading in the opposite direction with two riders aboard, my destination is Buffalo Wild Wings, off Wards Road. “B-Dubs” is one of those places that always has a crowd. Whether it’s football, basketball or soccer, the big screens draw a lot of sports fans. Or it might be the wings.
At 9:43 p.m. I pass Cook Out again, and it looks like the line hasn’t gotten any shorter.
It’s 10 p.m. and I’ve just picked up a couple from El Jefe on Commerce Street. We chat about the town; the husband has lived here all his life. He tells me that Lynchburg is the largest city in the U.S. that does not have an interstate highway. Now I share that factoid with all of my out-of-town riders.
Rolling along Fort Avenue, I pass by City Stadium. The Hillcats are playing tonight! There’s a good crowd, and sure enough I get
a ride request. Four large fellows squeeze into my car. I get to hear about the game, and how the ’Cats are doing this year. Oh, and there’s going to be a music festival held at the stadium in a few weeks. Got to remember that, so I can be around when it closes. I pay much more attention to local events since I started driving.
Later, at 10:20 p.m. I’m finally taking a rider to Cook Out. We sit in the drive-through line for 20 minutes and I take him back home again, where I help him unload the four orders he picked up for his friends. Then it occurs to me that I should have ordered something for myself at the same time. Sigh. On at least two other occasions I have provided a rider with a round trip to a fast-food place for takeout.
It’s past 10:50 p.m. Shoemakers at the Craddock Terry Hotel is the next stop. I’ve only eaten there once myself, but it was a great dining experience. I’ve picked up several passengers from the restaurant, mostly taking them back to local hotels. It seems that’s the place for vendors and sales types to take clients out to dinner. Great place, all except for the cobblestone parking lot. I am not a fan of cobblestones. When I go by, I always scan the parking lot, though. I’m looking for that Lamborghini I saw once.
Now it’s after 11 p.m. and I’m pulling into the Holiday Inn on Main Street. There’s a group here in town for a wedding. It reminds me of a fellow I picked up a while ago and took to the Aviary at Miller Park. He was going there to play guitar at a wedding reception for a friend. Two couples I know held their receptions at the Aviary too—it is a splendid location.
At 11:19 p.m. I’m waiting to pull out onto Timberlake Road. I almost get my front end torn off by a car that burned through the red light. I see a lot of that.
Just on the other side of midnight, people are beginning to look homeward. I’m pulling up beside Kegney Brothers Irish Pub on Main Street. Turns out my fare is a group of Lynchburg College girls. On the way back to campus, they talk about the karaoke that evening; the good, the bad, and the badly off-key.
Returning downtown, I know just where to go—Jefferson Street. Not only is there Riverfront Park, where they held Lynchstock, but there’s also the Glass House event space. If there’s a party going on there tonight, I’ll be sure to have lots of business. Across the street is The Water Dog, another very popular spot. I don’t know what it is, but whenever I have a lull in activity, I drive down to Jefferson and park by The Water Dog. I get a ride request within 10 minutes. Sometimes I barely have enough time to stretch my legs.
Jefferson Street is bracketed with nightspots. Near Ninth Street is the Emerald Stone Grille, which I only realized was there a few weeks ago. At the Washington Street end up on a hill is Bootleggers. I wonder why most folks have me drop them off at the back entrance, an alley off Commerce Street. Could it be all those stairs?
It is almost 1:30 a.m., and I finally get a call to pick up someone from Rivermont Pizza, next to Randolph College. It’s not a weekend without stopping here. I can hear the music coming from inside and as always there’s a crowd of folks just relaxing on the sidewalk outside.
2 a.m. has come and gone, and most places are closed. It’s late, or early, depending on your view of it, but it’s time for me to head home. Sorry if I didn’t get around to pick you up,
but I’m sure I’ll be out again next weekend.
See you then!