Rideshare Hack: BPF (Best Phlegm’s Forever)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had a plexiglass partition installed in my vehicle. It seemed like a good idea during a global virus outbreak. Not only does the plexiglass offer a sense of security and safety but it also helps to make the client (rider) feel somewhat protected.

Some may argue this is a false sense of security and protection, but that’s another story for another day.

The partition also provides an easy platform to advertise my “Book, Blog & Band” life. The posted content offers a very nice icebreaker for two-way conversations. Many people are interested and want to know more about my literary and musical adventures.

On a practical level, the shield has saved me on several occasions from suffering the indignity of people hurling body fluid and chunks of mucous into the front seat.

Or worse, onto the side of my face.

And so, I will share a few before the plexiglass and after the plexiglass stories which, in retrospect, I see some humorous elements.

At the time of the incidents, I’m not sure if I can honestly say I was all smiles.

Now, let’s talk about the term hack or hackers.

Many readers may rightfully associate the terms with the taxi or cab industry. The origins of the term originated from a breed of horse known as a hackney horse. These horses were offered for transport hire in the 19th century.

Technically, rideshare transport could be considered a hack, although I rarely hear this term used.

Therefore, the following stories might be considered as hack meets hack stories.

So, clear your throats, blow your noses, and let’s get rolling!

When Bob Reilly is not driving, he is playing local gigs. (Photo by Ruth Walls)

“It’s Okay. My Mucous is Clear”

Before installing the protective partition in my car, I had already experienced hacking and coughing situations which made me feel a bit concerned. As more and more global focus on Covid-19 consumed the media, I found myself becoming periodically less risk-averse.

At the time, the rideshare industry was beginning to catch up with the increased call for people to “mask up.” This mandate was applied to both driver and rider.

Even so, many people refused to mask up.

Drivers were reported and deplatformed. Also, drivers were prompted by the rideshare app after each ride to report riders who did not wear masks.

I went on a campaign to have friends and family donate masks so I could offer all my riders masks as they were so difficult to find.

One afternoon I was driving a person from their home to a medical facility.

The individual entered my vehicle without a mask and refused to wear one.

I greeted the person, “Good day. Looks like we’re heading to the hospital, right?”

In a response punctuated by coughs and snorts, the person responded, “Can’t you tell genius?”

Well, I sensed this ride was going to be fun.

“Okay, let’s get you there as quick as I can. Hey, I have brand new sealed masks. Here you go. Free of charge.” I reached my hand out toward the back seat with two masks in plastic wrapping.

“Get that crap away from me. I don’t need them,” was the gurgling reaction to my offer.

The person was not feeling well and was quite upset at my suggestion to wear a mask.

I said, “No problem. Your choice.” I retracted my offer.

Suddenly, what sounded like a precursor to a historic volcanic eruption in the backseat, a series of load hacks followed by spit and by-products flew toward the front seat.

“Hey, you, okay? Should I pull over?”


I asked again, “You, okay?”

In a low raspy voice, I heard, “Yeah. You got any tissues?”

I dug into my armrest compartment and grabbed a bunch of napkins. I handed them to the rider.

“Thanks. You better have some for your mirror.”

At that point, I looked up at my rearview mirror.

Slowly dripping off the left edge of the mirror was a large, slimy load of mucous. I also detected several other splotches of bubbly excretions that flew like rapid-fire projectiles just minutes earlier.

I grabbed some more napkins and began wiping down the front interior as best as I could before we arrived at the emergency room entrance.

I pulled up, and as the person got out, the final words of consolation were, “It’s okay. My mucous is clear.”

Shortly thereafter, I installed the plexiglass.

Plexiglass in Bob Reilly’s car. (Photo by Bob Reilly)

“Say it, Don’t Spray it!”

On a more recent ride, I responded to an early morning pick-up. I observed the rider walking toward my car and coughing. Once inside, I extended a “Good Morning. Welcome to Tuesday,” greeting.

The person responded with an “Uh, huh, thanks,” followed by an extended coughing spell.

This coughing and sneezing episode went on for several minutes.

I rolled down my driver’s side window a few inches to let some fresh, albeit cold, air into the car.

“Doing all right?” I asked.

“Yeah,” and another series of coughs.

I looked into my rearview mirror and noticed the rider wasn’t covering their mouth when they were liberally spraying suspicious droplets into the backseat space.

At a traffic light, I put on a mask and asked if the rider also wanted to wear one. The rider declined, but I was hoping to send a clear message that the open-season shotgun spray was concerning to me.

The person then began to cough into his sleeve.

Fortunately, the ride only lasted less than five minutes. I got outside the car and opened all the doors to air out the vehicle.

When I looked at the plexiglass shield, it was wet and covered with the remnants of my rider’s special gift.


Oh well, just another Rideshare hack job.

I turned off my rideshare app, headed home, disassembled the partition, and proceeded to sanitize it. Once it was thoroughly scrubbed and reinstalled, I was ready to again hit the road in search of new stories.



My “Rideshare by Robert” blog continues with new stories based on my published book, “Rideshare by Robert: Every Ride’s a Short Story.” The book, and the blog, are short stories about actual rides, observations, revelations, and reflections on the rideshare experience. I hope you will find the writings informational with humor and compassion for the human family.

So, climb in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

Welcome to “Rideshare by Robert.”

A place where anything can happen and usually does.


I have tried to provide anonymity to all individuals portrayed in my writings while maintaining the integrity of the story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. And, in some cases, the not-so-innocent. I have substituted the characteristics of individuals in my writings to further my attempt to maintain anonymity. Conversations and other details are based on my best recollection and notes. Although I have spent time driving with many celebrities and public figures over the years, I have intentionally omitted their names, and their rides, in my writings. Actual locales, along with other details such as when and where the rides occurred, have been modified to maintain my objective of rider privacy and anonymity.