With nearly 4,000 rides under his belt, over the past four years, one rideshare driver's obsession with documenting stories has brought out a unique style of breaking the ice.
Meeting Deane Hartzell may seem innocuous enough, but in just a few moments time, he's likely to hand you an elaborate and well organized spreadsheet that contains a summary of sorts of Hartzel's entire driving career.
"I started first of all just wanting to capture states and countries of where people are coming from," said Hartzell. The 68-year-old shows no hesitation to talk about himself, or his fairly recent fascination with driving in Middle Tennessee and the people he transports from place to place.
Hartzell started driving in August of 2014. It wasn't long before he realized the stories he collected and the places where people were from were worth documenting.
"[They're] different things. Hospital trips, what people do, longest or shortest rides, interesting names of passengers," Hartzell said. The laminated spreadsheet contains the number of times he's picked up passengers from every state, their different countries of origin, interesting items left in cars or even the number of pets who have ridden Uber or Lyft. Hartzell drives for both. But perhaps what's most captivating are the stories he's heard over the years.
"This couple I picked up, dropped them off. I picked them up six months later, and they remembered me," Hartzell said. "They got so excited, she said, the night you dropped us off we got engaged and now we've been married for six months."
Not all of his experiences have been pleasant, though. Hartzell has come upon two fatal accidents during his time as a driver. He's had his fair share of people throw up during their rides or heard the sad stories of some riders. He doesn't go into too much detail for each story, but he finds the people he meets every day fascinating.
Hartzell said he doesn't know when he'll stop driving, but he's considering writing a book.