It's St. Valentine's Day, which means couples eating heart-shaped pizzas at home and lonely people hooking up like sweaty electromagnets. For the former there's Tums, for the latter at The University of Michigan there's Senior Kellyann Wargo, who just launched a Walk of Shame Shuttle to ferry the lovesick and hungover home on February 15th.
UPDATE! Now there's a commercial for the service.
Just five bucks gets you a ride, a bottle of water, a $5-off coupon for the "morning after" pill and a complimentary high-five. Jalopnik spoke with Wargo on this most romantic of days to get the details on her completely brilliant business plan.
Wargo's a self-described ambitious ginger who enjoys the occasional beverage and has strong opinions about dating/partying, if her Tumblr account is any indication. So, basically she's a college student in Ann Arbor.
She's become a bit of a local celebrity with her Walk Of Shame Shuttle, which she advertises on her company's flier as "Faster than a taxi because I speed (and I don't judge)."
It's such a good idea that taxi companies in the area see it as a possible threat.
"If friends are willing to pick up other friends by having a shuttle ride — that will take away from our business, of course," a local taxi operator told The Michigan Daily.
Here's what Wargo had to say to explain her business idea, her love of McDonalds, and why she's not at huge risk of the dreaded W-O-S herself.
Tell us a little about yourself
WARGO: Michigan native, attending the University of Michigan. Senior in the school of Art and Design with a focus in print and information design and a minor in art history. I wanted to be a creative writing or english major, which would do leaps and bounds for my poor grammar, but my mom said ( and she hates that I tell everyone this) I don't need a degree to know how to write. I have taken a few creative writing classes and write often.
How'd You Get This Idea?
WARGO:I was picking up my roommate from a guys house, for the upteenth time, and we did our usual ritual of going to McDonalds for breakfast to discuss a typical night of poor decision making. We were sitting in the booth drinking Poweraid and I was complaining, per usual, about having to pick her up all the time.
She offered to start paying me and that was the ah-ha moment, how I could pick other girls up too and charge them for like gas money, then just put it toward bar tabs. I am one of the few girls in my friendship circles with a car so people are always asking me to pick them up or drive them somewhere.
At the same time my mom said I was spending too much money during ten pm and two am (she checks my credit card billing statements to monitor my Fast Food intake) and I needed to find a new source of income besides my parents.
Any challenges trying to start up this business?
WARGO: WELL it's been an uphill battle (one cliche must be used in every interview I do). Student Legal Services doesn't "do" this kind of legal trials and tribulations, but for $30 I can have a thirty minute consultation with an attorney. I am in the process of copy writing it, I bought the web domain, established a twitter, will be going to the secretary of state this week for the proper license, looking into insurance dilemmas, and consulting with a professor mentor type who helps small student businesses. Luckily my parents are helping a ton because with seventeen credits and senoritis I have been diagnosed with since Freshman year, I am pretty tied up.
Why is this service better than a walk of shame?
WARGO: If you're in a heated comfortable car blasting (assuming your hangover allows for music) Adele you can focus on piecing together your night, instead of pulling up your dragging men's pajamas and avoiding eye-contact with the many cars honking ruthlessly at you. If you're on a walk of shame it means the guy (or girl) didn't have enough decency to walk or drive you home him or herself, so chances are you're already regretting whatever events the night held. If I pick you up that saves you the embarrassment of a one person public parade of regret, no one deserves that.
How is this better than just taking a cab?
WARGO: I am a peer. I think there is an inevitable level of discomfort with taxi drivers due to age and generation gaps who, regardless of years in the business, don't understand certain aspects college culture without judgement. Plus a silver Saturn Vue is far less conspicuous than a yellow taxi, and I'll let you pick the radio station — but only if you like country or classic rock.
How are you addressing the possible safety issues?
WARGO: Seat belts for starters. Until I get more comfortable myself with the process I am only picking up friends or friend's guests from the previous night. Eventually I will move into a referral process where a person has to be a mutual friend. Luckily walks of shame only have their phones, wallets if they haven't lost them, and whatever remaining self-respect they have managed to preserve — not real weapons there. Ann Arbor isn't exactly a scene from Criminal Minds, either.
How do you avoid needing your own service?
WARGO: What do I personally have to do? I mean, I am sitting here in a tie-dye sweatshirt answering business e-mails, pissed off I had to pause The Bachelor on my computer to go to class. It's not that I am avoiding a walk of shame, I would gladly do a marathon of shame, those instances just manage to escape me.
If you've seen any of the videos on my blog you'll notice I have an Edward Cullen cutout on the wall by my bed, not exactly a dude magnet either.
Wargo is pressing forward on making her pastime an official business. You can track her progress (and the drunk musings of co-eds) on the company's official Twitter account.