Riding down Lyndon B. Johnson Fwy. With Uber.

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6:05 am.

Dallas. Dark. Autumn.

Rachel lingers in the subconsciousness. My index finger hunts for the Uber app. “It’s oooober Dad, not uuuuuber.”

What a  fantastical creature I am…of modest intelligence…and despite repeated attempts…I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the correct pronunciation of a four letter word.  My lips are self-driving, top and bottom – they quietly lip sync oooooooober. I think I got it right this time Honey.

The app pops up.

There’s so many choices. Economy VIP. Economy uberX. Premium Select. Premium Black. Extra Seats XL. Extra Seats SUV.

Economy VIP it is. Whatever VIP means.

6 minutes to his arrival. $11.28 plus tip.

Who would of thought 10 years ago you would jump into a stranger’s car and get a lift to the office. No need to pull out cash or credit card.  AMAZING.

Car pulls up. “You…David?

With Uber, you never know who or what pulls up. Insomniacs on night shift. A Dallas Cowboys’ off duty body guard. Mom’s with second jobs. Men, quiet, angry (?), between jobs, who steal glances at the Suit in the back seat. Those workin’ your maximum comfort to secure a larger tip. Is the temperature just right for you Sir? The talkers. The dreamers. All kinds.

Uber has a rating system; driver rates you, you rate the driver. Judging, on both sides, commences immediately.  If you aren’t waiting curbside for the driver, you get whacked.

He pulls up. Sporty compact. uber VIP? I wedge myself into the back seat. Rating is plummeting. Driver fails to pull up the passenger side seat to offer leg room. Amateur miss. My kneecaps press against the back of the seat. VIP.

I sit quietly.  Driver does the same.

A green pine tree air freshener swings wildly from rear view mirror. I inhale.  A smoker. Nicotine is soaked into the seats. Is there a rating below 0?

96.3 FM Country is turned on, and loud. It’s too early for country, anytime of the day. The video screen says it’s Eric Church.

I’ve been steady and learnin’ lonely
Keepin’ this turntable spinnin’

I sit quietly. The car shocks are ineffective, with each pothole, my knees ram into the passenger seat. Delta Airlines in a non-reclining, non-comfort window seat in heavy turbulence. Is that claustrophobia you are feeling? His rating is gone, now we are debating, tip or no tip.

I open the app. The Driver’s rating for 463 rides is 4.93 (out of 5). Impossible!  I note from his profile that his given name and surname is Vietnamese.

And then, I spot a rhythm.

An involuntary pattern followed by rituals.

Ticks. One, two, three.

A cough. Another.

A tug of his shirt collar with his forefinger.

He lifts his hat and ever so slowly runs his fingers through his hair.

The head nods left and then right.

Nose sniffles. Once and then twice. And then a wipe of his face with his forearm.

And then, it’s a full repeat of the sequence, slightly out of sequence…

A cough. Another. Head nod left and right. A tug of the shirt collar.

He hasn’t said a word but for “You…David?” at the start of the ride.

Country continues. Blake Shelton crooning: “You don’t have to be lonely tonight. I don’t want to be right. I don’t want to be strong.”

He’s avoiding conversation. Tourettes?

We stop at last red light before our building. He leans his head back against seat. A heavy lean. A suffering lean.

“It’s the next turn on the left.”

“Thank…you…Sir.” There’s a soft pause between each word.

“It’s half way down the block”

“Thank…you…Sir”

“Thanks for the ride.”

“Thank…you…Sir”

I wedge myself out of sporty compact. The uber alert pops up for Driver rating and tip.

I watch him pull away.

I punch out a 5 star rating, with tip.

No Son, Thank you.


Notes:

Comments

  1. Interesting Read! tc

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You da man, pal…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And you know, we would expect nothing less from you.
    Dittos on Mimi.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well done. If each of us took the time to see past our initial thoughts about others, we would find a deeper story every time. Great example 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  5. freddiegeorgia says:

    Waaaaaay too early for country. Sorry. Lose a half star. Except that’s the Lone Star state. OK give it back. I don’t want to be right. I don’t want to be strong. Lemme outta here!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We never know what is going on.
    Many of the men from refugee families I worked with are Uber or Lyft drivers now. One is a doctor. One is a well known professor from the university of Baghdad.

    Great way to start the day. Humbled and feet on the ground, by your post. This post especially humbles me because I made a living for years off of speaking a language. Nothing I learned, just happen to know the language. And language limitations strike me hard.
    And you know what, I’ll throw in one more thing for you…
    I almost resorted to being an Uber driver. Then fear for my safety kicked in. Yes, you never know!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nan Morrissette says:

    Your powers of observation and your interest in humans allow kindness to save the day. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Everyone has a story. Every one. Good on you to notice.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really really like this post. Its all about expectations. Funny how beautiful people get when we take away our own expectations.
    And perspective. You know what they call the Vietnam War in Vietnam?
    That’s right.
    The American War.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Once again your observational gifts show us what humanity is. We are often too “busy” to pay attention to the small details, aren’t we? Wonderful read and reality check this morning, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I live in DFW area! You’re brave, no Uber for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have never traveled this way. And those I know eschew Uber for many reasons. Lyft is an alternative (and easier to pronounce, no doubt 😉 ).

    I love your writing, David – love how you relate your life events. I wondered if this guy was coked out, but I do think you are correct w/the Tourettes. And it was good of you to support him. And so we go. On we go. Into another place, another time, another series of random experiences. Aloha.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. and with all this, he is working hard and trying to make the best of it. you, david? yes, you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We just never know, do we?. You were so kind/understanding/loving toward this stranger. I loved this.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Would you ever ask to have the passenger seat scooted up or the radio turned off? Is that verboten in Uberland? An immediate dive in Passenger Rating?
    I can’t imagine NOT doing that. I’ve gotten so used to making sure the space I’m in is as stress-free as possible, it just happens before irritation can take hold.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Another magic carpet ride with DK. Wonderful, pal, on all fronts….

    Liked by 1 person

  18. So great. Happy to be reading you again. I’ve been away too long. Loved this.

    Liked by 1 person

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