Riding Uptown. Man on Venus. Man on Mars.

“How long to Grand Central?”

“20 minutes, maybe 30, it’s Rush Hour.”

Uber driver. Black Toyota Camry. Leather seats worn. Dashboard tanned with thousands of hours of direct sunlight.

“Your English is good. Where are you from?”

He glances at me in the rear view mirror. Reticent.

“Ethiopia, Sir.”

“How long have you been here?”

“9 years.”

“And your family? Are they here or back in Ethiopia?”

“Oh, they’re all back in Ethiopia. I’m here with my wife.”

“Do you miss home?”

Long pause.

“People think it’s easy. Here in America.” He pulls up. Polite, respectful.

I shift the conversation. We’re a few minutes out.

“You have a 4.94 (out of 5) driver rating. Wow. That’s something. How do you do it?”

“I don’t know Sir.” He smiles.

“I’m curious. Out of 10 rides, how many riders tip?”

“One or two.”

“No, can’t be. I’m sorry. Maybe my question wasn’t clear. Of your last 10 rides today, how many times were you tipped?

“One time, Sir.” Just can’t be. 

I glance at the app, the fare is $8.52.  And there it is again. Marc Cohn’s hit “Saving the Best for LastGot into a cab in New York City…Was an Oriental man behind the wheel…Starting talking about heaven like it was real….Don’t have to drive no lousy cab…Got everything you want and more man…And the King picks up the tab…Don’t ask me how I know…‘Cause it must be…Saving the best for last for me

“What hours do you work?”

“Only Rush Hours Sir, the rate is higher.”

“You drive in this traffic, every day?”

“Yes Sir.”

Traffic is thick and grazing inches from the fenders of both sides of the Camry. Cabs and cars zig zag in a chaos dance trying to advance position.

Two Men, breathing same air, walking on same earth, living on different planets.

“Which Grand Central entrance would you like to be dropped off at?”

“Anywhere within 2 blocks is fine.”

“2 blocks?”

“Yes. I can walk. I see traffic is bad.”

We arrive. I thank him for the ride. I step out of cab. And tap his window.

He lowers his window, anxious look on his face.

“Two.”

“Two, Sir?”

“Yes, two.” I point to my phone.

He smiles, and pulls away into traffic.

And when I finally take this journey
I’m gonna wave goodbye to Earth 
Gonna throw this meter in the ocean 
And prove what I was worth 
And I don’t care who tries to flag me down 
They’re gonna have to find another ride uptown
And I know 
They’re saving the best for last”


Notes:

Comments

  1. You’re killing me!!!
    I have been meaning to ask for his permission to write about it. See, there is this person who’s dear to my heart, I correct myself, he lives in my heart, who decided to become an Uber driver few weeks ago. He’s 60 years old. After 40 years in corporate jobs. But he has to do what he has to do.
    I have this locating app on my phone and am constantly watching over him. I don’t want him stuck in one place for too long, it worries me.

    I don’t want anyone to be mean, or shallow, or disrespectful to him. Two nights ago he said, “Sawsan, this is the happiest I have ever been.”

    I always want people to be tender and respectful to workers providing a service. But, this worker is my heart 😢❤

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Any other ending would surprise me. The world needs more DKs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this ending is no surprise to me at all. you are the real deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m just back home from my long trip and this is the first post I read – great writing to be back to, DK! And yes, I’ve had similar reflections on my travels. Many different planets.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Small kind gestures create ripples across our world and allow kindness and peace to grow. I feel the ripple effect Mr K 🚣🏼🌞

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It can be such a dangerous job.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazing… I love your writing in about daily life… Not easy job especially in big cities,

    Thank you dear David, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Really nice reality piece and the music blend was perfectly placed.
    Only thing I didn’t get was the two at the end, can you enlighten me?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So true for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. On the level on which we’re all connected, thank you for being you, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “People think its easy. Here in America”
    I have a couple friends that have tried to work Uber/Lyft/GoEats. Its like the last gasp before total destruction, the way throwing the paper was for me in my addiction 21 years ago.
    But its funny how throughout history it’s the immigrants that somehow make these otherwise dead end jobs work.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You’re standing in for us all, pal. Loved this story and the connection, however brief, that you enjoyed with this man. I am appalled to hear that so few people tip…not surprised, sadly, but appalled. It never ever hurts to be generous and kind, that’s my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great writing and insight … with confidence and grace. No need to doubt or second guess. Do what right in your heart. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Back in the day, when I first discovered you, David, I read some of your Commuter stories. I didn’t quite get the subject “commuter and just writing about that at first.
    Just now I looked up your whole Commuter series.
    YOU ARE A MANIAC Writer just bursts out. What I really mean though is wow! Since like 2013, commuter stories keep flowing as you live and write. And there they all are.
    Damn.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. “Two Men, breathing same air, walking on same earth, living on different planets.” What you don’t know my friend…is that when things are especially difficult for me at home, I sometimes will look for your writing, just your writing…and then I am renewed for a bit. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you for tipping. With all the questions we put a driver through, he deserves it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

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