Three for the Road
It is the opposite of everything I learned as a child. You never get into a car with strangers. But thanks to Uber, I not only get into a stranger’s car, I pay them for it. Sometimes a ride is just a ride. But once in a while, it is memorable.
It was a beautiful day in Tarzana. I was leaving a used DVD store and my driver was a skinny rock and roller with tats. We’ll call him “Bob”. As we turn the corner past a park , Bob became very animated.
“I haven’t been in this neighborhood in ten years,” he said. “I use to buy drugs in this park.”
We road in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes.
“This is really bad,” he said. “I’m freaking out.”
I spent the next few minutes talking to him, trying to keep him calm.
“I’m calling my sponsor,” he said. Before I could say anything he had him on speaker.
I quickly jumped in and explained I was a passenger and probably shouldn’t be “in the room.” The sponsor agreed and the three of us rode quietly for a few minutes.
When I pulled over I started to give him a cash tip. I like to tip in cash instead of going through the company.
“Don’t,” he said. “I don’t know what I’ll do with it.”
It was late at night and my driver spoke little English. So the ride was a quiet one. The driver, let’s call him “Bob,” was listening to a Christian Pop station on the radio and quietly humming along.
We got to a “right turn only on green” corner and when it was time to turn, Bob was deep into a song about love and peace. The guy behind us wasn’t and laid into his horn.
Suddenly Bob exploded and began flipping the driver the finger and violently cursing at the driver in perfect English. When he was done, he returned to quietly singing along with the radio.
The Lord works in mysterious ways.
I was returning home from work after dark and a woman pulled up and opened the
trunk for me. She was beautiful, all made up. Heels, little black dress, the works. Let’s call her “Bob.” We rode for a few minutes making small talk.
Finally, I had to ask.
“Do you dress this way all the time when you drive?”
“No,” said Bob. “I was on a blind date and it was horrible. So I figured I’ll salvage the evening and pick up a couple fares home.”
My neighbor was walking his dog when I arrived. As Bob drove a way, he looked at me and said...
“My Uber drivers never look like that.”
Three rides. Three different stories. I’m always up for a good story and remember, Bob, I’m a good tipper.
Dan Farren is a writer living in California.