I’m sharing here one of the chapters from my book, Uber Chronicles: Reflections from the Rearview Mirror.
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It’s after 10 p.m. I’m coming back from a very pleasant and enjoyable first date at a nearby tavern-like, suburban hipster joint. The kind of place that leans toward seasonal, locally sourced food and a nice selection of craft beers. All is well. I feel content. I turn on the Uber app and drive toward home, open to a ride if one pops up in the next 12 minutes or so.
I’m in the house, reading; I’d almost forgotten I’d left the Uber app on. Beep! The rider is fairly close by, eight minutes away, in my hood, my home zone. I’m out the door.
But, Officer …
I drive into an apartment complex of high-rise buildings and garden townhomes, a maze of twists and turns and poorly lit buildings where I can’t see the building numbers with any ease.
I text my passenger, Are you outside? Coming down now, meet me at the front of the high-rise, he responds. I find myself feeling annoyed. Dude, you called Uber. Uber told you how far away the driver was. I’ve been in your parking lot for three minutes, simply trying to find your building. You should be downstairs already.
Then I remind myself that the moon is full and emotions are amplified when it’s in its state of fullness, so I calm down. Two people approach the car. Both tall and skinny. She’s white, has white-blond hair and is rail thin. He’s Black, wiry in frame. They both look to be in their mid-20s. Where to?
Target. They both work at Target. He in logistics, having come from Walmart only in the last three months; she is in the stocking department and has been there three years.
About 40-50 people work overnight at the store, they tell me. I mention how a friend of mine worked in logistics at Target on the night shift but chose to give it up when his twins were about two years old. Too crazy of a schedule, he said.
Yeah, the guy says. It’s tough to connect up with people when you work on the night schedule. The girl says she likes it because she can’t sleep at night anyway, but she can sleep during the day.
I ask her if she likes to eat at night, if that’s her preference. It is. I tell them a bit about Human Design Systems and the Primary Health Systems (PHS) approach to digestion. That some people, per PHS, are night eaters, some day eaters, some one-eaters and so on for about a dozen primary types of eaters.
I’m a one-eater, people who do best eating one food at a time, and, no, I’ve not been tremendously successful in eating this way, though I have noticed my lifelong propensity to eat this way when no one else is around. I tell them that PHS speaks to how you best digest food, rather than focusing on the food you eat. It’s a theory, one of many, about food and health.
She says she thought she ate late at night because she was bipolar. I tell her I don’t know. I’m simply offering someone else’s theory.
He tells me he prefers the culture at Target. That Target is more team-oriented and people-oriented. That Walmart was all about the bottom line. That people at Walmart were more into power trips. He qualifies that statement: Well, at least at the store he just left, he says. We talk about these two stores—Target and Walmart—so close in proximity (not even a mile apart in our city), so similar in offerings, yet so different in their cultures of staff, customers and vibe.
I turn a corner. Almost there. Police car lights flash behind me. I genuinely have no idea of what I’ve done to warrant this. Ma’am, can I see your license? Yes, of course.
What did I do? I have no idea what I did wrong, I say as politely as I can. You didn’t use your turn signal, he tells me. I tell him that, indeed, I did use my turn signal to turn into the turn lane but that I’m an Uber driver for these passengers and the sound of the clicking turn signal while we waited at the stop light was jutting into our conversation; that it seemed loud and intrusive, so I turned it off.
He tells me that I still need to use my turn signal and that he is going to give me a warning, but then he hears me ask my passengers how much time they have before they need to get to work.
Where are you taking them? To Target, they work the night shift. He waves his hand. Well, go along. I thank him for the reminder to always use my turn signal. He leaves. We drive off.
I do that thing, that movement when one pulls one’s uplifted fist downward toward one’s body in a sign of triumph. Gotta try that one again, I say with gusto to my passengers. That was a good one! They laugh and we all feel lighter that this was a minor incident and they weren’t delayed.
I drop them off and head home, ready to receive another ride if one comes forth in the next 10 minutes. It doesn’t. I’m in my home. Settling in but not settled. Beep! goes my phone. The ride is close. I accept the ride, look at my phone and see that it’s 10:42 p.m. Oh, let them have but a short ride to their destination, I plead to the heavens.
Hand on the doorknob to leave the house, I see that the rider has canceled the ride. No cost to them, no profit for me, no worries.
Key experience: All is well.