I did some driving today but it was pretty slow and there was nothing of note so instead I’m telling a story from my earlier months. This past summer, I pulled over and a police car flashed his lights behind me. The sequence of events I just described probably sounds out-of-order upon analysis but that is exactly what happened. The story begins when I arrived at the pick-up location in Indian Trail at about 2 am only to find no person or building in the location the app told me to be at. I called the rider and they told me they had started walking in the direction of their destination and wanted me to meet them halfway. Given that there was hardly anyone on the road at the time, I thought I’d give it a shot. What followed was me driving for about a mile trying to find someone walking in complete and utter darkness on a rural back-road. In desperation, I pulled over onto the side of the road in order to call the rider again only to have a police cruiser light up my rear-view. The officer came up to the window questioning if I’d been drinking because all he had seen was a car gently weaving before finally turning completely off the road. I explained the situation, but he Breathalyzed me just to be sure. After he let me go back to my car, I called the rider again, got no response, and dropped the trip like dubstep drops bass. Needless to say, while I’ve yet to enforce yet, I’ve since enacted a no-chasedown policy.
Guess where I spent way too much of my day today? If you guessed the road between Wilkinson Boulevard and the airport terminal, you’re right! A drive that usually takes me 2 minutes took 15x as long due to everyone leaving and arriving on the same day. The people I took on my second run opted to walk the remaining quarter mile rather than wait in line. That nonsense aside, it’s time for a bit of education. I drove on a residential road that had the street abbreviation “trl.” which I did not recognize. The person I picked up off of it didn’t know either. Turns out it means trail. The more you know.
Yesterday I made gangbusters driving around North Charlotte and Huntersville. The people and destinations weren’t of particular note but I witnessed some pretty neat things driving around. The standout was a Corvette I saw while waiting for a rider that looked like a Hot Wheels car come to life. The color of this testament to man’s glory was like if the T-1000 was blue; words fail me in describing its majesty and I am not one to geek out about cars. I saw grass seed being sprayed onto the side of an overpass with the velocity of a fire hose which is not how I thought that was done, not that I gave it much thought in the first place. Finally, while driving on Lawyers Rd., I noticed (and used) elliptical slabs of asphalt on the side of the road designed for the sole purpose of getting around people waiting to take a left. I could name five places that need this feature ASAP. Mecklenburg Public Works, get on that shit. Before I finish this entry, it’s food blog time. Given that it was such a profitable day, I decided to treat myself and went to Big Ben Pub in South End for dinner. The decor was good, the food and drinks were good, but the service was found wanting. Still, I may return on occasion the next time I crave some Shepard’s pie.
Today was remarkably profitable for a Monday. I think I benefited a lot from not hovering around the city and going to the northern part of the county instead to the tune of two trips combined totaling over $30. I had a friendly, though heavily strained, conversation with a rider whose first language was clearly not English. He was a good guy and I wish him well. I also had to pull a bold stunt during rush hour because the app put the rider’s location on the wrong side of the street and she was struggling to find an opening to cross. Fortune favors the bold and she certainly wasn’t complaining.
I hate being right sometimes. I predicted drunken idiocy and I got some of the best examples of that I’ve seen in my entire Uber career. The leader, or at least the loudest one, of a group of 3 guys I took from the Epicenter to Belmont wanted me to roll down my window so he could tell the cop ordering us to move along what he really thought of him and them proceeded to blast rap music for the whole trip. At least he tipped. 2 hours later, I picked up a group of 3 women, two of whom had to effectively carry the third. Thank God for loading docks so I could pull over in the city and let the third puke her guts out on the road instead of in my car.
Now to accurately describe my feelings for my last trip of the night, I’m going to tell a story from Chinese folklore. Back in the time when these stories take place, there was a powerful trickster god named Monkey who was being an intolerable jackass in the court of Heaven. The Ruler of Heaven, after trying and failing to use force to remove him, called upon Buddha for assistance. Buddha, being known for his wisdom, made a wager that if Monkey could jump from the palm of his hand, he would make him the new Ruler. But if he could not, there would be penance. Monkey, seeing what seemed like an easy bet accepted. Buddha stretched out his hand and Monkey jumped thousands of miles. In the place where he landed, he saw five columns stretching to the sky. Believing them to be the Five Pillars of Wisdom that marked the edge of the universe, he peed on the nearest one to prove his superiority and jumped back. As Monkey landed with a confident swagger, Buddha said, “I don’t know what you’re so jazzed about. You’ve been on my palm the whole time.” Monkey turned and saw five familiar-looking pink pillars as well as the stench of his urine. That is what it felt like as I drove for 21 miles to the southwestern tip of the county and still have the drop-off address say I never left Charlotte.
God bless the Carolina Panthers and the surges they create. I decided to go online after working in Monroe and ended up going at it until nearly 3 am. Two of my rides were significantly enhanced by the post-game surge. I’m talking the kind that turns an $8 fare into $36. My first fare of the night had me trying to navigate gravel roads in the dark without navigation and it did not help that they did not pick up the phone when I called them. It was a bonafide fucking miracle that we found each other. The last guy of the night fell asleep in the back seat. More Pandora exploration too: with Bowling For Soup Radio, I’m 15 all over again. I was originally going to work tonight and tomorrow but between last night and my opting to work an extra shift on Saturday, I think I’ll just work tonight and break until next week.
Someone called out at work so I was called in, thus limiting my ability to drive so not a ton to speak of this time. One passenger seemed to be marketing a new brand of vodka to local bars so that was definitely a unique side of life to observe. In a broader sense, I find myself picking up more Indian people than I would expect to find in Charlotte. I’m not trying to make any inferences; it’s just something I’ve noticed. After driving, I took the advice of the local entertainment magazine Creative Loafing and went to the Shell gas station at the corner of East and South Blvd. for reportedly the best fried chicken in the city. The verdict: truth in advertising. It tasted like a homemade recipe and the potato wedges were actual wedges instead of fat fries. Don’t worry though; this isn’t becoming a food blog. Tune in this weekend for my adventures with drunken “Charlatans.”
I learned something yesterday. It seems the Uber rider app not only tells them what song I’m listening to on Pandora but also the station. So every person I picked up yesterday read I was jamming out to “It’s the End of the World As We Know It Radio” and I take a great joy in that. Great day from beginning to end when it opened with a half hour ride that started five minutes from when I first went online. I feel it’s worth mentioning the rider had one of those unique names based on an immaterial concept like “Serenity” that was made all the more unique by having it spelled in an unorthodox way. Gotta make your child stand out. I also held true to my resolve to defy the navigation and was all the more successful for it. I made beaucoup bucks these past three days so I’m going to give my car a break and return next week.
I did my civic duty at the top of the morning and then hit the road and guess what? It was worth my while. Another trip from Uptown to Fort Mill. Apparently the man’s dentist was what brought him across state lines. My travels also brought me to the northern tip of the county too with a drop-off at a quik-e-mart in Cornelius. In a more general sense, I’m going to be slightly less complicit with the directions that Uber navigation gives me after it sent me down a gravel road complete with massive potholes. Also, I started listening to Pandora comedy between rides which is definitely a practice I plan to continue. Tomorrow is my last day on the road for the week so here’s hoping it’s productive.
Sorry for the late post. I’m actually going to combine Saturday and today since this afternoon’s session was incredibly slow. Like two 1-hour gaps between rides slow. No people or places of particular interest today either. On a personal note, is it wrong of me to not accept trips when there are over 20 minutes away, especially at the end of the night? I mean, more likely than not, they’d be better off calling an actual cab since they’d probably beat me there.
Rewinding to Saturday, I threw my first rider for a loop when he tried to make me uncomfortable by speaking against women’s right to vote and I countered with my concerns about Antisemitism in America. I also gave a ride to a deaf person and their interpreter, so that was neat. Playing around with Pandora some more, I put on Rick Astley Radio and, I swear, heard half of the rest of the album before it played his best known song. Finally, after just now reviewing my trips from that night, I discovered one of my last riders disputed the route I took and got a free ride for it. Am I happy about it? No, of course not. But am I going to get into an argument over what amounts to less than $5 in my pocket, also no. Some people prefer to complain after the fact rather than to the person who made the error and there’s not much I can do about that. I’m planning on doing all day tomorrow instead of just the afternoon since folks might want rides to the polls. Here’s hoping it works out in my favor.