Three short stories in one big city. September 5th, 2015:
8:40 pm - 2389 Mission St., S.F. Waiting for me is a muscular white guy, named Maury. If he were on T.V. he’d be cast as a rugby player. His 3-person party eventually pours into my car. It is clear that Maury is the most sober. I’m thinking it’s a bit too early for this amount of drunkenness. A guy in the back seat is thinking he needs a hook-up and holds up a text with an address slurring, “Let’s go here - there are THREE girls.” Maury wisely vetoed the plan and gave me an address in the low rent district of Berkeley. Maury is not actually a rugby player but rather a transplanted history professor from Florida. He did his doctoral work on the “creation of whiteness” as a social concept in America. He points out that teaching as a profession has been disrupted by the Internet because now everyone can get information without the help of teachers or professors. Disruption, he claims, is responsible for educators having to struggle to stay in the middle class. Suddenly the sleeping drunk in back wakes up and asks, “Can we stop right here ... right now?” Naturally I think, “PUKE!” There are a few tense moments while we determine that drunk friend doesn’t want to vomit, he only wants cigarettes. Further inspection reveals some in his pocket. Catastrophe averted, the three amigos get home without incident.
|"I Love Oakland!"|
10:05 pm - Customer pick-up, in Piedmont. Last time I picked up in Piedmont it was one of my students and I was humbled by the experience. This time, waiting for me is a very talkative Asian woman on her way home from her job as a live-in nanny (I never get an answer as to why I’m driving her from her live-in employment to her home - which is in a very expensive part of the city). Driving her home was a wonderful ride through the winding, tree-lined streets of the Oakland hills. We talked of caring for children and her dreams of becoming a nurse. “Nursing is a good choice,” I tell her. “It can be a real middle class career.” Until the Internet "disrupts."
10:40 - As soon as I drop off the au pair I get a customer call in the Oakland hills. Dodging a doe and her fawn (Yes, Bambi is Oaklandish!) I arrive at yet another mansion. Jay, a tall, skinny, African-American man greets me explaining that his sister and friend will join us shortly. It’s his sister’s birthday. Apparently they have been out wine tasting all day and need an extra minute to get ready. I’m thinking, “These ladies are going to be D-R-U-N-K! Hope they don’t P-U-K-E.” When we finally hit the road, everyone is sober, friendly and fun. Jay and I chat in the front seat about his successful, national law practice while the women do some pre-club strategizing in the back.
There they are: three Uber stories from my Civic. Not sure there is a theme or moral binding these stories together. At first I wanted to say they all lack any hint of stereotypes which is what I experience every day that I Uber in Oakland - a decided lack of stereotypical encounters.
*Update: As I was writing this post, Maury showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. Now he is in this post and I’m feeling somewhat sorry for his lack of anonymity. I really want to defend him because he gave me a $12 tip but I don’t think I can. If you read the story about Maury you might find that like most news on the Internet, the story about this professor leaves you wanting more information (like, “what the hell was he thinking?").