Aerin It OutColumns

Taken for a Ride

Disclaimer: This article is a satirical look at the relationships between rideshare drivers and their passengers. However, I must note that ridesharing services have garnered rightful criticism for safety issues over the years. Both drivers and passengers have been victimized. Ride with a partner when possible and always be aware of what car you’re getting into when hailing a ride.

Aerin Spruill

A couple weekends ago, it occurred to me that some of the most intimate relationships some may have are with their Uber drivers. Your Uber driver can shape the path the rest of your day takes, literally and figuratively. When you’re riding home hammered, they have to listen to all the obnoxious details of your night: the good, the bad, the ugly and the vommy.

I came to this realization as I was rambling on about the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich. Next thing you know I’m shouting at the top of my lungs about how not having tried the sandwich yet was threatening to ruin my relationship. Only 10 minutes had gone by since I had climbed into the car.

As the driver consoled me, I thought, “What a great friend! Talking me off of an imaginary ledge. Karen cares!” All the while, she knew our relationship was short-term and that I wouldn’t remember her name in the morning. But that’s how dating is these days.

The following day, I woke up with fleeting memories of that conversation and prepared for yet another late night with friends. It was only when I went to hop in my car that the embarrassment of the previous night’s sandwich convo became “extra crispy.” I pulled up the app. I sighed, rejuvenated by my 4.92 rating, and called yet another Uber.

I glanced at my driver’s picture; a mid-to-late 40s male stared back at me. I passed judgment while deciding whether to cancel and call another one. I knew if I decided quick enough, I wouldn’t be charged. It seemed safe — a comfortable car, anyway. Little did I know Uber had a revenge relationship in store for me.

Leaned back all the way in his seat, the driver talked from the time I sat down to a few long moments after we pulled up to my destination. With each labored breath (keep in mind the car had no recognizable stream of AC) I felt like he was stealing oxygen from my lungs.

“Are you in school?” he asked. “You just look so young.” At that creepy implication, I felt the need to assert my dominance, “Nope. I’m almost 30.”

He introduced himself as a preacher (which didn’t necessarily help curb the pedophiliac vibes), but it wasn’t long before he was fishing in his pocket for an HVAC business card. By the time the ride was over, he had added musician to his resume. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, he was tearfully explaining to me that he was a divorcee and while he’s happy for her, he “just wishes he had a woman in his life.”

He quickly went from a seemingly safe preacher with a warm laugh to a skeezy jack of all trades who needs to be held by a 29-year-old version of his mom.

By the time we arrived at my destination, a hole in the wall where no one would blink if I disappeared, I felt like Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken.

Uber driver: “How is this bar? Any good?”
Me: “Hmm. Sure, but not really.”
Uber driver: “Maybe I should stop by for one some time.”
Me: “Hah! Hmm. Yeah, maybe.”
Uber: “Boy. That was a ‘Hell no you shouldn’t’ laugh if I ever heard one.”
Me: “Welp. You have a great night.”

For once, I was thankful for the nervous laugh I once despised. My relationship with Uber has been off and on for six years, but it only took a spicy chicken sandwich and the confirmation of many Uber mistakes made prior to remind me that I’m well overdue for a ring … or some free rides at least.

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