SHORT STORY | An Experience Driving for Uber

I lost my job in the spring of 2017. After a month of depression and the depletion of my funds, I started selling my most useless, although valuable possessions.

Items sold are as follows:

A bicycle without a seat or innertubes, a vintage slide projector from the 1950’s, a child’s drum set and a rare collection of Mack Truck die-cast models complete with snow chains.

When this source of income was exhausted I decided to try something else.

I found a job as a driver for a local windshield distribution warehouse. I put inventory on the shelves for around five backbreaking hours with a dullard named Andy. I made up my mind that it would take a severe case of autism the likes never before seen in order to be as interested in glass as Andy was.

I walked out fifteen minutes after lunch and drove home.

Dissatisfied with the available options in the career field, and hell-bent on not having a boss, I decided to give driving for Uber a shot. People I knew had had luck with it and driving for several hours a day or night didn’t seem so bad, so long as my riders wouldn’t mind listening to obscure podcasts about strange, psychedelic drugs with me.

I needed at least something to pay the bills that were beginning to be stuffed into my mailbox, so the next day I started my Uber adventure.

It was a muggy, 95 degree Tulsa night. I was cruising down Memorial Avenue listening to the radio. Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” was playing. I figured average people listen to average music. Not that there’s anything wrong with Rush, it’s just that I doubt any riders would enjoy listening to Black Metal.

I got a call to pick somebody up at a local strip joint called Night Trips. Night Trips is known for their expensive drinks, working-class douchebags and their after hour special, “Legs and Eggs.” After the bars close, they sell breakfast that should not be consumed.

By the marquee, one would expect to pick up gentlemen but when I arrived three dudes piled in.

Two scrawny, college-aged hipsters wearing floral button-ups, pastel shorts that went above the knee and enough cologne to asphyxiate a silverback gorilla climbed in the back. In the front, a short, stubby man of about 35 stumbled in. He was wearing a blue t-shirt, basketball shorts, and sandals. He had a pot-belly, fireman’s mustache and that style of glasses you usually see on Jeffrey Dahmer types.

“You like Rush?” He belched.

“They’re alright,” I replied.

I was getting a contact drunk off these guys and I didn’t like them already.

“Yeah, a fella like you would.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothin’, nothin’.”

A few tense seconds passed.

“Your nose ring.” He said. “I mean, you don’t gotta be queer to have one, it’s just that queers usually like Rush and have nose rings.”

I pulled the car into an empty lot. “Wanna walk the rest of the way?” I asked.

All of a sudden there was a roar from the backseat.
“Chill out, Gabe! Shut the fuck up! I’m sorry, man. Don’t listen to him, he’s just drunk.”

I ignored them. Staring at Gabe, I asked again. “Wanna walk?”

Gabe looked forward through my bug-splattered windshield.
“Naw, man. I’m just fuckin’ with you.”

I pulled back into the street and slowly reached into the door panel. I grabbed my weapon that I keep on me. Some people call it a smiley, I just call it my lock-on-a-bandana. As you can guess, it’s similar to a sock filled with coins but infinitely more grisly in appearance. Something I picked up from some biker buddies.

I put it between my legs to where they couldn’t see.

“I’m a Staff Sergeant.”

“What?”

“I’m a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force.”

I looked down at his cellulite riddled belly. It would have hung over the seatbelt, had he been wearing it. “Looks like it.” I said.

“Better’n bein’ a Uber driver.”

I stayed silent, not wanting to escalate the situation into one where I would potentially face prison time for beating an alleged Staff Sergeant with my lock-on-a-bandana.

“I’m on leave.”

After a minute or two I figured my silence was seen as an insult to this blow-hard. “Why’d you join?” I asked.

“I needed a job.”

I couldn’t resist. “Ah, white man welfare, huh?”

“Still beats bein’ a Uber driver. You don’t love America, do you?”

“Nah, I don’t have any problems with America. Why do you ask?”

“You’re sure talkin’ like you do.”

“I don’t have any problems with America, just a few people who run it.”

Gabe’s voice rose and got passionately angry. “I fought in Afghanistan! Do you know what they do over there? What they’re doin’ in Europe?! Without those people runnin’ it,’ that would happen here!”

“Shut up, Gabe.” Came from the back again.

“So you’re fighting so that doesn’t happen here?”

“Damn straight.”

“You see, that’s my issue I have with it. We are there to protect pipelines and to guard against any threat to our economic dominance.”

The voices in the back started up again. “Yeah, man. The military-industrial complex.”

We arrived at our stop about 15 minutes after I picked them up. The two in the back apologized over and over again. They extended their hands, I shook them both. Gabe extended his drunken, swaying fist.

“Bump it, brother.”

“I’m not your brother,” I said as I stared into his bloodshot, crossed eyes. “Go drink your beer.”

He leaned in further, fist still outstretched, still swaying. His yellow teeth peeking through his shit eating grin.

“Go drink your beer,” I said again, louder this time.

Shrugging his shoulders, he said “alright” as if I was missing out on something. As he struggled to get out he said:

Let’s get some pussy, boys.

He slammed my door and walked, bow-legged, into the bar.