Bill summoned an Uber from Commonwealth Brewery–a local brewpub on Pleasure House Road near Chic’s Beach. The place was busy and it wasn’t obvious who was waiting for the Uber, so I gave him a call*.
“Oh, hey! I see you!” He said.
I spotted a middle-aged man holding a phone to his ear with one hand and wildly waving the other. He was a little gray and had a gut that looked pretty accustomed to holding quantities of beer. He was only a few yards away, but it took him a while to get to the vehicle. He apparently lost it and found it several times during the journey. When he got to the car and opened the door, he hesitated for a minute. He seemed to be pondering some weighty matter.
“You’re the Uber-guy, right?”
“Yup. I’m Brian. Are you Bill?”
He had to think about this for a second or two. Then he forgot I had asked a question and tumbled into the passenger seat. I just assumed it was Bill.
“I’m blasted!” He said it as though this thought had only now occurred to him.
“Apparently. I’m glad you called for an Uber. You definitely shouldn’t be driving.”
“Hell, no. I’m drunk.” Then he hiccuped [hic] and belched [blurp] in rapid succession. This would be the pattern for the entire ten minute ride.
“[hic] [blurp] Sorry.”
He reminded me of Otis, the Mayberry town drunk–portly, jocular, wobbly, and constantly emitting involuntary sounds. It was so stereotypical, it made me laugh.
“Don’t be sorry, bro. It happens. I’m happy to get you home safe.”
“Yeah. I drank too much beer. [hic] [blurp] I’m embarrassed.”
He really was. He apologized about seventeen times.
I took him to East Beach, a beautiful little neighborhood up the road in Ocean View. He looked a little confused when I pulled over to let him out.
“This the right place?” I asked.
“Yup. [hic] I live right over there. [blurp] Sorry.”
“Cool. I enjoyed meeting you, Bill. Have a good night.”
“You too. [hic] [blurp] I love you, man.”
I smiled. “Alright. Take it easy.”
He leaned in a little and fixed me with his two somewhat focused eyes. “Seriously. I love you, man.”
“Well, I love you too, Bill.”
Satisfied, Bill stumbled out of the car swayed a little, assessed his surroundings, and [hic] [blurp] disappeared around the corner.
*The Uber app allows the driver and rider to temporarily call or text each other, but it routs the numbers through someplace in North Carolina. That way we don’t actually get each other’s phone numbers.