Reasons to Smile

One Facebook friend pointed out that many of my Uber stories are sad in one way or another. I guess that’s true. I have a feeling that will be a running theme. We are broken people living in a broken world, after all. And it’s the sad stories that tend to affect me the most.

But it would be incorrect to assume that most of my rides are downers. Just the opposite is true. We laugh a lot in my Uber. A high percentage of my riders are heading to or returning from a good time. I am always picking up or dropping off from restaurants, bars, movie theaters, beach houses, and parties.

My riders are overwhelmingly warm, happy, and pleasant. So, today, I thought I’d share some examples of some of my more sunshiny drives:

I picked up Cheryl from The Eagles Nest in Virginia Beach. She was tipsy and wanted to hit the McDonald’s drive-thru on her way home, (she bought me some fries) She was coming from a celebration of her recent graduation from medical school at UVA. She would soon be on her way to a residency as an OBGYN. Even with her slightly slurred speech, I could tell she was really smart. And really happy.

Ben was excited to be getting out of the house. He and his wife had a new baby who had just gone down for the night and she encouraged him to get out for the evening to hang with his buddies at Greenies in Ocean View.

Ben is a screenwriter who had recently sold three screenplays to movie companies. It took four years of rejections after leaving the Navy, but it seems he’d hit the big time. Non-disclosure agreements prevented him from telling me who’d be starring in the first movie, which is getting ready to start filming, but he assured me there were names I’d recognize. It’s a thriller tentatively called The Mercenary. Ben was pretty giddy.

Just yesterday I drove Gene, who is in the midst of relocating to Los Angeles with his client, Leo Brixx, an aspiring hip-hop artist. Gene is Leo’s manager and best friend from high school. The two, with encouragement from rapper/producer Timbaland (who is from Norfolk and Virginia Beach), were determined to make it big in the City of Angels. Gene seemed to think they were off to a good start, too.

I told him I hoped they’d make it big.

He said, “If we don’t, we’ll be back. But I don’t plan on coming back.”

Pierre and his wife Celeste were pleased when I asked them if they were from France. “How did you know?” they asked.

I told them their accent was a clue and the fact that their names are Pierre and Celeste. They laughed. They are a retired couple who up and sold their house and goods to buy a small yacht and travel the world. It was Pierre’s idea, but Celeste was all for it. They’d been up and down the east coast of the U.S. for the past six months or so and were loving the life they’d chosen.

They were proud to tell me all about their daughter who just finished formal training to be an opera singer in Paris.

I got a ping for a pick-up at the Ampitheater in Virginia Beach at 1:00 AM.

The Toby Keith concert had ended hours earlier, so I figured it was a parking lot attendant, stage crewman, or custodian heading home after work. But it was Larry and Phil, two middle-aged guys who had been at the show.

They were both inebriated, but Phil, who got in back, was worse off. He drifted off right away. Larry was too pumped to sleep. They are friends with a Master Chief in the Navy who got them backstage passes (Toby Keith is well known for his support of the military). But Keith went a step beyond and invited them all to his bus after the show, where he partied with them. Larry showed me cell phone pics to validate the story. He couldn’t have been more excited to have spent the night hanging out with Toby Keith.

As a tip, he offered me one of the cigars Keith had given them. Alas, I’m not a smoker, but I appreciated the thought.


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