What a Friend I Have in Jesus

When I got a ping to pick up Jesus* in the Pembroke area, I assumed it would be the high school junior by that name I had driven the day before. I mean, how many Jesuses can there be in that part of town? He was a nice kid who had immigrated with his family from Mexico when he was five.

But it was a different Jesus.

I picked him up at Keagan’s Irish Pub at Town Center, but he was coming from his job as a server at the Cheesecake Factory. Jesus is a tall, good-looking guy in his early thirties. He’s Latino, but he looks black.

Jesus seemed a bit taciturn at first. It seemed like he’d had a long day of work. It was about one in the morning, so I didn’t blame him for being tired.

But a minute into the ride, he looked at the bright full moon and perked up. It had poured hard a few hours earlier, but the clouds had passed and it was a clear, cool night.

“This is a perfect time for crabbing,” he said.

“Crabbing?”

“Hell, yeah!”he said, and looked at me like this was the most obvious thing in the world.

“F- it, I’m gonna go. Do you mind if we make a few stops? You’re gonna make some money on me tonight.”

I didn’t make that much money on him, actually. There was no surge and I had to wait for him a couple times. With Uber, you make only twelve cents a minute when you’re standing still. But I didn’t mind. Jesus was an interesting guy and a fun ride.

We stopped by Food Lion to get some chicken (bait for the crabs). Then we drove to his house where he loaded the trunk with traps, nets, coolers, and a folding chair. Then we headed to Lynnhaven Fishing Pier. He planned to catch crabs all night and into the next afternoon.

I got to know Jesus pretty well over the course of our multiple trips. My original impression of him was incorrect. He was chatty and eager to tell me all about himself.

He’d been a chef and loves to cook. He obviously loves crab in particular. Crabbing is his refuge. He likes the quiet. He’s got a system too–he typically hauls in 70 or more crabs per outing, which he cleans immediately and cooks when he gets home, keeping the meat he doesn’t eat immediately in his freezer. He was enthusiastic as he described his crabbing methods.

Jesus was Ubering because he got a DUI recently. He hasn’t been to court, and hasn’t lost his license, but his car needs work and he figured he’d just give up driving for the time being. He said cars were his downfall anyway. Not women–cars. He was through with women. It’s one of the appeals of crabbing. No women. No people really. Just the dark and lapping waves.

He’d lost a good job as a chef in D.C. because his car broke down and he was late to work.

He told the story of a crazy ex-girlfriend. They’d met at a bar. He doesn’t do the bar pick-up thing. He was quietly enjoying his drink next to an attractive single woman. After an hour, he finally blurted out, “Who are you waiting for?”

“I’ve been waiting for you to say something,” she replied.

She was a forty-five-year-old from Canada in town on business. She made good money. They spent the next few months traveling back and forth. But he soon learned she was crazy. Irrationally jealous and short-tempered. He was ready to end the relationship when she pitched a fit for no reason while he was visiting in Canada. But she had driven him there and he had no way home, so he pacified her until she got him to the airport. He was terrified that she’d leave him stranded two hours from the U.S. border.

His parting words were, “Goodbye, baby. You’ll never see me again.”

He told me a half-dozen stories about encounters with the police.

“My name is Hispanic, but I look black. It’s the double-whammy.”

When he was just 16, he got pulled over for passing illegally near Roanoke. He had two black friends in the car. The cop called for backup, brought drug dogs, made them get out of the car. After finding nothing, they let him go with a warning.

This happened repeatedly. One time he pulled into an empty parking lot to answer a phone call from his mom. A cop followed him in with lights blazing. Pulled his weapon. Told him to put both hands out the window. Waited for three more squad cars to arrive before searching the vehicle. They let him go without even a warning.

Jesus has been pulled over, drug searched, and patted down more times than he can recall. Cops regularly pull their guns on him. He doesn’t do drugs. Until his recent DUI, he had no criminal record and only a handful of moving violations. He is conscientiously responsive and respectful to cops.

His only positive experience with the police was his DUI. The guy was nice, polite, almost apologetic. Jesus had been drinking hard the night before. He’d had some really bad news about his mom (he didn’t give me details), and he unwisely drowned his frustration in booze. He knew it was dumb, but he was feeling pretty desperate. He made it home fine and even got to church the next morning.

But he’d consumed so much that he got busted driving home from church. Six hours later, he was still too intoxicated to drive legally. The cop wrote the citation, but was sympathetic and understanding.

It was weird that the one time he was actually guilty of something, the cop treated him like a human being.

I really hope I get to drive Jesus again. He promised me more stories.


*Normally, I use phony names for my riders, but I couldn’t do it this time. I will withhold his last name. (If you read, this, Jesus, I hope that’s okay.) Oh, and it’s the Latino name, of course, pronounced hay-SOOS.

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