Gnats, Camels, and the F-Word

“You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”  Matthew 23:24

I had no idea how pervasively the f-word has ingrained itself into everyday speech until I started Ubering.

I’m aware that I tend to run in a morally conservative circle where the dropping of f-bombs just isn’t done. We Christians tend to be very scrupulous about profanity. I read recently about a survey that showed professing Christians are several times less likely to use the f-word in public than they are to have extra-marital sex. I think that’s something like what Jesus was addressing when he denounced the Pharisees for “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.”

That’s not to say I’m an advocate for profanity. I just don’t mind it much. Sometimes riders notice that I don’t season my speech much with cussing. It’s just not the way I talk. I can tell it makes them self-conscious when they start apologizing for their language. I hate that. I don’t want people in my Uber to feel like they need to apologize for who they are or how they talk.

On the blog here, out of deference to those who are offended by such things, I won’t write out the f-word or any others our society has deemed beyond PG. I’ll compromise with letters and dashes. But I think we could chill out a bit.

What’s surprised me in my out-of-the-bubble Uber experience is how prevalent and grammatically pliable* the f-word has become.

  • It’s a verb (This country is f-ed. I’m a little f-ed up).
  • It’s a noun (What the f– is that?).
  • It’s an adjective (Don’t be a f-ing idiot).
  • It’s an adverb (I’m going to f-ing throw up. Isn’t that f-ing crazy?).
  • And, of course, it’s an interjection (F–!)

And everybody uses it. Young and old. Black and white. Male and female.

Fred is an example. I picked him up at Chicho’s Strawbridge at one in the morning. He was picking up some late-night pizza for his kids. After tossing back a few, of course.

Fred was a chatty drunk. And a bewildered one. He was completely mystified when I pulled up. Uber was blowing his f-ing mind. This is pretty much word-for-word how it went:

Fred (without introduction): I took a screen shot because lots of people will think I’ve had too much to drink, which maybe I have, but I’m tellin’ ya. I gotta show you this. I’ve never, ever had this happen to me before. This is f-ing stupid, right?

Fred fiddles with his smartphone.

I hit the thing and the f-ing screen says…wait a minute, no that’s not it…What the f- happened to this? Okay, so George…he had to cancel [the ride].”

George is another Uber driver who got the Fred assignment before I did.

Me: Why’d he cancel? 

Fred: There’s f-ing two cars on the map. I’ve never seen… See? It says “two minute pick-up location.” I’m f-ing like, Okay. I’ve never ever…When’s the last time there were two f-ing cars coming to get you?

Me: The “two” is two minutes. That’s how far away the driver is. It’s not…

Fred: I know, but there’s TWO cars. That’s f-ed up, right?

I realize he is too drunk to understand that the Uber app shows all the drivers in the vicinity, not just the car that is coming to get him. It was funny how dumbfounded he was.

Fred: I’m like, this is freaky. I don’t know, but I’m like I gotta get the f- out of here. I gotta get another buggy. That’s f-ed up. I’ve never seen two cars on the f-ing map.

This seriously happens all the time.

Fred: You punch the f-ing Uber button and boom, you got a bite. You got a buggy coming. But never f-ing two…oh my God, that’s crazy.

Me: I wonder if there were just two cars in the area, but they only actually called one

This is definitely what happened. It was my last fruitless attempt at explanation.

Fred: Right, but you know what? To have two on the map saying they’re coming in two minutes, and f-ing I call the guy. And it says, “arriving now.”

I’m looking and it’s f-ing desert. Ain’t a light in f-ing area, and I’m like, what?

So I call [George] and say, “What’s going on?”

And he goes, “Blah blah blah,”

I can’t f-ing hear him. And I say, “I’m in front of Chicho’s”

And he’s like “I don’t see you”

And I’m like “I don’t see you either, are you at f-ing Chicho’s?”

And he goes, “No.”

And I go, “So that’s why I don’t see you. Where the f– are you?”

And he says, “Hold on a second.”

And I say, “All right,  I’ll see you in a little bit.” So then I hung up on him.

Next thing I know it says, “cancelled.”

I’m like, what the f–? Can you, like, share whatever the f— kind of drugs you’re on? I mean, seriously.

Crazy. First time that’s happened. It’s f—ed up.

This went on for the entire fifteen minute ride home. He didn’t talk about anything else. He was going to post the screenshot on the internet. He was sure it was going to go viral because it was so crazy. 

Fred lived in a very large brick home in a nice neighborhood. He had expensive foreign cars in the driveway.

I was like, what the f–?

*Sorry. The English teacher in me couldn’t resist a little grammar lesson.


One thought on “Gnats, Camels, and the F-Word

  1. I love everything about this.

    Especially: I hate that. I don’t want people in my Uber to feel like they need to apologize for who they are or how they talk.

    And: I was like, what the f—?

    We are who we are, warts/swears and all, right?


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