“I have confidence and I feel like if I have the goals and want to make a difference, I can do anything.”
People like Dale and Dwayne are why I love driving for Uber. They had been enjoying themselves with friends and were a little drunk. Maybe a little high. I didn’t ask. But they were happy and full of life.
They’d been dating for about three months. Dwayne didn’t say much, but laughed periodically. Dale was petite, gregarious and enthusiastic. Her voice was soft, lilting and girlish. An endearing voice. She carried a hula-hoop.
Me: I can play the radio. What kind of music do you like?
Dale: I…well, what kind of music do YOU like?
Me: I tend to be an oldies guy. Because I’m an oldie.
Dale: Like the 1920’s radio?
Me: Ha, I’m not that old. But I have a friend that listens to that station all the time.
Dale: No, seriously, I do too.
Me: Do you really?
Dale: Yeah, dude. That sh— is totally lit! I was picturing myself riding horses. But if I lived in the 1920’s I’d probably be tried as a witch.
Me: You’d be tried as a witch? Not in the 1920s…
Dale: Yeah, dude. I’d be lynched.
They both laugh at that.
Me: What’s the station?
Dale: Ninety-nine point three. They talk about musicians in the past tense and I’m like, “These people used to be alive.” They play, like, Frank Sinatra.
I turn the station to 99.3. Big band music becomes the ride’s soundtrack.
Me: Frank Sinatra? Frank Sinatra was not in the 1920s. You have got to review your history.
Dale: You’re right. But they do play it.
Me: So what’s with the hula hoop?
Dale: I dunno.
Me: You don’t know? Isn’t that a hula hoop right there?
Dale: It’s for exercise.
Me: I see them around all the time these days. What’s the deal?
Dale: It’s because it’s round. We just f-ing like circles. We’re, like, circle enthusiasts.
Me: You’re circle enthusiasts? [I laugh] Dale, I like you.
Dwayne: Look, he’s got candy.
Me: Yeah, help yourself. There’s water and Jolly Ranchers.
Dale: Oh, wow, that’s sweet, yo. You are, like, the best Uber driver. Is there a survey?
Me: Well, you can rate me five stars at the end of the ride.
Dale: Yeah, a five. Totally. Can you also write stuff?
Me: Sure, you can leave a comment.
Dale: Alright. Do you want it to be, like, eloquent? That’s like, a two-three syllable word.
Me: I don’t know. Maybe I get a bonus if you use words with lots of syllables.
Dale: Ah, dude, that would be totally lit.
Me: Here’s what else you can do–you can check out my blog.
I hand her one of the Umans of Uber business card I have on display.
Dale: What do you write about?
Me. I write about my Uber rides. Have you ever heard of Humans of New York?
Dale: Yes, dude! Dude, I follow them in like every social media that I have. Dude, it’s really cool. I love hearing about perspectives of other people. And I constantly trip about being interviewed every time I visit New York City.
Me: Well, this isn’t as cool as HONY, but if you like that, you’ll like my blog.
Dale: Every time I take an Uber I like to hear about other Uber rides. Dude, this sh—’s bouttabedope.
Me: Wait, what?
Dale: It’s bouttabedope, dude.
Me: Oh. ‘Bout to be dope. I get it.
Dale: Yeah, dude.
Somehow we got to talking about jail and prisons.
Dale: Currently sh—‘s really f—ed up. Like, I just read this really dope book about it. It’s called Just Mercy.
Me: Dude! That’s the best book I’ve read in the last few years. Changed my life.
Dale: It’s my summer assignment for college. It’s really, really good. I cried at least twenty-five times. I’m so politically passionate. Okay, so I’m double majoring in elementary education and political science at VCU.
Me: So you want to be an elementary school teacher?
Dale: Yeah, dude! I want to teach the youth. I want to teach them about respect, self-love, self-worth. And, you know, just being generally nice…I just really, really, really want to fix this sh–. I don’t know exactly how. Not right now. I’ll figure it out along the way. But I have confidence and I feel like if I have the goals and want to make a difference, I can do anything.
Me: Dale, you’re going to be on my blog.