When I head off to pick up a new passenger, I like to guess what they will look like based on their name (Drivers see a first name in the Uber app). I’m usually wrong. But I couldn’t have been more off-base with Ace.
What would you expect an Ace to look like? I pictured a bearded biker with a beer belly and a neck tattoo.
Not quite. When a pretty, petite blonde with a nose stud and a hipster knit hat opened the backseat door, I asked, “You’re Ace?”
“You don’t look like an Ace.”
“Last time I checked, I was an Ace. It’s been a while though.”
“Since you checked?”
“Yeah. It’s been like ten minutes.”
“I’ll have to just take your word for it then.”
She sported a few tats, so I got that part right at least. She’s twenty-one and came from Northern Virginia.
“What brought you down here?” I asked.
“My asthma. And some friends live here.”
“What do you mean your asthma? Something to do with the weather?”
“Yeah. Farther north there’s lots of pollen in the air and my doctor suggested that I go where there’s salty sea air. So I moved here two years ago. And, actually, my asthma has got a lot better. It’s amazing.”
“Yeah. It’s really good because I have asthma worse than my dad, and my dad died of an asthma attack.”
“No kidding? How old were you when he died?”
“Twelve. And I’m twenty-one now, so…”
“That must have been horrible.”
“Yeah. He didn’t manage it well. He never took his medication, just his inhaler.”
“So, did he just not have it with him when he had an attack?”
“His girlfriend at the time was wearing heavy perfume, and we’re really allergic to fragrances. He had an attack, and she basically just didn’t do anything and he died.
“She showed up at the funeral and my twelve-year-old self screamed at her until she left.”
It occurs to me that Ace smells of cigarettes.
“So, Ace, are you a smoker?”
“Doesn’t that, you know, cause problems?”
She chuckled. “Yeah. One hundred percent of asthmatic smokers develop emphysema.”
“Good night, girl! I have a suggestion for you…”
“Uh, yeah. Seriously–one hundred percent?!”
“I know. I quit once. I went cold turkey. But then I started smoking again. It was too hard. I’m trying to slowly wean myself off them.”
“Well, do that Ace, please. I want to be giving you Uber rides for a long time…”
“Like thirty years.”
“Well, actually, I’d rather not be driving an Uber thirty years from now, but you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, that would be kind of bad. How about for a year?”
As we pulled into her apartment parking lot, she said, “Tell your friends who are asthmatics that one-hundred percent of asthmatic smokers get emphysema.”
“I will, but you already know that, and I’m still trying to talk you into quitting.”
“Okay. I’ll quit cigarettes for you.”
“I’d appreciate it.”
I really hope she means it.