Uber coincidences happen all the time. Once I picked up two passengers from Minnesota on the same day. Last week I had two umans who grew up in the same New Jersey town on consecutive days. I don’t believe this means anything, but it’s weird how often it happens.
My last ride on Sunday and my first ride on Monday were similarly coincidental. This time the theme was dance.
Ivan was my last ride on Sunday because his destination was half a mile from my house.That’s usually a good time to call it a night. His ride started at an apartment complex in Hilltop.
When I saw Ivan was the name of my next passenger, I guessed he would be Russian. We get lots of Eastern Europeans around here on exchange programs. But Ivan was Mexican. I didn’t ask him about his name. I wish I had.
He’s lived in the U.S. since he was a little boy, but they must speak Spanish in his household because his accent was thick.
We chatted about The Deloreans–a popular local cover band that plays all 80s music. Ivan had just come from a show. He’d enjoyed it, but I could tell it wasn’t really his thing.
“I love dancing,” he said.
“Oh, yeah? Dancing, huh? What kind of dancing?”
“Salsa. Meringue. I go lots of places. Tuesday nights, Dave and Busters. Fridays I go to Latin Tropical. Saturdays I go to Vertical, Sundays…”
“You go dancing every night?”
“No. Not every night. Just Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.”
“Wow. You’re really committed.”
“I just love dancing. When I lived in L.A., I went dancing every night.”
“I bet. There must be a lot of places for Latin dancing in L.A.”
“Yes. But there are lots of places here too. You just have to find them. Do you like dancing?”
“No. Not really. I’m too clumsy.”
“You just have to practice.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
“I am very popular with women. It’s one thing I like best. If you are a good dancer, all the women want to dance with you. Young women, old women, beautiful women. I dance with all of them. Then they invite me to go home with them sometimes.”
“Ha. I’m sure they do. I’m married though. I don’t think my wife would like it if all the women wanted to dance with me and take me home.”
“But I take dates sometimes too. I have a girlfriend, and we go dancing all the time. You can go with your wife and dance with her. She will like it.”
Ivan was like a Salsa salesman. Relentless. He tried to convince me the whole ride, singing the praises of Latin dance. Good music. Good exercise. Good for my marriage. When I finally dropped him off, his final words were, “So, I will see you and Dave and Buster’s, right? Tuesday night.”
I was noncommittal. “You never know, Ivan. Happy dancing, my friend.”
The next night I turned on my app and got an immediate ping for a passenger at Princess Anne High School. A phone call quickly followed. It was a polite British woman who told me I would be picking up her son and taking him home.
Eric was waiting in front of the school when I arrived. He was tall and carried a fully-loaded back pack. He was friendly but quiet, immediately engrossed, millennial-style, in his smart phone.
“You a football fan?” I asked. It was the first Monday night of the NFL season and this was an easy conversation starter for most riders. Everybody seems excited about the new football season. Everybody except Eric.
“Not really. It’s okay.”
“No? Most people seem pretty pumped about the start of the season.”
“Yeah. I’m just not that into sports. I’m a ballet dancer.”
“Wow. That’s cool. I know that takes serious commitment.”
“Yeah. I dance four nights a week at a studio in Norfolk. And then there’s performances.”
Eric is just a sophomore. It was a long ride to his house and I noticed that it took him way out of the Princess Anne district.
“Isn’t your address in the Landstown zone? Why do you go to Princess Anne?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m in the IB program.”
IB is International Baccalaureate. It’s a famously rigorous academic program for students with Ivy League potential.
“So on top of all that dancing, you’re also doing IB? That’s got to be really hard.”
“Yeah, there’s not time for much else. But I’m making it okay. I’ve been in IB since sixth grade. I’m kind of used to it.”
Eric’s dream is to dance professionally for a while. He could go right into dancing after high school or try to get into Julliard or some other highly regarded dance school. But he’s got book smarts too, so he might just give it all up and pursue science or engineering. At 15, I told him, he doesn’t have to have it all figured out.
“I know. I’m not worried about it. Right now I love ballet. I’ll see where it goes.”
When I dropped him off, his mom was waiting in the driveway. I put down my window as she approached.
“Thank you so much for getting Eric home. I’m sorry I don’t have any cash, but could I offer you a Coke as a tip?” She handed me a cold can.
“Thank you. This is a great tip. I usually stop for a Coke at some point. It was a pleasure to meet your son.”