Carlos smiled and waved as he crossed the street from his apartment to my waiting Uber. He was a young Latino man with some visible tattoos. He walked with a steady gait and greeted me with a slight accent as he climbed in back.
“You got some music?” he asked. I had turned off the radio when I pulled up.
“Sure. What kind of music do you like?” I have various stations preset on my radio–a pop station, a hard rock station, a country station.
“Electronic dance music.”
I didn’t have a station for that. “Oh. Well, I’ve got an aux cord if you want to play your own.”
“Really? Yeah, that’s great.”
The cord is coiled so it can stretch to the backseat. I handed it back. Seconds later, the car was pulsing with a dance beat and a clear female vocalist singing something inane. Then a loud pop and silence. The aux cord snapped forward and smacked the dash.
“Whoa. That’s springy!” he said.
“Yeah, I guess you can’t pull it that far.” I laughed. “That’s never happened before.”
He plugged his phone back in and set it on the arm rest compartment between the front seats. “I’ll just keep it here.”
The music came back on. It wasn’t bad. I nodded my head to show my approval.
“Have you been to the EDC?” Carlos shouted to me above the music.
“EDC? I don’t know what that is.”
“The Electric Daisy Carnival.”
“Never heard of it.”
“It’s lit. Lots of great bands for like three days. In Las Vegas!”
“Oh. It’s a music festival?”
“Yeah, man. The greatest time of my whole life! I made so many friends. You should go.”
“Sounds awesome, but dance music isn’t really my thing. I’m more of a classic rock guy.”
“I feel like I am supposed to take you to the EDC.”
“In Vegas? If you’re going to pay for it, dude, I’m there. When are we going?”
“Yeah, dude. I’m going to get your number and we’ll go. It’s in June.”
I laughed and realized Carlos was a little drunk. Of course I wasn’t going, but I like to humor my intoxicated riders. There’s no way he was serious anyway. I wondered if he was hitting on me, but based on the way he talked about the girls he’d met at various music festivals, he didn’t seem to be gay.
When we got to his destination–a house five or six miles from where I picked him up–he didn’t get out right away. I disconnected his phone and handed it back.
“Don’t forget this.”
“Oh, yeah!” He sat with the door closed and started thumbing the screen. I accepted another ride on my phone, which was perched on its magnetic holder on the dashboard. I was getting a little impatient.
“Dude, what’s your number?”
I thought he’d forgotten about his offer. I handed him one of my Umans of Uber business cards. “Oh. Uh. Here. Take this. It’s got my contact information on it.”
“No, I mean what’s your PIN so I can put my number in your phone?”
He was holding his phone towards me with the lock screen open.
“That’s your phone.” I said.
“No, it’s not.” He looked at it more closely.
“Yeah, it is. Mine’s up here.” I pointed to my phone, which was aglow in plain sight. He looked confused. “That’s yours. It’s the one we were playing music on. You set it right here, remember?”
“Oh yeah.” He entered his code and nodded in recognition when it worked. Then he meticulously entered my phone number from the card I had given him and handed the card back.
“I’ll call you.”
He looked in empty front passenger seat. “Did he get out already?”
“Did who get out?” It occurred to me at this moment that Carlos was more than just a little drunk. “Oh. I mean, yeah. He already got out.”
“Have a good night.”
He shook my hand and got out of the car. He turned and waved as he walked, straight as an arrow, up the driveway toward the front door.