I drive for Uber. It is by no means a glamorous profession, but it keeps my bills paid and the roof of my small studio apartment over my head. I truly love the freedom it allows me. While I’m not technically my own boss, per se, I do get to choose my hours, and which deliveries I want to make. I’m guessing some of you know people who drive for Lyft or Uber as a side hustle, or a way to make some decent supplemental income. I, however, lucked into making it my full-time job, as I live and work in New York City. You meet some interesting people while out on the job, albeit only for a brief while, before you never see them again. Which brings me to last Saturday. I had just clocked in, and was driving about the city, when right around 7:30 PM, my phone dinged, alerting me that a pick-up needed to be made. I looked into the details of the job and saw that the customer was nearby. It wouldn’t be too long before I got there, maybe five minutes, or so, which always makes me worry, as I hate to keep people waiting.
I turned down a street where I saw him standing there in front of a rather upscale apartment building. He was a taller, good-looking man, with short dark hair, and dressed in a nice blue suit. I pulled up in front of him and rolled down my window.
“Hey!” I shouted. “Did you order an Uber?”
“Uh…yeah,” he confusedly sputtered out. “Are you Jeff?”
I confirmed that I was and pulled out my phone and began scrolling to find where it would say his name. As it was getting dark it was getting harder to see, and I was squinting at my phone’s screen.
“So, that means that you must be…” I said, struggling to find his name.
“Bradley,” the man interrupted, sounding a little irritated at the whole situation. “Bradley Carson.”
I scrolled for a little bit longer.
“Ah, yes, there you are, okay, climb on in.” I said, setting my phone down and beckoning him to get in the backseat of my 2006 Toyota Corolla.
“I gotta give you credit, man, you got here a lot faster than I thought you would.” He complimented.
“Thanks, it’s something that we’re working hard to improve on.” I responded.
“Don’t you guys normally send a text when you arrive at someone’s place, though?” He asked.
“Normally, yes, but seeing as how I could see you just standing outside, looking like you were waiting for a cab, I figured I would just up and ask.” I answered.
Accepting my explanation, he got in the backseat, and we headed off. Not long after he got in the car, I began to try to make small talk, which admittedly was not my strong suit.
“So, what’s the occasion?” I asked.
“Oh, uh, I’m meeting my fiancée and her parents for dinner downtown.” He replied, while pulling out his phone.
“Oh, that sounds lovely, congratulations on the engagement.” I said, earnestly.
“Thank you,” he said, disinterestedly, while messing around on his phone.
“How long have you guys been together?” I asked.
“Six and a half years,” he answered, not looking up from his phone.
“That’s nice, is tonight someone’s birthday dinner?” I inquired.
“No, nothing like that, her parents are just visiting from Minnesota, and we’re going out to one of their favorite steakhouses in the city.” He answered, still not making any effort to look up from his phone.
“Do you mind if I put on some ska?” I asked. “It’s some of my favorite music.”
“I’m good with whatever, man.” He said, in a monotone voice. Not gonna lie, I’m not sure he actually processed what I had asked, but it was whatever, and on that, I threw on some fun, bouncy ska music. I thought it made for a great soundtrack for the evening.
I drove around for another ten minutes or so, occasionally glancing in the rearview mirror to see my passenger was still deeply entranced by whatever was on his phone. I got the feeling he was just doing whatever it took to avoid more awkward conversation. Can’t blame him, really. We were almost at his stop, anyway.
Not more than two minutes later, I pulled up to his destination, and honked the horn thrice. This seemingly getting his attention.
“Alright, here we are.” I said matter-of-factly. Before he could respond, though, his phone went off. He picked it up and stared intently at it for a quick second. What followed was a short, eerie pause.
“Uh…Jeff?” He said, shakily. “Why did I just get a text saying that my Uber has arrived at my apartment?”
“Hmmm…that’s strange,” I murmured.
“Hold on,” he started. “This isn’t the steakhouse.” He stated, his brow now furrowed.
Just then, a large, balding man, wearing a stained white tank top, and gray sweatpants emerged from the apartment building to our right and stood there on his stoop. I rolled down my passenger side window to talk to him.
“Hey Chet! He’s in the backseat!” I yelled, pointing backwards at Bradley with my thumb.
“Yo, what is this?” Bradley said, suddenly very concerned. At that, Chet came rumbling down the stairs and over to my car, before stopping at the open window.
“Ya did good, Mikey, here,” he said, while tossing me a stack of hundred-dollar bills.
“Mikey?” He said, with a very confused look on his face.
“Sorry, dude,” I responded, with a halfhearted shrug.
“Yo, let me out, let me out of here.” Bradley pleaded, while trying to find the door lock.
It wouldn’t be long before the door would be opened, but not by Bradley. Chet forced it open and began to wrestle with Bradley. While Bradley certainly appeared to be in decent shape, and was at least 20 years younger than Chet, he was caught well off guard, and Chet was a big dude.
“Get off of me, you bastard!” Bradley shouted, while clawing at Chet. He had fight in him, I’ll give him that, but Chet was relentless, and in the end, he was no match for him.
Not long into their struggle, Chet produced a rag soaked in noxious chemicals from his back pocket, and applied it to Bradley’s nose and mouth, and just a few short seconds later, he was out like a light.
“Thanks again, kid,” Chet said with a nod, before dragging Bradley’s limp body out of the car, up the stairs, and into his apartment.
I sat outside Chet’s apartment for the next 15 minutes or so, counting the money he had given me. I had netted myself a cool ten grand for that job. You see, Chet and his friends are a group of cannibals, and they employ me to bring them their meals. Now, I can hear some of you asking, and yes, I do in fact work for Uber, just not in the traditional sense. I don’t pick people up and drive them to their destinations. I look into open jobs, and if one is close to me, and Chet is hungry, I swing by and pick them up, but instead of taking them to a bar, or a restaurant, or what have you, I take them to Chet, who, as you can see, pays handsomely. Now sure, I could just pick people up and take them to their destinations, and make a couple hundred bucks, here and there, but working for Chet pays a lot better.
It’s great, really, people see me pull up with the Uber sticker on my car, happy that their ride arrived earlier than expected, and don’t think twice about getting in, and I have to say, I really love it when people get lost in their phones and stop paying attention to their surroundings. It makes my job a lot easier.
Credit: Steven Allen
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