My Life With Uber: Part 5 – From the Bird’s Nest
People who ride with me always ask if I enjoy being a part time Uber driver. And the answer is yes. And, the reason is simple: I get to meet new people and some of them are really interesting. Here's the latest installment of my escapades. And, for the first time, I'm using actual names because they're important to the story.
NOW THIS IS A ROAD TRIP: Sometimes airport trips are no big deal. Sometimes they're pretty cool, as you'll see below. On Labor Day, I had my first ever pickup of someone needing to go TO the airport. I arrived at their house and it was several minutes before anyone appeared. (Uber gives you two minutes to get to the vehicle, then the rider is charged by the minute. It isn't much, but there is a charge) A man appeared with a large suitcase. Obviously they were going to the airport. I took the suitcase and put it in my vehicle. It was heavy. No, really. It was heavy. Then came a smaller suitcase. Then the woman appeared with the heaviest one yet. And, a smaller one.
We weren't in the car but a couple of minutes when the man said they had gotten married on Saturday and were leaving on their honeymoon. And, naturally, I asked "where are you headed?"
"Paris for a few days, then Rome," he said. Holy cow. He said he had traveled internationally many times but it would be his wife's first journey out of the states. He asked if I had ever gone out of the country and I said no, but I would be in November (the Cajun basketball team has a tournament in the Cayman Islands. He said he had been there and it's a beautiful place. He even suggested a couple of places to go.
I said "it should be a great week for you two." Nope. "Actually, we're taking an eleven day Mediterranean cruise after Rome. We'll be gone three weeks."
After dropping them off at the airport I noticed their flight to Dallas was delayed by about a half hour. I'm hoping they made the connection on time. They're certainly getting their marriage off to a great start.
AN UBER EDUCATION--You know we love Stick's Billiards. It's been the site of "Guys' Night Out" on many occasions and I've had a few passengers that have chosen to use Uber from there. I picked up a passenger and discovered he had never used Uber. Someone at the bar had told him about it and offered to summon a vehicle for him. The passenger paid him in cash and all that was explained to me before we started the trip to Buffalo Wild Wings on the Evangeline Thruway. The passenger asked more about how Uber works and said he had come in after three weeks off shore. He said he does not drive if he's going to be drinking and always used a cab. He was pretty amazed how Uber worked. I explained it used an app, was a cashless service and the charge was on a credit card. We talked about several other things on the way to the destination. But he asked a couple of times, "are you SURE you're getting paid? I assured him I was and even showed him my share of the charge when we arrived. He thanked me, said he'd be downloading the app and went in to have some dinner and another drink.
It would be worth writing about even if that were the end of the story. But it wasn't.
I had just gotten back on I-49 when I got another notification to go to Metro Bingo, which is just north of BWW. I picked up a woman there. She said it was her birthday and was hoping to maybe win some money but it didn't happen. But as we headed to her home, she reached down and got something off the floor. It was a Stick's T-shirt. Well, I knew where I was headed next. It was about a ten minute drive off Louisiana Avenue to bring the woman home. After dropping her off, I went off line and headed back to BWW.
Just one problem. With construction going on, I was unable to get onto I-10 West. I was forced to go East. To Breaux Bridge.
Free T-shirt? No way. It was another 13 miles before I got to the restaurant and my guy was still there. He looked at me, puzzled, as I walked in. Then I held up the bag with his T-shirt. His shoulders slumped. "Where the hell were you?" he asked. I told him about the pickup and that the woman had found the shirt. I didn't tell him I went to Breaux Bridge and back because he'd have felt terrible. He pulled out his wallet and I told him it wasn't necessary. He insisted. The twins each got ten bucks.
SOMETIMES JEALOUS HUSBANDS ARE OK--I was directed to the Blue Dog Cafe for a pickup on a Friday night around seven. Two women, Katelyn and Ashley, were my passengers. I asked how dinner was and they said they didn't eat but drinks were great. They were headed to a friend's house for more drinks and something to eat then they were all going out.
Now, one of the things passengers get a kick out of is Siri calls them by name when it's time for the drop off. I turned onto the street and Siri said "drop off Cat-lyn on the right." Well, they got a kick out of the mispronunciation and Katelyn said she didn't know anyone named Cat-lyn. I said..yeah, just Cat-lyn Stark. Well, Ashley got all excited I was a Game of Thrones fan. We talked about the season finale (no I won't get into specifics in case anyone hasn't seen it yet.) And, she said, "Wow, you're a double winner, Game of Thrones AND a Cajuns' shirt (it was the night before the opening game, which is College Colors Day and I had on a Cajuns' polo.) She asked if I wasa going to the game and I said yes and told her I was working at the game. When I said that, it clicked. "OH MY GOD," she said. It turns out she and her husband are UL grads living in Pensacola. "We listen to EVERY baseball game," she said. "Please can we take a picture before you go?" I said sure. "My husband is going to be SOOOO jealous."
Well, that isn't necessarily a good thing.
"No, she said. He'll be jealous because I met you and he didn't." I asked her permission to use the picture and her real name in this story. (Note: As I was getting ready to publish this, I got a text from Ashley. She and her husband are coming in for the ULM game. Hopefully he won't punch me.)
HEADING TOWARDS HARVEY--An airport notification said "long trip," which is something the Uber app (now) does if the trip is going to be 50 miles or more. This one said 75+ miles. I pulled up at the terminal and a man held up his hand and then said "I'll go get the other guys." It turned out one of the passengers arrived without his luggage and was taking care of the paperwork.
And found out we were headed to Lake Charles.
It had already been a long day for the three passengers. Two were from West Palm Beach. They had met the third man on the plane arriving from Dallas and decided to share the ride. He was coming back from Costa Rica. All three had been scheduled to fly into Houston and then to Lake Charles. The man coming from Costa Rica (without his bags) lived in Lake Charles. The other two were headed to a family function.
None of them had planned on Hurricane Harvey.
Normally Lake Charles wouldn't be a big deal. But Harvey had already dumped about 14" of rain on that city and the radar said we'd be driving into more. I suggested someone make a phone call to make sure roads were open. I was assured there wouldn't be a problem.
It was actually a really enjoyable trip. My passengers in the back seat were big football fans and we chatted about that, and the man in the front talked about his work trip to another country. The time went by pretty fast. It rained almost all the way there and a couple of squalls were pretty heavy, but it wasn't terrible by any means. I dropped off the two Floridians at their hotel and the other passenger's home was just two miles down the road. Between the fare and a very generous tip, I made over $100 for the trip.
ROYALTY IN THE BACK SEAT--It was my first trip of the night. I picked up a couple in River Ranch and headed to their destination downtown. Now, understand, if my passengers head directly to the back seat, there's a good chance I don't get a good look at them. The inevitable question of "what do you do if you're not doing Uber," was asked and I answered it. The woman said, "you know my dad."
And, who might your dad be?
Well, he's all about bandanas and sunglasses.
It had been a long time since I had seen Morgan Ryckman.
She told me about her trip to Atlanta with her dad for the Falcons' reunion some time back. She even had the name tag "Billy Ryckman, Falcons' Legend" attached to her phone. It had been the better part of a decade since I last saw her. Great visit.
And, I got to tell everyone the daughter of a legend rode in the back seat of my vehicle.