My Backhanded Uber Ride
I don't know whether I was coming or going
I had to take an Uber ride home this weekend, from a… erm . . . charity event I attended Saturday night. Sunday morning I had to take a ride from downtown San Diego, back to my home in Eastlake Chula Vista, which is about 20 miles and takes about 25 minutes.
The beginning of the ride
The house where I was picked up from is hidden away in a picturesque wooded canyon near downtown San Diego. You would never know this little hidey-hole area exists if you had not been there. So to make it easier for the driver, I walked down to the bottom of the canyon for an easier pickup.
The Uber car pulled up and the driver exited to open the trunk to allow me to place my guitar case in it. He was about six feet, six inches tall, and had a loud friendly voice. He was wearing a COVID mask.
We both got in the car, and the conversation began.
“This is a nice little area here, you wouldn’t know it existed. I appreciate you coming to the front. That was smart. I picked somebody else up here once and it’s hard to get out,” he said.
I felt smart and helpful.
We turned the corner onto another street.
“Yeah, but you gotta watch out around here. You see right here?” he said, as he pointed to a tiny little coffee shop.
“One night at like 2:00 am I was standing right there, right in that spot, when some fool came up to me and said he was gonna take my ass down. I told this fool, ‘Do you see me? Do you see how big I am? You done picked the wrong one tonight, son.’”
I had lots of questions. I could not imagine any human being who would have felt confident enough to pick this man to annoy or inconvenience let alone try to mug. Nor could I fathom why this man would ever be standing in front of this cute little coffee shop at 2:00 am.
“I wound up having to pick this fool up in the air and throw him down,” the driver said. “I grew up in the hood, you know, and I’m not really afraid of much.”
“That guy must have been extremely drunk, or on drugs to pick you as a target,” I said.
“I picked him up in the air and threw him right down. Then I asked him ‘How you gonna explain you just got beat up by a 60-year-old man, son?’”
Now I felt kinda dumb for standing around that area, with my broken down guitar case. Even if it was a bright early sunny morning.
. . .
The middle of the ride
The driver and I talked about the biggest single ride fare he ever got and the grand total of his best day of Uber driving. I told him the tragic story of when I left my wallet at home and had to take an Uber from Universal Studios in Los Angeles, all the way back home to Chula Vista. Just to get my wallet. The one-way fare that day was $125.00, and I could not believe how low it was that day.
“Sounds about right,” the driver said, completely unimpressed.
Wait, my estimated fare for this 20-minute ride is over $40.00. A trip from Universal Studios, three hours away from here, through downtown L.A., Orange County, Camp Pendleton, and San Diego County only costing $125.00 does not impress you? I thought.
We got onto the 125 toll road freeway.
‘I wonder how long it took them to build this freeway?’ the driver asked. “I know up here at this part, they were delayed because they hit a lot of rocks,” said the driver.
“Yeah, I remember it taking about five or six years,” I threw out. Feeling kind of knowledgeable.
“It took four and a half years. I worked on the project. I was making $1,000 per week back then. That was a good time.”
I felt dumb again.
Towards the end of the ride
“We like living down here, even though it’s kind of removed from the rest of the city,” I said to make conversation.
“Oh yeah, it’s real nice down here. Real nice,” said the driver. He waited a minute or two then said “Now that they got schools, stores, and restaurants.”
I thought about what he said, as I stared out the window for a minute or two.
“When did you buy?” he asked, breaking the silence.
“About six years ago,” I said.
“Oh yeah, yeah,” the driver said.
I felt like he was about to tell me something bad. Again.
“Yeah, I looked down here before all that stuff, and the houses were nice, and they were cheap. Really, really cheap.”
I started to feel dumb again.
“I couldn’t figure out why the prices were so low for such nice houses until I realized there were no schools, stores, or restaurants. Then I figured it out and I said ‘Okay, I got it now.’”
We began to get close to my house.
“Then they put in the schools, stores and the restaurants and they just jacked up the prices double or more. Like when you bought.”
The very end of the trip
We pulled up to the gate, and I gave the driver the gate code. He punched it in, the gates swung open, and we cruised into the housing community.
“Oh yeah. Yup. I remember this. This is nice. Yeah. I told my wife, this is real nice,” said the driver.
We got up to my street.
“Yeah, but I told her I could never live in a place where the houses are this close together.”
© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune