I was very startled. There really aren’t other words to describe it. “Terrified” doesn’t work, because it happened so quickly that my anxiety level didn’t reach that point. I was stopped at a traffic light in downtown Houston. Did I mention that the time was in the neighborhood of 10:00 p.m.? My hotel was just a few blocks away.
The traffic light seemed inordinately long. There was a cluster of “strange looking” people on the sidewalk. Actually, they really didn’t look strange, but a couple of folks were skateboarding within inches of my car. It is not everyday that I sit at an intersection with a crowd of people almost within arms reach of my vehicle. For some reason, I felt a little uncomfortable. The traffic light seemed stuck on red. I inconspicuously reached over with my left hand and pressed the door lock. Would the light ever change? I was beginning to think not.
It seemed surreal, but out of nowhere, a young man (anyone under the age of 45 falls in that category) and two ladies were standing within inches of my car. Simultaneously, the man opened both of the car doors on the passenger side of my car. Speechless! Didn’t I just lock the doors? Obviously not! I must have unlocked them rather than lock them. The man said to the ladies, “Get in.”
Okay, so now I was sharing my car with three strangers. Startled is a good word! I turned to the man in the front seat and asked, “Can you help me understand what is going on here?” He then looked startled. He asked, “Aren’t you Uber?” I responded, “No, my name is Don”. He apologized profusely and as quickly as they entered my car, they exited.
The experience was a little unnerving. No sooner had the three people gotten out of my car than the light finally turned. I was relieved to be vacating the premises. I kept rolling the name “Uber” over in my head. Where had I heard that word before? It sounded familiar, but where had I heard it? Then it hit me. Uber wasn’t a person’s name. It is the name of a quasi-taxi service utilizing transportation provided by the general public. Reportedly, the costs of sharing a ride are significantly less than utilizing professional taxi drivers.
Back in June when the General and I were in Washington D.C., the rental car company I had made reservations with was temporarily out of vehicles. You can bet I included that in my daily blog. We waited for what seemed like forever to get a car and then we were off and running. Just for the record, it is really hard to both sightsee and safely negotiate traffic in Washington. A friend responded to my blog and recommended that Uber was a perfect solution. It is significantly less expensive that professional taxi service and the drivers are familiar with traffic patterns and short cuts. That’s where I had heard the name Uber.
If only I had connected the dots in my head more quickly, I would have gladly driven the three strangers wherever they wanted to go. Doesn’t that fall under the category of being a good neighbor? In addition, I would have done so without charging them. It would have been a great way to hear their story. I am always on the hunt for discovering the adventure in the midst of the commonplace. In addition, I also have a self-imposed deadline of publishing a daily blog. I am always on the hunt for new material.
In case you’re wondering, I am a brave man. When the General reads the story of three strangers quickly getting in my vehicle, I guarantee you I will get a lecture. I can hear it coming. However, I don’t know if it will begin with a question or simply a statement of fact. Either way, it will fall under the category of “Are you crazy?” or will remove all doubt with affirming the fact without it being a question. I get it. I really do. Going forward I will try to remember when I’m in an uncomfortable situation that my car doors are already locked. I don’t need to try to remember to do that manually. There is a method to my madness. How’s that for problem solving?
Under the concept of “friends don’t let friend’s drive drunk”, Uber could be a life saving alternative. The weekend news of the horrible tragedy at Oklahoma State University left a sick sensation in the pit of my stomach. I can’t imagine the level of horror associated with those closer to the devastating loss of loved ones. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.
Whether you call me Uber or whether you call me Don, if you’ve got my number and need a ride, give me a call. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.
All My Best!