THE BIG RIG

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The Big Rig – I typically get an address or name of landmark to locate my passenger. On many occasions, this is a retail location or a name of a residential complex. The app pinpoints the requestor at the time of the order so even if there is a data entry error, I can locate the rider almost always by targeting their icon. The signal is sent from their mobile phone. In this instance, I had an address and icon that was in a large shopping plaza. I wasn’t worried about finding the rider since the icon was visible as soon as I entered the parking lot. As I approached the area, I only saw an idling deep-black eighteen-wheeler. A man stepped down from the rig and waved his hand. He was indeed my rider. On we went to pick up two small boxes from his post office box at one of those generic postal stores. The trip was uneventful and only about ten minutes one-way. He was an amiable man, friendly conversation, nothing out of the ordinary.

I wondered why he would request rideshare when he could have driven the short distance in the truck. The store was in a rather large shopping plaza as well and this was at 8:30 AM. Plenty of parking. I appreciated the fare and enjoyed the trip, as I do with most. But I will always question the reason. I will never have the answer. Sometimes I wonder what was in those boxes. After all, it would be my license plate and description on the video cameras. Life goes on.

The Unhealthy Trio

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The Unhealthy Trio – I’ve picked up three men who work at a plant that manufactures countertops. I’ve driven them to work a few times and wonder if there will always be three. You see, they seem to be the unhealthiest trio imaginable. First, when I pick them up, they are finishing their last puffs of cigarettes. Once in the car, they start coughing and explain they are sanders. They use sanding machines all day long and even when wearing masks and goggles, the sand permeates into their mouth, nose and eyes. They explained a cloud of dust in the plant is always present. But they cannot smoke on the plant property, and I was thinking that was probably a good thing. This explained their need for the last few nicotine doses before the ride. But then they asked to stop at the gas station for chewing tobacco because they couldn’t smoke at the factory. I obliged, but felt their path to poor health was set, and the haze of particles inside the building would likely blur any path to escape.

Aquatics, Bocce & Irene

       

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Aquatics, Bocce and Irene – I was surprised when Irene told me she was 93 years old. She walked quickly from her home to the car, and didn’t need any assistance getting onto the backseat. We were on our way to a senior care facility. At first, I misjudged that she had been visiting someone and was now on her way back home to the assisted living center. Wrong. She lived alone and was going to her Aquatics class. Tomorrow, she would play in her Bocce League. 93. Amazing. She informed me that any resident from the county could join the center. If I didn’t live in the county, she would sponsor me and the cost was only $100 per year. Thank you, Irene, for showing me there is a path to a long life that can be happy and full, even if I live alone.

SKIN SO SMOOTH

Skin So Smooth – As a driver, somehow you fall into the oddest of conversational topics. On a considerable lengthy drive of about one hour, I listened to many stories and complaints from my rider in the backseat. She was 56. I know that because she told me. She shared lots of facts about herself. One will never escape my memory.

“Mister Driver, do you know why my face doesn’t have a single wrinkle and I’m fifty-six years old?”

I readily admitted I had no guesses and knew little about creams or remedies for maintaining a youthful appearance.

“When I was just a young girl, before a teenager, my grandmother shared her beauty secret that I started using right away. And I have never stopped or skipped a treatment. And it’s free!”

“That’s fantastic,” I said.

“Do you want to know what it is, Mister Driver?”

“Sure. I probably won’t understand it, but go ahead.” I was thinking of some complicated formula of split pea soup and egg whites or similar.

“Urine. That’s what my grandmother told me. I spread my own urine all over my face once a week, and I don’t have a single wrinkle. I know you’re driving now and you can’t see me, but I’m telling you. I have none. The skin on my face is as smooth as a baby’s behind.”

“That sure is a surprise. I would have never guessed it. I suppose that’s one of those natural beauty secrets that’s been handed down for generations.”

I have no doubt she was telling the truth. But I immediately wondered, what would make a person think of trying that the first time? And it likely would take many applications over several years, since spreading urine on a twelve-year old wouldn’t produce an immediate result. I am going to stop thinking about this. Should I enter a disclaimer here? Do not try this at home?

Lawrence of Alaska

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Lawrence of Alaska – This retired gentleman is now 86 and worked for many years for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). He held many interesting posts but my feature regarding him is his assignment to northern Alaska during the construction of the pipeline. This was perhaps forty years ago. He was sent to Alaska because of the concern by the CDC for the Eskimos and their exposure to diseases introduced by the workers on the pipeline. Lawrence indicated that this was a valid prediction since numerous Native Alaskans contracted diseases for  which they had never built an immunity. These included chicken pox and measles most notably. He was also surprised by the existence of a Native American tribe in the northernmost points of Alaska. He never learned the name of their tribe but was informed their language closely resembled the Navaho in Oklahoma! The two tribes had several words that were a perfect match for each other. I wonder how this occurs. The ancestors must have met at some time, or perhaps explorers from the southwest United States of the barren lands of Alaska met one of these tribes and learned the language, then somehow traversed to the other lands and communicated at length with that tribe in their homeland. Interesting. I could have talked with Lawrence for a much longer time, but how many times can I circle his block before he would catch on? Seriously, I wouldn’t do that. Well, I might. But I didn’t.

Tales from the Backseat

I thought I held a good understanding of my fellow humans and their behavior after a lifetime of observation and analysis. But not until I drove rideshare did I encounter new characteristics of people who provided me with experiences which I feel compelled to pass along. So, open the right rear passenger door, settle in comfortably, and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.

Cherry Coke – For convenience sake, we shall name our rider Cherry. Time: 1:45 AM. Sunday morning. Location: A well-traversed street in Marietta, GA. Most bars here close at midnight, while the remainder “stagger” (I think an excellent word selection here.) their closings to 1 AM or the rare 2 AM. I received the chime to pick up this rider and was but 3 minutes away. The driver-friendly app provides turn-by-turn directions and as you approach the targeted area, an icon of a person appears to pinpoint their exact location. I was just around the corner from the image when it disappeared. Poof! Cherry was gone. I made the final turn and stopped at the intersection where I last saw the icon. Remember, this was a highly travelled street in daylight, but it was nearly 2 AM. I stopped in the middle of street, tapped my 4-way flashers, and stepped from my car. Not a sound. Then a rustling of branches and leaves and out hopped an attractive blonde female with a flower-patterned dress and stilettos. One bounce from the grass onto the sidewalk, another over the curb, and then the third, ooh, a twisted pump and down went my passenger. Ass down, legs up, holding her purse about one elbow and reaching her hand toward me holding out her cellphone. “It died.” That solved the mystery of the missing icon. No power. No image.

I helped her up while she apologized profusely. No injuries were apparent. I explained she had no reason to be sorry to me, but thought perhaps she had some other regrets. The branches and leaves stirred a second time and a man walked without failure across the lawn, down the curb and to us, thanking me for helping Cherry and asking me to make sure she gets home safely. I add now that Cherry ignored him. No “Goodbye Honey, thanks for a wonderful evening,” or even a modest “get out of my life.”

The ride itself was uneventful, filled with several more apologies. She really wasn’t that drunk, she insisted, but was just very clumsy. I thought perhaps a combination was in play. I ignored her repeated pleas for a Cherry Coke.

I pulled into her well-lit driveway and suggested she may want to put her shoes in her handbag and walk barefoot the few steps to her door. Advice ignored, she wobbled the few steps and fumbled for her keys. I always stay with my headlights on until my rider is safely inside. Besides, I felt this ride wasn’t quite finished.

Door open, one step up on the concrete, one more to go, when she turned to acknowledge she was fine. Yep, she twisted and lost her balance, ass down, legs up, purse steady on her elbow. Cellphone? She got to her feet, one step up, a second into the house. Turned, noticed the phone on the cement. One step down, backwards. Another down to the ground, she bent over and collected her phone, and then again, ass down, legs up, holding her phone up high. She reminded me of a football player showing possession of the ball.

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